Column: Tricks & Tips
From the Sept. 2011 Issue
Even with all the talk about the productivity-boosting effects of going to the cloud … and SaaS this, and web-based that, technology hardware remains an essential component of any modern business. Yet, while the obvious core components of desktops, laptops, monitors, printers and even phones may immediately come to many people’s minds when they hear the term “hardware,” there are many specialty gadgets that can help businesses maximize their mobile mojo, empower their productivity, energize their efficiency and boost their bottom line.
Mobile Monitor Technologies — Field Monitor Pro
It seems that most professionals have gotten used to the advantages of multiple monitors on their desktop, and that’s not just at accounting firms, but at many other types of financial, legal and services businesses. Whether two, three or even more, research shows that multiple monitors help increase productivity by giving users the ability to have several programs viewable in full-size or minimized simultaneously. Yet for professionals whose work often takes them on the road, having to even temporarily work from a single (smaller) monitor can be more than an inconvenience; it can actually cause a decrease in efficiency. Lugging around an extra monitor isn’t an option, though. Or is it?
The Field Monitor Pro was created for accountants and designed to be mobile-friendly and easily portable. It includes a pivoting base that looks like a notebook PC but actually offers a full-size 10-key, a USB video connector, extra USB connections and a compact, built-in stand that allows for landscape or portrait configuration. For on-the-go professionals who often find themselves in the netherworld of single-screen, cramped-keyboard purgatory, especially auditors in the field, the Field Monitor Pro offers a well-deserved reprieve. The 15.4-inch monitors cost $289, can work with PCs and Macs, weigh only four pounds, and easily fit alongside laptops in travel bags. Watch a video to learn more at www.CPAPracticeAdvisor.com/10297419.
Novatel Wireless — MiFi
Even in an age when almost everything is web-enabled, not everything has built-in connectivity, which means you still may need a wireless network to use or have full internet access with your laptop, iPad, gaming devices, MP3 players or other Wi-Fi capable devices. That’s fine when you’re around the office or in an urban setting where there’s always a network to be found, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere on a road trip with colleagues, friends or family, that just isn’t an option, and adding 3G/4G packages to each of those items can get pricey.
That’s where the MiFi can be an essential tool that lets you share a personal wireless hotspot with up to five devices, whether they’re yours or the people sitting next to you. Smaller than an iPhone, the MiFi works like a mobile USB broadband card, but allows you to share your connectivity with others, with a range of up to 30 feet. It has a four-hour active use battery life, and up to 40 hours when on standby.
The MiFi also offers a memory card slot that allows it to hold up to 32GB of data. The MiFi is offered by the major wireless providers (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, et al), ranging in price from as low as $50 with a two-year plan.
Square Inc. — Square Credit Card Reader
More and more businesses are either mobile or their workers are, and for service-based companies, this can present a challenge when it comes to accepting the preferred manner of payment these days: credit and debit cards. Checks are risky and cash can be a hassle, but plastic is convenient for everyone. Unfortunately, many small businesses think of credit card processing and merchant account services as difficult and expensive. The good news is, it’s neither.