Old Articles About Me
Gift GearGuide 2012 - suggestions for improving office
by Alan Zisman (c) 2012 - First
published in Business in Vancouver, 4 December 2012
'Tis the season and all that. In years past, the High-Tech Office
seasonally recommended a range of high-tech gifts. This time around,
though, the focus is on high tech for the office. Instead of gifts for
your loved ones or yourself, these are recommendations to make your
work life more productive.
start off, take a break from reading this column and take a look at
your keyboard. Having coffee breaks and lunch at your desk has resulted
in a keyboard that's pretty grotty, right? Crumbs, brown stains and
I've seen some that seemed to have lichen growing. Do you really want
to type on that? Or even touch it?
You can wash your keyboard, but then you'll have to wait – often a week
or more – for the water that inevitably gets inside to dry out.
you toss that ugly thing, replacing it with its $40 Washable Keyboard K310.
It can be
even submerged in
water, making it much easier to keep it clean. It's reasonably
waterproof, spill- and dust resistant. It's even pretty stylish. A
bonus: no clicking sounds as you type.
The downsides? The feel is a bit mushy for my taste, and it's PC-only.
Of course, Mac users are too fastidious to ever spill anything on their
office probably has a Wi-Fi router. And it's probably several years
old. While you might think it's working fine, there are reasons to look
at replacing it. With newly released Linksys
EA6500 ($199), for
instance, manufacturer Cisco has dramatically simplified the steps
needed for initial set up (securely) and makes it possible to add
devices to the network with the tap of a button or quick scan of a tag.
After setting up an online account with Cisco, the router's
administration settings can be accessed (securely) from a web browser
or using an iOS or Android app. Antenna improvements result in
increased range – a very good thing – and the EA6500's support for the
new 802.11ac standard offers the possibility of bandwidth equal to
high-speed gigabit wired networking. Using its pair of USB ports you
can connect a printer and a hard drive and share them across the
Note though, high-speed 802.11ac wireless is not yet in wide use in
laptops, smart phones or other devices. The EA6500 will do a fine job
of working with older wireless standards, but these won't be any faster.
As well, some of the EA6500's features – such as the online access –
can be added to recent-generation Linksys products.
away from the office, for many of us our smartphones act as an office
in our pocket. That means being at the mercy of their limited battery
life. Motorola's Razr HD LTE
deserves attention for its extra-large
battery, resulting in up to 16 hours talk-time or up to six hours of
high-speed LTE network access on a single charge. Bonus features: a
large high-resolution display and rugged (Gorilla Glass and Kevlar
This Android-powered smartphone is exclusive to Rogers (from $99).
|Over the past year,
PC ultrabooks have challenged Apple's popular MacBook Air notebook
Like the Air,
ultrabooks are lighter and slimmer than your average
notebook. They're typically built around 13-inch displays and often use
fast and rugged solid-state (SSD) storage.
One of my
favorites is HP's Envy
Spectre XT (about $950). Among its features: all-metal
backlit keyboard, seven hours of battery life and better than average
audio (from Beats Audio). An Intel Core i5 processor, four gigabytes of
memory and 128 GB SSD storage combine to deliver perky performance.
||If you're moving to Windows 8,
though, you might want a notebook that also features a touch-sensitive
display or a convertible device that can be used both as a conventional
notebook and a tablet.
Expect a growing range of such products in the new year.
Toshiba's Satellite U920t convertible is
available now (about $1,150),
with a 12.5- inch touch screen and a unique sliding hinged keyboard.
This Windows 8 system is in many ways a hybrid ultrabook and tablet.
I'm sure my editor won't notice if I slip in something for you or
yours. The earbuds that ship with most smartphones or music players are
far from state of the art. A replacement set can vastly improve your
music-listening experience even if it doesn't make you more productive
in the office.
Wicked Audio offers headsets ranging from tiny earbuds to over-the-ears
headphones. Pricing starts at $10 ($15 with microphone) for its Deuce
The $30 Heist earbuds include a second jack on the cable for sharing
music with a significant other, enhanced bass and noise isolation.
The $50 Evac over-the-ear model provides higher fidelity sound and
collapses for easy portability.
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|About This Blog...
I've been writing about computers, software, Internet and the rest of
technology since 1992, including a 17 year (1995-2012) stint as 'High
Tech Office' columnist for Business in Vancouver. This blog includes
thoughts on technology, society, and anything else that might interest
me. Comments, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
are welcome - and may be published in whole or part. You can follow me
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