Side-by-Side WiFi
With four school-age children, these homeowners had a kitchen that was already chaos—hardly the place for computer stations that could serve as homework cubbies. When Wilmette, Illinois-based architect Healy Rice was hired to redo the house, she found an underused space in a den off the kitchen. Dividing the room into a butler's pantry and a walk-through home office, she created the 10-by-12-foot work area the family desperately needed, leaving it doorless so Mom and Dad can see what is onscreen. Using the same cabinetry and millwork as in the kitchen (1), Rice designed a wall of bookshelves over each 5-foot-wide desk area. Equipped with a wireless keyboard and mouse (2), each desktop is kept clear of cords. Superthin 19-inch monitors (3) have a wider viewing angle, and a 3-way speaker system (4) lets the kids tune into their MP3s. In the center, just an arm's reach from each workstation is an all-in-one multitasking printer/fax/scanner/photocopier (5). The ergonomic Celle chairs by Herman Miller (6) flex with the body, providing comfort and lower-back support during long work sessions. Shown here: Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 by Microsoft ; 19-inch LCD Monitors by Proview; Z4 2.1 Speaker System by Logtech; X2350 Multitasking Fax by Lexmark.

Here are some new add-ons we'd be happy to have while working.

Smartphone: This cell phone comes with computer-enabled features, so you can check e-mail, surf the Web with a high-speed connection, update your calendar and address book, create and edit documents—and play the latest version of Texas Hold 'Em.

Wireless Headset: Thanks to Bluetooth technology, you can now pace the room during those endless conference calls without any wires keeping you tied to your desk. The mini-headset (which hangs from one ear) communicates with a smartphone via short-range radio waves.

VOIP Phone: Eliminate at least one bill with a "voice-over-Internet-protocol" phone that uses your broadband Internet connection instead of a dedicated phone line. Many providers charge a flat monthly rate for local and long distance calling.

USB Flash Drive: Say goodbye to burning data CDs forever. This pocket-size memory drive plugs into a computer's USB port and allows you to store or retrieve thousands of documents, pictures, and other files. And it'll even fit on your key ring.

MP3 Video Player: Products like the iPod have been great for playing digital music files, but the latest Apple innovation allows you to watch color video on your portable player or computer monitor, too—perfect if you want to download last week's episode of Lost. Of course, you also can store work documents and contact lists on it, so it's a productivity tool, too. And consider this: One 30G iPod holds more data than 40 traditional CDs. —Jason Carpenter
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