A lot has been said about the benefits of social media, and itâ€™s all true. But to keep your business from floating off into the increasingly popular â€œcloud,â€ you canâ€™t forget the basics. Here are some products to help you stay grounded.
1. Seatingâ€”Herman Miller Embody Chair (starting at $1,199; www.embody.hermanmiller.com). As with the chair, you’ll get sucked into this gorgeous Website, which lets you customize your Embody for the perfect fit. Also consider: HÃ…G Futu Chair ($571.35; www.modernchair.com). The Futu is an ergonomic chair with clean lines and impressive flexibility.
2. Smartphonesâ€”HTC HD2 on T-Mobile (no price at press time.) The HD2 is a powerful Windows smartphone, featuring a 1GHz processor, huge 4.3-inch display, and a 5-megapixel camera with dual LED flash. The ultrathin wwwice also features GPS functionality and social networking integration (Facebook, YouTube, etc). Also consider: Nokia N900 ($569;www.nokiausa.com). A dream smartphone, the N900 is probably the most anticipated tech wwwice since Apple’s tablet.
3. Laptops and Netbooksâ€”HP Mini 5102 (starting at $399; www.hp.com). Weighing 2.64 lbs, HP’s first touch-enabled netbook (standard option also available) features a 95%-sized QWERTY keyboard, integrated face recognition technology, and an optional handle. Also consider: Dell Mini 10 and Mini 10v Netbooks (starting at $299 and $349, respectively). Customize it with Windows XP or Ubuntu Linux operating system.
4. Applications, SaaS solutionsâ€”Zoho.com. Zoho’s suite of products, most of which are free, helps entrepreneurs and small companies compete with the big guys. With tools ranging from CRM to spreadsheets to invoicing, small businesses don’t have to worry about missing a step. Also consider: Microsoft Office 2010 (www.microsoft.com). In free beta at press time, Microsoft’s latest suite features streamlined functionalities and collaboration tools. Microsoft says it used crowdsourcing (a type of â€œopen callâ€ that asks a large group of people to test a product rather than limiting it to a smaller group of employees) this time around to improve the suite of offerings.
5. Printersâ€”Canon Pixma MX870 ($199.99; www.usa.canon.com). This wireless all-in-one (print, fax, copy, scan) features a built-in 35-sheet ADF (auto document feeder), auto-duplex printing, an easy scroll wheel to access functions, and printing via iPhone or iPod touch wwwices. Also consider: Epson Workforce 610 All-in-One ($199;www.epson.com). A quality workhorse for your workforce.
6. VoIP servicesâ€”Skype (www.skype.com). Skype lets you make local and international phone calls, send messages, or make video and conference calls with ease. The app is easy to install; basic services are free. You can assign phone numbers to staff and manage calls and costs through the Business Control Panel (BCP). Also consider: Cinch (free; www.cinchcast.com). In beta at press time, Cinch is a nifty app that lets you easily capture and share text, video, and audio.
7. HDTVsâ€”Vizio’s 47-inch LED HDTV ($1,799; www.vizio.com) is the perfect complement to an ultramodern conference room. Whether you’re screening company videos or Tweeting (company info, of course), this nifty little wwwice we affectionately call â€œSV472XVT,â€ will let you do it in style. Also features built-in wireless HDMI and Vizio Internet Apps. Also consider: Best in Show CES winner Panasonic 50-inch 3D HDTV (TC-P50VT25 series), which ships with a pair of Panasonic 3D Eyewear. No pricing set at press time.#####
8. Epson PowerLite Presenterâ€”The PowerLite is no lightweight when it comes to features: built-in DVD player, two 10-watt speakers, HD connectivity, and widescreen presentation capability. Though it teeters on the 10-pound line, the hefty presenter packs in loads of power. ($899; www.epson.com) Also consider: WowWee’s Cinemin Swivel (www.wowwee.com; $299.99); the multimedia DLP (digital light processing) pico projector swivels 90 degrees, features an 8-foot projection range, and works with iPods and the iPhone.
9. ecobee’s Smart Thermostat, a seven-day programmable wwwice that let you easily monitor your environment even remotely. And the best part? Yep, there’s an iPhone app. ($469; www.ecobee.com)
10. Kwikset’s SmartCode with Home Connect lets you use a Web-enabled cell phone, the Internet, or home automation/security touch panel to check door lock status, automatically arm and disarm your security system, and receive text notification when someone has entered. Features a 30-code capacity, for four to eight digits. (www.kwikset.com). This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.