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.
For social-media butterflies who are into geotagging posts, Banjo's streamlined interface and useful location-aware tools make it worth a download.
Voxer Walkie-Talkie is an excellent communications app with all the tools you need to get in touch quickly.
Amazon Instant Video is only instant if you're a Prime subscriber or once you've already purchased content from Amazon's Web site, but the lower cost for some videos might make it worth your while.
McAfee Internet Security Suite 2006 packs a powerful protection arsenal--but it's far too slow. Loyal McAfee users should upgrade for the automatic spyware and phishing blockers, but the rest of us should seek security elsewhere, such as ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite 6.
Better than Instapaper and other competitors, Pocket is the app to beat when it comes to bookmarking and managing links.
Pandora Radio is not only easy to use, but it's also scary good at getting to know your musical taste. Download it and start creating stations as soon as possible.
If you're looking for a note-taking app that syncs across all platforms -- or just an easy way to keep track of your digital odds and ends -- Evernote is a worthwhile download.