For business users, having the right gadget can make the difference between a successful trip to a remote office or wasting time with tech snafus. CIO.com tested these seven new business devices – ranging from PCs to routers to, yes, tables – to make sure they can withstand the rigors of a hectic workday.
Acer Chromebook 13
The radical shift away from desktop apps in every corner of business continues unabated, and this low-cost laptop ($280) is a sure sign of the trend. The clamshell design – available in white – and soft-touch keys make it an attractive notebook, but zippy performance comes from the new NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor running at 2.1GHz. Plus, the Acer Chromebook 13 boots into Chrome OS for running Web apps without the speed-crippling overhead of Windows. It also comes with 100 GB of free Google Drive storage, a 10-hour battery and a 13-inch display.
Meant for small teams of about 10 employees, this low-cost videoconferencing system ($999) is much less than the telepresence systems from Cisco Systems or Polycom. In addition to the Asus Chromebox itself, the package includes a 1080p Logitech webcam, a microphone/speaker unit and a remote control.
Clip the webcam to an existing monitor, place the speaker on the table and then connect over Google Hangout to see multiple video feeds. Using Hangouts also lets you share documents and your desktop screen with the room. Administrators can manage the devices remotely as well.
The Phorce Pro laptop bag looks way too stylish and consumer-friendly to work for serious business travel, but it packs some serious punch. Inside, there's a full 26,000 mAH lithium-ion battery pack that can charge up to three devices, including a PC or Mac laptop. (The Mac version of the bag is $699, while the PC version is $649.) The bag itself can be carried as a briefcase, backpack or messenger bag. An app for iPhone or Android lets you communicate with the bag to check the remaining power available – and get a reminder not to forget the bag whenever you leave.
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Yubico FIDO U2F Security Key
This second-factor authentication key ($18) works with a business laptop when travelling. You insert the key, press the button on the key itself and gain secure access without having to worry about weak passwords and unauthorized users. The waterproof and crushproof key uses 128-bit AES encryption and provides a unique public and private key pair for each application it protects. The Yubico FIDO U2F Security Key supports Windows, Mac OSX and Linux also works with the new Google security Key.
Using a unique spring-loaded adjuster lever, this workstation table rises from 29 inches to 49 inches with one quick pull. Unlike other stand-up desks, the Livello doesn't use a crank or an electronic switch, which can be time-consuming and discourage employees from going into "stand-up mode" during the day. There's also no crossbar, which allows for greater leg and knee clearance. The Teknion Livello Counterbalance Workstation Table is available in multiple sizes up to 72 inches wide and comes in a lush flintwood, seamless, veneer or laminate finish. Prices vary according to dimensions, finishes and edgings.
[ Commentary: Back Hurt? It Could be Time for a Standing Desk ]
Many large companies are starting to see how Dropbox might not be the best choice for sharing business presentations across the Internet – especially those that contain privileged knowledge about finances or future plans. The Connected Data Transporter Genesis appliance (prices vary) provides many of the same "cloud" functions, but runs entirely on-premises, so employees can share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other files with each other easily and quickly. The data is still available from any location in the world, but the appliance runs in your own data center. Connected Data offers five appliances, from an individual version to the Genesis 150, which supports up to 150 users and 24TB capacity per node.
Wireless N Travel Router
A low-cost travel router ($50) for business use, this slim pocket device is about the size of two fingers. It connects to the Ethernet connection in a conference room or hotel, for example, to share a Wi-Fi signal at 802.11n speeds – around 100Mbps depending on the conditions. The Wireless N Travel Router runs off USB power from your laptop using a Micro USB cable. The router also runs in a "repeater" mode to extend the range of a Wi-Fi connection. To make sure the connection is secure, you can enable WEP or WPA2 encryption for the Wi-Fi signal.