Essential Gear for the Traveling Businessperson

If you travel a great deal in your line of work, you know the trade offs involved with trying to pack and transport as many business tools and reference materials as possible into the smallest amount of space (in addition to the rest of your luggage). Mastering this art can mean more productive business meetings on the road; fewer missed flights from running through concourses with excess baggage; and far less stress in your life overall.

Several high tech manufacturers have embraced this challenge by developing innovative new products that can increase your productivity and at the same time, reduce the size and weight of your luggage. Once you learn about these products and start to use them, you will very likely consider them to be “essential” gear for road warriors like yourself and wonder how you ever survived without them.

You’ve heard the saying: “Good things come in small packages.” Here are a few new products that exemplify this phrase and can make your life on the road much easier and more productive for a reasonable price.

Mobile Digital Scribes:

This category of products has been around for a few years, but really hasn’t reached the mainstream due to technical hurdles that needed to be cleared. The good news is that a paradigm shift is now underway! This is being led by IOGEAR Inc., a consumer electronics company who offers a range of cutting-edge products offering connectivity, networking, mobility and desktop computing solutions.

IOGEAR’s new GPEN200N Mobile Digital Scribe, which looks very much like a normal ballpoint pen, captures handwritten notes and drawings as the user writes and stores them as images in a small, portable electronic receiving unit. These images can then be easily uploaded to any PC where OCR recognition software converts the handwritten notes into digital text. This groundbreaking product eliminates the need for lugging a computer to meetings or having to balance your PC on your tray table in-flight. You simply take handwritten notes and then upload to your computer at your convenience. (You can even e-mail your handwritten notes and drawings if you like.) The price is around $100.


Ultra-Mobile Personal Computers (UMPC’s):

These are also known as “Netbooks” or mini-notebook PC’s. When this new product category was first introduced recently, the concept focused primarily on providing a lightweight, compact solution for fast, easy internet browsing and e-mail access (hence the nickname “Netbooks”). Due to inadequate hard drive capacities, early UMPC’s had limited software capabilities compared to their larger notebook PC cousins.

However, that has changed dramatically with the introduction of Micro-Star International’s new line of MSI Wind Netbook computers, winners of PC Magazine’s Editors’ Choice Award in 2008. These sleek machines offer massive hard drive capacities (160GB) with efficient Intel Atom processors running Windows XP Home edition, which allows them to operate like much larger notebook PC’s. And they do this in a 2.3 lb. package that’s about the size of a hardback novel (10.3” x 7” x 1.3”). These machines can deliver notebook performance in “nano” size for under $500.


Keyboard, Video, Mouse Switches (KVM’s):

These are firmware devices that allow a user to control multiple computers from a single keyboard, video monitor and mouse. Once again, IOGEAR, Inc. is on the leading edge of technology for business travelers with its new USB Laptop KVM Switch.

This product supplies “plug and play” USB convenience for easy switching and file transfers between two computers (can be between any combination of desktop, laptop or netbook PC’s). It is excellent for business travelers who travel with one computer and have another at home or their office and wish to keep files on both computers for backup and various different applications. This KVM product is compact, lightweight and is compatible with Windows 2000, XP and Vista. The price is under $100.


Mobile Printers:

If you are a one-person show and need the functionality of an office in your carry-on, the Canon Pixma iP100 Photo Printer is your best bet. Not only is it fast, it is also very easy to set up and use. Keep one thing in mind: if you’re looking for laser graphics, go to Kinko’s. But when you need a printing solution “on-the-run”, this is an excellent choice. The ink jet unit is compact and light (4.4 lbs.) and costs about $250.


Portable Projectors:

This product category is astounding and Dell’s M109S (lovingly termed “pocket projector”) leads the charge. Earning an Editors’ Choice award from PC Magazine is a lofty accomplishment. This unit is about the size of a heavy pack of cigarettes (1.5” x 3.6” x 4.1” and under 1 pound). Plus, it’s remarkably easy to use in minutes! And, considering what you would have paid a year ago for a unit about 5 times larger, this is a bargain at about $500.


There you have it, affordable new products that can make your life on the road easier and should prove to be essential gear in your future travels.

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