In the last decade, you’ve replaced your clunky desktop and thrown away your ancient fax machine, but are you on the cutting edge of technology? At the very least, are you keeping up with your competitors? These days technology in the work place isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity that can quickly make you stand out to clients and improve work efficiency.
But before you drop big bucks on the latest and greatest gadget, consider these four technology must-haves that, according to the reviews by TechBargains’ expert staff of tech enthusiasts and bargain hunters, will help get the job done, take your business mobile and impress your clients–all for less than $1,500 collectively.
1. Tablet. Think about the last conference you attended. How many tablets did you see? They are everywhere. Why? No lag time waiting for your computer to boot. No huddling around a laptop for a presentation. Tablets are small and portable, allowing for easier collaboration. Tablets are an easy way for a small business to look more tech savvy to prospects. Pass the tablet around, hold it up for the group and use it to take notes in your next meeting.
Apple’s new iPad (third generation) is our clear favorite in this category with its unmatched screen quality and wide variety quality apps. With 4G capability, small-business owners can take work on the go, access their e-mail and use the iWork apps to complete tasks. The retina screen makes pictures and text crisp and clear for demonstrations. But the new iPad isn’t perfect. It doesn’t have a built-in USB port, it doesn’t support Adobe Flash Player, and it comes with a hefty price tag starting at $499 for 16GB.
If you prefer an Android tablet, check out the Motorola Xoom. It has a slightly larger display than the new iPad. It can play Adobe Flash videos and also comes with a Micro USB port. For $449 32GB of internal storage also comes standard with the Motorola Xoom. (You can obtain the extra storage capacity for the new iPad for an additional charge.)
2. Professional document scanner. Imagine a clutter-free work space. Here is a way to safely empty the office drawer full of receipts, clear out the wallet spilling over with business cards and get rid of the folder overflowing with invoices. The professional document scanner takes all your loose papers and scans them, allowing you to compile all of the documents into neat folders on your computer. It works five times faster than an all-in-one printer or a basic scanner with greater reliability and fewer paper jams. Look for reliable models in the $300 to $400 range like the Epson Workforce Pro GT-S50 Document Scanner or the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Sheet-Fed Document Scanner.
3. Mobile WiFi hotspot. A small-business owner no longer needs to worry whether a location at which you are meeting a client has WiFi. This small device known as a “hotspot” is essentially a mobile wireless router that allows you to access the Internet anywhere you go. Move from the boardroom to the park to the coffee shop, even access the Internet while in a car. A mobile wireless router allows access to multiple devices making it easy for the whole team to hop online. Mobile WiFi hotspots are available through most wireless carriers, ranging in price from free with contract to $125.99.
4. Portable projectors. This handheld device is perfect for presentations on the go. Pico Projectors, also known as pocket projectors, are small enough to fit in your shirt pocket and weight about a pound. The device works with mobile phones, laptops and digital cameras to project digital images on any viewing space. No screen required. As long as there is a blank wall you can display clear images and video.
This technology has advanced in recent years to bring clarity to detailed pictures and sharpness to text. Some are equipped with remote controls, internal memory and USB ports. Models range from $199 to over $500. We like the AAXA Technologies M2 Micro Projector for its excellent image quality, the built-in media player and speakers. Optoma Technology has a variety of palm-sized projectors, some come with Apple connection kits to easily share materials from an iPhone or iPad.
To find what you're looking for, you can always read product reviews on CNET.com, compare prices and find the best deals on price comparison sites like Shopping.com and deal aggregation sites like TechBargains.com.
OPEN Cardmember Yung Trang is the President and Editor in Chief of TechBargains.com, the leading deal aggregation Website for consumer electronics.
Products clockwise from top left: Apple iPad 3, T-Mobile 4G Mobile HotSpot, Epson Workforce Pro GT-S50 Document Scanner, AAXA Technologies M2 Micro Projector. All images courtesy and copyright the represented brands.