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What happens when everyone suddenly has a smartphone and a wireless network? Appliance companies start making the same old things they used to -- but with wireless capability and smartphone access.

Seems preposterous? It can be. From the "smart" washing machine to the "smart" yoga mat, companies are coming up with new and interesting ways to make you pay $200 more for the same old crap you always had -- but now you can control it with your iPad!

Here are five of the dumbest-sounding "smart" devices we've come across:

Does that office printer you're considering put dark text on a light page? Good enough.

Except, it's not that simple. I mean, it is that simple if you don't mind major inconvenience (the inability to make copies or send faxes, the high cost of ink refills, etc.), but for the rest of us, buying a printer for our offices is actually a decision that requires some thought.

Here's a list of things you'll want to look at:

Remember the good old days, back in the 1980s, when you needed a 500 microfarad capacitor, and Radio Shack was your friend? They had drawers full of electronics parts of all shapes, sizes, and amperage.

Radio Shack, however, has fallen on hard times. Few people need electronic components, and even if they do, they can get them online. All the other electrical gadgets Radio Shack sells can be purchased elsewhere. Is this the end of the once-venerable tinkerer's institution?

It's not much of a secret around here that I despise Windows 8.1. I'm not the only one -- its market share is in single-digit territory -- but I haven't exactly been shy about my feelings: It was a terrible mistake by Microsoft to push a touch-first operating system on everyone, especially corporate, legal, and other business users whose keyboard-and-mouse setups did not play well with the OS.

On Friday, I bought my first Windows 8.1 device: a $59 WinBook TW70CA17 tablet from Micro Center. And while it may not be fair to evaluate the OS in such a less-than-ideal environment, I really was curious to see how it would fare on a tiny 7-inch screen with bare minimum specs: a quad-core Intel Atom Z3735G processor with 1 GB RAM and 16 GB flash storage.

Why did I engage in the tech equivalent of self-flagellation with a spiked leather belt? The tablet, however useful or not it may be, came bundled with Office 365 Personal ($70 from Microsoft), which meant I saved $10 on Office 365 and got the tablet for free.

If Thanksgiving is coming, you'd better believe that "Black Friday" deals are too. Hopefully you won't actually be out shopping on Black Friday -- or on Thanksgiving, for crying out loud. In any case, you don't need to wait until Black Friday before finding deals for the tech-savvy lawyer in your life -- "Black Friday" is basically a month-long thing now.

So what do you get for Attorney 2.0? Gadgets, of course. In the first part of an ongoing series about tech stuff, here are some of our favorite tech gifts for the lawyer's office (all prices are current as of publication):

Yesterday, we blogged about eye strain: Americans are spending an average of more than nine hours per day in front of their computer screens, often leading to eye fatigue and related symptoms, like headaches. And while I was getting ready to mock people with 4k (5k if you bought the new $3,000 iMac) displays, I realized something: My computer monitors might be ready for an upgrade.

At home, I have two 22-inch 1080p monitors. A few years ago, that would have been state-of-the-art, but now? Would I benefit from an upgrade beyond "HD"?

You already know that if you're going to be lawyering on the road, you're going to need a laptop -- preferably one with amazing battery life, like the Macbook Air. And you probably also already have a smartphone and perhaps a tablet.

None of those are cheap, nor are they the focus of this list. This list is all about accessorizing with little gadgets that will keep you as productive on the road as you are in the office.

Here are five cheap gadgets you may want to have handy:

In the old days, if your law office wanted to take credit cards, you would probably have to sign a years-long agreement with a credit card processor and pay exorbitant fees on each transaction. Heck, in even older days, you would have had to use one of those heavy metal machines that used carbon paper. (True story: I saw one of those in use at a restaurant the other day.)

Today? You can take payments online. You can use a reader the size of a nickel that plugs into your smartphone. Or if you're feeling super adventurous, you can try something really new, like Apple Pay or one of the other NFC (tap-your-phone) readers.

Here are a few options, from slightly more old-school to bleeding edge:

Finally, with all of Apple's annual (or bi-annual, in the Mini's case) upgrades on the books, we have the entirety of the Apple product line in front of us. If you're looking up upgrade or replace your office computers, and you're already on the platform, or Mac-curious, you might wonder what your best options are: Mini, iMac, or iMac with Retina?

Even between those three product lines, there are countless customization options for Apple's desktop computers. Let this be your guide:

We're gadget geeks, so we wait around for every Apple event, but today's event promised big things for even all you normal folks with friends: upgraded Macs. Why is that important? Because Windows 8 is terrible, Windows 10 is a year away, and you might need to upgrade your computers now.

Or maybe you're one of the many folks who run Mac in your law office. Either way, today's event had a lot of new goodies of business users, as well as incremental upgrades for the company's iPad line.

Because we had a big day of writing about judges behaving badly planned, we followed Ars Technica's live blog. Here's what stood out to us: