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Best business accessories of 2019: Tech tools to help you be more productive

FLIR ONE Pro

Get a closer look at the world around you with this handy plug-and-play add-on.

Compact design
Hard-wearing build
Detailed imaging
Fiddly set-up
Poor battery life
High price

More and more industries are now choosing to use mobile devices in day-to-day operations out in the field thanks to their portability.

The FLIR ONE Pro offers a compact and powerful thermal imaging camera than can show up in-depth information about the world around you.

Attaching via USB-C, the device clips onto the bottom of your phone, acting as an extension to your normal camera, and displaying heat information on the world around you, with hotter objects showing up in brighter colours (see below).

The technology could prove incredibly useful for a number of industries, such as home inspectors looking to find insulation leaks, or electricians aiming to identify an over-heating connection.

You’ll need to download and register with the free FLIR ONE app in order to start using the device, which is an unneeded extra step for many, but does grant you access to the company’s helplines, galleries and app store.

The actual app was often slow to recognise when we had the device plugged in and turned on, however, and sometimes failed to detect it at all, which was slightly annoying for us, but for a worker in the field could be a major hindrance to getting your work done.

Once you do get it up and running, however, the FLIR ONE Pro’s VividIR imaging system reveals a wealth of information on the world around you, and the compact build and design means it’s easy to carry around (although could also make it easier to lose in a crowded toolbox as well….)

Battery life is also not very long, with our tests only finding the device lasting just over an hour, although re-charging was a speedy process. If you’re out working in the field with a cable though, this could be a major downside.

The FLIR ONE Pro also doesn't come cheap, costing £349.95 in the UK, but it could prove invaluable for workers in such specialised areas, and is definitely worth your consideration.

A majorly fast, and simple to use, compact mobile Wi-Fi hotspot

Slim yet tough design
Fast download speeds
Excellent battery life
Simple set up
Tough to track down in the UK

TP-Link says that the M7650 is the fastest Wi-Fi router it has ever made, offering speeds of up to 600MBps, which is easily enough to stream video to your laptop or tablet whilst on the move, as well as high-quality VoLTE audio through your phone - useful if you don't want to miss that conference call.

Our tests found that the device often reached speeds of over 500MBps, which is impressive for central London, and more than enough to enjoy reliable connections whilst on the move.

The M7650 can support up to 32 devices at once, meaning you can set up multiple connections around the home, or even in a small office if needs be - although speeds will drop if you do so. Set up is remarkably easy, requiring you to just insert the SIM card and turn on, making this much more straightforward than other similar devices.

Battery life for the device was excellent, lasting a full working day with ease, as TP-Link says that the M7650 can offer up to 15 hours of  juice, and recharging the huge 3000mAh battery is also quick and easy using the microUSB port.

The M7650 is also light and portable, being small enough to fit inside a jacket pocket, and its rubber build will help protect from any accidental drops or bumps.

However buying the device in the UK is a bit tricky, as you'll have to go through a reseller. This means you'll also need to be on the lookout for differing price options, but if you get the right deal, the M7650 is a must-have.

Invoxia NVX200 desk phone

Turn your mobile into a desk phone

Great design
Easy to use
Expensive
No USB Type-C

We love our smartphones so much so that we carry them all the time even at our work, prompting businesses to consider shedding regular landlines and simply embrace the BYOD (bring your own device) paradigm. 

Which is why it is so surprising that few companies have come up with a product like the Invoxia NVX200. In a nutshell, this £209 device converts/transforms your smartphone into a desk phone with a Bluetooth speaker and a charging dock thrown in. It comes with a bunch of connectors and adaptors to connect most smartphones.

Most Apple devices (including the iPod, iPad and iPhone) are supported, as are the latest Android smartphones, thanks to a USB Type-C port. A clever adjustable stand means that any device will sit snuggly on the NVX200. Connect the device via Bluetooth to the latter, put your smartphone in place and you’re ready to go.

Hold down the voicemail key bring up the settings and you will be able to configure the device to your taste, down to the ringtones.  Outwardly, it looks just like a normal desk phone, with lots of curves, a soft surface and a handset with a cable that’s sufficiently long for the user to stand up. Setting it up is straight forward: connect the device to a power socket, dock your smartphone, connect it to the NVX200 via Bluetooth and you’re ready to go. We did encounter some issues though.

The test smartphone, a Sony Xperia Z3, has a micro USB port located on the side rather than at the bottom of the device. To make matters worse, it is not anywhere near the middle which makes it impossible to dock in landscape mode. Things got a bit more complicated when you factor in the casing used to protect it.

Altogether a wireless solution, which integrates no-wires charging, might have been a better solution but would have restricted its appeal. We couldn’t get the speaker to play music wirelessly but it did somehow play music via the micro USB connector but only, and only if Bluetooth is disconnected.

Immervox Multi SIM

An easier way to improve coverage

Ease of use
Works on feature phones
Pricing

Fed up with losing your connectivity when out and about? Then check out the Multivox Multisim. It is a service that allows access to multiple UK mobile networks from a single SIM card. 

No need to swap tiny pieces of PCB or opt for a sub-optimal dual-SIM smartphone to eliminate the issues associated with poor connectivity, especially when you are out and about. The technology works on almost any recent smartphones and feature phones and doesn’t need a dedicated app. 

If there is no coverage on the primary access network, then your phone will search for another available UK mobile network and if there is one available, it will connect to it. If there are multiple networks available, then it will pick up and run on the network with the strongest signal. 

The Multisim works without having to manually select a different network to switch to and you get to keep your phone number regardless of the network. The only caveat is that a call will drop when the network being used loses coverage altogether; there is no “incall” switching.

You get unlimited UK calls to mobiles and landlines as well as unlimited texts, all courtesy of EE’s network. Four data packages are available, ranging from 2GB (£29.40) to 10GB (£41.90) excluding VAT. The packages can be configured at Immervox.     

KnowRoaming Global Hotspot Service

Simplified, seamless worldwide communication

Connection capacity: 15 | Connection type: 3G | Battery life: 15 hours

Unlimited data in 92 countries
Free Whatsapp
Limited on-device control
No consumer version available yet

There are a fair few solutions available for digitally-savvy globetrotters looking who whiz across the globe for leisure or pleasure. We might have uncovered one of the best ones yet.

From Knowroaming comes a global hotspot that uses a Novatel Wireless Mi-fi, the 6630, and can connect you up in more than 140 countries with 92 of them offering unlimited data for a flat fee of $7.99 per day (about £6.40), a price that even include free, unlimited Whatsapp.

We tried it during a recent trip to Japan where the cost of connectivity is prohibitive and international data roaming is a no-no unless you want to spend hundreds. The Mi-fi device comes in a nice pouch with a few accessories; we just took it out and used it for a few days. It is sturdy enough to withstand a few knocks.

The 6630 is about the size of a Tic-tac box and its user interface is intuitive with only three buttons and a small screen on its front. On top is the power button as well as two USB ports, one for charging up and the other to provide power to external devices.

Inside the 6630 is a 4,000mAh battery that can power the device for up to 20 hours. It is compatible with Cat4 LTE although KnowRoaming only supported 3G for now and an LTE offer is in the pipeline. In use, the service was as seamless as it could be.

Switch it on and connect to it using the provided login details. Note that you can’t change these from the device itself; that can only be done by accessing the device via a browser. Various options exist on the Mi-fi device including the ability to set a number of restrictions, the ability to view your consumption, the number of devices connected at any time and the battery life left. The 6630 supports dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi but no 802.11ac.

Since this is primarily marketed as a business device, it comes with a number of security features including VPN pass-through, NAT firewall, security hardened web interface, Anti-CSRF (Cross-Site Request Forgery) and session timeouts. Sadly though you won’t be able to buy a consumer version of that yet. Instead, the device is only being sold to corporates for $199 (about £160) with discounts being offered for multiple purchases. 

As it stands, the service is meant to be managed centrally by an administrator or IT manager with an entire backend, cloud-based infrastructure provided by KnowRoaming. Suggested improvement to the Mi-fi device would include a thinner, more pocketable model, support for 802.11ac, the inclusion of a microSD card reader and having a smartphone app to allow you to access admin essential information from your smartphone, rather than through a browser.

Find out more at Knowroaming

NUU Konnect i1

A light and slimline 4G mobile hotspot.


Elegant design
Wide range of networks
Speed throttling after certain usage
Poor availability

If you've ever been stuck for mobile signal when travelling to a new country, then the NUU Konnect i1 could be the gadget for you.

Able to provide 4G connections in over 100 countries, the i1 looks to offer a simple, portable way to get online wherever you are in the world.

Most current mobile hotspots are only able to connect to 3G networks, so the Konnect i1 already has an advantage there, thanks to its LTE Cat 6 Qualcomm modem.

The device supports VPNs and Wi-Fi calling, and is equipped with LTE bands 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/17/20/39/40/41, meaning there's a wide range of possible connections.

NUU Mobile says that it is trying to target frequent travellers with the Konnect i1. The device itself is small enough and light enough to easily slip into your pocket, and is able to power up using its microUSB port.

Setting up is easy enough, with the capacity to connect up to five devices at any one time.

What's more, you'll only play a flat rate of $10 a day to use the device as much as you want, with no contract or sign-up fees.

However, after the first 500MB of data, you'll be dialled back to HSPA+ networks for the next 500MB you use, and then down again to just 128Kbps speeds for anything more than that, unless you spend more for further LTE usage.

For the moment, you can only get hold of the Konnect i1 if you backed the product on Kickstarter, with news of a wider release not available just yet.

Netgear Nighthawk M1 mobile router

Slim and lightweight design
Superfast speeds
Easy set-up
Day-long battery life
Fragile build
High price

Staying online when working on the go has become an incredibly important issue for all mobile workers, as an unreliable connection can be a disaster.

Netgear is looking to solve these worries with its new Nighthawk M1 mobile router, which it says is the company's fastest yet. Capable of supporting Gigabit LTE speeds, the Nighthawk M1 uses four-band carrier aggregation and Qualcomm's Snapdragon X16 LTE modem to support mobile downloads of up to 1000MBps, as well as uploads of up to 150MBps. Our time with the device found the actual speeds to be fractionally lower, however streaming and uploading were both fast and reliable, both at home and out and about.

The Nighthawk M1 is slim and lightweight, meaning it can be easily carried around in a rucksack or messenger bag. Netgear says that the battery life of the can last 24 hours, and our tests found it comfortably survived a full working day. Set-up is a quick plug-in process, with no external software needed, and the device can even use its USB connectors to charge your mobile device.

In the UK, the Nighthawk M1 can be purchased from Amazon for £299, or via pay-monthly contract with BT or EE. Both options are fairly pricey, with EE offering the device for £29 a month for 24 months after a £99 upfront payment, but if you're looking for fast and reliable connections, this device is ideal.

(Image credit: Mike Moore)

EMeet OfficeCore M2 Smart Speakerphone

A portable, but sometimes tricky smart speakerphone

Stylish portable design
High quality sound
Smart Assistant links 
Set up can be tricky
Hard to purchase and quite pricey

With conference calls becoming an increasingly common part of modern business life, the need for reliable hardware to support this is greater than ever. The OfficeCore M2 is the latest release from Chinese firm EMeet, and looks to provide a smart and stylish way to make sure your calls go off without a hitch.

The OfficeCore M2 offers 360-degree voice recognition thanks to a number of embedded microphones, supporting a range of up to 26 feet away, with the company adding that should support calls with up to 12 people without interference. The device can also link to mobile smart assistants to facilitate greater communication, with Siri, Cortana and Google Now all supported via Bluetooth, although our tests found that this was often patchy to set up.

The major selling point of the OfficeCore M2 is its portability. Equipped with a 2500mAh battery that should easily last through even the longest conference calls, the device can quickly be picked up and carried around in a shoulder bag or rucksack. At $189, it's not the cheapest speakerphone on the market today, but if you're in the market for a device that can easily be taken on the go, this could be the one for you.