Fujitsu has had its PalmSecure technology available for a while, but only in a version that required an authentication server. That tended to limit its uses to enterprises such as hospitals, where users might work on multiple PCs during the day. What's changed is the availability of the PC Login Kit, which has translated that authentication server into software that can run on your PC.
Your chances of having the first one on the block: Extremely high, as Fujitsu has not yet begun selling the PalmSecure PC Login Kit.
What you should know: The PalmSecure works only on Windows XP and Vista. If you want to have managed multiuser authentication across an enterprise's PCs, you'll need the authentication server edition.
What you need: A Windows XP or Vista PC with USB 2.0 port. Pricing is not yet available.
AMD ATI TV Wonder 650 Combo USB HDTV converter for PCs and Macs
Why you must have it: For many of us, our PCs double as a TV — at least occasionally. There's been no shortage of cards and dongles to bring TV into a PC, but chances are the gadget you have isn't ready for HDTV. The ATI TV Wonder 650 Combo is. When an HD antenna is attached, this inexpensive USB-connected box will pick up HD signals over the air, as well as conventional analog signals. (There's also a PCI version for desktop PCs.) It can not only receive digital signals from the standard free networks and local stations; it also has cable/satellite inputs to get signals from your paid service, including the unencrypted ClearQAM HD channels that you may be getting from your cable provider but can't see on your regular TV without a compatible HD tuner.
As with previous ATI Wonder models, the 650 Combo comes with TiVo-like ability to pause TV while you're watching it, as well as DVD-burning capabilities.
Your chances of having the first one on the block: Medium, given the mania around digital TV and the low cost of the device.
What you should know: Use of ClearQAM to transmit unencrypted HD signals to digital TVs is very uneven, so there's no guarantee that the Wonder 650 will give you access to HD channels your analog converter box can't detect. There's also no guarantee your provider will continue to send any ClearQAM transmissions it now delivers in this transition period to the FCC's 2009 digital TV mandate. So consider ClearQAM support as a bonus that may in the end deliver little or nothing at your specific residence. Check out AntennaWeb to see what your over-the-air HD signal coverage is.
What you need: A USB 2.0-equipped Windows XP or Vista PC with a DirectX 9 or later graphics card, or USB 2.0-equipped Mac running Mac OS X 10.4.10 or later (an OpenGL 2.0 or later graphics card is recommended). An HD antenna (about $30 to $50) is required to receive HDTV signals over the air. The ATI Wonder 650 Combo costs $150.