The annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has ended--now for the hands-on reports and gadget curation. Over the last week, I found my way through the crowded hallways and found six amazing new business gadgets. Here are the best hardware products I found; stay tuned for another report tomorrow on the top apps and tech startups.
1. FINsix adapter
I'm a big fan of gadgets getting smaller and lighter--especially if it means less bulk in my laptop bag. FINsix, a startup out of MIT with offices in Boston and Silicon Valley, has one answer. A new laptop adapter, set to launch this spring, that is about the size of your thumb but can power models from Dell, Sony, and others. When you order, you select the adapter for your notebook. It weighs only about 1.5 ounces. Cost: TBD.
2. Samsung Round
I had a chance to test the new Samsung Round smartphone in an extended hands-on demo. Details are a bit sketchy (and in Korean) as far as the specs and U.S. availability, but this design will likely replace the flat look of most smartphones. The sides curve inward to help reduce screen glare and make videos and photos pop. (The new LG G Flex achieves the same effect but curves in at the top and bottom.)
3. LaCie Sphère
Another trend at CES: hardware products, like this spherical hard disk, with a more contemporary design. The silver ball, out this month, looks like something you'd buy at an uptown store or from a European designer, but packs 1TB of storage for business files. The French company Christofle handcrafts the enclosure. Inside, the drive can encrypt your data, push to the cloud, and runs at only 90 percent power when idling. Costs: $490.
4. AT&T Unite Pro Mobile Hotspot
Available now, this hotspot has a unique feature to help on your next business trip. Up to 15 users can connect to the super high-speed LTE connection (around 20 Mbps in my tests) from their laptops, tablets, and phones. In a pinch, you can connect your tablet or phone to the built-in USB power port. The hotspot serves as a back-up battery for about 90 minutes of extra charging power. Costs: $50 on contract.
5. HP Slate 21 Pro
One new trend is for desktop all-in-one computers (the screen itself is a computer) to run an alternative operating system. At CES, companies like LG announced small desktops running Chrome OS. I liked this HP Slate 21 Pro model that runs Android 4.3. For starters, it's lightning fast for Web browsing. The 21-inch screen also doubles as a monitor since the Slate has an HDMI input. It's available now at $399.
6. Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2
Samsung let me try the new NotePRO 12.2-inch business tablet in an extended hands-on demo. The speedy tablet runs a customized version of Android and includes business apps like Hancom Office, a remote access app, and one for sharing your screen at a meeting. At the larger 12-inch size, presentations will be a bit more viewable in a small conference room. No word on an exact release date on the Note Pro in the U.S.