You might think you don’t need much in the way of business equipment to get your work done—maybe just a PC with an Internet connection. But you’re missing out on some interesting, under-the-radar products that can speed your workflow, protect your business, and keep your body healthy during long hours at your desk.
We’ve assembled a collection of ten peripherals and accessories that are so beautiful, smart, or helpful that you’ll wonder how you ever got anything done without them.
Logitech Washable Keyboard K310
Keyboards are gross. Not only do crumbs from all those meals you eat at your desk fall between the keys, but the surfaces are laden with bacteria. And trying to salvage a keyboard that was on the receiving end of a spilled cup of coffee is likely a futile effort.
The Logitech Washable Keyboard K310 is the perfect peripheral for germaphobes and klutzes. It comes with a little crumb and dust brush strapped to its underside, and you can bathe it in water up to 11 inches deep.
A subscription software service that works with depth-sensing cameras such as the Microsoft Kinect, Personify embeds live video of you in your online presentation, enabling you to interact with it just as if you were in the room with your audience.
A green-screen feature lets you strip yourself out of your environment. You can navigate through your presentation using gesture technology or Personify's smartphone app.
Price: $20 per user each month, or $199 per user a year. Buy an Asus Xtion Pro Live RGB camera and depth sensor from Personify for $199, and the company will give you three months of Personify service for free.
The BYOD trend has caught on at businesses all over the place. But if an employee loses a device used at the office, both the individual's information and the business's data are at risk. Enter the YubiKey Neo. This authentication tool secures apps on NFC-enabled smartphones by emitting an encrypted, one-time password when you swipe it over the back of the device.
Even if a malefactor deciphers an app’s password, no YubiKey means no access to your treasure trove of data. The YubiKey can also be used to control computer access through a USB interface.
Price: $50 for one YubiKey Neo; $750 for a tray of 50 YubiKeys, with free open-source management software.
If your employees use iPads at work, the iLuv MultiCharger-X is a must-have. It can charge and sync ten iOS devices at once. An LED light under each iPad slot indicates whether a device is syncing, still charging, or fully charged. A rubber pad on top secures the MacBook or laptop that's updating the devices, and a locking door keeps everything secure.
Even better, you can daisy-chain and stack three of these 20-pound units, and use them to charge and sync up to 30 iPads—30-pin or lightning-pin—at a time.
HP Envy 120 e-All-in-One
A beautiful printer isn’t something you see every day. With no physical buttons and a see-through scanner platen, the HP Envy 120 e-All-in-One is perfect for stylish offices where appearances are everything.
The printer's touch-based control panel automatically lifts up to make way for output. The flatbed scanner operates upside-down (within the glass lid) so you can watch it pass over your document.
Ultimately this multifunction printer is more about prettiness than about practicality. Its speed and capacity are limited, its ink prices are steep, and its scanner lacks an automatic document feeder.
Breaking the unhealthy habit of slouching can be difficult, especially for office workers who are stuck at a desk all day long. But not with LumoBack.
The sensor resembles a heart-rate monitor, but you wear it sensor on your lower back. When you slouch, the sensor vibrates earnestly to remind you to straighten up.
LumoBack works with an iOS app that shows you in real time—via a stick figure that smiles and looks green if your posture is good, but frowns and turns orange if your body is misaligned—how you’re doing. It also tracks your activities throughout the day to let you know the amount of time you’ve spent exhibiting good or bad posture.
ViewSonic TD2340 Touch-Enabled Monitor
The 23-inch ViewSonic TD2340 is a fantastic first or second monitor for Windows 8 users. It’s a projected capacitive multitouch display, so you can do things on it such as rotate, zoom, and pull up the Charms bar with a swipe of your fingers. But its virtues don’t stop there.
For one thing, it’s an accomplished contortionist that you set up in orientations ranging from flat to portrait. The TD2340 uses an IPS panel with 1920-by-1080-pixel HD resolution for excellent image quality, and it includes built-in stereo speakers that pack a decent punch.
Isokinetics Fitness Ball Chair
It might look weird, but sitting on a fitness ball is good for you. Bouncing on it gently is a stress reliever, and your body's extra movements help make you less sedentary.
This fitness chair ups the ante with a back rest to discourage slouching and a wheeled metal frame to raise the ball to chair level.
Simpler, cheaper, and even better for your health is an extra-large fitness ball all by itself. You can stretch your legs by rolling back on it and increase your amount of exercise by rolling around on it in your work area—and of course you'll strengthen your core as you keep yourself upright.
A 2.7-inch, rubber-covered square, Twine contains temperature, vibration, and orientation sensors and connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi. An associated Web app lets you configure the device to trigger a message via email, text, or Twitter when a certain condition is met.
The Twine makes numerous office scenarios possible. For instance, you might put the device on top of your midday meal in the company refrigerator—and from there it can send you an alert if a mooch tries to bag your lunch.
You can also add external sensors to Twine—for example, a magnetic switch that you attach to your office door or file cabinet so you'll know if someone trips it. The potential applications are limited only by the bounds of your paranoia and misanthropy. Dwight Schrute would have sold his soul for a few dozen of these babies.
This funky peripheral is a slim, sleek hybrid of a wireless optical mouse, a trackpad, and a remote control. Using its disc-like trackpad, you can do things like scroll, pinch to zoom, and even swipe to call up the Charms bar in Windows 8.
The remote function could come into play when you want to impress an audience. Hold the device by its base and use your thumb on the trackpad to scroll through Web demos or PowerPoint presentations.
Price: As yet unknown; Asus plans to release the VivoMouse later this year.
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