Scouring the recent news about technology in the law firm and in the courtroom, I came across a wonderful slideshow put together by the guys over at PCWorld.com that informed me that there was office equipment and gear that I didn’t even realize that I needed. Everyone seems to have little things that bother them in day-to-day activities around the office, or things that could be improved, but had long since accepted the status quo. Not anymore! Without further ado, the Top 10 Office Tools you Need to Have… but didn’t know existed! (In no particular order):
That’s right, a keyboard that can be WASHED! Look at your keyboard right now. Go ahead, I know it’s gross. There’s the crumbs under the keys that have petrified over time, the food smudges on the keys that don’t get used quite as much, and the sticky spot underneath the arrow keys from the soda you spilled last spring. You simply thought it was time to buy a new keyboard…
Until now! Equipped with a crumb and dust brush snapped to the underside of the keyboard, it can also be fully submerged in up to 11 inches of water.
Personify is a Software-as-a-Service program that uses depth sensing cameras (such as Microsoft Kinect cameras) to imbed video of you into your online presentations, allowing you to interact while you present. The perfect software for giving presentations online to groups in remote locations, Personify allows you to navigate through your presentation using the Personify app, or even just your own gestures! There’s even a greenscreen function (ok, nerding out a little right now) that allows the video of you to strip out your surrounding environment. Imagine Go-To-Meeting where everyone had this stuff.
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.
3) YubiKey NEO
Anyone who has dealt with the issue of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) knows that one of the biggest concerns is the security of information on the device, particularly if the device is lost or stolen. That’s where the YubiKey NEO comes in! Think of it like a set of car keys in a car with push-button start. Once you activate the security features on the YubiKey NEO, all you have to do is swipe it over the smartphone to engage the system. That means that even if someone is able to get the passwords for the secure apps on the device, no YubiKey, no access.
Price: $50 for one, $750 for a “tray” of 50, along with open source software.
Do any of your attorneys or staff use iPads at work? According to the most recent ABA surveys on technology, there’s a strong (and increasing) likelihood that they do! If so, the iLuv Multicharger X is a must-have. Able to charge AND sync up to 10 iPads at any one time, the iLuv Multicharger even has lighted readouts over each slot to let you know the charging status for each one. Strap a MacBook or other laptop to the top of the iLuv Multicharger with the secure straps attached, and even connect several iLuvs in a row to chain-connnect up to 30 iPads to one computer!
So that giant printer in your office, it’s not exactly a pleasant thing to look at, is it? That’s one of the reasons that multi-function printers have their own section in the office, away from everything else, particularly the discriminating eyes of your important clients. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a printer that combined functionality with aesthetics? Well, the HP Envy 120 almost gets there. No buttons, an LED panel that moves out of the way when printing, and a glass panel that allows for scanning of documents, the Envy is a sleek printing machine for those interested in a printer that is pleasing to behold.
Unfortunately, printing speed, paper capacity, and expensive ink leave something to be desired. Almost there!
Few things are taught more strenuously to us in our youth and abandoned by us more quickly than good posture. (Although I am reminded of something I saw recently, that the fervor with which we are taught the stop-drop-and-roll leads one to believe that it will be MUCH more useful in life.) That’s where the LumoBack comes in handy. By strapping the device around your waist while sitting at your office chair, LumoBack will give you gentle warnings, in the form of a slight vibration, to let you know that your posture is slipping. For those of us that would like to keep good posture, but just don’t think about it on a daily basis, this tool could be VERY helpful for the long days at the office.
Syncs up with your iPhone through an app that also records and demonstrates your posture, showing you where you’re going wrong and how to correct it. Anyone looking to avoid later-in-life lower back pain, or just strengthen up their core, should check this out!
7) ViewSonic TD2340 Touch-Enabled Monitor
Ok, so Windows 8 isn’t exactly catching on like wild fire, particularly in law firms. But it will. So for users of Windows 8, you’re going to need a touch-screen monitor. And for those of you in business, you’re likely to need a second screen, because dual screen monitors are not only the way of the future, they’re practically industry standard everywhere else.
So you’ve got your dual screen setup, when you realize that what you primarily need the second screen for is documents and applications of various shapes and sizes. Your tablet works nicely, because you can just rotate it to give you the best image. Well, that’s what the TD2340 does! Rotate it’s 23″, HD-enabled screen to suit your needs, then easily flip it back, or up, as the situation requires. It even has an attitude adjustment so you can set it to look straight up at you, which allows it to fit into nearly any setup you have.
If you thought the device that buzzed when you used poor posture was bad, you’re probably not going to much like this next product. While the LumoBack indicated when your posture was poor, the Isokinetics Fitness Ball Chair gives you NO choice but to straighten up. Moreover, bouncing yourself on the ball while at the office provides a nice 2-in-1 stress reliever/physical activity, that will end up keeping you both healthy and sane while at the office. If that doesn’t work, may I suggest a Nerf gun?
Price: $90 for the chair, $17 for the ball.
Ok, this one is, admittedly, most useful for either the most paranoid among us or those really looking for some great practical jokes. However, let’s be honest, a good laugh while at work is great medicine for a bad day, particularly if you find some way to couple it with the Nerf gun I mentioned above. Twine comes with sensors for temperature, vibration and orientation, and connects via Wi-Fi to send messages by text, email, or even Twitter, when the pre-programmed conditions are met. Want to know if someone has touched your books? Set this guy on top of them. Need to know if someone is accessing your office after hours? Set this guy by the door. As the guys at PC World said about it, “The potential applications are limited only by the bounds of your paranoia and misanthropy.” It even allows for addition of external devices like a magnetic switch.
10) Asus VivoMouse
Ever get tired of having a separate mouse, touchpad, and wireless remote? Yeah, I haven’t really either, because I never really considered it. Asus has, and bets that its new hybrid model will be the future of the computer mouse. It is designed to be used as a regular mouse, and fits perfectly in the hand to accomplish that feat. However, it also contains a large circular touchpad at the top, with full support for all of the Wind0ws 8 touch-screen features. (I know, I don’t have Windows 8 yet either, so just deal with it.) The third feature comes via the VivoMouse’s wireless connection to the PC. I’ve actually used a wireless mouse as a presentation tool before, and just based on sheer looks, this one would be better.
I’m a fan of all-in-one tools, it lets me carry less with me. We’ll see if Asus’s bet that everyone wants a hybrid mouse will take off. The VivoMouse is set for release later this year.