In a world where technology is synonymous with efficiency, a businessperson is only as effective as the gadgets he or she uses, right?
David Chan thinks so. "The devices and software I use liberate me from the hassles of remembering everything, save me money and certainly help with my productivity," the San Francisco-based Internet marketing executive of AD Publishing said.
Juggling back-to-back meetings and staying organized while on the go can be challenging. But a few multipurpose, compact products can help business travelers work easier with less. "Over the past few years, there has been a rapid evolution of all-in-one technology road warriors dream about," said Ed Ludwigson, vice president and general manager for Staples Technology Solutions, a business-to-business arm of the Staples office supply retail chain. "Gone are the days of needing a rolling suitcase to lug the necessary devices to conduct business on the road."
You already have a cell phone and computer. Here's a few of our favorite, supplementary portable gadgets, priced from about $15 to $500 (find more accurate pricing information on an item’s website):
Leave the tangled cord chargers at home. The size of a Blackberry, this cordless charger powers 2 devices simultaneously through DC or AC outlets. The prongs rotate 180 degrees so the charger doesn't block other holes in the outlets. It's compatible with leading laptop manufacturers and features tips for cell phones, cameras and iPod/iPhones, eliminating the need to carry most power cords. If one of your device's tips isn't included, Targus will send it free.
This security software is helpful for one critical reason: 12,000 laptops are lost in US airports each week and two-thirds are never returned, according to research firm Poneman Institute. LoJack software enables the laptop owner to remotely locate and lock the device and delete sensitive files. The LoJack Theft Recovery Team works with law enforcement to try to recover.
When you must leave your heavy laptop behind, this compact, wireless pen allows users to write, sketch and draw freely using regular paper while it simultaneously captures and stores work in the real-time Flash memory. It can be uploaded to a computer via USB. Handwritten notes become typewritten with accompanying software MyScriptNotes 3.0.
This portable scanner weighs less than 1 lb. and is powered via USB. With accompanying software, businesspeople can scan and organize receipts, travel expenses and business cards while en route. The scanner extracts information from hard copies and sends to a "digital filing cabinet" on the user's computer. The best part is the data can be exported.
Apple's iPad still rocks the top of business travelers' must-have lists because it's lightweight, compact and serves multiple business and entertainment purposes. About the size of a steno pad and just over 1 lb., the iPad is the perfect computer supplement, allowing you to read books and magazines, watch movies, edit spreadsheets, read email, search the Internet, record meetings and download music and travel apps, among other functions. "The app store is so comprehensive that I can essentially run my online business from the iPad," said Matt Reider, creator of travel website, CanuckAbroad.com.
It's basic, but a power strip is the master gadget simply because it charges the state-of-the-art devices you love where plugs are scarce. "At the airport, it means I can walk up to the person who is hogging the outlet, ask nicely if I can plug in my power strip, then plug in his device followed by mine," said Cindy Richards, editor of TravelingMom.com. "In the hotel room, the power strip acts as a charging station. I have never left behind a power cord since I started carrying one." Weighing about 1lb. and just over 6" long, it fits nicely in your purse or carry-on.