It may seem odd to recommend a blazingly fast gaming PC for menial office work, but we'd argue that the HP Blackbird 002 deserves the nod based on its design alone. The first product from the collaborative design and production minds of HP and Voodoo PC, the Blackbird 002 received the highest rating we've ever given a desktop. If you're going to call your workspace the ultimate office, you must start with the ultimate desktop. The Blackbird 002 boasts a most unique and clean design, both inside and out the case. And while its liquid-cooled, high-end components are overkill for running Outlook and Excel, who says the ultimate office worker doesn't like to unwind at the end of the day with a lengthy session of Crysis?
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If you're running a powerful desktop such as the HP Blackbird 002 in your office, you can sacrifice some features and performance on your laptop. If you'd rather turn heads instead of, say, install software from a CD or connect to a FireWire device, the MacBook Air makes an excellent travel companion. Apple's latest and lightest laptop is thin and sleek and will stave off a frequent flier's shoulder soreness. Still, if weight and portability are your chief concern, we'd point you toward Toshiba's awesome ultraportable, the Portege R500.
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What does grossly overpaying for a 22-inch LCD get you? For starters, a tempered-glass bezel and a polished metal tripod stand. Funky touch controls and four imbedded speakers round out this conversation piece of an LCD, the Dell Crystal.
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It's hard to find a multifunction printer that carries out its various tasks--printing, scanning, copying--with equal aplomb. This color laser multifunction is an office dynamo, serving up a winning combination of fast speeds and high-quality output. The Brother MFC-9440CN also comes loaded with features, and it's network ready.
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The D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N Gigabit Router can rightly call itself Xtreme. It's the fastest Draft N router we've tested--and by a healthy margin. In addition to letting those in your office roam via 802.11n Wi-Fi, the router serves up four Gigabit LAN ports. The DIR-655 Xtreme also comes with a host of security options--WEP; WPA-PSK; NAT and SPI firewalls, MAC address filtering--to keep prying eyes away from your company's sensitive documents.
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The ultimate piece of mind for the ultimate office: networked attached storage. Any office should have a backup system in place. Netgear's ReadyNAS NV+ drives offer fast read and write speeds, loads of features, backup software, and a slick design. Housed in a shiny, rugged aluminum case, the ReadyNas NV+ is capable of managing the hard drives in three different RAID configurations: 0, 1, and 5. You can also configure it in X-RAID, Netgear's proprietary RAID configuration that automates volume expansion as you add drives or swap smaller ones out for larger ones. The ReadyNAS NV+ can be hooked directly to a network via Gigabit Ethernet connection or connected directly to a computer via USB 2.0. Once set up, backup can be automated or you can manually start the process by pressing the Backup button on the front of the device.
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Your PowerPoint presentations may not be crying out for 1080p resolution, but the conference room in the ultimate office deserves the very best. And the very best projector we've seen that doesn't cost more than most cars on the road is the Sony VPL-VW200. It delivers one of the best pictures of any projector we've ever tested, with exceptional color fidelity and black-level performance. It also has a superb feature package, including panel alignment and blacking, and it has solid connectivity.
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If you're going to be using HP's Blackbird 002 desktop connected to Dell's Crystal display, you're going to need an equally sleek-looking keyboard. We know of no keyboard sleeker than Logitech's diNovo Edge.
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The ultimate office should be one without conflict. The RoomWizard is kind of a digital referee that can avoid interoffice fisticuffs by keeping track of schedules for conference rooms that are always in high demand. Spaces are booked with touch screens outside the rooms or online through the system's Web server. All this seems to be a definite step up from the old sign-up sheet, which can be subject to abuse by an unscrupulous eraser.