Holiday gifts needn't just be toys and socks. This is also a great time of year to get business and productivity tools that can make the work day more efficient and streamlined -- and, yes, a little more fun at the same time. We've rounded up five of the most exciting business gadgets vying for your attention this holiday season.
Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100. Scanners are one of those technologies that we no longer use as often as we once did, but the need for them never quite seems to go away. Even if you don't use a scanner every day, you need one that's dead simple to set up and use. Enter the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100, a small mobile scanner that's completely wireless. It connects to your PC using an existing Wi-Fi network, or if there's no network available, it establishes its own direct wireless connection.
Scan quality is quite good. It can accommodate a variety of media and can even automatically stitch together large documents that you had to fold to fit through the device. Clocking in under a pound (14 ounces), equipped with a hardy lithium ion battery and able to scan quickly (just over 5 seconds for a standard letter-size document), the iX100 is a formidable mobile scanner. It's available for $229.
Logitech K480 Multi-Device Keyboard. We live in a multi-device world. Everyone seems to have a phone, tablet and PC. The Logitech K480 is a portable keyboard that connects to three different devices via Bluetooth, so you can use the same keyboard to type on your phone, tablet and desktop, for example.
The K480 isn't the first keyboard to support multiple devices (indeed, it's not even the first Logitech keyboard to do so), but this is the first one that makes it extremely easy to switch among them. A small dial lets you quickly flip among devices. And it's not just compatible with various devices, but it's actually optimized. You'll find the keyboard contains both a Windows Start key and a Mac Options key. The H480 is available for $50.
Equil Smartpen 2. Studies have shown that people retain information better when they take notes with pen and paper rather than typing the same information on a keyboard. And for many people, writing on paper is simply more natural. The Equil Smartpen 2 addresses both of these issues: It's a smartpen that writes -- with real ink -- on any ordinary paper.
But it also captures what you write in digital form, sending the converted text to your PC, phone or tablet. It does this through a small gadget that clips to the top of the page. And when you're done, that gadget -- essentially the pen's transceiver -- opens up to serve as a carrying and charging case. Very sharp. It's available for $170.
TYLT Energi+ Backpack. Perhaps the best backpack we've ever had the pleasure to test, TYLT's Energi+ is equipped with a rechargeable lithium ion battery. It has enough juice to fully charge a tablet or top off a smartphone four times. It also features a flexible network of cable pass-throughs allowing you to wire every compartment with power.
The bag is versatile, with a huge padded laptop pocket, a compartment for a tablet, a top compartment for your smartphone, eyeglasses and other small items, plus a handful of other slots and zippers. There's a trolley slot to easily slip the backpack onto another piece of luggage, and a pocket for tickets and ID. You can get the Energi+ Backpack for $200.
J5 Create Wormhole Switch JUC400. Getting files from one computer to another is admittedly easier than it used to be. These days, you can share files via a cloud service or transfer them via USB. But if you like the idea of simply dragging files from one PC's screen to another -- or even dragging and dropping files from a Mac to a PC -- then few gadgets are quite as exciting as the Wormhole Switch from J5 Create.
It's a USB cable with brains. Plug it into the USB ports of two PCs, two Macs, or one of each, and install the software. Then you can use the Wormhole Switch as a KM (keyboard-mouse) controller, which allows you to share keyboard and mouse between two devices. In addition, you can copy and paste files between computers. It's also quite affordable, priced at just $30.