1) AOL To Go

AOL has just gotten small. Really small. The new four-ounce AOL Mobile Communicator is a device about the size of a standard pager that allows you to check your AOL e-mail and create new e-mail on the road. It even does instant messaging. Mobile Communicator is small enough to fit in a purse or briefcase and can even be worn on a belt, just like a regular pager. And it is part of AOLs "AOL Anywhere" multiplatform strategy.

AOL Mobile Communicator. MSRP $329.95 plus $19.95 per-month subscription fee. For more information, visit AOLs Web site or use the AOL Keyword: AOL Mobile Communicator.

2) Firewall a la Cart

Firewalls are important -- unless you like pimple-faced 15-year-olds rooting through your sensitive data between X-Files reruns. Merilus Technologies has invented a nifty new firewall that fits on a single PCI card, perfect for small networks in remote areas. The FireCard draws its power directly from the PCI bus, but it actually runs its own operating system. As a result, even if the computer freezes up, the FireCard is still hard at work protecting your system.

Merilus FireCard. For more information visit Merilus Web site or call the company at 866/637-4587.

3) Netscape 6

Netscape 6 is the first new version of the Netscape browser in two years and a valiant attempt to stave off obsolescence. Netscape 6 is the first commercial browser based on technology borrowed from the Mozilla project, an attempt to create a full-featured, open-source browser. The look of the browser can be adjusted with "themes," much like many other programs can be customized with skins, and the new "My Sidebar" is also customizable.

Netscape 6. Free. To learn more and download a free copy, check out Netscapes Web site.

4) Gizmos Mega-Pak

Gizmos Mega-Pak features games, calculators and a CD player. But Gizmos secret weapon may be the two useful tools hidden among all the toys. The first is the "Vault," a folder that Gizmos encrypts and password-protects, allowing you to store files in relative safety. The second is the "Shredder," which allows you to really delete a file. Gizmos will write "garbage" over the spot where the file used to be and repeat until even the CIA couldnt read your data.

Gizmos Mega-Pak. MSRP $49.95. For more information, check out Plays Web site.

John Marcotte  |  Contributing Writer