Laptops have overtaken desktop PCs as the preferred workhorse machines for most companies, regardless of the size, and it is easy to see why.
The performance, feature, and price gap between the two have shrunk considerably, so much so that other than for niche use cases that require a fixed workstation, a laptop is generally preferable to a desktop computer.
But while laptops are mobile computers, they do rely, sometimes, on accessories to boost their capabilities.
We've rounded up some of these clever extras, from an ultra-secure USB drives, through a tiny docking station, to one of the weirdest gadgets ever to land on Techradar Pro, courtesy of a Kickstarter campaign.
- Want to make sure you've also got the best of the basics? Check out: Best gadgets 2017: the top tech you can buy right now
A stylish and portable way to turn any room into a boardoom - but at a high price.
Many of us know the pain of conference calls being ruined by poor connection or call quality, and with many businesses today choosing to embrace mobile working ideas and services, the need to stay flexible yet connected is paramount.
Sennheiser is looking to solve these woes with its ultra-mobile TeamConnect Wireless - in essence a portable conference room, which can be packed up and carried around for workers on the go. Made up of four speakers, all carried around in a stylish case which doubles as a charging hub, the system can be connected to any laptop, smart device or VC system via Bluetooth, USB or 3.5mm jack. Set-up is quick and easy, allowing users to get up and running in a matter of minutes, with Sennheiser saying the kit can support up to 24 participants at once. Our tests showed the audio quality to be very effective, even with multiple participants on different lines, with no connectivity issues.
The ultra-portable design of the TeamConnect Wireless is the major selling point here, as the stylish case is able to charge up the speakers to ensure you're never caught short, and takes up less space than a rucksack. However this stylish product doesn't come cheap, costing £3,940, meaning it may be out of the price range for some SMBs. For those that can splash out though, this is an eye-catching piece of kit that allows you to stay connected and conversant with your team or customers wherever you are.
A super-tough USB storage option for everything you hold dear.
Keeping workplace data safe is a major consideration for many workers, and the Aegis Secure Key 3Z features one of the toughest alternatives around.
Primarily targeting those workers who are out and about a lot, and also want to keep their valuable information secure, the device is equipped with a physical keypad to protect what's inside.
Despite only being the size of a regular USB stick, the Aegis Secure Key 3Z is one tough cookie, able to stand up to almost any work environments. The rubber exterior, which is IP58 protective against dust and water, safeguards a rugged aluminium build inside and out, meaning that there is no easy way to break into this device.
The Aegis Secure Key 3Z also features top-of-the-range encryption that meets government standards alongside the onboard keyboard to enter a custom PIN and access the data within. Despite all this protection, setting up and using the device is fairly straightforward, not requiring any extra software or complex processes, with all the protection contained within.
In fact, the only downside appears to be the high price - at $79 for the 8GB model we reviewed, this is a far pricier alternative than other devices around today. But if security is your number one concern, then this is the storage device for you.
A slim and stylish presentation tool, but quite pricey
If you're looking for a slim and stylish accessory to help guide you through your presentations, then Logitech may have just the tool for you. The company has released a new edition of its Spotlight presentation remote, promising "a whole new standard" in presentation control.
The new product offers a stylish minimalist design made out of polished metal, weighing in at just 49g, with the slim build meaning it sits nicely in the palm of your hand. Three programmable buttons on the front giving you the opportunity to control your presentation however you like. The remote is able to highlight and magnify certain areas on screen, allowing you to focus on specific items or points, and has a range of up to 30 metres for those grander presenting occasions, connecting via Bluetooth to your Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS or Android device.
It even comes with a timer, which can show how long you've been speaking for and vibrate to tell you if you're about to run over your allotted presentation time. Battery life is substantial enough to last you through a working day, and is quickly recharged.
The only downside is the price - at £119.95, it is quite an expensive option, but if you're looking for an effective and stylish presentation helper, this is the tool for you.
A hugely flexible, but slightly bulky, laptop power bank that will keep you online all day.
If you're someone who travels for work a lot, staying powered up on the move may often prove a challenge. Although power banks for mobile devices have been popular for some time, anyone looking for a laptop equivalent could be caught short. However Orico's new SC28 offering provides a huge capacity that should be perfect for staying charged up on a trip. With a capacity of 28,800mAh, the SC28 provides easily enough juice for even the thirstiest laptops, which can be quickly recharged via USB or power socket.
The latter features a number of adaptors for different markets, meaning you should never be caught short, with Orico promising five hours of life for a 13in laptop. The SC28 can charge up to three devices at once, meaning you can power your laptop, phone and router all at once for the ideal mobile working solution. The device itself looks stylish, with a sleek aluminium alloy body that weighs in at just under 1kg, but should still easily slip into a rucksack or laptop bag.
A stylish and premium noise-cancelling headset that’s perfect for meetings, and music.
In modern busy offices, it can be tricky to get some quiet - particularly if you’re trying to carry out a conference call or video meeting from your desk. Sennheiser, which is perhaps better known for its consumer headphone line, is looking to address this with a new headset targeted at business customers.
The MB 660 may resemble normal ‘cans’ style headphones, but in fact can act as a Bluetooth-enabled wireless headset, allowing you to use them as a meeting accessory in today’s UC-dominated workplace.
As you would expect from a brand such as Sennheiser, the audio quality is excellent, whether that’s with a voice call, watching video or even listening to music. This is complimented by the noise-cancelling ability of the headset, which comes with three separate settings that allow you to select your level of isolation. This high-standard audio quality does come at a price, but if you value your calls and media, it may be worth shelling out.
The headset comes with its own stylish and compact carry case, which also house the charging cables and USB connector. Battery life was excellent, with the headset not needing a recharge during our week-long test - and when we did plug it in, recharging was quick and effective.
Everything you need to get your meeting room up to scratch - all in one box.
If you've just started your own business, or need to work from home often, having a flexible and reliable technology set-up should be one of your top priorities.
In order to keep you from wasting time setting up complex systems, teleconferencing experts GoToMeeting have you covered with an all-in-one box of tools that should allow you to get up and running quickly.
The pack contains an Asus Chromebox PC, Logitech wireless keyboard, Logitech 1080p HD webcam and a FLX UC 500 conference phone from Revo labs - pretty much everything you need to get started.
The products have all been specially selected to work seamlessly together, meaning most of the usual set-up process can be sped through quickly and easily - even if you're not particularly tech-savvy.
Setting up your new kit can be done in a matter of minutes - all you need is a monitor to hook the PC and webcam up to, with all the rest of the hardware able to just plug and play.
The tiny Chromebox PC is incredibly powerful for something so small (at just 12.4cm wide and 4.2cm tall), coming with a powerful 1.7Ghz processor, 4GB of RAM and 16GB storage, making it a great choice if you are strapped for space in your office. The PC also features 4 USB ports alongside DP, HDMI and LAN connectors, offering everything you should need to get started.
Space saving is also helped by the Logitech wireless keyboard, which connects to the Chromebox via USB tracker, and also includes a trackpad in place of a mouse. If you do prefer using a physical mouse, you'll have to splash out on a separate piece.
All the devices work together quickly and easily, meaning you'll be able to start working, calling and even videoconferencing in no time. The webcam is once again surprisingly powerful for its size, offering a smooth video experience, although we did see some slowdown in some cases.
The only minor downside is the need to buy the entire package, meaning that if you only need a conference phone, or a compact PC, you may be better off buying these separately.
At the time of writing, the kit is only available to buy in the USA, costing $999, with a subscription fee of $99 a month, making it a fairly pricey proposition - however if you're , it can be built into your current subscription.