Top 10 Hardware Products for Small Businesses

Now the premiere showcase for new business technology as well as consumer products, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES ) takes place every year in Las Vegas. The event recently drew thousands of tech hounds to gawk at the latest toys and tools from 2,500 vendors displaying more than 20,000 new products.

While HD and 3D TVs, gaming and sound systems and other true consumer electronics dominated the show floors, the makers of business hardware tools were also out in force, and small businesses figured prominently. Here’s our list of the 10 most intriguing new products for small businesses.

IdeaPad U1 small busines notebook
IdeaPad U1 small busines notebook

1. IdeaPad U1, Lenovo. A notebook and slate PC in one. Lenovo claims it’s the first “hybrid” notebook PC – a clamshell laptop with an 11.1-inch HD LED display that detaches from the keyboard base to become a stand-alone multi-touch tablet PC. Both units have their own operating system and processor, and the processors can work together or independently. Each part also includes its own battery (up to five hours). Total weight: 3.8 lbs. Slate PC when detached: 1.6 lbs. The product will be available June 1, 2010 for about $999.

Photosimile 5000 'office photography machine.'
Photosimile 5000 ‘office photography machine.’

2. Photosimile 5000, Ortery Technologies. Billed as the world’s first “office photography machine,” the Photosimile 5000 (no price announced) consists of a small light cupboard with floodlights, a Canon SLR camera plus imaging- and camera-control software. It allows anyone to take professional-quality still shots of products, or to create hemispherical or full spherical 3D animations. Just open the door, place the object in the box, and use the PC-based software to adjust settings and control the camera to take a shot (or multiple shots for 3D animations). You can then post the results to your Web site.

3. HX300G Portable Projector, LG. This tiny (1.7 lbs.) portable projector for presentations uses an LED light source to deliver “distinctive, clear color imaging” at HD resolutions and long lamp life (about 30,000 hours). Output brightness is 300 ANSI-lumens, contrast ratio, 2,000:1, allowing audiences to view video content in a darkened room with reduced distortion. It supports all Microsoft Office file types and includes a USB port and support for “HD” DivX, MP3 and JPEG files, plus wireless FM transmitter. No pricing announced.

4. Magic.Jack Plug ‘n’ Play Femtocell, YMAX Corp. This user-installable device will reroute cell phone calls over magic.Jack’s existing VoIP-based discount wireline network (plans start at $20 a year) instead of the cellular carrier’s network. The company claims that this can savw subscribers hundreds or thousands of dollars in cellular and long distance charges. Magic.Jack says the device will “potentially” work with any phone on any network (GSM for sure), including phones that do not have a service plan. Femtocell technology is designed to solve problems of poor reception in homes and businesses. No details available on the price or launch date.

5. Dial2Do Handsfree Assistant. This mobile voice-to-text/text-to-voice service helps subscribers send texts, e-mails and reminders while driving, allowing them to keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. It works with any phone. Use a voice command to dial your Dial2Do number, say what it is you want to do – “Send a text to Dave” – follow voice prompts to record the message, and then hang up. Dial2Do does the rest, translating your voice to text and sending the message. You can also listen to your e-mail, reply to messages, listen to your calendar, and even make expense entries. Free to try; $3.99 per month or less.

EnTourage eDGe e-Reader
EnTourage eDGe e-Reader

6. EnTourage eDGe, enTourage Systems. This is another form factor for portable computing: it’s a two-screen device (one e-Paper, one LCD) that enTourage calls a “dualbook.” It functions as an e-reader – e-readers made a huge splash at CES this year – as well as a netbook, notepad and audio/video recorder and player. It lets you read e-books, search and highlight text and write in the margins. You can also use it to write by hand, type notes (using virtual keyboard), surf the Web (via built-in Wi-Fi) and check e-mail. Closed, it measures 8.25- by 10.75- by 1-inch and weighs slightly less than three pounds. It’s available in February for $490.

7. HoverCam X300, Pathway Innovations And Technologies Inc. This is a portable hand scanner for scanning documents one page at a time. Instead of dragging the scan device over the page as with earlier hand scanners, you set the HoverCam on a table and it shoots down at the target. It incorporates a 2-megapixel, 150 dpi (1,600 x 1,200 resolution) digital camera in a rigid aluminum stand with a light. The HoverCam connects to a PC by USB and includes built-in microphone (we’re not sure why). Available now for $140. A 5-megapixel 600 dpi (2544 x 1936 resolution) version will be available in February.

8. SIMtone SNAP Universal Cloud Terminals, SIMtone Corporation. SIMtone is the developer of the Universal Computing Platform, which “makes it inexpensive and simple to ‘cloud-enable’ any data center or carrier network and deliver…computing services that can be utilized…without requiring a PC.” Instead of a PC, all you need is one of the new low-power-consumption SNAP devices showcased at CES – a desktop unit for $99, a netbook for $149. The desktop supports 1024 x 800 VGA or 640 x 480 TV output and includes Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB, remote control. (Keyboard and mouse optional.) The netbook features a 7-inch LCD, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, keyboard and touchpad, and weighs 1.63 pounds. Both available from SIMtone carriers in Q1 2010.

CBA750 Mobile Broadband Adapter
CBA750 Mobile Broadband Adapter

9. Skylight, Lenovo. Yet another new mobile form factor – the smartbook, a hybrid of smartphone and netbook. It’s smaller, thinner and lighter than most netbooks (less than two pounds) but includes a 10-inch HD screen, full QWERTY keyboard, 20GB of storage onboard with 2GB provided online. Lenovo claims battery life is 10 hours and it includes built-in Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. The apparently proprietary operating system is “Web-optimized,” using onscreen Web gadgets for applications such as Gmail (Google e-mail) and other personal information management and entertainment functions. It could be ideal for execs on the go all day who don’t need a netbook, but do need more than a smartphone. Available spring 2010, starting at $499.

10. CBA750 Mobile Broadband Adapter, CradlePoint Technology. This device lets you connect Ethernet LAN devices inside a building, including in the server room, to a 3G or 4G broadband wireless network, either for primary broadband connectivity or redundancy – to back up a wireline broadband connection. The company claims the CBA750 is easy to set up and ensures optimal 3G/4G connectivity, even in the server room, where wireless coverage is usually poor or non-existent. Available immediately for $249.

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