By Rieva Lesonsky
As a consumer I love reading favorite things posts, since I always find a product or two (or four) or service I want to buy or use. So I decided to share my favorites with you—in case you’re in the market for some things that will make your entrepreneurial life just a little bit easier.
So, in alphabetical order here are some of my current faves:
I am writing this 36,000 feet in the air. I’ve spent a week on the road and a few products have come in very handy. First I am using a Belkin keyboard for my iPad Air 2. I’d been through more keyboards than I’d want to admit trying to find one that worked well. This one’s a gem. It almost instantly connects with the iPad; it doubles as a protective case, the stand is adjustable to two different angles. Even better—the keys on the keyboard are raised, responsive and really easy to type on. I recently got a Surface from Microsoft and I’m so excited to try it, but so far this keyboard has made my iPad really functional.
Too many hotel rooms have been designed by people who obviously have never worked in a hotel room. There are never enough plugs. This simple device has taken that pain away. The Belkin portable SurgePlus Swivel charger has three AC outlets and tow USB ports. I can now charge my laptop, smartphone and tablet all from the one measly plug I usually find in hotel rooms.
Carbonite backs ups your computer files and documents in the cloud. Seamlessly. You can go to your account and find anything that’s magically vanished from your computer (yes, that’s happened to me—more than once). If your computer crashes (or is accidentally destroyed when your significant other spills a bottle of beer on the keyboard—yes that’s also happened to me) you can retrieve your old stuff and just transfer it to your new computer. Carbonite is cheap and you can protect multiple computers with a business account.
A few months ago HP send me an HP Elite Folio 1020 laptop—and I promptly fell in love. It’s lightweight—less than 3 pounds, which is key for being on the road. It’s billed as the world’s lightest and thinnest business computers—and I believe it. I love the screen—it’s anti-glare and so easy-to-read. And the 1020 has a great keyboard. (Do I sound a little keyboard obsessed to you? When you write as much as I do, keyboards are key to productivity). The laptop is also quiet, responsive and reliable.
HP says the Elite Folio was subjected to shock, vibration, humidity and extreme temperatures. Well, that’s nothing compared to me—I tend to be tough on my laptops and this one has held up magnificently.
And despite it being a business computer it has a lot of “sex” appeal. My niece was begging me to give it to her to take to college, instead of the Apple she originally craved. If you’re in the market for a business laptop, this is the one.
I’m also a big fan of my printer, an Officejet Pro X, also sent to me by HP. It’s the fastest-inkjet printer—and it is so reliable. I love the fact the paper tray holds a ream of paper—no running back and forth to refill the tray. The ink cartridges are huge—also alleviating the pain of having to constantly buy costly cartridges and running to the office supply store. There are various sizes and versions of the printer, so you can choose the one that’s best for you. My previous printers were constantly disconnecting themselves from my router. Not this one. It’s sturdy and reliable.
My business is a virtual one—meaning I work out of my home. My house is not large—it’s 1800 square and a single story. Despite that I’ve had the hardest time finding a router that actually worked. I was constantly having to reboot the router since it was dropping connections, to my computer—and my printer. Last summer I got frustrated, went to Best Buy and said I want the best router you’ve got (I swear I must have gone through 5 in the previous 2 years). The salesperson said it was a little pricey, but at that point I didn’t care. He handed me a Linksys WRT router. I took it home, plugged it in, set it up almost instantly with no fuss and more than a year later, I’m still very happy. And we have a LOT of devices connected to that one router.
For the record, I’m not a big fan of Google Docs. While it’s gotten better, I prefer to write in Word. That’s fine when I’m home, but when I’m in motion—not all that simple. That’s where Office 365 comes in. For so little money, you get so much with Office 365. Using the cloud-based program I can access any of the Office functions (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) anywhere I am on any device, PC or Mac. A few weeks ago on Amtrak I wrote two articles and was able to email them from Office 365—even though some of my other programs were being wonky. Maybe next trip I’ll try to create a PowerPoint while flying.
These are some of my favorite things; I’d love to hear about some of yours.
Photo courtesy of Belkin.