Bluetooth Bonanza: Gadgets for the Mobile Exec
By now, millions of mobile entrepreneurs and executives rely on a hands-free headset for their cell phone so they can multitask more efficiently and comfortably.
These devices, which operate on the increasingly popular Bluetooth wireless technology, are also a safer alternative when driving since both hands are on the wheel and both eyes on the road.
But there are many other -- and more interesting -- uses for Bluetooth pairing, designed to help keep a traveling businessperson productive, entertained, and in communication with colleagues, clients, or customers.
Here are four categories of wireless products to consider for your business:
Many automobiles today include integrated Bluetooth, therefore you need not wear a blue-flashing, Star Trek-like headset over your ear to engage in a conversation. By pairing your handset with the car, you can chat comfortably and hands-free through the car’s speakerphone. “This is a great feature, the ultimate phone accessory,” says Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupiter Research, a New York City-based technology advisory firm. “When the phone rings, you simply press a button on the steering wheel -- you don’t have to wear a headset or worry about recharging it.” Gartenberg says many car manufacturers are including Bluetooth on select models, such as Toyota, BMW, and Lexus.
Fordable keyboards have been around for a few years now, first introduced for the Palm-based personal digital assistants (PDAs) but the latest generation of these mobile accessories -- which fold out to a full-sized, QWERTY-based keyboard -- can be used wirelessly and with a variety of handsets, be they BlackBerrys, Windows Mobile or Palm-based products or Symbian-powered smart phones. They keyboards are especially ideal for those looking for a laptop replacement, but who don’t want to cramp up by inputting a lot of text with just thumbs. iGo (formerly Think Outside) makes wonderful fold-up keyboards, says Gartenberg. “You just store in your bag then pull it out, unfold it, and then crank out text when you need it.”
Mobile businesspersons may not like using a laptop’s touchpad or tiny directional nub in the middle of some keyboards. Therefore, it’s no surprise wireless mice are a popular alternative, many of which use a small receiver that snaps into an available universal serial bus (USB) port in order to wirelessly communicate with a small mouse. These usually aren’t Bluetooth-based, however, though there is a handy mouse that snaps inside the laptop’s PC Card or ExpressCard slot, which also recharges it, and then can be used as a mouse when popped out. These MoGo mice from Newton Peripherals sell for as low as $50. Many tech reviewers have praised these compact mice for its clever form factor and functionality.
Move and groove
Just because you’re traveling for work doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun during downtime. Many new smart phones offer Bluetooth Stereo support, meaning music stored on the handset can stream wirelessly -- in stereo -- to a compatible headset. The headsets look like regular earphones with two exceptions: they are completely wireless (therefore no cord will dangle down the neck), and if you look closely you’ll likely see a tiny microphone attached to one of the earphones since these headsets can also accept a phone call and temporarily mute or pause the music in the process. “Wireless stereo headsets are becoming more and more popular these days, so you can use them for music and chatting,” says Gartenberg.