This past year was one of the best in recent memory for innovative new gadgets to help you run your operation smoothly, keep employees happy, and stay connected. Check out these nine products--all stand-outs in their respective categories.--John Brandon
Most earbuds sound like electrified tin cans. This high-end set lasts for 30 hours on a charge and matches the quality of home stereo headphones. The 40mm diaphragms are made of a polymer film to make sure Arcade Fire sounds crisp and clear. You can sync with your phone using near-field communication by tapping the devices together, which joins Bluetooth signals.
This 27-inch monitor runs at a higher resolution than most: 2560x1440. Photos pop off the screen, and text in Word is much easier to read than an older, lower-res monitor. The monitor also supports the industry-standard Mobile High Definition Link cable for connecting a tablet or smartphone.
This hybrid tablet and notebook offers the best of both worlds. The tablet, held in place by magnets on a hinge, snaps off to help you be more mobile. The X2 weighs 3.1 pounds and has a 11.6-inch screen, plus there’s a high-end 8-megapixel webcam for videoconferences. Both the tablet and base have a battery that last a total of 14 hours (the tablet can charge off the base).
Complement your offices gadgets with this pour-over coffeemaker. A 1450-watt heating element heats up the water in a tank, then flows through a glass tube to pour over the grounds. For office workers, the design is ideal: There’s a vacuum-sealed thermal jug you can grab for meetings.
By all rights, the iPhone 5 should dominate in business. But this past year, the SIII made some serious inroads, partly due to some nifty hardware perks. Using near-field communication, you can tap phones together to share a contact. The 4.8-inch AMOLED display is super-crisp. The phone knows when you are looking at the screen--set it down, and the display will dim to save battery life. Also, it has an 8-megapixel cam.
My top pick among small form factor models, the Chromebox is designed for people who only need access to the Web. You can’t run Photoshop or the desktop versions of Word, but this computer is blazingly fast, requires little maintenance or set-up, and sips power. It has six USB ports, supports two monitors at the same time, and comes with 4GB of RAM and a 100GB solid-state drive.
This full-size keyboard is sculpted--but not too sculpted. My typing speed went up a notch thanks to the springy keys. There are hotkeys designed for Windows 8 so you can quickly switch between apps and pull up the Start home screen. The palm rest is, thankfully, soft and comfortable.
Why carry a projector that’s bigger than your laptop when this micro model will do? With a 300 lumens bulb, your PowerPoint slides will look bright and clear. The projector measures 4x4-inches and just under 2-inches tall, and weighs about 13 ounces, so it fits nicely in a laptop bag (with your laptop).
Why mess around with desktop printers when you can solve just about every document problem all at once? This multi-function printer can scan docs and convert them to text. Print speed runs at 42-pages-per-minute and there are multiple options for 100- and 500-sheet input trays. The big win? There’s a touchscreen display you can use to control print jobs and preview prints/scans before output.
Read more: Office Furniture of the Future