Face it, you can never have too many USB ports. Between your iPod or iPhone, printer, camera, external hard drive, flash drives, keyboard and mouse, you can wind up spending way too much time swapping cables. You need a hub.
The Belkin USB 2.0 Plus Hub ($30 for a four-port model, $50 for seven ports) has its own power supply, which is important -- sometimes the power provided through a USB port is not enough to get a device to perform properly. It's convenient, with two ports on the top for the devices you need to plug in quickly and occasionally, like thumb drives. And there are little clips on the side to run your various USB cables through, reducing that tangle of wires on your desk.
Finally, these hubs are made so that they can snap together. You can stack a four-port model or another seven-porter on top of the seven-port version to get 11 or even 14 ports. Hmm, maybe you can have too many USB ports.
Every mobile device you have needs power, and every one is likely to run out when it's least convenient. Backup power is the name of the Ecosol Powerstick's game ($50). The device comes with nine connectors that let it charge a vast number of devices, from BlackBerries to iPhones, digital cameras to GPS units to MP3 players. (You can see if your devices are compatible at the Powerstick site.)
The Powerstick is no bigger than a thumb drive, contains a rechargeable lithium polymer battery, and recharges by plugging into a USB port, which means you can use anybody's USB port, anywhere, to recharge it. When bringing your entire assortment of dedicated chargers is impractical -- or when you find yourself unexpectedly away from home for a day or two -- the Powerstick could be invaluable.
Digital audio recorders
"Amazing" was the response of everyone we showed the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen (1GB $150, 2GB $200) to, and with good reason. This pen has a digital recorder built into it, but that's not particularly startling.
What makes it amazing is that when you write on the special paper that's included (with more available for purchase), a tiny infrared camera in the nose records your pen strokes as well. Later, if you touch the pen to what you wrote, the pen will replay what was being said at that moment.
Not sure what the professor just said and want to look it up later? Just draw a question mark in the notebook, and touch the pen to the question mark later to listen to it again. Are you sure the teacher said the homework wasn't due till next week? Touch the pen to where you wrote down the date and prove it, in the teacher's own voice.
Your notes don't have to be text, either -- you can draw, doodle, make an x, whatever -- and the pen will remember the place in the recording. Livescribe claims the 1GB pen can hold more than 100 hours of recording, depending on quality setting and other factors. Later, you can transfer the whole shooting match -- drawings and synced sounds both -- to your computer using the USB charging cradle.
If that sounds like overkill, consider getting a Mikey microphone ($80) for your iPod. The Mikey is a high-quality microphone built by Blue Microphones, a 15-year-old professional recording microphone company.
When you attach it to your dock connector, the iPod automatically switches to Voice Memo mode, and you can use it to record meetings, lectures, music or anything else. You can then listen to the recordings on the tiny built-in speaker or upload them to your computer.
A particularly nice touch is that the microphone swivels up and down, so you can place the iPod in whatever configuration works best for the purpose -- flat on the desktop, or angled toward a single-point source of sound.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- OpenStack Hype vs. Reality: CIO Quick Pulse Open-source architecture can enable IT departments to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds running on standard hardware.
- The Critical Role of Support in Your Enterprise Mobility Management Strategy Most business leaders underestimate the importance of tech support when they choose an EMM solution. Here's what to put on your checklist.
- Separating Work and Personal at the Platform Level: How BlackBerry Balance Works BlackBerry® Balance™ separates work from personal on the same mobile device, right at a platform level. Find out how it can work for...
- Protection for Every Enterprise: How BlackBerry Security Works Get an IT-level review of BlackBerry® Security, addressing data leakage protection, certified encryption, containerization and much more.
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Unmasking the Differences between Consumer and Enterprise File Sync & Share The consumerization of IT combined with the rapid pace of the modern mobile workplace is forcing enterprise IT teams to evaluate file sync...
- Live Webcast Workforce Mobilization for Improved Productivity A mobility research director from Aberdeen discusses reasons for extending legacy applications to mobile devices, and an integration strategist from Attachmate shows how...
- Getting Ready for BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.2 Find out how BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 helps organizations address the full spectrum of EMM challenges, while balancing the needs of both the...
- Containerization Options: How to Choose the Best DLP Solution for Your Organization This webcast outlines a framework for making the right choice when it comes to containerization approaches, along with the pros and cons of... All Mobile/Wireless White Papers | Webcasts
As emerging technologies evolve they often find an initial niche in highly specialized scenarios, or in specific industry verticals, before expanding to wider areas of applicability. Within these initial niches, the early adopters can be anything from digital enthusiasts to fashionistas, or they can be folks simply using the technology because it serves a specific need extremely well. (free registration required) more