August 28, 2014

8 Innovative Devices, Gadgets and More for Small Business

When you’re on the road, whether locally or internationally, sometimes you just need that little device, gadget or thingamajig to make your work life easier.  These tools are not just for road warriors, but for anyone who appreciates elegant lifehacks.

Here are eight of my favorites:

Breffo spiders are absolutely amazing. Simple, but super cool. You can mold one into a stand for your iPad, iPod, Droid, mobile phone or whatever else it can wrap itself around. My only advice: Do not play around and set one up to look like a giant spider to scare your friend on a dark night. It will scare them, and you won’t like the outcome (nor will your friend).

LoJack for Laptops.  When my laptop was stolen a few years back, how I wished for LoJack-type technology to get the data back–never mind the laptop. Now it’s here. Instead of a silly cable lock that can be easily snipped, load the LoJack software if you are wandering around anywhere where your machine is out of sight.

Skype Mobile has saved my neck a bunch of times. Last year, Skype sent me a DroidX to test and play with, and having VOIP on a mobile phone simply rocks. When I’m close to my call minute maximum or I just feel like making a free call, the Skype Mobile app via the Verizon cell network cannot be beat. You can IM, call Skype-to-Skype and make international calls at Skype rates (not higher cell phone rates).

iTwin looks like a USB-drive, but it is really a device to set the world free from cables. You plug one half into your computer and the other half into any other computer and you can access your files from your home network or the Internet. Pretty sweet.

ioSafe Rugged Portable Hard Drive just commands respect. Rodney Dangerfield could have gotten respect if he had one of these. You can bake ‘em, submerge ‘em, drive over them with your Ford F150 pickup truck and still get the data out. We gave a couple away after testing them last year. I used a nonportable one as a boat anchor, an anvil, a meat tenderizer (don’t ask), and a spoof on Will-It-Blend where I crushed a blender. Plus, you can bolt them to the floor and make them hard to steal. But the little portable hard drives from ioSafe are amazing and sleek.

iGo provides a variety of eco-friendly chargers and battery boosts. This iGo device has to be one of my favorites for mobile devices (not laptops). You plug it in and charge it up, then if you’re not near an outlet it will continue to run your device on its internal battery. Hat tip to Matt Kostanecki of Archon Systems.

If you need a portable hard drive with above-average security, check out ROCBIT FXKT.  This device has one of the most secure encryption modes available and is both bus-powered and bootable with key-token technology. What does that really mean? The hardware itself is doing the encryption, which makes it more effective and less “hackable.”

The last item I want to share is a neat little compound called Sugru invented by Jane ni Dhulchaointigh. Sugru is like modeling clay, but made from silicone. Once it’s exposed to air, it cures to a tough, flexible silicone overnight.

sugru

It is designed to stick to as many other materials as possible. It forms a strong bond to aluminum, steel, ceramics, glass and other materials including plastics. A friend of mine used it to pad the corners of his new iPhone. Another made a thin power cord adapter more “grippy.”  Trust me and check out the Sugru site for more ideas.

What are your favorite gadgets and devices to enhance your productivity, protect your devices, or just plain help you in your work?

9 Comments ▼

TJ McCue - Product Editor


TJ McCue TJ McCue is the Product Editor for Small Business Trends and an entrepreneur who publishes Tech Biz Talk. TJ is a former Wall Street Journal columnist. He also writes for Forbes and American Express OPEN Forum. He loves learning about technology apps and software services - share yours with TJ.

9 Reactions

  1. Sugru seems fascinating. Have you had a chance to use it yourself?

  2. Yes, Robert. Love Sugru. It is awesome. I fixed a water bottle handle that broke and was missing a large piece. Bridged a 1.5 inch span easily and now have the area to clip it with a carabiner again. Sugru rocks. They have a great attitude, too — and their marketing materials and approach really reflect it. My packs came with a little brochure: How to become a Sugru Guru. And little stickers that said, “Sugru Completes Me” and some other sayings. Fun.

    And, I can’t say enough about those Breffo spiders, either. I use that thing every day for my iPad2.

  3. I love Skype Mobile since I make a lot of calls. The rates are great and I get a lot of savings.

    ioSafe is just great. I accidentally dropped one and it didn’t break. My data is safe and there was no dent whatsoever.

  4. I think you should make a blog about how sturdy that hard drive really is… ;)

  5. I think you should have had GiqueGEAR’s Smart Station (smartphone workstation / case / wallet). I use one everyday and can’t imagine working w/o it.

  6. I personally found it somewhat humorous that you mentioned Skype Mobile in this article. Unfortunately, Skype has completely ignored its (vast) international, unlocked BlackBerry client base, leaving us to suffer with a couple of hack workarounds (both now gone) and no native application (it’s only available on Verizon). When asked on their own forums about this, they do not even respond. It’s as if the issue doesn’t even exist. A bit of a sad way to treat your (paying) customers, in my opinion.

  7. Hi Todd, much appreciated. This list was stuff I had in my own toolkit. While I’d love to have a bigger toolbox, i can’t have them all! :-) Send me a link for it. Do you work for them?

    Hi Joel, you raise a great point and I’m sorry to hear that they’ve ignored the BlackBerry customer base.

  8. Every tech geek is always hungry for power – especially when traveling.

    I’m actually in Germany right now and this just made me realize how much I depend on my Kensington 33117 travel plug (not voltage) adapter. It’s relatively small and best of all the plugs slide out so there are no parts to loose.

    Perfect for any traveling business person.

    The only thing you have to worry about is your significant other using it to plug in a 110 Volt hair straightener in a 220 volt jack…

    BTW, love the idea of the breffo spider! Think I just might pick one of those up..

    Thanks for the mention!

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