The 2008 geek gadget gift guide: Time Capsule

Wireless backup, wireless routing, and peripheral sharing, all in one

Why you must have it: With all the computing devices we have on hand, managing backups and communications among them is increasingly difficult. InfoWorld Test Center contributing editor Stephen Hultquist recommends Apple's Time Capsule as the central place to handle many of these needs: As a 500GB or 1TB wireless hard drive (using 7,200-rpm SATA drives), it provides central storage as a network drive, plus backup capability, for both Macs and PCs. When used with Mac OS X Leopard's bundled Time Machine software, it's simply amazingly easy to back up and restore data -- too bad there's nothing as good for Windows. As an 802.11n Draft 2.0 wireless router, it can serve as your central connection hub for computers, iPods, wireless printers, and other wireless devices. There are also three Gigabit Ethernet jacks for wired devices. With its USB jack, you can connect a USB printer for sharing across Macs and PCs. Or you can connect a USB hub to share multiple printers and add storage.

Your chances of having the first one on the block: Moderate, as the Time Capsule has been around for some time, though it doesn't seem to have received the same attention as the iPhone 3G or MacBook Pro.

What you must know: The Time Capsule must be your base router if you use additional wireless routers as access points -- unless you have an Apple Airport Extreme Base Station, in which case the Time Capsule can function as an access point. Windows systems need to install the included Bonjour networking software.

What you need: 802.11a/b/g/n-capable devices to connect wirelessly. The 500GB version costs $299, while the 1TB version costs $499.

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