Ted on Tech

Gift ideas for the techy CPA

With a roast turkey signaling the way, it’s time to start thinking about the gift-giving holidays. I’ve been testing products for a few months now, and I think I’ve come up with a few ideas on what you might give staff, clients, and if there’s anything left in your wallet, yourself.

For those of you who are constantly traveling, or need a gift idea for another staff member who spends significant time on the road, there are a lot of choices. While not inexpensive, the $90 Mixcdr E10 headphones may be a good choice for those who spend a lot of time on a plane. While they don’t have the fidelity and presence of $200-$300 headphones, they do sound very nice, have earcups that are comfortable to wear on long trips, provide active noise cancellation (ANC) which is helpful in environments like the inside of a plane, and tout a 30 hour play time on a charge. They don’t come with a carry case, but do include two cables (one for charging, the other for when you want to plug into an audio source rather than use Bluetooth).

To bring music or podcasts into the break room, consider the Creative Labs T100 speakers. These $100 Bluetooth wireless speakers are small in size but big in sound. They put out 40 watts RMS of power which is way more than you’ll probably want to run them. If you don’t want to stream using Bluetooth, there’s a 3.5mm audio input jack and an optical input as well.

And if you or a staff member has had to make a presentation just to find out that there’s no audio or visual equipment at your destination, consider treating the firm to a portable A/V setup small enough to fit in a laptop case. The sound art of the suite is a Creative Labs SoundBlaster Roar Pro speaker paired with a wireless Pro microphone, also from Creative Labs. The $199 speaker is a personal PA system when paired with a wired microphone or Creative’s own $40 iRoar Mic. The visual part of your traveling or portable conference room setup is the Anker Nebula Capsule Max. About the size of a large can of soda, the cylindrical pint-sized pico projector can project a 100-inch image in a darkened room, and with 8 watts of sound power, if your presentation contains embedded audio, your audience will have no difficulty in hearing it. A four-hour battery life on a charge untethers you from a power outlet. The Nebulae Capsule Max has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability, a USB port so you can use it with a flash drive or external USB DVD drive, and Android 8.1 operating system so you can download numerous apps onto the projector. Pack the projector and Roar Pro iRoar Mic into your luggage, and you and your staff can make a presentation anytime, anywhere.

Another problem many of us face when traveling is the lack of someplace to plug in a charger for a phone or tablet. There are lots of battery packs, but the$66 Anker PowerCore 26800 would be a great gift. This phone-sized charger has a huge capacity, three USB ports, and can provide up to six complete charges of most smartphones and at least two charges for most tablets.

Another great computer-oriented gift is a portable USB hard drive. These can provide many times the storage capacity of many Flash Drives and today’s portable drives are compact enough to fit in a spare pocket. The $60 2TB Western Digital My Passport 2TB is a USB drive about the size of a deck of playing cards (but only half the thickness), and provide password protection and AES 256 encryption so your data will be safe even if the drive is lost or stolen. It’s great for backup, or for carrying videos and music when commuting or traveling. And it’s priced reasonably enough that you can hand out a bunch of them to office colleagues.

Finally, if you are a dual-display user in the office, why not treat yourself to a second display when on the road with your laptop. The $249 Lenovo ThinkVision M14 high resolution (1920 x 1080) USB monitor (www.lenovo.com) gives you the same dual-monitor capability when traveling or at a client as you have on your desktop. A 14-inch second screen, it has USB-C ports on both sides of the display so you can position it wherever it best fits. The USB-C port also supplies power to the monitor, so not external power supply is necessary. Weighing a scant 1.3 pounds, it will fit comfortably in many laptop cases. Just make sure that your laptop has a USB-C port as this particular display won’t work with an older USB 2 or USB 3 port.

Regardless of what you decide as gifts, I wish each of you a happy and healthy holiday.

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