From the April/May 2009 Issue
You know the New Year is kicking into gear with the sight of new gadgets being touted at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES; www.cesweb.org) where a cadre of The CPA Technology Advisor's contributors converged to see and experience the latest and greatest digital products. While many of these products are targeted to the consumer rather than business user, there are opportunities for use in accounting firms when you look at them with the right perspective. Here is my 2009 line up of the coolest new tools and technologies and how they may show up in your firm some day!
Lenovo W700 Dual Screen Laptop
The most practical application of technology I witnessed came from Lenovo (www.lenovo.com), integrating a 10.6” screen into the lid of a 17” laptop. This screen slips out in a vertical format for easy viewing of secondary documents. While there have been dual and even triple monitor laptops, Lenovo is the first major vendor to release a product that tax and accounting professionals would actually use.
Solid State Disks Become Mainstream
A number of laptop and camera manufacturers rolled out versions of Solid State Disks (SSD) to replace traditional disk drives, bringing faster performance and lower battery consumption. One opportunity for firms with laptops that are in their third year of use but running slow by comparative standards is to give them an “extension” of another year by replacing their existing hard drive with an SSD. SanDisk (www.SanDisk.com) touted 60GB replacement SSDs for $149 that are five times faster than the drives inside and cost much less than the $500 to $800 annual capital cost of a new laptop, which could be attractive in this tough economy.
DisplayLink Integrated Monitors
Adding a third or fourth monitor can be kludge if they are different sizes or capacities, which causes most firms to “batch” similar models together for ease of use. While Matrox’s DualHead2Go (www.matrox.com) has been the mainstay for most tax and accounting firms, they are not effective at mixed displays in a vertical (“portrait”) mode. Last year, DisplayLink (www.displaylink.com) rolled out an easy adapter to work around this issue, and this year they built their adapter directly into a number of screens from vendors such as Samsung (www.samsung.com), Lenovo (www.lenovo.com) and Toshiba (www.toshiba.com) so they are as easy as plug and play. The great thing about DisplayLink is that they can connect up to six different screen sizes and formats simultaneously.
Easier USB Backups
SanDisk (www.SanDisk.com) rolled out their latest “Ultra Backup” USB fobs with capacities of up to 64GB of storage. The twist this year is that these devices are being touted as backup storage devices with integrated backup software to make it easier to backup your critical files. For larger capacity backup needs, ClickFree (www.goclickfree.com) has a series of drives with “easy” integrated software. Or you can use their USB Transformer cable to connect a computer to any other kind of external hard drive, giving the user the benefit of the automated ClickFree system. The USB Transformer was rated as one of the Top Ten Last Gadgets Standing. The beauty of this device is that it can be used with your existing USB Hard Drive, which may have already come with software but been difficult to use. This was the case with our home family computer so I bought one on the spot ($60) to see if it can streamline those backups!