Hardware & software: Gadget central

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA

Q: Where's the best place to learn about and keep up with the latest technology gadgets?

A: To stay abreast of the newest technologies, I maintain links to more than a dozen gadget websites for my own use, each of which typically posts about 10 to 15 brief articles daily about new and emerging gadgets. (You can access my links at carltoncollins.com; click the Technology tab as pictured at the bottom of the page.)

Some of the more notable gadget websites I like are OhGizmo.com, Engadget.com, Gizmodo.com, and TheVerge.com. However, I've observed that many of these gadget-focused websites have altered their content in recent years more toward smartphones, speakers, toys, drones, and computer games, but you can still find coverage of business-related gadgets sprinkled throughout. In case you are wondering which gadgets will garner the best bragging rights among tech-savvy CPAs, here's a quick list of a few you might want in your briefcase.

  1. Scanning mouse: The Zcan wireless mouse (wired $79, wireless $159) enables you to scan paper documents into your computer simply by swiping your mouse across the document, and the built-in OCR tools can stitch and convert the scanned images into Word, Excel, or PowerPoint formats or send them directly to Facebook or Twitter. You can also use this device to scan foreign language text, which is then automatically converted (using Google Translate integration) and displayed in your choice of 199 languages.
  2. Laser pointer: To enhance your projector-based presentations, the Infiniter LR16G Wireless Presenter includes a green laser pointer, page up/down functionality, and a Nano USB detachable receiver ($49.95).
  3. Portable battery booster: To recharge your smartphone or other portable devices when electricity is not otherwise available, equip yourself with the RAVPower Element 10400mAh Portable Charger ($19.95).
  4. Electronic credit card holder: The Wocket Smart Wallet ($179) allows you to store all of your credit card information so you can leave your credit cards, debit cards, and gift cards at home, and then use the single credit-card-size Wocket card, which masquerades as all of your cards in one.
  5. Portable printer: The Primera Trio All-in-One Printer ($400) is a lightweight scanner, copier, and printer that allows you to complete your mobile workspace, and the optional battery allows you to print in the absence of electrical outlets, or even while traveling on an airplane.
  6. Charging hub: Be a hero at the airport with a charging hub such as the ZILU 40w 5-Port High Speed Desktop USB Charger Travel Power Adapter ($24.95), which enables you to plug in anytime, even if the only available outlet is already in use, because you can daisy-chain your fellow travelers (although they might not be so happy when you leave and take your charging hub with you).
  7. Single monitor: Thanks to emerging technology, it's now time to shed your multiple monitors and replace them with a single high-definition curved monitor such as the Samsung UN40JU6700 Curved 40-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV ($847.99). The tighter pixels provide sharper readability, and Windows 10's snapping tools make arranging windows on a single screen a breeze.
  8. Apps: I've noticed that many CPAs don't add many apps to their phones, but with more than 650,000 apps available (most all of which are free downloads), your smartphone should have at least 50 useful apps. As examples, I regularly use the Amazon Price Checker app to check prices before I make a purchase, the QR Code Reader app to scan QR codes, the TripIt app to manage my travel itineraries, the WhatsApp app for free worldwide text messaging, the OpenTable app to make client dinner reservations, and the Waze app to help me navigate around traffic jams (the best time to use Waze is before you begin your trip; be sure to have your passenger manage the app while driving or stop your vehicle first before consulting Waze).

About the author

J. Carlton Collins (carlton@asaresearch.com) is a technology consultant, a CPE instructor, and a JofA contributing editor. Note: Instructions for Microsoft Office in “Technology Q&A” refer to the 2013, 2010, and 2007 versions, unless otherwise specified.

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