If you want to fill a personal home page with dozens of individualized newsfeeds and tools, Netvibes does a cleaner job than rival services from bigger brand names.
Google's IM client is bare-bones, though it lets Gmail users chat by text and voice for free.
Google Gmail Beta
Google Apps lets you brand online services with your own URL, but it doesn't eat the costs of domain registration as Microsoft Office Live does.
If you often wish you had a way to share your photos and home movies while away, Orb might be the perfect solution.
Google Home is a breezy service that lets you create a custom sign-in page chock-full of news and widgets.
Fresh on the heels of its acquisition of DVR company Meedio, Yahoo's entry in the alternative Media Center front-end sweepstakes, Yahoo Go for TV, is currently available as a beta release from the company's Web site. The program offers easy media management in a free package, but hardware support is limited, and the emphasis on driving branded online content knocks local file browsing to second place.
The brainy Google Desktop 2 does a mixed job anticipating the content you want. Still, it provides a handy link to files, apps, and Web sites that you access the most, and its search is powerful, too.
Google's the way to go for straight Web searching, local results, maps, or image queries, but we found better engines for multimedia searches.
Windows Live OneCare doesn't provide as many unique features and often repackages tools already available for free within the Windows operating system. For $30 more, it's well worth investing in the solutions from McAfee or Symantec, and we give the final nod to Norton 360 which ensures the best protection and performance tools for your money.
AOL Video aims to be a one-stop shop for video, but it needs more compelling content and reliable playback.
Google Notebook lets you save the text, the images, and the URL of origin for Web sites that interest you, but its features are limited.
The online Google Spreadsheets is free, easy to use, and handy for collaboration, but stick with Excel for complex spreadsheets.
Blogger beta allows tagging, as well as drag-and-drop layout editing, and it lets you wall off your blog to strangers, but most current Blogger users will have to set up another blog from scratch to try the new features.
We love the idea of Starz Vongo and think $10 per month is a fair price for all-you-can-watch movies, but the service needs a better selection of movies and improved compatibility with portable devices.
Google Docs & Spreadsheets beta gracefully merges word processing, spreadsheets and basic presentations within an online service that lets you collaborate with other users.
We like the cohesive look and feel as well as useful functionality offered by the free Windows Live apps.
If you've outgrown the starter software that came with your scanner, OmniPage Pro 12.0 Office is your best next step.