--Written by the Small Business Computing Staff
It's time to pick a gift for your favorite small business owner (even if it's you). You could go the office superstore gift card route (boring!), but this holiday season why not give the entrepreneur in your life a gift that lasts longer than a lunchtime errand?
We’ve collected a list of some of our favorite technology gift ideas in the hardware, software and services areas that are perfect for small business owners—gifts that will make their lives easier and their organizations more productive.
The On-the-Go Holiday Gift Guide
As a rule, small business owners have to make the most of every minute—and they spend many of those minutes away from the office. These gifts will make sure that they spend that time productively.
Can’t decide between gifting a laptop or tablet? Then don’t. The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro is a full Windows Ultrabook PC that transforms into a tablet. The sturdy 180-degree hinge lets you swivel the keyboard flat against the back of the screen for tablet use, or you can stop somewhere in between for freestanding "tent" and "stand" modes.
Figure 1: The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Windows Ultrabook PC
The Yoga 2 Pro features a spacious 13.3-inch super-high-def touch screen, yet it weighs just 3.2 pounds. Models powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i3 processor start at $929, or you can step up to a Core i5-powered Yoga starting at $999.
Small business tycoons that prefer a larger screen but just as much flexibility, should check out the Acer Aspire R7 notebook. This laptop features a 15.6-inch touch screen mounted on Acer’s exclusive Ezel-Hinge that allows the display to flip, reverse, lie flat or float above the keyboard to maximize usability.
The optional Acer active stylus makes the notebook’s movable display even more useful: write notes, mark up documents or photos, draw pictures or make simple lists directly on the R7's screen, just as if you were using regular pen and paper. The active stylus works with Microsoft Office applications, Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk Sketchbook among others.
A Best Buy-exclusive model, the R7-572-6423, will be available online and in stores in early December for $899.99, featuring a fourth-generation Intel Core i5-4200U processor, 8GB of memory and a 1TB hard drive.
For a more traditional tablet—but one that runs essential Windows applications businesses rely on—consider the Surface Pro 2 from Microsoft. Powered by an Intel Core i5 CPU and running Windows 8.1 Pro, the 2-pound Surface Pro 2 features a 10.6-inch 1080p HD screen, 200GB of SkyDrive storage included for 2 years, plus touch-optimized versions of your favorite Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook).
It also includes a new dual-angle kickstand and optional docking station to facilitate working from anywhere, and offers the slick click-on keyboard that doubles as a cover when the tablet isn’t in use. The Surface Pro 2 sells for $899. And if that’s a little steep for your budget, the Surface 2 starts at $449 and the first-generation Surface costs $349.
Having a smartphone or tablet on the go is great. Not having any juice left to run the thing isn’t. Jackery, Inc. offers an entire line of sleek portable external batteries that can charge phones and tablets on the go. The family includes the 2.7-ounce Jackery Mini ($39.95) that delivers up to 50 extra hours of operation time, the slender 5.4-ounce Jackery Air ($59.95; 110 hours of operation time), the 10.4-ounce Jackery Giant ($69.95; 220 hours) and the Jackery Giant Plus ($79.95; 260 hours).
Figure 2: The Jackery Air, part of the Jackery line of portable external batteries.
It happens all the time: Your business partner is presenting at an event and suddenly the laptop with his PowerPoint file on it dies. If he was smart enough to back up that file on the USB cufflinks you gave him, you’ll be a hero and he’ll look oh-so James Bond.
Figure 3:This pair of cufflinks contains 8GB of USB storage.
Sold by CuffLinks.com, each link contains 4GB of flash memory and a concealed USB connector. Just pop it open and plug it in to keep critical files close at hand. The $110 sets are available in silver, gold and gunmetal finishes, and you can have them engraved for a truly personal touch.