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The 100 Best Hardware Products of the Year

See a complete index of the Win 100 Hardware winners by category or name.


ADI MicroScan 17X

The twist with this monitor is that it physically rotates from landscape to portrait orientation, a feature bound to interest graphic designers and others working with a variety of print formats. Its curved bezel has 16 controls, and combined function buttons are included for geometry, vertical linearity, S-correction and white-point color settings. $859. ADI Systems, 408-944-0100, fax 408-944-0300.
ADI MicroScan 17X - February 1996

Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 17TX

Perfect color convergence, a regular and stable image, and excellent color accuracy make the Diamond Pro 17TX a formidable monitor. The onscreen controls are intelligently designed and image geometry is maintained out to the screen's corners. Other features include autocalibration and serial-cable remote control, as well as individual controls for the degauss function and contrast adjustment. $1,059. Mitsubishi Electronics America, 800-843-2515, 714-236-6352.
US Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 17TX - October 1995

Nanao FlexScan F2-17EX

Sporting a lower price tag than other Nanao monitors, the F2-17EX is an excellent choice that provides a crisp, bright display and abundant controls. The One Touch Auto Adjustment button makes positioning the image a breeze. Its Screen Manager Pro lets you make a variety of adjustments, such as brightness, contrast and pincushioning, by using a Windows program instead of the monitor's controls. $1,199. Eizo Nanao USA Corp., 800-800-5202, 310-325-5202.
Nanao FlexScan F2 - June 1995

Portrait Display Labs Pivot 1700

Portrait Display Labs Pivot 1700 provides unparalleled flexibility and extremely crisp images. Its Hitachi CRT easily rotates on its axis to accommodate your work, and you can rotate the image electronically as well by invoking a user-definable keystroke combination. A full set of controls is located on the front of the tube. You'll be delighted by this monitor's vivid colors and razor-sharp monochrome images. $999 (street). Portrait Display Labs, 800-858-7744, 510-227-2700.
Portrait Display Labs Pivot 1700 - November 1995

Samsung SyncMaster 17Glsi

A power miser, this monitor produces excellent images that are not hampered by changes in brilliance or other image content factors. The horizontal resolution and focus are outstanding and, with its drop-down panel and easy-to-use buttons, it scores high on ergonomics. The Samsung SyncMaster 17Glsi provides DDC I and DDC IIB Plug-and-Play compatibility and comes with thorough documentation. $949. Samsung Electronics America, 800-SAMSUNG, 201-229-4000.
SamSung Syncmaster 17Glsi - October 1995

ViewSonic 17GA Multimedia Monitor

This ViewSonic 17GA Multimedia monitor will take your breath away with its rich color and sparkling sound. The integrated dome stereo speakers take up virtually no extra space and provide clear, rich, distortion-free sound. This monitor's colors are vivid and the image it produces is awe-inspiring. A built-in microphone, headphone jack and external microphone port are all included in the package. $845. ViewSonic Corp., 800-888-8583, 909-869-7976.
ViewSonic 17GA PerfectSound Multimedia Monitor - December 1995

ViewSonic PT810

Your Win95 desktop will have plenty of room to grow with the ViewSonic PT810, a 21-inch wonder with a display so good it'll spoil you for other displays. There are 13 preset and 19 user-definable mode settings, and the supercontrast technology incorporated into the PT810 gives it a stunning view. $2,195. ViewSonic Corp., 800-888-8583, 909-869-7976.
ViewSonic PT810 - March 1996


Diamond Ultra Kit 8000

The Ferrari of upgrades, the Ultra Kit 8000 includes an 8X CD-ROM drive--the only one of its kind to date. The Plug-and-Play sound card is a 16-bit wavetable model with built-in 3-D sound. Direct Sound Blaster support enables the card to work with any game. The kit is bundled with six audio utilities, as well as various multimedia titles, including Myst, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia for 1996 and SimCity 2000. $599. Diamond Multimedia Systems, 800-468-5846, 408-325-7000.
Diamond Ultra Kit 8000 - March 1996

Labtec Game Series LCS-2612

Labtec's low-fi reputation comes to a screeching halt with the release of the Game series. This compact, space-efficient speaker set mounts on any size monitor. Don't let the Lilliputian dimensions of the Labtec Game Series speakers fool you, however--their sound is big, bold and beautiful. $119. Labtec Enterprises, 360-896-2000, fax 360-896-2020.
Labtec Game Series LCS-2612 - March 1996

Ricoh RDC-1

Professional photography enters the digital age with this color digital camera. It has good optics and an extensive peripheral set that makes it easy to view still and motion images stored in the camera, hear the accompanying audio clips and transfer all of it to your PC. The RDC-1 includes a self-contained flash unit, autofocus and optimization circuitry, a charge coupled device, SRAM memory card (for storing images) and other circuitry. And it weighs less than a pound. $1,799. Ricoh Corp., 800-225-1899, 702-352-1600.
Ricoh RDC-1 - April 1996


Palm Pilot 1000

This tiny marvel from U.S. Robotics' Palm Computing Division is a 3- by 5-inch hand-held device that weighs mere ounces and fits nicely into a shirt pocket. It has a connector cable that attaches to your desktop's or notebook's serial port, and uses a Motorola processor. It lets you track appointments, to-do lists and contacts by jotting notes with a small stylus. Its handwriting recognition engine is impressive, as is its battery life. $299. Palm Computing Division of U.S. Robotics, 800-881-7256, 415-949-9560.
Palm Pilot 1000 - March 1996

HP OmniGo 100

The latest and most successful member of HP's family of hand-held products, the 80186-based OmniGo 100 uses the Geoworks operating system. It includes a Type II PC Card slot, appointment scheduler, note taker, Graffiti software, database/contact manager and Geoworks Book Reader. You can use either the small keyboard or a stylus for data entry, and you can import and export data from Windows-based databases and PIMs using the ASCII or DBF formats. $349. Hewlett-Packard Co., 800-443-1254.
HP OmniGo 100 - March 1996


Motorola Marquis PCMCIA 28.8 modem/fax/LAN adapter

It's hard to see how Motorola could have crammed any more functionality into this small a space. The Marquis is a multifunction Type II PCMCIA card that combines a 28.8Kb-per-second fax with a 10BaseT Ethernet network adapter; it even performs network and LAN functions simultaneously. The setup--in Windows 95--takes all of two minutes. Motorola guarantees that the card will work with your PCMCIA Type II-equipped machine. There's also a five-year limited warranty. $599. Motorola PCMCIA Products Division, 800-4A-PCMCIA.
Motorola Marquis PCMCIA 28.8 modem/fax/LAN adapter - February 1996

Ositech Jack of Diamonds

The Jack of Diamonds Ethernet/28.8 modem combo card is aces in our book. It takes up just one Type II PCMCIA slot to deliver a winning hand of connectivity via its 28.8Kb-per-second fax modem or over its 10BaseT Ethernet connector. The fax modem supports MNP10EC for cellular communications. The modem also has Smart Cellular support, which automatically sets your initialization string for land-line or cellular connections. $549. Ositech Communications, 800-563-2386, 519-836-8063.
Ositech Jack of Diamonds - April 1996

Practical Peripherals ProClass 288 PCMCIA with EZ-Port

Laptop users will enjoy the speed of this Type II PCMCIA card, which supports the V.34 or V. Fast standards, along with most other protocols. Its pop-out RJ-11 port is sturdy, and the modem provides Group 3 fax capabilities at 14.4Kbps. The PC288T2-EZ provides telephone calling card tone (bong) detection, Caller ID and distinctive ring detection, and the package includes QuickLink II and WinFax Lite software. Just plug the modem into a Type II PCMCIA slot, pop out the EZ-Port, hook up the phone line--and you're up and running. $299. Practical Peripherals, 805-497-4774, fax 805-374-7200.
Practical Peripherals ProClass 288 PCMCIA with EZ-Port - June 1995

Socket Communications GPS Card

Why stop at a gas station for directions when your laptop has all the answers? The GPS Card pops into a PC Card socket on your portable computer and uses the Global Positioning System - a constellation of 24 Navstar satellites that span the four corners of the earth - to display your precise location. Just follow the little car icon as it traverses the on-screen maps, and you're home free. If you're looking for burgers and fries, though, you're on your own. $799.98. Socket Communications, 510-744-2700, fax 510-744-2727.
Socket Communications GPS Card - March 1996

Portable Computers

AST Ascentia J30

Well-suited for computer-based presentations, the Ascentia J30's basic configuration should meet the needs of almost any notebook computer user. It has a speedy 100MHz 3.3-volt Pentium processor, a great design and a beautiful 10.4-inch active-matrix screen, and it's suitable for use almost anywhere. The Ascentia J30 also features a keyboard-forward design with integrated palm rest. Controls for the SmartPoint are located on the palm rest and are unobtrusive. Wintune scores show this is indeed one fast, sturdy system. $3,599. AST Research, 800-876-4278, 714-727-4141.
AST Ascentia J30 - March 1996

Canon NoteJet IIIcx

Cross a capable, 90MHz Pentium notebook computer with a color ink jet printer and you get Canon's new NoteJet IIIcx. Remove the print head, replace it with the scan head, and you're ready to scan! But that kind of functionality takes its toll. The NoteJet IIIcx measures approximately 3.25 by 14 by 12 inches and weighs nearly 10 pounds (with charger, ink jet printer, ink reservoirs and scan heads). The unit we tested had an 810MB hard disk, an internal 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, 1MB of video memory and 8MB of RAM, 16-bit stereo sound and an infrared transceiver. The NoteJet IIIcx includes a full-size notebook keyboard, a pointing stick device located in the middle of the keyboard and a short palm rest. The active-matrix, 11.8-inch color screen serves up crisp images and vivid colors. $6,699. Canon Computer Systems, 800-848-4123, 714-438-3000.
Canon Notejet IIIcx - April 1996

Dell Latitude XPi P120ST

The XPi comes standard with 8MB of RAM, expandable to 40MB, a connector for an optional docking station, and features Super VGA 800x600-pixel resolution on a 10.4-inch active-matrix display, which supports color depths up to 16.7 million colors in 640x480 mode. The 2.3- by 11- by 8.75-inch Latitude XPi weighs 7 pounds with AC adapter and cord, and has one serial port, one parallel port, a PS/2 style keyboard/mouse connector, an external monitor connector and one Type III or two Type II PCMCIA slots. $4,498. Dell Computer Corp., 800-613-3355, 512-338-4400.
Dell Latitude LX 4100T and Latitude XPi P120ST - February 1996

Gateway 2000 Solo

Flexibility may well be this notebook's middle name. The Solo is available in three configurations: two with 90MHz Pentium processors and one with a 75MHz Pentium. We tested the S90, which ships with 16MB of RAM, 1MB of video memory, a 90MHz Pentium processor and a 10.4-inch Super VGA active matrix color screen. The modular CD-ROM drive and 3.5-inch floppy disk drive snap into the same bay in the front of the unit, and swapping units takes only seconds. $4,995 (as configured). Gateway 2000, 800-846-2000, 605-232-2000.
Gateway 2000 Solo - December 1995

HP OmniBook 5000 CTS 5/120

The OmniBook 5000 CTS 5/120 can serve as an essential companion in your race to beat the competition. The 5/120's 120MHz Pentium processor, 256KB of external cache, 16MB of RAM (expandable to 64MB), 16-bit Creative Labs Sound Blaster-compatible sound system and 1.2GB hard drive make this a notebook to be reckoned with. Other features include a lightweight, long-life lithium ion battery and the option to remove the floppy disk drive so you can add a second battery. $6,295 (street). Hewlett-Packard Co., 800-443-1254.
HP Omnibook 5000 CTS 5/120 - April 1996

IBM ThinkPad family

There's a lot to like about IBM's ThinkPad family of notebooks. The most interesting feature of the 701 series is its butterfly keyboard, which expands to 11.5 inches when the case is opened. The 365, IBM's value-priced notebook series, offers an 85-key Lexmark keyboard and a remarkable 3.2 hours of battery life, all in a 6.6-pound package. The 760's outstanding feature is its 12.1-inch black matrix TFT screen. All feature the comfortable TrackPoint III pointing device, and IBM ships replacement tips with every system. $3,589 to $8,134. IBM Corp., 800-IBM-2YOU, 914-766-1900.
IBM ThinkPad 701C - June 1995

NEC Versa 4000 family

It's not often you run across a notebook that does everything right. NEC has come very close to that with its Versa 4000 family, an innovative series of Pentium-powered notebook computers. Simply stated, these machines are an exercise in elegance. The excellent keyboard, expandability, and ruggedness make these models a good bet for the road. 4000C, $3,999; 4050C: $5,100. NEC Technologies, 800 632-NEC-INFO,fax 800-366-0476.
NEC Versa 4000C and 4050C - January 1996

Toshiba Portégé 610CT

The Portégé 610CT comes standard with 8MB of EDO system memory, a 686MB enhanced IDE hard disk, 16-bit sound, fast graphics, two stacked Type II PCMCIA slots and a 4.0-amp lithium ion battery. Add a 90MHz Pentium to the mix and you've got a pocket rocket, the fastest subnotebook on the market. This unit is an ultracompact 2 by 9.9 by 7.9 inches. Its total travel weight, including the external battery charger and external 3.5-inch floppy disk drive, is around 6 pounds. The Portégé boasts performance, functionality, size and weight that could set a new standard for subnotebooks. $4,649. Toshiba America Information Systems, 800-334-3445, 714-583-3000.
Toshiba Portégé 610CT - August 1995

Toshiba Satellite Pro family

Talk about easy. That's how life becomes if you use one of this line of portables. All feature an integrated AccuPoint pointing device located on the integrated palm rest. They keep pace with mainstream competitors, according to our Wintune performance benchmark. Choose between dual-scan display or active-matrix screen - either way, you won't go wrong. $4,349 to $4,899. Toshiba America Information Systems, 800-334-3445, 714-583-3000.
Toshiba Satellite Pro 400CDT - September 1995

Toshiba Tecra family

This notebook computer offers great performance. It uses PCI architecture, has an optional quad-speed CD-ROM drive and can display full-motion video on its 11.3-inch screen. It's powered by a 120MHz Pentium processor and, when fully configured, can take a $6,000 bite out of your wallet. But the unit's 7.3-pound heft makes it obvious that Toshiba has come down on the side of performance--with good result. $5,999 with 4X CD-ROM, 11.3-inch TFT screen and 16MB of RAM. Toshiba America Information Systems, 800-993-4273, 714-837-4408.
Toshiba Tecra 700CT - January 1996

WinBook XP5

WinBook Computer's new XP5 proves that a notebook can indeed have a standout design, loads of practical features, Pentium power and a low price tag. The XP5 we reviewed features a 75MHz Pentium processor and a lithium ion battery for superior battery life. It also ships standard with 16MB of RAM (upgradable to 32MB), an 810MB hard disk (upgradable to 1.3GB), an internal 14.4Kb-per-second voice/fax modem, 256KB of Level 2 cache, 1MB of video RAM and a 32-bit local bus video accelerator. $2,999. WinBook Computer Corp., 800-468-2162, fax 800-448-0308.
WinBook XP5 - March 1996

Zenith Z-Note MX

This notebook is built like a tank, but runs like a Swiss watch. It comes with a 75MHz Pentium processor and the usual set of external ports. But the real wonder is its fast graphics subsystem with performance that's hard to beat in a 6-pound package. $3,298. Zenith Data Systems, 800-533-0331, 708-808-5000.
Zenith Z-Note MX - February 1996


Canon BJC-70

Any veteran road warrior can tell you that a whiz-bang notebook is just another portable if it isn't accompanied by a high-resolution color printer. The BJC-70 weighs just 3 pounds but it's packed with features: maximum resolution of 720x360 dots per inch, output of 4 pages per minute for black-and-white and 1ppm for color, easy-load paper feeder, external AC adapter and more. It's versatile, quiet and reliable--in short, the perfect travel companion. $399. Canon Computer Systems, 800-848-4123, 714-438-3000.
Canon BJC-70 - June 1995

Canon BJC-610

Good-looking, high-quality color is what you'll get from Canon's BJC-610. The printer handles colorful business documents in less than a minute under low-quality 360x360dpi mode, which is perfectly acceptable for business correspondence. But the BJC-610 also supports 720x720dpi. Since the printer uses separate black, cyan, magenta and yellow cartridges instead of just one for all colors, you need only replace one cartridge when a color runs out. The printer easily handles a wide variety of media. $499. Canon Computer Systems, 800-848-4123, 714-438-3000.
Canon BJC-610 - March 1996

Canon BJC-4100

The BJC-4100 offers cheap and easy color printing at a price point almost anyone can afford. It supports better than average resolution, achieving 720x360dpi under both color and monochrome printing. You also get speedy output, as it prints a test page of color graphics in just over a minute and can handle a 10-page text document in a little less than three minutes. Add an impressive paper-handling capacity of 100 sheets of 8.5- x 11-inch paper, as well as excellent documentation and drivers, and you've got a winner. Need another incentive? You also get Canon's Creative CD-ROM. $349. Canon Computer Systems, 800-848-4123, 714-438-3000.
Canon Color BubbleJet BJC-4100 - December 1995

Epson Stylus Color II

With its small footprint, the Epson Stylus Color II tiptoes around your desktop with features like an output tray that folds up when not in use. You can select resolutions of 180dpi, 360dpi or 720dpi and choose plain or coated paper (for 360dpi or 720dpi) and transparencies. Tighten the dot pattern to avoid scan lines, or accept the software's defaults for presentation, photographic, drawing and text output. $549. Epson America, 800-289-3776 x3000, 310-782-0770.
Epson Stylus Color II - February 1996

Hewlett-Packard DeskJet 855C

What do you get when you combine terrific color, good monochrome output, superior paper handling, excellent drivers and easy installation? The HP DeskJet 855C prints full-page documents in about half the time it takes similar ink jet desktop printers. With minimal fuss, you get rich, accurate color reproduction--free of scan lines, poor halftoning and hazy blacks. $499 (street). Hewlett-Packard Co., 800-752-0900, 415-857-1501.
HP DeskJet 855C - February 1996

Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 5MP

There's plenty here to satisfy most any user--sleek design, small footprint, standard Enhanced PCL 5 and PostScript Level 2 printer languages, and a low price. Throw in a built-in Infrared Data Association (IrDA)-compliant infrared (IR) port for easy wireless printing, and you have an economical printer on the cutting edge. Special IrDA software allows certified products to recognize each other automatically. Just point your notebook's IR port at the 5MP's and print. $1,299. Hewlett-Packard Co., 800-752-0900, Canada 800-387-3867.
HP LaserJet 5MP - June 1995

Hewlett-Packard PrinterPal

The PrinterPal lets you receive and print faxes using HP DeskJet and LaserJet printers. You can configure it to receive only, or to send and receive. It contains 512KB of memory, which HP says is just enough to store 20 pages of text transmitted at medium resolution. An audible alarm alerts you to the presence of incoming or stored text. LaserJet version $229, DeskJet version $199. Hewlett-Packard Co., 800-752-0900, 408-246-4300.
Hewlett-Packard PrinterPal - October 1995

Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 5Si MX

Sure it's pricey, but this printing powerhouse packs in paper-handling, output and networking features that justify the expense. Its two 500-sheet paper trays and 100-sheet multipurpose tray--it can handle 10 sizes of printable media--make restocking a once-in-a-while job. Measuring in at 21.3 by 31.3 by 20.5 inches, this speed demon whips out letter- and A4-sized documents at 24ppm with a resolution of 600x600dpi. $4,899. Hewlett-Packard Co., 800-752-0900.
Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 5Si MX - January 1996

Panasonic KX-P6500

Want a 6ppm laser that outputs at 1200dpi for less than $500? The KX-P6500 fills the requirement nicely, with a tiny footprint, energy-saving modes, an environmentally friendly recyclable ink cartridge and a sleep mode that won't keep you from sleeping--the fanless unit is virtually silent. $549. Panasonic Communications & Systems Co., 800-742-8086, 201-348-7000.
Panasonic KX-P6500 - February 1996

Tektronix Phaser 340

The Phaser 340 color printer incorporates a print technology that straddles the ink and laser worlds. It has a rated print speed of 4ppm, placing it in laser territory, while the price per page--at 11 cents for color and 3 cents for monochrome--is in the middle range. Setup is pretty much idiot-proof. Other features include a paper-handling capacity of 200 sheets of paper and 170 sheets of transparency media. $4,995. Tektronix, 800-835-6100, 503-682-7377.
Tektronix Phaser 340 - June 1995

Xerox XPrint 4920

Users are drawn to the XPrint 4920 by its fast and easy color printing. Color jobs print at a rate of 3ppm, while duotone documents appear at about twice that speed. Its zippy monochrome speed of 12ppm puts it in line with the fastest monochrome lasers. You get crisp 600x600dpi resolution for all types of print jobs, while the printer's software and drivers offer control of every detail. The four toner developer cartridges are preloaded, so setup's a breeze. $7,295. Xerox Corp., 800-34-XEROX, 716-423-5230.
Xerox XPrint 4920 - December 1995


Intel 83MHz Pentium OverDrive

Six months after introducing the 63MHz Pentium OverDrive chip, Intel upped the megahertz ante with an 83MHz version intended for the 33MHz motherboard. The 83MHz chip provides a higher level of performance than the 63MHz model, but that's not the only good news. Intel has slashed prices enough to make the OverDrive chips really affordable. The 83MHz model debuted at $299--a price in the ballpark with most realistic budgets. $299. Intel, 800-538-3373, 408-765-8080.
Intel Pentium OverDrive - November 1995


Agfa StudioScan IIsi

Love at first scan? You'll be smitten by the StudioScan IIsi. This 30-bit, one-pass color flatbed charmer has a true resolution of 400x800dpi, a maximum interpolated resolution of 2400dpi and a nimble scanning speed of 10ms per line for color scans. With its excellent software bundle--including Adobe Photoshop LE and Caere's Omnipage Direct OCR--the StudioScan IIsi produces images that will gladden the hearts of all but the most demanding professionals. $775 (street). Agfa Div., Bayer Corp., 800-685-4271, 201-440-2500.
Agfa StudioScan IIsi - November 1995

Logitech PageScan Color

If you thought color scanners were unaffordable, think again. Logitech's PageScan Color offers a 200x200dpi maximum color resolution and 400x400dpi maximum grayscale. It works in 24-bit color and 8- or 1-bit grayscale modes. The unit connects to your computer through its parallel port. It ships with an optical character recognition program, a scanning program, a document-management application and an image editing program. $399. Logitech, 510-795-8500, tax 510-792-8901.
Logitech PageScan Color - February 1996

Visioneer PaperPort Vx

There's no easier way to get from paper to pixels. PaperPort searches your disk for installed apps, and for each one it recognizes, it creates a link and a big button at the bottom of the Desktop screen. You can drag scanned pages to the buttons to launch the applications. $369. Visioneer, 800-787-7007, 415-493-9599.
Visioneer PaperPort Vx - January 1996


BusLogic FlashPoint LT

This controller pushes the envelope. The FlashPoint LT complies with the latest standards for SCSI hardware, including Ultra SCSI and SCAM, so many device settings can be controlled with software. The card's kit version has everything you need to get started, from internal cables to software drivers. Built-in AutoSCSI configuration firmware lets you modify every card setting on screen, and all the menus are clear and intuitive. Kit, $199; adapter, $179. BusLogic, 408-492-9090, fax 408-492-1542.
BusLogic FlashPoint LT - March 1996


American Power Conversion Back-UPS Pro 280

A power failure can spell disaster for your data, but the Back-UPS Pro 280 offers inexpensive yet effective insurance for the small or home office. Its site-wiring fault alert detects AC problems such as missing grounds and overloaded circuits, and you can hook the unit up to your phone lines or 10BaseT network connection to thwart backdoor burnouts. And if a total blackout hits, the bundled PowerChute Pro software will shut down your system before it turns off the juice. $239. American Power Conversion, 800-800-4272, 401-789-5735.
APC Back-UPS Pro 280 - November 1995



You don't have to be a rocket scientist to capture and edit images from video sources. In fact, all you need is a parallel port--and Snappy. Installation is fast and easy. Once you're up and running, you can capture first-rate stills from a camcorder, laser disc player or VCR sources. Snappy ships with three apps: Snappy Video Snapshot, and scaled-down versions of Fauve Matisse and Gryphon's Morph 2.5--all you'll need to become your own video artiste. $199.95. Play, 800-306-7529, 916-851-0801.
Snappy - October 1995

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