Part of my job as editor and publisher of SmallBizTechnology.com is to stay on top of the newest practical tools for small business owners. Since 1999 I’ve tested hundreds of different software and hardware products and talked with hundreds of small business owners and technology companies about the latest advances in technology.
Every day I’m on the lookout for products that will help owners grow their companies. Here are a handful of the hottest new products around. They all fit my definition of cool — they’re fun, easy-to-use and, most important, they’re truly useful.
Seagate Free Agent Storage
Devices Seagate’s Free Agent external storage devices look really cool and enable you to securely back up your business data. The devices come in three storage types with different capacities:
Data Movers, Desktop and Go. While the hardware looks cool, the software built into these devices is even more dazzling. For example, the Go storage devices let you carry not just your files with you, but also your favorite programs, your browser, your passwords, e-mail and other settings from computer to computer. So a computer you use at an airport or in a temporary office will have the same crucial information you use in your own computer. It also saves information to itself rather than the borrowed computer, and leaves no trace of your work on the borrowed computer. Free Agent’s Desktop software automatically synchronizes backed-up data between the backup drive and an online storage service, so the information is not available only on the external drive.
These products begin at $129.99. For more information, go to www.seagatefreeagent.com.
Even with technology triumphant, there is something special about sending a handwritten note. It has a warmth that e-mail can’t begin to approach, and signals to the recipient that he or she is special enough to warrant the time it takes to generate such a custom communiqué. Think about the holidays last year when some colleagues, clients and vendors sent you handwritten notes conveying their best wishes and others sent you e-mail messages. Which made a better impression on you, and which do you remember favorably? Undoubtedly, the handwritten notes were more memorable. Notegram is a new service that uses a digital pen and special paper to enable you to write a handwritten note and upload it to your computer. Your Notegram note could be e-mailed to someone (or a group of people) where it will appear in your handwriting on their screen or Notegram can print it, apply postage and mail it to someone for you. There are other features built into Notegram, such as a “note to self” feature, which unlike sticky notes will never get lost or clutter your desk. The cost is $249 (including two pads of special paper). Notepad refills cost $20 for five packs. For more information, go to www.notegram.com.
Have you ever had the experience where you needed to e-mail a file to someone but the file was too big for you to send or for them to receive due to the file size restrictions of your e-mail server (your own or that of your Internet service provider). Many companies experience this problem since an increasing number work with images, sound files, digital presentations and other files that are multiple megabytes in size. YouSendIt is an online service that lets you upload a file to YouSendIt’s servers. The service will then e-mail a link to whomever you want, prompting them to download the file from YouSendIt’s servers. The cost ranges from free to $29.99 a month depending on the services you want. More information is available at www.yousendit.com.
author of the book Technology Solutions for Growing Businesses, and a frequent speaker on technology issues. He can be contacted at