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THE BUSINESS TOOLS YOU CAN'T WORK WITHOUT[*]

(Business 2.0) – Ideas That Are All Wet

Innovative Jumbo Dive Slate; $10; www.amazon.com

ALEX HART President, ATP Solutions

My best ideas come to me in the shower. There's always been something about dousing myself with hot water that calms the senses and gets those mental juices flowing. But every time I got deep into a new idea, I'd forget all the important details by the time I'd dried and dressed. Then I read about dive slates, which scuba divers use to take notes underwater. They're sheets of plastic with a special pencil attached by a bit of surgical tubing. You can find dive slates at almost any dive shop; I got mine on Amazon. Most slates are small enough to stow next to the shampoo, although I bought an 8-by-11-inch model originally designed for scuba instructors. The larger size gives me more room to noodle, and my bath time is now more productive than ever.

Don't Hold the Phone

BluePhoneElite; $20; www.reelintelligence.com

TED RHEINGOLD Founder, Dogster.com

I used to think my laptop's Bluetooth connection was cool, but now I wonder how I ever lived without it. Like everyone else, I use Bluetooth to wirelessly sync my contacts between my cell phone and my laptop. But I can also do so much more, thanks to a little Mac desktop app called BluePhoneElite that serves as a front end to my cell phone, integrating the two devices. When I place or receive a call, BluePhoneElite automatically pauses my iTunes player and resumes it when I'm done. It shows me caller ID and allows me to ignore or take calls from my computer. I can initiate calls using contacts from my Apple Address Book, and I can read and send SMS text messages without picking up the phone. If I could just find a decent Bluetooth headset for less than $100, I'd never have to hold my phone in my hands again.

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Sony Vaio T370P/L notebook; from $2,400; www.sonystyle.com

DEANNA BROWN Former president, Powerful Media

With just three hours to catch a flight and some copy that was overdue, I was rescued by a quick trip to the Sony Style store in midtown Manhattan after my BlackBerry disappeared and my Apple PowerBook crashed. I picked up a Sony T-Series notebook, a sexy, lighter-than-air package that's a traveler's dream. It has a soft-touch, springy keyboard, rugged case, brilliant wide-screen display, and battery life to die for--more than four hours, so it lasted almost the entire flight from New York to Los Angeles. One week after my trip, my PowerBook was repaired and I found my BlackBerry, but this little Sony is still with me. I may never go back, and here's why: Sony's SmartWi technology integrates my connectivity (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Cingular Wireless's DSL-speed Edge network), meaning that logging on is simply a matter of toggling to the mode I want. That alone has made this notebook my primary computing device. Sure, it doesn't fit in my pocket. But I never tucked the BlackBerry in there anyway.

Avoid the Noise

Etymotic ER-6i Isolator earphones; $149; www.etymotic.com

BENJAMIN TICE SMITH Assistant photography director, Business 2.0

The roar of the BART train during my commute can reach an earsplitting 90 decibels inside San Francisco's Transbay Tube. But thanks to my Etymotic ER-6i Isolator earphones, I tune in to sweet, sweet music, blissfully unaware of the surrounding din. Unlike bulky noise-canceling headphones, the Etymotics encase tiny speakers in earplugs that fit snugly in the ear canal to eliminate as much as 36 decibels of background noise. With less noise, you hear your music much better--without having to crank up the volume and risk potential hearing damage. I wear mine on airplanes whether I'm listing to music or not. They do such a good job of eliminating the low-frequency drone of the engines that I end up having to read the flight attendant's lips when it's time to choose my in-flight meal.

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