Top Ten Mobile Tools for Small Business - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell
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Novatel Wireless MiFi  

PlanOn PrintStik
PlanOn PrintStik
(Click for larger image)

MiFi is a personal wireless hotspot that fits in your shirt pocket. It measures a svelte 3.5-x2.3-x0.4-in and weights mere 2.08 ounces. Use it to connect to the Internet almost anywhere — on the road or in a hotel room.

Notebooks, netbooks and PDAs connect to MiFi over Wi-Fi (11b/g). MiFi connects to the Net over a 3G network or a hotel-room wired Ethernet connection. Wi-Fi-equipped friends and colleagues can connect at the same time (MiFi has a 30-foot range).

The rechargeable lithium battery lasts up to four hours. Pricing: Verizon, $50 (with two-year contract), Sprint, $100 (two-year contract).


Skype, the free-or-cheap VoIP service, makes increasingly more sense for road warriors. The call quality is better than ever, and you can use it on many smartphones now and virtually any netbook or laptop equipped with a headset. You can connect over Wi-Fi, WiMAX and some 3G networks (some cellular carriers block Skype).

Call other Skype customers for free — millions of people around the world use the service, and it’s free to join — or pay monthly for unlimited calling to landlines ($3,U.S./Canada, $13, world).

PlanOn Office-in-a-Pocket  

If you absolutely can’t survive without the office all-in-one printer, PlanOn has a mobile solution — truly mobile, unlike others. The company’s PrintStik printers ($200 to $350) and new DocuPen X Series color scanners ($370 to $440) are small and light enough to tote easily in a laptop bag or purse. (PrintStik: 1-x2-x11-inches, 16 ounces. DocuPen: 8.9-x0.5-x0.5 inches, 2 ounces.)

The printer uses a thermal process and special paper rolled inside. The DocuPen is a hand scanner — you drag it down a page to scan. It comes with PaperPort optical character recognition (OCR) software to translate scanned pages into editable computer text.

Both products work, but extreme miniaturization does bring compromises. The PrintStik is slow, and the output is far from presentation quality. Scanning with the DocuPen is also slow and takes practice to get good results.

PlanOn PrintStik
PlanOn PrintStik
(Click for larger image)

iGo everywhereMAX Laptop Charger  

By now you’ve amassed such an arsenal of battery-operated gadgets that packing the power cables and chargers could require a separate suitcase. Unless of course you use something like the iGo everywhereMAX Laptop Charger ($99).

It’s a universal power adapter that will simultaneously charge or power a laptop plus another mobile device — phone, MP3 player, headset — from one outlet. With different tips and attachments (many but not all included) you can charge or power almost anything and carry just one adapter to do it.

Lexar JumpDrive Safe S3000 FIPS  

If you just want to safely transport your data and plug it into a computer at your destination, try the Lexar JumpDrive USB flash memory drives. They’re available in capacities ranging from 2GB to 8GB and priced from $100 to $200.

The JumpDrive is practically indestructible (waterproof, rigid metal enclosure) and automatically encrypts data as it’s being stored on the drive, using military-grade (FIPS 140-2 Level 3) AES 256-bit encryption. If you lose it, no one will be able to get at your data.

Gerry Blackwell is a freelance technology writer based in London, Canada. Read his blog at http://afterbyte.blogspot.com/.

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This article was originally published on December 16, 2009
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