Digital answerphones are getting more and more common nowadays, but when it comes to juggling voice, fax and data, Andest's Virtual Personal Assistant has the edge. Its 1 Mbyte memory stores around 50 faxes or 30 minutes of speech, ready for you to check when you get back in. Or, if you prefer, the VPA will call you - on your mobile, your pager, or an alternative number - to play back your messages and forward your faxes. As you'd expect from any device this wired, it also works as a V.32bis modem.
Virtual Personal Assistant: £399-£499. Andest Ltd: +44 (01494) 429 309.
Taking your multimedia show on the road? The CF41 CD-ROM Notebook from Panasonic offers the perfect solution. With an internal CD-ROM drive, a 16-bit sound card, two built-in speakers, and a top-of-the-range active matrix TFT colour screen, this 3.6 kilogram (8lb) portable PC is just the ticket for playing Theme Park at 30,000 feet or displaying your latest multimedia masterpiece. It's available with either a high-end 486 or a Pentium CPU.
CF41 CD-ROM Notebook: £2,799-£4,499. Panasonic Business Systems: +44 (01344) 862 444.
When computers grow too old and tired to replace paper, they can now help to organise it. Cutouts reincarnate yesterday's high-tech in a range of handy products constructed from recycled circuit boards. There's a clipboard, a notepad, and a personal organiser, all in tough high-impact plastic decorated with authentic etchings and component names. You can't (yet) specify the product your board comes from, but you are guaranteed that faint acrid smell of electronics.
Recycled PCB Products: Personal organiser: £15, Clipboard: £6.99, Notepad: £ 5.99. Cutouts: +44 (0181) 567 2847.
It's a pain trying to position video-conferencing cameras manually - your arm blots out the picture. Canon's VC-C1 puts an end to these awkward adjustment antics, thanks to its motor-driven rotating, tilting base. This pans up to 50° left or right, and tilts 20° up or down, (with zoom up to 8x), controlled by the handheld remote or RS232C interface connected to your PC. Ideal for teleconferences, security, or seriously spooking whoever's at your desk.
VC-C1 Video Camera: £1399. Canon UK: +44 (0800) 616417.
When you need to take your work home with you, forget about loading up a dozen or more floppy disks, or shuffling expensive SyQuest drives back and forth. Just plug the Zip srive into your PC port and zap away. This compact 100-Mbyte portable disk drive provides plug-and-play capability right out of the box for PC and Mac users. The Zip disks look similar to a standard 3.5 floppy and come in two storage capacities: 25-Mbyte and 100-Mbyte.
Zip drive: around £120 (expected UK price, from April). Iomega Corporation: +44 (0181) 899 1735.
Try the Beovision Avant for a home-cinema setup that won't dominate your living room - unless you want it to. Bang and Olufsen's entertainment system incorporates a wide-screen TV, multi-format VCR, and hi-fi speakers, all in a featureless 2001-style obelisk. The screen monitors the ambient lighting conditions, and adjusts the image brightness, colour and contrast to optimise picture quality. A black curtain glides aside at the start of each presentation, transforming the humblest soap into a special occasion.
Beovision Avant: £3,300. Bang and Olufsen: +44 (01452) 307377.
In the novelty arcade game, Sonic Blastman, you threw punches at computer-generated targets that disintegrated under your blows. With the sequel, Real Puncher, you can vent your frustration on a fresh supply of victims, including digitised images of yourself, a friend, or an unsympathetic co-worker. When you punch the pad, the face on the screen is deformed; the harder you punch, the more deformed the image becomes. Stress relief has never been this satisfying.
Real Puncher: £7,500. Electrocoin Automatics: +44 (0181) 965 2055.
Most cheap video cameras are overly sensitive to infra-red, but the Maplins Sub-Miniature CCD turns this bug into a feature. By day, it provides a sharp and clean monochrome video image via its fixed-focus wide-angle lens. By night, its cluster of six infra-red LEDs cast a pool of invisible IR light, so the camera can 'see' in the dark. It's better for security than family portraits - IR makes eyeballs look like redhot glowing coals.
Sub-Miniature Monochrome CCD Video Camera: £129.99. Maplins Electronics: +44 (01702) 554 161.