What might seem like yet another USB thumbdrive is actually quite innovative. About the size of your fingertip, the USB drive is almost weightless and has a hole that you can slip through a keychain ring. That means the storage is always with you and the thumbdrive is impossible to lose (unless you lose your keys). Made from a durable plastic, the Tuff-n’-Tiny is unique in that the exposed connector is adhered right to the plastic case, instead of how most thumbdrives use a case with a slide-out connector. In our tests, we started relying more and more on the small drive and less on an external hard drive or a larger (and easy to lose) thumbdrive.
We’re big fans of anything that will bring sanity to the desktop. With the AppelCore, you can wrap a cord around a spindle and secure the cable into a small divot. The rubber spindles come in three sizes, costing from $2 to $5 each. They come in eight different colors to match your décor. In our tests, they trimmed down a mess of cables and actually helped us stay a little more organized. In a laptop bag, they’re handy because you can pull out a wrapped cord faster and easier.
There are countless ways to use Skype, the free Internet phone service: say, with a headset connected to your computer or as an iPhone app. The Freetalk ConnectMe Home Phone Adapter is a smart innovation because it works with a standard desk phone. First, you connect the adapter to your router using an Ethernet cable. Then, you connect a standard phone. To call those who are not using Skype, you have to use Skype’s paid landline service, but the adapter comes with 60 minutes of free landline calling. A $60 version includes a one-year plan. Even though the product is intended for home use, it works fine with a business router at work.
Available in mid-October, this HP all-in-one printer lets you print, scan, and copy documents to your PC – but the “killer” feature is a new technology called HP TopShot. The M275 includes a document scanning arm. You place objects on the “stage” below the arm, and the M275 can snap six images in succession and combine them into one. The shots use three different angles and three lighting levels. The idea is that you don’t need to use a photo studio to take pictures of items you sell online. You can also scan receipts, business cards, or any object.
This affordable UPS (uninterruptable power supply) can run for about 20-45 minutes to keep your computer and office equipment running if there is a power failure. Yet, the truly unique feature is called EcoControl. Because the UPS itself knows when your computer is plugged in, the Eaton 3S can detect when your computer goes to sleep, sits idle, or is shutdown. (In a sense, it “feels” the power being drawn for the main PC outlet.) When you plug other devices into one of the other nine outlets, the 3S can automatically cut their power to save on your bill. Eaton says using the 3S can cut energy costs for connected devices up to 30 percent.
Here’s a unique way to take credit card orders. This handheld card swipe reader, which weighs just a hair over 13 ounces, includes a barcode reader and a thermal printer for printing out receipts. You snap your iPhone into the slot and download the apps that create a secure connection to the PaySaber site. Costs to use the service vary by the number of transactions you generally complete each month.
These business-minded energy monitors (they’re called modlets) plug into wall outlets in your office. There’s a USB receiver you use on a PC to monitor the energy use of printers, fax machines, computers, or any connected device. The “modlets” communicate with the USB receiver over a wireless signal. The included enterprise-class software can generate reports on energy consumption for all outlets. (The basic package includes five modlets and the receiver for $335). You can also set schedules for when the modlets provide power to your office equipment.
This USB cable solves a complex problem. When someone brings in a laptop to your business, and they want to share files with you, you’d normally need to connect the laptop, configure security settings, load the files onto the network, and then copy the files to your own laptop. With the Wormhole KM Switch, you plug the USB cable into both computers (Mac or PC). The Wormhole includes software on the USB connector that you install on each computer, and you can then copy files. As a bonus, the keyboard and mouse on one computer can control the second computer.