CES 2010 for the Business User

Ann All

I've never been a big fan of business travel. As a non-gambler and a notoriously frugal shopper, Las Vegas holds limited appeal for me. (It's no place for a frugalista.) So I can't say I was sorry to miss the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. But I do enjoy reading the show roundups to get a sense of what's hot and what's not, especially in business-oriented tech products. Despite the show's name, there are plenty of products geared to business users at CES.


Last year I relied on TechRepublic's Jason Hiner for a list of nine business-worthy technologies from the 2009 CES. He did a similarly nice job at CES 2010, with a list of five products he thinks will appeal to business types.


There was a slight overlap in his lists. He mentioned seeing several miniature projectors at CES 2009, products designed to help presenters avoid the all-too-common problem of balky conference room technology. One of the products featured on the 2010 list sounds like an even more elegant solution to this problem. The BlackBerry Presenter, a box that connects to a standard conference room projector, allows presenters to run PowerPoint presentations wirelessly from a BlackBerry. Bonus: It looks like the BlackBerry Presenter at $199 is priced about $150 lower than the Samsung product he mentioned in his 2009 roundup.


Hiner also liked the PlasticLogic QUE proReader, an electronic reader I mentioned last month in my post "Can the Amazon Kindle Cut It for Business?" The QUE has lots to offer buisness users, wrote Hiner, including the ability to sync with Microsoft Exchange, "print-to-device" functionality, the ability to read Microsoft Office documents and PDFs, and a feature that allows BlackBerry users to transfer data from their devices. Yet at $650 and $800, the QUE is quite a bit pricier than the Kindle DX, the Amazon device that seems most appropriate for business users and sells for $489.


At these prices, the e-readers will have to compete with smartphones, netbooks, tablets and even laptops, all of which offer far more bang for the buck. (I just got a sweet deal on an HP laptop with business-worthy specs that's being discontinued. I paid less for it than I would have for a Kindle DX.) InformationWeek, in a CES 2010 roundup geared toward SMBs, mentions HP's Mini 5102, a "business-centric" netbook priced at about $400. I think the QUE and other e-readers designed for business are going to have to come down in price before most users will consider them.


Like Hiner, the author of the InformationWeek article was quite taken with so-called pico projectors, the previously mentioned devices that allow folks to make mobile presentations without worrying about a full-size projector and laptop, calling them "mighty darn cool little gadgets," suitable for showing PowerPoint decks in small conference rooms.


Another promising development he mentions is the single-click functionality now found on most storage devices that, in theory, make it easier for users to back up their data. Bonus: He includes a video demo of an ioSafe Solo storage device being burned, soaked and run over to show how durable it is. (And to let the videographers live out some "Mythbusters" fantasy, I bet.)

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