When you’re a small business you need technology on your side to increase productivity and gain leverage versus larger firms. Believe it or not I used to be a technophobe. I was one of the last in my circle to get a real cellphone and as for other types of gadgets, forget about it.
Well, times have changed. I’m not necessarily an early adopter now, but do keep my eyes and ears open for new items that can help me with my business. In the hopes that I can help you, here’s my short list of favorite gadgets. In a future post I’ll share favorite software. All of these items can be found at my Amazon aStore
Item 1. My latest fave is the Echo Smartpen. Created by Livescribe this gadget allows me to record all of my meetings with clients and prospects to either share with them or for later review when working on a project. The recording quality is really good and easy to share. Another nifty and somewhat inexplicable feature is that your handwritten notes are connected with the recording, i.e., if you revisit your notes and tap with the pen on any word, the recording will play from that point in the meeting. Then, from there you can go forward or back. Amazing device worth the investment if notes and recordings are important to you. There are many apps being developed for this device that I haven’t even begun to tap in to yet, but I’m sure that makes this pen even more worthwhile an investment.
Item 2. The Plantronics Voyager Pro bluetooth headset. I’ve only owned a few bluetooth headsets and this is by far the best. Have you ever spoken to someone while they’re driving and knew they were driving by the sound in the background? This headset all but eliminates that telltale sound. It also does a fair job of screening out wind noise when you’re walking outside. If you talk on the cell as much as I do – a few thousand minutes per month – then you need the best headset you can get. This one is right up there and affordable for how important it is. Another important point is that Plantronics provides top-notch US-based support. My first headset had the earbud come apart from the body. It may have been due to my own rough handling, but one call to Plantronics and there was a brand new unit winging its way to my home with few questions asked. They want you to be satisfied with their products. I like that attitude a lot and will support the company as long as they feel that way about their clients.
Item 3. The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 is a desktop scanner. I’ve written about this device in the past. It does one thing and does it incredibly well – scan. I don’t use it everyday, but when I do use it I really appreciate it how fast and perfect it is. If you’re swimming in paper in your office, then you need to clear your physical desktop and move paper to your digital desktop. The ScanSnap makes the job, well, a snap. It’s pricey, but you won’t regret the investment.
Item 4. The Cardscan Executive V8 Card Scanner is the tool to use to get information off business cards and in to your Outlook Contacts. I network a fair amount and definitely get business cards just about every week. Hand typing information in to your address book is ridiculous. Unless you’re a low-level worker bee your time is worth more than that. Even more important is that procrastination isn’t much of an issue because the Cardscan is fast and very accurate. It stumbles on custom cards that are hard to read, but that’s acceptable. Most cards you get will be standard issue and accurately scanned. Incidentally, the card scanning software that comes with the ScanSnap above is awful.
Item 5. The Flip Ultra HD is my handheld videocamera of choice. I might buy a Kodak Zi8 if given a second chance, but I’m quite happy with the Flip. It takes good video and captures sound well, too. It’s super easy to get videos up on Facebook or YouTube with this camera. If you’ve held back on video marketing because you think you need to hire a professional or buy a very expensive camera, think again. The Flip just might be your answer.
Item 6. The Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 is even easier to use than the Flip because it connects right to your PC and records good video for easy uploads to social media sites. I’ve also been using it with Skype and getting good results. It’s cheap for how useful it can be. I think a decent webcam is essential office gear. There’s probably a new model that’s better for less, so do your homework. Logitech products are high quality.
Item 7. The Sansa Clip mp3 player is what I use to listen to audiobooks while driving, shopping and washing dishes. It’s $50 and worth $5,000 once you start using it as a mobile university device. I’ve also been listening to mp3s from a variety of educators in marketing and social media. It’s about 2 inches high by 1 and 1/4 inches wide, which makes it really light and easy to carry around. Talk about reliable, I’ve used this item almost every day for somewhere near two years. I’m very impressed by this device. I have an iPod and don’t use it because I actually prefer the Clip. Go ahead and call me crazy.
Item 8. The Asus UL80Vt-A1 is the laptop I tote. No, I don’t have an iPad. This laptop boots up quick, grabs wi-fi just like that and lasts almost all day on a charge. It’s 4 pounds and looks slick. The mousepad and click stick is weird, I’ll admit, which is why I always carry a wireless Logitech mouse with it. The price is right and it comes standard with accidental damage coverage, which is rare on laptops. Asus is under-rated in my opinion. This blog probably won’t change that, but I’m trying.
Item 9. Blackberry Bold from T-Mobile is the smartphone for me. It lasts all day on a charge and does email very well. No, it’s not an iPhone and I’m reminded of that when I take photos or go on to Facebook, but those are secondary to email and voice, which the Blackberry handles like a champ. I’m one year in to this phone and it’s giving me no trouble and as I mentioned when talking about the Voyager Pro headset, I talk on the phone for a few thousand minutes a month. I think that makes me a heavy user. Blackberry’s up to it.
Item 10. The Western Digital Elements 1tb desktop back up hard drive also goes in to the essential gear category. If you’re not backing up your documents and media regularly, you’re nuts. I’ve heard of way too many crashed and poisoned hard drives to want to leave it to chance that my PC won’t fail. Note this drive is a little finicky about where it plugs in to the wall and to the PC, both need to be direct, but once you’ve got that dialed in it works like a charm. Hard to believe you can get this much storage for just $70.00. I’m glad I have the Elements drive backing up my stuff. You will be, too.
Remember these items are all available for perusal (except for the Blackberry) in my Amazon aStore. Full disclosure, I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means if you buy from my aStore I will get a commission. The price is no different to you, which is they only way I’ll be an affiliate.
Hope this list is helpful to you! There are probably a few items I’ve left off this list, but that’s all right. I can always post a part 2. Tell me what you think about these items and what you would add to your list.