The business tools you can't work without
(Business 2.0) – VOIP With Benefits Ipevo Free.1 Skype USB phone; $30; www.ipevo.com
BAMBI FRANCISCO Columnist, MarketWatch
I love using VOIP to save money on phone calls, but I don't like being tethered to my computer via a clunky headset. I need all the functionality of a proper desk phone, which is why I use Ipevo's Skype phone--it makes VOIP much more useful. I just plug the phone into the USB port of my computer and dial as if I'm using a regular handset. It's lightweight and comfortable, and it provides all the features I expect, such as speed dial, volume adjustment, and a mute button. The sound quality is great, and because the phone is so compact, it's easy to take with me on the road. An extra bonus: While many VOIP phones work only with PCs, Ipevo offers software that makes this one Mac-compatible.
Pocket Presenter Apple iPod (with video); from $300 for 30GB; www.apple.com
JOHN RICHEY Senior applications engineer, Intel
Everyone knows about the new video iPod, but I've been using a simple hack that turns mine into a very useful tool for doing business. Instead of lugging my laptop to meetings, I use my iPod to store my presentation slides, notes, and instructional materials. I simply convert the slides to the right format--JPEG for PowerPoint, QuickTime for KeyNote--and load the files onto my iPod's hard drive. (I lose some of PowerPoint's flashy transitional features, but I never much liked those anyway.) When I arrive at my meeting, I just plug the iPod into a standard projector or high-definition television, and I'm ready to go. The visual effect is essentially the same, and the resolution on the 2.5-inch screen is even good enough to replay the presentation if I want to review details with people afterward.
The Toughest Tote XpressCheck rolling carry-on garment bag; $220; www.brookstone.com
COLIN HILL Chairman and CEO, Gene Network Sciences
I don't know anyone who's on the road more than I am--I rarely have the luxury of a weekend at home. With so much travel, my luggage takes a serious beating. My last bag, for example, was marketed as "extremely durable," but I destroyed it in six months. Then I found the XpressCheck rolling carry-on garment bag. After a year of use and abuse, it's held up perfectly. And it has a brilliant design that's ideal for me. It's small enough to be a carry-on, but it holds the two or three suits I need for a typical business trip. It also has an easy-to-access compartment for the gadgets I'm required to unload at security checkpoints. Since it weighs about 12 pounds, lifting it into overhead compartments is no trouble, even when it's packed for a week--and weekend--on the road.
Amphibious GPS Garmin GPSMap 376C; $1,000; www.garmin.com
JEFFREY DAVIS Assistant managing editor, Business 2.0
OK, I'll admit it--I had no good reason to buy this toy. But as a boat owner and weekend sailor, I'd long waited for a gadget like the Garmin 376C. It's an all-in-one portable GPS navigation system, knotmeter, marine chart, tide book, and satellite weather station, and the only one on the market with an XM satellite radio receiver. It squeezes all those features behind a surprisingly bright 3.8-inch color screen. In a couple of clicks, I can check currents, see if I'm about to run aground, or change the music blasting from the cockpit speakers. When I sail back into my slip, I pull the 376C off its boat mount and switch the map settings to landlubber mode. Then on weekdays I can use the XM stereo to liven up my commute in the car, while the street navigation helps me find my way to events and meetings.
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From the March 1, 2006 issue