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Firm Management

CES 2015 – It’s All About the Gadgets!

Each January, we conduct our pilgrimage to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which puts on display the latest electronic technology and trends for the world to see and decide if they are a “hit” or a “miss.”

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Each January, we conduct our pilgrimage to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which puts on display the latest electronic technology and trends for the world to see and decide if they are a “hit” or a “miss.”

CES 2015 was yet another record breaking year with more than 170,000 participants and 3,600 vendors converging on Las Vegas for the annual geek confab. We spent three days attending product briefings and perusing exhibition space, which this year covered more than 2.2 million square feet (about the size of 38 football fields), with a focus on trends and technologies that could impact the accounting space.

Below we discuss five business trends and a glimpse of emerging products that give us all something to think about and be excited for in the future.

2015 is the 50th Anniversary of Moore’s Law which basically states computing power (the number of transistors per square inch on a chip) will double every two years, which continues to be true today with some chips having more than 4 billion transistors onboard. Micronization means not only fitting more capability into a smaller package, but also less energy utilization which extends battery life where laptops such as the new Dell XPS 13 (which won the award for the most innovative computer technology at CES), can get close to 15 hours of battery life.

Dell also rolled out their Infinity display on this laptop which minimizes the bezel on three sides of the screen so it runs almost to the edge; again making the most of the available space. Dell also claimed the title of the world’s slimmest tablet with their Venue 8 7000 series Android which is 6mm thin. This tablet also has an 8.4” OLED Infinity screen and has 2560×1600 resolution.

Micronization also impacted storage capacity with Solid State Drives (SSD) such as the Samsung T1 fitting 1 Terabyte (1,000 Gigabytes) of storage onto a business card sized drive weighing less than an ounce. Another Laptop of note was Lenovo’s LaVie HZ750 which is a 13 inch convertible laptop with a keyboard that can fold completely around so the device acts like a tablet, weighing in around 2 pounds, taking your Yoga designs to the next level.

Office Tech:
Consumer headlines from this year’s CES focused on 4K plus displays and curved screens which were targeted at home televisions, but HP quietly rolled out their 34” curved PC displays (HP 34C) which would be a suitable replacement for two traditional screens on any CPA desktop. While the initial $999 price tag may bring out sticker shock, within a year we expect that price to come down enough for use within accounting firms.

To connect your equipment, IOGear had an amazing USB Universal Docking Strip with six USB 3.0 ports and two HD video ports already capable of supporting the future 4K standard! For laptop users that only have a mini display port for external video, Accell released a new Dual Display MST Hub that had connections for two HD monitors.

Canon updated their existing scanner lines with new models such as the DR M16011 and DR-C225W desktop units, as well as their portable P21511 unit which improves throughput. One of the biggest surprises was HP getting into the 3D printer business with commercial grade units.

During the Intel briefing, HP announced their Multi Jet Fusion business 3D printers will be running on Intel i7 processors which make these printers ten times faster than existing units and could make prototyping available to everyone! 3D printing made a huge splash at CES this year with the units not only printing food and custom chocolates, but even designer dress prototypes which you have to see to believe (photo).

Mobile Tools:
Working on the road is a requirement today and we saw some great tools such as the SwiftPoint Mini Mouse, which was one of the smallest and intuitive to use we had ever seen. Most of us rely extensively on our smartphones and tablets to get at data, but I will admit that when anything longer than a few words needs to be input, I hold off to use my laptop.

Zagg Keyboards may change this as they have added touch keyboards for virtually any smartphone, tablet, or phablet. Backpacks to carry your gear are also getting connected and Ampli rolled out their Smart Backpack which has seven USB connections, AC power inverter and batteries to keep all your devices charged and your auditors moving onto the next client. This backpack comes with a smartphone application to let you know the status of all devices and warn you if the BlueTooth connection is broken (if you left it behind or if someone tries to steal it!)

While not tech-shattering, MiFi’s latest Internet Hot Spot (6620) can connect up to 15 users and has 20 hours of battery life. This device could act as a backup Internet connection for a small office as well as charge devices through the USB port in a pinch. We also saw a number of digital cellular boosters and signal extenders such as the Cel-Fi units that may help in client locations with poor reception.

Suitable Tech Beam demoed a floor full of Telepresence Robots that could allow personnel to virtually attend meetings and actually move around an office, even though they are in a remote location thousands of miles away! Most of us are either Apple or Android people and not likely to change our phones, but one “super gadget” phone that may open the door to future functionality combines a traditional smartphone with a digital ink back.

The YotaPhone’s bonus feature is that 2D black and white data such as a clock, weather, and messaging notifications can be displayed on the phone’s e-ink back (which is very low power usage), while traditional features are on the standard screen.

No one likes to carry bulky charging cables, but there were a couple of units that make it a whole lot easier with smaller form factors. The FinSix Dart is the world’s smallest 65W laptop charger and the ChargeTech Phone Charger claims to be the smallest phone charge, saving space in your computer bag.

In the long run we may not even need a charger cable as the Wireless Consortium has rolled out standards for both conductive and resonance power. What does that mean? It means you can lay down your phone, laptop, tablet, heck even your blender or toaster on the wireless pad and it will charge them! This is not Sci-Fi as Marriott is already rolling out this technology in their hotels!

Well, that’s our recap of some of the coolest gadgets and promising technologies we saw at CES 2015. It’s always a pleasure to see and dream about what the future can bring; hope you have a great busy season!

Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA.CITP and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt is Director of Consulting for Xcentric, LLC and works exclusively with accounting firms to optimize their internal production workflows within their tax, audit, client services and administrative areas. His Quantum of Paperless Guide ( outlines 32 digital best practices all accounting firm partners need to understand today.


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