Perfect Presents For Any Professional (Part 1 of 2)

From the Nov. 2008 Issue

It’s beginning to look a lot like … well, you know. Whether or not snow falls in your area around this time of year, there’s no escaping the fact that the holidays are rushing upon us fast. And while many people lament the commercialization of the season, I look at it as a great time to play with the latest tech gadgets and other novel items for the business professional.

As of the mail date of this issue (November 26), you have about a month left to find the right gifts for those special people in your life, plus those “other ones,” like in-laws, coworkers, clients and the rest of your list. And don’t forget to put your own name on that list!

So here’s my annual collection of things I think are pretty cool and mostly geared toward business professionals, although a couple might just be fun. And if you still find yourself stumped for ideas, check out part two of this column in the January issue or online; it will be available around Dec. 20 for you last-minute types.


Cell phones? Puh-lease. Check out this Trio.

Business professionals rely on smart phones these days to keep up with work projects, e-mail, surfing the Internet, texting, IM and, well, phone calls. And the latest generation of Windows Mobile 6.1 smart phones lets users do all of these things in style. Take Samsung’s BlackJack II, now in various colors and offering faster 3G downloads, a large display and a more stylish look. There’s also the HTC Touch Diamond, with its 3-D interface; it’s a giant leap forward in combining tech ingenuity with intuitive usability. And don’t forget about the MOTO Q Global, one of the first devices to feature Windows Mobile 6.1, boasting worldwide capabilities and Motorola’s patented CrystalTalk technology for clear calls, GPS support and 3G speed for fast downloads and file transfers. (


An Impressive Storm
The BlackBerry brand has become almost synonymous with work-oriented, e-mail enabled smart phones. But the winds of change have ushered in the sleek new BlackBerry Storm, which features a unique “clickable” touch-screen interface that includes a full HTML web browser that can be used for portrait or landscape viewing and features scroll, pan and zoom functions. Plus, it has integrated GPS and offers full e-mail and calendar synchronization. (


Cutting Through the Noise
Featuring the new Noise Blackout technology, the new Jabra BT530 Bluetooth 2.0 wireless phone headset virtually eliminates background noise without compromising voice quality, and offers intelligent volume control. Plus, the tiny earpiece is lightweight and designed for all-day comfort, with a rechargeable battery that can last nearly six hours … so you can Jabra, or jabber, all through the day. (


Breathtaking Bluetooth Brute
With this beast of a Bluetooth mobile phone headset, you can wander as far as 328 feet away from your phone while talking, making it great when roaming around the office or the home. The Dragon V2 can also be used with computer-based Skype phone calls simultaneously to working with the mobile phone, with users able to simply switch between modes with the touch of a button. But wait! There’s more! Believe it or not, the Dragon even doubles as a two-way walkie-talkie type radio, letting users communicate with other Dragon headset wearers over a 250,000 square foot area. (


More Mobile MoJo
Mobile device users often utilize a lot of heavy digital content like videos, music, pictures, large data files and other items, but many phone models are limited in their storage capacity. Well, users can easily upgrade the memory with the SanDisk Mobile Ultra Card, available in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB versions. The easy-to-plug-in flash memory cards instantly pump up storage and data transfer speeds, helping “wake up” a mobile phone for better use with mobile digital content. (



Convenient, Pocket-Sized, Powerful
Got a lot of files? Yes, you do. Gotta move them from point A to point B? The Aegis Mini portable hard drive from Apricorn is the perfect remedy. With models offering up to 160GB capacity, the Aegis Mini is still smaller than a deck of cards, and it gets its power from the built-in USB cable you connect to your computer, so there’s no need to find an extra power outlet. This magical Mini also comes with data protection software, making it a great backup solution for stand-alone computers. (


Mini’s Big Brother
Apricorn also makes the Aegis Vault, which, although only slightly larger than the Mini, provides up to 500GB (whoa, Nelly!) of portable hard drive storage and is also powered through the USB drive. But the Aegis Vault also provides full, hardware-based, AES 128-bit encryption in real time, which is the ultimate in keeping sensitive data safe. Both the Mini and the Vault come with a padded neoprene travel pouch to help protect the drive from the rigors of travel. (


Portable Road Warrior
The masterminds behind the line of portable hard drives continue to come up with awesome innovations, and the USB-powered Maxtor Portable (available up to 320GB) is a perfect example. The drive, which can hold tons of client files, music, videos or games, are ultra-convenient and now come in a variety of colors. It’s a great addition to the armament of every road warrior who needs to safely and securely transport large amounts of computer files. (


Portable, Printable, Perfection
You’re on the go with your smart phone, and you’d love to print out that e-mail, document or photo … but how? Well, how about the Printstik, an amazing little device you can hold in your hand that can print directly from your Bluetooth-enabled PDA or phone with no wires or cords. It can also connect via USB to a laptop or desktop computer. This great gadget is per-fect for the road warrior and fits easily in computer bags or carry-ons, offering instant print capability wherever you may be. (


Agent 86 Would Be Envious
Wow! A scanner that can fit in your shirt pocket? The ultra-portable, cordless DocuPen RC 800 lets users easily scan full documents, images or other items at up to 24-bit color and 400 dpi resolution. And its built-in memory can store hundreds of documents, letting mobile business pros quickly digitize documents, then transfer them into their laptop or PC. Unlike many of its predecessors, the DocuPen scans the full width of a page, instead of just a line or two. Plus, the Professional version includes ABBYY Sprint Fine-Reader OCR software. Maxwell Smart may have had a shoe phone and the “cone of silence,” but the DocuPen is truly a gadget worthy of a secret agent, or a frequent business traveler. (


For Your Eyes Only
Having anywhere, anytime mobile computer access has been a great boost to professional productivity, but has it risked security of your sensitive documents and files? I’m not talking about encryption and spyware; I’m talking about the potential wandering eyes of the person sitting next to you on the plane or train. Instead of flipping your laptop screen away, try the 3M Laptop Privacy Filter, a thin, micro-louver film that fits over laptops and “blacks out” the screen so only the user can see its contents and data. (


Power Protection on the Go
You’re in a hotel room, and you want to recharge your computer, your iPod and your phone. But there are never enough outlets available unless you scatter the devices throughout the room. Fortunately, the folks at Belkin have created the Mini Surge, a nifty little three outlet strip that also includes two ports for devices that use USB-based power charging. This is a simple idea that has real advantages for even casual travelers. (


Can You See Me Now?
Great for professionals who work at the office alone at night, or those who work from home and need to keep an eye on the kids or other areas of the house, the Portable Digital Wireless Monitoring Sys-tem from Lorex is similar to a baby monitor, but with full color LCD and a wireless webcam unit that works from up to 450 feet away. It can even be expanded to up to four camera units that are completely wireless and can be placed anywhere, letting users see what’s going on around the corner, downstairs or at the door. (


Are You “Gellin” on the Links?
The latest innovation in putters is GEL’s Paul Hurrion line, a PGA-approved design that has a faceplate with horizontal grooves that help keep the ball from hopping or skidding. The putters are designed by British Open champion Padraig Harrington’s golf coach, and they are available in various club head styles. I was given the opportunity to test one of the GEL putters (which, by the way, re-quired rigorous time on the golf course), and I loved its perfect balance and its smooth-as-butter action. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it. (


Become a Real Guitar Icon
Dreaming of becoming the next Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan or Eric Clapton? Forget playing a video game and get Fretlight, the first real computer-powered teaching guitar that’s like having your own personal teacher inside the guitar. You don’t know anything about music? Well, don’t fret, the specially designed guitars (available in electric and acoustic) plug into a PC or Mac, while video-based guitar lessons take you from zero to hero as they walk you through a variety of lessons and songs illustrated on the guitar’s lighted fret board. (


Home Improvement
Congratulations, you made it to the weekend. But football might have to wait until you finish that “honey do” list. Whether building a new deck, putting up drywall or just hanging pictures, take a look at the new Husky Tough Tape — it sure isn’t your father’s measuring tape. The extra durable Tough Tape is virtually indestructible and has a lifetime warranty, provides measurements on both sides and includes magnets on the end to help keep it in place when working alone. (


At the office and at home, we’ve got so many electronic devices these days that finding enough power outlets to go around can be a challenge. And then there’s the threat of power surges, which could fry your computers or other valuable tech gear. Enter the SurgeArrest from APC, an energy efficient surge protector that offers seven electrical outlets, plus phone/fax/modem protection. The device also includes power-saving features such as “master-controlled” outlets and comes with a $25,000 guarantee. (


Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
Whether for business or pleasure, if you’re going abroad and don’t have any knowledge of the local languages, your trip could be less than you hoped for. But don’t worry, you don’t have to go back to German or Spanish 101 … just get the Franklin 12-Language Speaking Global Translator. The handheld device lets you look up more than 450,000 words and 12,000 phrases in 12 languages, then speaks them aloud to either you or the person you wish to communicate with. The Translator also includes an MP3 player, currency and metric converter, and a world clock. (