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Looking to work better, faster and stronger? Consider the road less traveled and look at these eight devices.
Who among us hasn't embarked on an initiative to make our work habits or our personal lives more organized? Before diving headlong into planning and execution, however, it makes sense to evaluate the tools you have to see if they're still up to the task. Instead of replacing existing tools, though, these eights gadgets can improve your productivity in ways you hadn't even imagined.
Belkin WeMo Insight Switch
The Belkin WeMo Insight Switch ($59.99) won't actually help you work faster, but it may save your from turning around to check if you've turned off the iron or space heater. Like the other devices in the WeMo family, Insight Switch lets you use your iOS or Android device to remotely toggle connected electronics on or off. More importantly, the Insight Switch adds the capability to monitor the energy usage and offer an estimated cost for your energy bill. You can then see, for example, if you kids have exceeded their daily TV limit, or if it's really worth turning on the heater again.
Doxie Flip Portable Scanner
Doxie Flip ($149) is a mobile, battery-powered flatbed scanner that you need if you're serious about getting rid of paper once and for all. It's essentially a miniature flatbed scanner that you can bring everywhere, complete with a removable lid and transparent scanning window so you can scan just about anything — from photos, sketches and notebooks to wall posters or fabric patterns in the carpet. Doxie Flip's AutoStitch functionality makes it easy for the 4x6-inch (A6) scanning surface to merge scans together and capture those larger surfaces.
Griffin PowerDock 5 Charging Station
Frustrated with the clutter of multiple power chargers? The Griffin PowerDock 5 ($99.99) charging station is designed to safely juice up to five USB-powered gadgets from a single power source. The PowerDock 5 offers a frosted (non-removable) backrest that can accommodate all smartphones and most tablets without having to remove their cases. Though designed primarily for iOS devices, the company says the PowerDock's 5V (2.1 amp) charging circuitry will also charge most Kindle and Android devices. In our tests, we've been able to charge BlackBerry smartphones and various USB-powered devices, too.
Ergotron Sit-Stand Desk Mount LCD Arm
Just when you thought Ergotron's desktop monitor arm couldn't get any better, the company came up with the LX HD Sit-Stand Desk Mount LCD Arm ($329). This new model increases the height range to 20 inches (51 cm) to let users switch easily between sitting and standing while interacting with their display. In addition, the new arm can accommodate monitors up to 46 inches and all-in-one PCs weighing up to 30 pounds (13.6kg) — all while supporting 80° tilt, 360° pan and 90 ° rotation.
Logitech Wireless Headset
Why do many people still make do with the built-in microphone in their webcam or struggle with a wired headset for even the most important calls? Many quality wireless options designed for use with unified communications (UC) exist. The Logitech Wireless Headset Mono H820e ($179.99), for example, delivers up to 10 hours of talk time. It uses DECT spectrum wireless connectivity, so it won't interfere with your Wi-Fi devices. The H820e is optimized for Microsoft Lync and leading UC platforms such as Cisco Systems, and it offers up to 100m of wireless range from the included charger dock. (Logitech also sells a double-ear version for $199.)
The Lantronix xPrintServer Home ($99.95) enables wireless printing for iOS devices using their native print menu. The device also works with existing USB or networked printers, which helps bridge the printing gap in BYOD environments. The more powerful xPrintServer Office ($199.95) offers support for an unlimited network printers, as well as advanced features such as user management, while the upcoming xPrintServer Cloud Print Edition will print from Google Cloud Print-enabled devices such as Chromebooks and Android devices.
Moshi IonBank Portable Battery Charger
The Moshi IonBank 10K portable battery charger ($110) is probably what the doctor ordered for keeping your portable gadgets topped up so you can keep working. Designed for use with Android and iOS devices, the IonBank 10K packs sufficient oomph to recharge you smartphone multiple times or add up to eight hours of runtime to a tablet. You can charge up to two tablets simultaneously if you like. A push-button battery level indicator on the device's stylish aluminum casing offers ample warning when the IonBank 10K's own high-endurance lithium-polymer cells need refreshing.
Transporter Private-cloud Appliance
Thinking of giving up cloud storage after reading about the pervasive NSA spying? Turns out you may not have to with the Transporter, a novel network-attached device that lets users easily and cheaply build their own private cloud storage service. The concept revolves around the Transporter Sync ($99), which connects to a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 external hard drive, or the Transporter ($199 for 1TB), which houses a 2.5-inch HDD internally. Selected folders can be synchronized between a PC and a Transporter, or between two Transporters — effectively creating a robust private cloud storage service without needing to be an IT expert.