If you are the kind of business professional who embraces new technology, then you may already be drooling over the latest gadgets to hit the consumer electronics scene this year. Business electronics are becoming amazingly powerful and a lot more affordable, thanks to this demand from small business consumers. That means you can afford to invest in business gadgets to help you work to your full capacity. To help you build your gadget “tool chest”, and increase efficiency, here are the top 5 gadgets every business should be utilizing now.
1. Smartphones (iPhone, Samsung, HTC)
There is really no way that the average business can function today with robust smart phones and mobile apps. Get the most up-to-date smartphones like the iPhone, Samsung or HTC for reliable connectivity on the go. Apps today are able to perform many standard business functions, from email and document sharing to web surfing and live video conferences from anywhere in the world. Use smartphones for storing data, handling transactions with clients, doing product demos, and tracking business expenses. Estimated costs are $49 to $300 per unit.
2. Tablet computers (iPad, Android)
The desktop computer has just about gone the way of the dinosaurs as a new generation of powerful computers in the form of sleek tablet computers has arrived. With memories that put even last year’s laptops to shame, the latest iPads and Android tablets are able to take business on the road in lightweight virtual offices that fit into a pocket. Use tablets for performing unique tasks like sharing video demos with clients on site, or conducting live video calls. The good news is that foreign manufacturing is driving the price down for tablet technology to as low as $200 for some models.
3. Mi-Fi (4G)
Need connectivity for your laptops, tablets and mobile devices anywhere? You no longer have to rely on Wi-Fi at coffee shops to check your emails and search the Internet. Instead affordable Mi-Fi units connect to the fastest 4G connection on the planet via mobile providers or retailers that sell other mobile devices. Many units will fit in your laptop bag easily and can securely connect up to 10 devices at a time. Smaller individual Mi-Fi units are available that plug directly into the USB port of any device. Costs range from $35 to $100 a month for Mi-Fi mobile service.
If you are giving presentations on a regular basis or you want a useful collaborative tool for your business teams, then a smart board may be the answer. Instead of handwritten notes and drawings, connect your presentations to a live web viewing screen that your team can view simultaneously. Manipulate spreadsheet data, website content, images, and share information with the convenience of hand controls on a huge whiteboard. Then save and share recorded notes with the attendees. Cost for a smartboard ranges from $300-1,000 depending on size and features.
5. GPS units
Running a business today means being more efficient when it comes to gas use and travel time. That means knowing the best route to use when visiting client sites or traveling for business events. GPS units are relatively low cost, many of them are connected to satellites with ongoing traffic updates, and they can be used in any vehicle. Get GPS units for all your remote employees to track their use of the company cars. Run web reports to spot wasteful driving habits and to find ways to cut costs. Costs are in the $50 t0 $200 ballpark for most GPS units.
Running a business today means being connected through a wide range of gadgets and mobile services. Yet, for many, this is a wise investment as more business pros work remotely at least part of the time, outside of traditional office spaces. Make sure the hard working folks who work at your business have access to the latest business gadgets so they can work efficiently at all times. Be sure to negotiate the best rates for new or refurbished gadgets from your current mobile or electronic service provider, and save with a group data plan.