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By Arthur Goldstuck

Contributor


The best business gadgets of 2018

Getting to the office will soon be as futuristic as being in the office.


Many gadgets are sold to us on the basis that they will improve our lives and make us more productive, so it’s amazing that we still use them mostly for fun.

But there is a serious side to gadgetry, and many cutting edge devices are aimed solely at making our working lives more efficient.

As 2019 dawns, it’s an ideal time to review the devices intended to make offices and homes more productive and efficient. With that in mind, this is my pick of serious gadgets for 2018:

Best computer: Apple Mac Mini

After five years of no updates, the Mac Mini has been refreshed with seriously impressive specs for a computer the size of a hardcover book. The real magic lurks in the back, with four Thunderbolt 3 ports, which can transfer data at up to eight times faster than a USB 3 drive.

They can also power – and output – to two 4K displays simultaneously. The Mini can also use external graphics, which transform it into a graphics demon.

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Best mini-computer: Cloudgate X

The Cloudgate X is an office powerhouse the size of a sandwich. Powered by an Intel Quad-Core Apollo Lake chip, Windows 10 and a solid state hard drive (translation: “fast”), the X connects to any standard monitor, keyboard and mouse. It has ample connectivity options. In the typical business environment, it won’t buckle under Microsoft Office and accounting applications.

Best business tablet: iPad Pro and Apple Pencil

Apple’s latest flagship tablet for professional users, the iPad Pro, has been redesigned to fit more screen onto the same-sized tablet, while increasing performance by up to 90% over the previous generation. Apple claimed in October 2018 that the iPad Pro was faster than 92% of conventional laptops.

With iOS apps becoming more capable of desktop functions, combining the latest Pro with the “clip-on” wirelessly charging Apple Pencil and keyboard folio case gives the traditional desktop computer a run for its money.

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Best monitor: Samsung CHG90 49-inch Ultra-wide Screen

Geared towards both gaming and productivity, Samsung’s CHG90 49-inch 32:9 Screen is aimed at the computing-intensive user. The curved display provides an immersive experience by surrounding one’s peripheral vision with display. A word of warning: it’s a serious monitor that demands serious space.

Best storage device: Synology DiskStation 218 Play

With cloud storage becoming essential, but fast connectivity not always available, Synology’s DiskStation 218 Play is a great alternative for those who want to access their stored files quickly and, in some cases, without an Internet connection.

It falls into a category of business technology known as Network Attached Storage, usually aimed at enterprises, but this one is designed with small businesses in mind. The setup is straightforward and backups can be run seamlessly.

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Best docking device: Samsung DeX Pad

The DeX Pad’s redesign, following a lukewarm reception for the DeX Station docking device in 2017, squeezes in more functionality by allowing the smartphone to be used as a touchpad. It also adds more USB ports for expansion devices, making it far more versatile.

Despite it connecting to Android-based devices like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, it can run Windows with cloud-based virtual machines from Citrix, VMware and Amazon Web Services.

Best payment device: Loco Wireless Lite and Wireless Pro

Yoco’s latest card reader devices, the Wireless Lite and Wireless Pro, are intended to disrupt how merchants accept payments in South Africa. With these card readers, merchants can accept payments from anywhere with a mobile signal on their smartphones. The option is attractive to a wide range of small businesses.

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Best Smart Home gadget: LifeSmart Spot Universal Remote Controller

As home automation gains traction, LifeSmart’s Sport Universal Remote Controller provides additional smart functionality to otherwise non-smart devices. The controller acts as a 360° Infrared-blaster and can be linked to almost any device that uses remote control.

This makes TVs and aircons smarter without replacing them. At the same time, the Spot is controlled from a smartphone app, meaning that regular remote controlled appliances now become app-enabled.

Best Security Gadget: LifeSmart Frame 360 camera

LifeSmart’s remote-controllable camera, the Frame 360, steps away from the more expensive CCTV approach to provide a 360° rotatable camera managed through a smartphone app over Wi-Fi or a mobile connection. Features include night vision and a 30-minute backup battery.

Possibly its most innovative element is the ability to leave voice notes for members of the household and to have a two-way conversation through the camera from the safety of a smartphone.

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Best vehicle technology: BMW 330e

The BMW 330e combines the power of a regular three-litre BMW with the fuel consumption of a small car by fitting eDrive plug-in hybrid technology into the three-series body. The eDrive provides a fuel-free and emissions-free range of up to 35km in electric mode.

In AUTO eDrive mode, a combination of electric motor and combustion engine delivers almost unprecedented fuel efficiency. Short distances can be covered in purely electric mode and long distances promise fuel consumption of 7l/100km, which comes down to 3.5l for distances up to 50km, using the combination of electric and combustion motors.

It comes into its own in urban driving as the stop-start traffic helps recharge the battery through regenerative braking. The consumption? Only 2.1l/100km.

Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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