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 already an existing GoToMeeting customer, it can be built into your current subscription.
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.
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.
Jackery is a little known company that focuses - like so many out there - on producing portable laptop and smartphone chargers. Its flagship product is the massive PowerPro, a 500Whr/140Ah Portable Power station rechargeable battery pack, The Jackery Titan S is a portable battery (72.4Whr) that can not only charge your mobile or tablet but also, according to its manufacturer, the popular Apple MacBook laptop.
We didn’t have one at hand to test that claim sadly; note that it is also available in orange which for some reason has a lower capacity. Its black metal aluminium casing ensures that it will survive more than a few drops and it does feel very solid. Shame though about the sharper-than-usual edges on both sides and we’re not fans of the curvy profile of the Titan S as this caused it to slip a few times.
This is a portable charger/battery pack so don’t expect too much innovation; it doesn’t switch off automatically but does identify the connected device by itself, charging it at the maximum permitted power.
Other than a big power button and a 4-led battery status indicators which means you will never really know when the item will be fully charged when you reach four blue dots or discharged when it shows one blue dot.
There are two full size USB ports - a 15W one (5V, 3A) and an 18W one (supporting variable voltages thanks to Quick Charge, up to 3.4A) - and a USB Type-C one that can deliver 15W power (5V, 3A); the latter can also be used to charge the battery.
At 155 x 80 x 22mm for a weight of 435g, it is a tad smaller (volume wise) and lighter than the Aukey Powerbank although the latter has a far superior capacity (30Ah compared to 20.1Ah). The Jackery Titan comes with a micro USB charging cable and a two-year warranty but no carry case. The item is out of stock in the UK at the time of writing.
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.
Offices can often be noisy places to work, so if you are looking to cut yourself off from the world around you, Jabra's latest Bluetooth headset could be the answer.
The Jabra Evolve 75e is the company's latest attempt to help boost the productivity of office workers everywhere with a comfortable headset that offers long battery life and stylish design.
Jabra says that the Evolve 75e are the world’s first professional UC-certified wireless earbuds, making the device ideal for carrying out external or conference calls wherever you are without the need for tangled phone wires or complicated UC set-ups.
Set-up is simple, as the headset connects to your smartphone, laptop or desktop via Bluetooth and a USB plug-in. There's no need to download any extra apps or services, meaning you can jump on calls right away. The sound quality was excellent, with the buds cancelling out the noise of an active workplace, and the in-built microphone able to deliver a clear input.
The only issue we had with the Evolve 75e is that Bluetooth connectivity would occasionally drop for no apparent reason, but with the compact design and long battery life (Jabra promises up to 14 hours) provided, this seems like a minor hiccup.