Five Must-Have Computer Peripherals

Taking Stock Of Computer Peripherals

With the fall selling season almost upon us, it's probably a good time to take stock of the computer peripherals you're keeping in stock. Here are five must-have products that should be on the minds and lips of your sales people.

NZXT Sentry Mix: For Music Fans

It's not a graphic equalizer, but it can still deliver sweet music to the serious over-clockers on your customer list. NZXT's Sentry Mix, which began shipping Tuesday, puts control of as many as six system fans as close as the nearest 5.25-inch drive bay. Six smooth-sliding pots control airflow between 40 to 100 percent, and its sleek black rubber and plastic design is contrasted with any one of five LED colors.

With a capacity of 50 watts per three-pin channel, the Sentry Mix can handle the down-and-dirtiest half-dozen blowers a hardcore gamer can throw at it. For example, if used it to control the 1.9-watt fans included with the brand new Tempest 410 Elite, each channel could handle as many as 25. That's some serious blowing. Sentry Mix lists for $40.

D-Link PowerLine: Ethernet Over Power

You've heard of Power Over Ethernet, but Ethernet over power? The technology's not really new, but it took a real leap of faith to plug our Ethernet cable into something that ultimately would use a electric lines to carry data. But that we did, and D-Link's PowerLine AV Wireless N Extender delivered an experience that was only shocking in a good way. The device lived up to the company's claims of "lag-free gaming" as it pumped packets at 200Mbps and streamed an HD video as if it were plugged in directly, which it was.

Don't let those WiFi-looking antennae fool you; this is not a WiFi access point in the traditional sense. This device works with D-Link's Wireless N PowerLine Router so that when plugged into an outlet, it routes Ethernet traffic of computers in the area over the power lines to the router. It's ideal for homes and small offices that lack wiring or the ability to easily add it. The PowerLine AV Wireless N Extender lists for $99 and requires at least one other PowerLine device (such as the Wireless N PowerLine Router, $119 list) to create a PowerLine network.

Viewsonic V3D245: Enable Your Pop-up Monitor

Now that video resolution has reached a crescendo, the next big thing in display technology will clearly be 3D. Among the most recent releases is the V3D245 from Viewsonic, which the company began shipping on Aug. 1. This handsome 24-incher boasts an LED backlight that pushes 300 nits of eye-popping 1920 x 1080 pixels at a refresh rate topping out at 120Hz.

The V3D245 is equipped with dual link DVI and VGA ports (and includes both cables) as well as an HDMI input. Also included is a 3.5-inch audio jack for powering its SRS stereo speakers. For a list price of $599, Viewsonic throws in a pair of Nvidia-branded active shutter glasses, which includes a USB charging cable, interchangeable nose pieces and a storage pouch. Although we like USB charging over (yet another) dedicated power adapter, a USB port on the monitor itself would have been a nice touch, even if only for charging the glasses.

NComputing L300: Your Own Private VDI

Now you can send a Linux or Windows desktop anywhere there's an Ethernet connection. NComputing's L300 Virtual Desktop and vSpace software instantly transform a computer into a mini-VDI system, with full-screen access to applications, full-motion 24-bit HD video, microphone input, speaker output, USB 2.0 redirection and 100 Mbps Ethermet. The software also integrates with hypervisors from Citrix, Microsoft or VMware, and can multiply the typical one-to-one desktop-to-user ratio by as much as 30 times.

The 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.2-inch device is built around a dual-core ARM-based processor (in the proprietary Numo system-on-chip) and contains no far or other moving parts. L300 Virtual Desktop lists for $189 and includes vSpace, a power adapter and a VESA bracket for connecting it to the back of most monitors.

Samsung ML-3712DW: Laser, Not Razor

For a street price of around $249, the Samsung ML-3712DW is one low-priced 37ppm laser printer. And it's as small and feature-rich as it is reasonably priced. Measuring just 10 inches high and sitting on a 14.5-inch square, the DW model includes duplex printing, WiFi access (as well as Gbit Ethernet) and resolution as high as 1200 x 1200 dpi.

And boy is this thing fast. Its 600 MHz dual-core processor kicked out the first page in less than 7 seconds, and had exhausted its 250-page bin in less than eight minutes. Unlike with cheap razors and expensive blades, Samsung helps save on toner costs with an "eco" button and offers a 10,000-sheet toner cart for about $120, or about $0.012 per page. The 2,000-page cart costs about $56, which translates to $0.028 per page.