Take a look behind the average computer desk and you'll marvel at the rat's nest of wires just lurking there along with the dust bunnies...

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Take a look behind the average computer desk and you’ll marvel at the rat’s nest of wires just lurking there along with the dust bunnies trapped within them. For too long, wires have been tripping us up when it comes to our computers and other forms of communication.

Take the telephone. Thank goodness I can’t remember the last time I saw a corded telephone in anyone’s home. Even though my home is completely wired with telephone jacks and CAT5 cabling for my computers, all the phones in my home are cordless models so I can talk and wander off anywhere without having my neck yanked back by a taut cord.

Still, nothing is perfect, and that goes for cordless as well. With two teenagers in the home, I can never find a phone because they don’t put them back in their charging stands when they’re finished using one, no matter how much I threaten them. I hate that. The phone rings and I run to answer one only to discover it isn’t there. Then comes the mad scramble trying to listen where the ringing phone has been misplaced. Usually I can find more than one of them somewhere within the sofa that faces the TV and the Xbox.

Most cordless phones offer an intercom or locator feature that lets you ring a specific handset so that you can follow its ringing sound and discover its location. But that won’t work if the rechargeable battery in it has died because it’s been left out of its charger stand for several days. And yes, I’ve found myself actually considering the use of one of those locking cable tethers so they can’t do that anymore.

But then I’d find myself with a wireless-corded phone which is somehow oxymoronic at best. So I just put up with the whole thing knowing that they’re going away to college shortly and the phones will once more be where they’re supposed to be.

Wireless has been a good thing when it comes to computers. A Wi-Fi network in the home lets you wirelessly connect to the Internet from most anywhere in or outside your home. And now wireless capabilities are showing up in computer devices besides the computer itself. Take printers for example. Most all of the popular printer manufacturers such as Hewlett-Packard, Epson and Lexmark have introduced inexpensive printers for the home and small offices that sport Wi-Fi connectivity. Just place the printer anywhere within your Wi-Fi network’s range and you’ll be printing without any wires. The only cord to the printer is its power cord.

Epson offers several model printers with Wi-Fi and recently introduced its Workforce 600 all-in-one printer ($199.99) that prints, copies, scans and faxes, and has both Ethernet and Wi-Fi. Lexmark also has several Wi-Fi models including its X4650 all-in-one printer ($129.99). Hewlett-Packard weighs in with its Officejet J6480 all-in-one printer ($169.99).

As with anything this varied, the best way to check out the printer make and model that’s right for you and your budget is to go to your local computer store or go online and check out their specifications and features. I’m not going to try to tell you here which one I think may be better or worse simply because that decision is pretty much up to you and your printing needs.

However, what I am suggesting is that you now consider the added feature of built-in Wi-Fi before you make your next printer-purchasing decision. Just don’t let your teenager walk off with it when you’re not looking.