Remember in Vista how it was an annoying chore getting it to recognize external devices like printers, phones, and digital cameras? Well now in Windows 7 there is a cool feature called Device Stage that allows you to easily see and manage all of your external devices from one spot.
Using Device Stage
To check out the digital devices you have connected to your PC go to Start and Devices and Printers.
This opens up a nicely laid out visual display of all of the devices connected to the computer.
When you first start it notice that you can click on the message about getting device information from the Internet. This will keep devices updated with the most recent information and drivers.
The cool part is that when you first plug in a device Windows 7 will install the drivers almost instantly.
After plugging in the device you can see it in the Taskbar where you can hover over it to get a nice looking image of it and some limited information. For instance I plugged in a Creative Zen and can see how much battery life is left and the amount of space left on it. You can also right click on the device and access certain controls as well.
Now when you click on the device you will presented with an easy to navigate control panel of sorts that allows you to manage the settings and features of the device.
Here is a shot of a printer connected and you can see there are a bunch of options for managing it.
It is up to the hardware manufacturer to determine if their device will be compatible with Device Stage. The way to determine this is to simply plug in the device and see if Device Stage opens up. All of the newer devices I plugged in were recognized, some with more features to manage them than others, again this is up to the manufacturers and the firmware installed. This new feature is a great way to get your devices working without having to deal with installing drivers. Cool!