Do you worry that your small business is lagging behind new technology? The digital divide isn’t all that difficult to cross, if you know where to start. Here’s a list of products and services that will help you bridge the gap into new markets and easier business.
New Gadgets That Will Change The Way You Do Business
The new iPad – Incredible resolution, performance and mobility, the latest Apple has to offer. The trendsetter of 2012.
Android Tablet – Cheaper, more versatile alternatives to the new iPad are available for a wide variety of price ranges. The Asus Eee Transformer Pad is a new competitor with Ice Cream Sandwich, Google’s newest Android system update, hardware that rivals iPads, accessories that turn it into a full laptop, and a reasonable price.
Bluetooth Keyboard – If you find yourself working on the road more often than not, and don’t want to lug a laptop everywhere you go, a Bluetooth keyboard will let you use your tablet or smartphone just like a laptop.
Bluetooth “Retro” Handset – Half convenient business comfort, half quirky conversation piece, these handsets turn your smartphone into a familiar landline-style phone. Relive the days when your “hands-free” solution was a plastic handset tucked between your ear and shoulder.
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Bamboo Pen Tablet – Let customers sign documents digitally, draft ideas, sketch and draw with this pen tablet for PC and Mac. Easy setup, small size and the natural feel of a pen and paper let you use your computer in entirely new ways.
Otterbox Device Covers – Don’t damage your shiny new devices by accident. Cover anything and everything up in some of the toughest protective cases on the market.
Fujitsu ScanSnap – This line of ultra-compact scanner devices lets you feed stacks of paper documents, receipts, business cards, and just about anything else directly to your computer quickly and easily. The added software will even automatically extract key data from business cards and receipts and organize it all digitally.
Network Storage Devices – Any business that works with high volumes of digital documents knows the importance of moving files between employees easily and quickly. Network storage systems like Drobo gives you a single hard drive for every employee on your network that can be accessed in-house or on the web.
USB 3.0 thumb drive – USB thumb drives are the go-to standard for moving files back and forth from point A to point B. If you’ve bought a computer recently or plan on buying one soon, it will more than likely have at least one USB 3.0 port. This new standard is the same old USB, but better: USB 3.0 devices are faster and more versatile.
Solid State Hard Drive – If you’re willing to spend a little extra for added reliability or you need a computer that’s lightning-fast to keep up with your work, a solid state hard drive is an excellent investment. No spinning metal plates, no moving parts. Start your PC up in seconds, not minutes, and load large files almost instantly.
Web Apps You Should Sign Up For Today
Squarespace – This web service is the easiest new way to build trendy websites visually and easily. Make your website what you want, by yourself. Squarespace offers solutions for everything from personal blogs to full-service business pages, all packed into simple, effective designs.
Flavors.me – If you’re a self-employed freelancer looking for a digital business card solution, or you just want a simple, trendy space of your own on the web, but don’t need a full website, Flavors.me is an excellent start. Make yourself an impressive, visually appealing personal landing page where customers can get to know you and visit your websites and social networking profiles.
QR Code Generator – QR codes are basically web links for physical space: a box of data that smartphone users can scan off of posters, magazine pages, or any printed materials, to view digital and web content. My personal favorites are Kaywa QR Generator for making unique text and SMS codes, and Google’s goo.gl for shortening long links online into tiny URLs and QR codes, and for tracking statistics of how many people actually access your QR code or click your link.
Dropbox – The business-class standard for cloud storage. If you work online or send files to clients often, you’d be crazy not to use this. Full disclosure: we use Dropbox daily and absolutely love it!
Rainymood – Not everything important to your business and your sanity has to be directly related to productivity. Rainymood sits in your browser and simply loops the sound of a spring shower to help you relax and concentrate, or give your office a calming atmosphere.
Readability – If you read online news and blog articles often, you know just how distracting advertisements and busy page layouts can be to your reading experience. Readability extracts all of the important text from your online reading sources and formats it like an eBook—simple, easy to read, and elegant. Convert articles for now, save them to a reading list for later, favorite them for future reference, and share to your social networks with friends. Saved articles can also be accessed from your smartphone, so you can build a reading list from your computer and then read it anywhere.
Aviary Apps – Aviary almost deserves an entire tech article to itself! Their free web and smartphone apps let you edit images with simple, powerful online editors. If you need more powerful solutions beyond basic cropping and color correction. Advanced.Aviary.com provides a full suite of multimedia editing software, accessible from any computer, anywhere.
Klout – Twitter is a massive service that seems a little daunting to new users. Klout helps you identify and understand trends, interact with trend-setters and monitor your business’s social media arm with advanced tools for measuring the effectiveness and response of your Twitter strategy.
Prezi – Business presentation coming up? Want to really make a lasting impression on your boss, your clients, or your family with a creative digital presentation? Prezi turns the concept of digital presenting on its head: instead of creating slides, you build a vast map of information, and move your “camera” from place to place. Explore large pictures in-depth, create mind maps for organizing and converting brainstorming sessions into action plans, and break away from your everyday mundane Powerpoint slideshow.
inDinero – Full-service financial tracking and business accounting, all through a secure web service. Access your business’s finances quickly and easily from wherever you might be.
Essential Computer Software
Adobe Creative Cloud CS6 – Adobe products are the industry standard for creative businesses. They’re also ridiculously expensive. Creative Cloud is an inexpensive new licensing plan that gives you access to thousands of dollars of software through a monthly subscription service that comes with plenty of benefits: access to every CS6 program available, including programs that will be released in the future; 20GB of cloud storage for sending large files to clients and colleagues, 5 websites hosted directly by Adobe, and compatibility with new creative apps for smartphones, iPads, and Android tablets.
Ommwriter – Ommwriter locks you out of all distractions on your computer and provides a relaxing workspace to simply write. Ambient sound keeps you occupied and attentive, and the simple layout is easy on the eyes. Text can be exported to productivity programs when you’re finished or saved in proprietary formats or plaintext.
Pomodairo – A desktop productivity timer based on the Pomodoro time management system: bursts of productivity followed by a short break.
Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office – PC users with a Gmail account can install this program and sync their MS Office documents directly with their Google Drive storage. One click saves your documents to your personal computer and in the cloud for instant sharing and access out of your home or office.
7zip – Don’t worry about not being able to open .zip archives or large files from clients. 7zip opens all sorts of archive file types and lets you easily pack up or extract compressed files for email and cloud storage.
VideoLAN Player – Specialized media player that will open all kinds of media files without the hassles of installing extra software. Never have another “my computer can’t play this” moment with your clients again.
PDF Editors – PDF files are archive standards for storing and sending paperwork, sensitive documents and forms digitally. Free PDF editors like NitroPDF for PC and the built-in Preview viewer for Mac let you view and author your own PDF files.
CCleaner – Professional-grade computer cleaning software for the low price of free. If you’ve ever paid someone to “clean up” your business computer, chances are they used this to do it.
Opera – Faster, safer, simple web browser. No confusing bells and whistles, perfect for getting things done on a tight schedule.
Windows 8 – Get the jump on Microsoft’s brand-new operating system by checking out the free Windows 8 Consumer Preview build. The final retail version is due for release this coming November.
Cool, Useful Apps for Smartphones and Mobile Devices
Adobe Touch Apps – Full-featured image editing and creative apps for the new iPad and the latest Android tablets. Show clients your latest work directly from the internet, draft ideas on-site, and simplify your professional creative needs.
Find My Phone Apps – “Where’s my phone!?” Even if your iPhone or Droid is set to silent, there are all sorts of phone-finder apps that will page your missing device so you can figure out which couch cushion it’s under. Search your device’s app store and take your pick.
Bump – Professional networking with a slick, dead simple twist. Hold your smartphone and bump hands together to send your essential contact info quickly and easily.
Glympse – Location-based event planning, invitations and GPS tracking that expires when you want it to, and is only accessible by the people you want to show it to.
Square – Turn your smartphone or tablet into a full-featured point of sale system. Comes with a free mobile scanner sent directly to your door when you sign up.
JumpDesktop – Access your computer directly from your phone or tablet.
Quickoffice Pro – Open and edit Microsoft Office files directly from your smartphone or tablet device.
So what do you think I’m missing? Leave it in the comments below!