Nominations closing in
In Pictures: 10 tech products to boost your small business productivity
From mini storage arrays to IP cameras to print servers, these 10 hardware devices will help you run your small business more efficiently whether you're in the office or hitting the road to close a deal.
A small business can be an exciting place to work thanks to the inherent advantages of small teams that can react quickly to changes on the business front. However, small businesses also can't afford to waste or money. To help maximize your efficiency, here are 10 affordable hardware tools to power up your office for greater productivity.
Pogoplug lets you back up, access or share files on the Internet. The appliance plugs into a Gigabit Ethernet network and works directly with multiple internal (2.5-inch SATA) or portable (USB) hard disk drives for storage. Moreover, the Pogoplug appliance also comes with a built-in SD card slot. You can essentially create a private cloud without having to upload files to a third-party cloud provider. The PogoPlug Series 4 costs $99.95, while the Pogoplug Office comes with support for up to five users and costs $149.95.
The Drobo Mini storage array incorporates Drobo's flexible BeyondRAID technology for adding new capacity into a portable disk enclosure with no downtime. The Drobo Mini holds up to four hot-swappable 2.5-inch hard disk drives (HDDs) and supports one mSATA SSD to accelerate data access. Dual Thunderbolt ports allows for 10Gbps bidirectional performance as well as daisy chaining, while a USB 3.0 port also brings high-performance connectivity to older platforms without a Thunderbolt port. The Drobo Mini is available for $649 with a connectivity cable and no HDD.
The xPrintServer from Lantronix is a small appliance that enables wireless printing straight from iOS devices such as iPads and iPhones to legacy printers. With support for more than 4,000 printers, the xPrintServer connects to an existing network via its 10/100 Ethernet port. Printing to USB printers is supported by plugging printers directly into the USB port of the xPrintServer, which also supports USB printer sharing over the network for Macs and PCs. This can be expanded up to eight USB printers using a USB hub. The xPrintServer Home costs $99.95, while the xPrintServer Office with Active Directory support and other features costs $199.95.
ioSafe SoloPRO Hard Drive
The ioSafe SoloPRO is a rugged external storage drive that's both fireproof and waterproof. Fire insulation technology incorporated into the enclosure helps protect data stored in the SOLO G3 for up to 30 minutes at 1550°F, while water is kept out even when immersed at depths of 10 feet for 72 hours. The SoloPRO works with Linux, Mac and Windows Server platforms and is designed to protect your business data against mishaps such as fire or a burst water pipe. Connectivity is offered via eSATA and USB 2.0, while a built-in Kensington Security lock prevents theft. The ioSafe SoloPRO costs $349.99 for 1TB of storage or $599.99 for 3TB.
The Dropcam HD is a wireless IP camera that connects to an existing Wi-Fi network, transmitting video in 720p HD directly to the Internet. With each Dropcam HD costing $149, it offers an affordable yet simple surveillance option. The default free service plan allows you to view video footage "live" from an iPhone or Android smartphone, as well as from a Web browser. Monthly fees apply if you want to store video data in the Dropcam cloud service for up to 30 days.
Doxie Go Scanner
The Doxie Go is a portable scanner designed for small offices that are looking to perform occasional scans but aren't interested in an all-in-one printer or dedicated scanner. The Doxie Go miniature scanner scans letter-size color pages at up to 600 dpi and has built-in ports for saving scanned documents directly to a USB flash drive or SD card. An internal rechargeable battery allows you to take the Doxie Go on trips—or just move it around the office. The Doxie Go is priced at $199 and works with both Windows PC and Macs.
Apple Airport Express Base Station
The AirPort Express is a Wi-Fi access point (AP) that offers simultaneous dual-band 802.11n wireless access. Costing just $99, the AirPort Express supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands simultaneously and should serve a small branch office well. Alternatively, you can deploy the Airport Express base station as a low-cost Wi-Fi AP for guest Internet access. This is likely a cheaper option than buying a separate business-grade AP with guest support baked in, and it leaves the capacity of the corporate wireless network untouched.
Lenovo ThinkVision LT1421 Travel Monitor
The ThinkVision LT1421 is an USB-based, 14-inch portable display that offers a second screen for on-the-go use. Weighing just 1.8 pounds (0.84 kg), the mobile monitor works well in the office with laptops and can also be quickly bundled for a work trip. Powered directly from the USB port, the LT1421 offers 16 brightness levels and comes with a built-in stand for adjusting it to the desired angle. Finally, a free plastic cover offers protection to the screen when traveling. The ThinkVision LT1421 costs $199.99.
Logitech K810 Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard
The Logitech K810 illuminated Keyboard is a wireless keyboard designed for the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) workforce in mind. Designed for Windows, Android and iOS platforms, the stylish keyboard makes it easy to quickly toggle between three different paired Bluetooth devices by clicking on the appropriate Easy-Switch key. And as its name suggests, the K810 offers auto-adjusting illumination that dims or brightens depending on the amount of ambient light, and switches it on automatically using its hand proximity detection. The Logitech K810 Illuminated Keyboard costs $99.99.
The Libratone Zipp is a portable sound system that supports various modes of wireless streaming including AirPlay, Bluetooth or DLNA. The classy-looking speaker offers excellent music playback and also comes with a built-in battery capable of eight hours of operation. This makes the Libratone Zipp an excellent choice for use both in the office and when on the road for an important sales presentation. The Libratone Zipp costs $399.95; interchangeable speaker covers in eight different colors can be purchased separately.