Price: ₤15 (approximately $25 USD) What it does: A smart and frills-free application launcher, Alfred acts like the Mac search bar on steroids and is a productivity dream. PowerPack unlocks the power of searching through your computer, including streamlined and lightning-quick file directory access, a comprehensive list of options to enact on files, and fully programmable global hotkeys to launch programs or perform actions, among others. The PowerPack also grants access to hundreds of user-submitted add-ons that take advantage of specific software on your computer. Why it’s worth it: Early adopters have raved often about application launcher Alfred’s streamlining effect on the Mac OS, providing hosts of hotkeys and a revolutionary search function that allows for sparing use of the trackpad. And, while it’s a great tool for any work-focused individual looking to shave a few seconds of lag time, it’s an absolute must-have with its paid add-on, PowerPack. It’s an easy investment to make if you’re looking to lifehack your workday.
Price: $200 What it does: Doxie Go is a wireless, cordless scanner than can take any paper anywhere at any time and turn it all into shareable and simple files that are easily synced. The little but powerful machine runs on a rechargeable battery and can handle up to 600 pages of scans with its built-in memory alone. Then, the system syncs via USB, and all documents are ready to be sent to cloud programs such as Evernote, Google Docs, Basecamp and Dropbox. And for an extra $30, Doxie Go can be outfitted with a wireless card that allows for seamless syncing to computers as well as the iPad, iPhone and Android devices. Why it’s worth it: Expense reports. Conference documents. Business cards. Sometimes, it can be a pain taking these soul-crushing analog objects and turn them into useful, storable digital information. The Doxie Go is a portable, helpful gadget that really makes scanning smart. Definitely pick this one up if you’re looking to digitize all your work-related documents.
Price: $200 What it does: Nuance’s Dragon Dictate is a powerful and proprietary speech recognition tool that practically acts (or replaces) a personal secretary. Need a document written quickly? Organizing spreadsheets? Sending an email? Dragon helps you do all of it without lifting a finger. Why it’s worth it: Far and away the most celebrated speech recognition technology, Dragon Dictate is able to not only compile written documents with ease, but also launch software applications, create closed-captioning for presentations and record high-quality audio for later use. You can also reverse-engineer your work and allow the software to read in an easily accessible text-to-speech mode. In addition to major productivity boosting, this software is a must for people who suffer from typing-related injuries or who are looking for greater mobility while working at a computer.
Price: $300 What it does: Sometimes big innovation comes in little packages, and Brookstone’s $300 HDMI Pocket Projector can make your next presentation much more beautiful. At just 3.9 inches wide and weighing only half a pound, this rechargeable projector can display 1080p HD images up to 60 inches on diagonal — meaning big slideshows or videos can be seen by the whole conference room. Why it’s worth it: Frequent travelers and presenters should definitely take the plunge on this little projector — its quality is worth the price. The system runs for two hours on a single charge, and also comes with built-in speakers to provide quality audio when needed. Even more impressive, the projector doubles as a USB backup battery, so smartphones and tablets can be charged in a pinch. But perhaps the most impressive thing about the HDMI Pocket Projector is that it’s a one-cord device, meaning that setting up and calibrating the system takes very little effort.
The Hot List highlights tech products that are worth splurging on, and it’s presented by the new Acura ILX. With technology centered around your life and a design that pushes all the right buttons, luxury starts here.
Price: $40 What it does: More than a simple list, Omnifocus actually works like a personal project manager, culling all tasks with a simple hotkey. All to-dos remain in an “inbox,” where they can then be organized into groups and bundled into tasks. For example, when you have a spare moment to write emails, simply click on the “Email” context and you will see what emails you have to shoot out. Omnifocus also allows users to create projects — including due dates, time estimates, recurring schedules and sticky tasks. Most importantly, the aforementioned sync feature means that all Omnifocus details can be ported to already-existing group or individual calendars for easy sharing. Why it’s worth it: A powerful workhorse with enough features to make even the most task-driven workers squeal with glee, this $40 software is the mother of all to-do list platforms. And, with a seamless sync to email, calendar and to-do applications, this Mac software can keep your workday on track.
But note: If you want to move your productivity management to your iPhone or iPad, it’s going to cost you an extra $20. However, Omnifocus’s autosync system ensures that all tasks are updated across platforms, so productivity freaks won’t be disappointed with dropping the extra dollars.
Price: $20 What it does: Screens is a VNC client that enables users to connect to any computer from an iPad with a simple internet connection. Screens is able to connect to Mac, Windows and Linux PCs from Wi-Fi or 3G and can also connect via a secure and encrypted protocol. Screens also incorporates the iPad’s slick multitouch capability, meaning that users can enact features already available on the trackpad. Screens can also provide access to a multitude of different computers, meaning that you can easily switch from your home computer to your work computer and back. Why it’s worth it:The iPad is rapidly becoming the go-to device for frequent flying executives for its ease of use and portability. But, one of the drawbacks to going laptop-free is the lack of tools only a reliable work computer can provide. Simple, uncomplicated and reliable, Screens is a great way to get the full functionality of a computer with the slick and portable features of the iPad.
Price: $89 for an individual computer and more than $800 for up to 10 computers What it does: ShadowProtect offers one of the most comprehensive business network backup systems on the market today. Its reliable and thorough data backup and protection system can save you thousands in potential disaster recovery. Once the system is installed and directed to a backup storage device (whether it’s a dedicated server or a virtual environment), the program backs up seamlessly every 15 minutes. If the worst strikes, ShadowProtect not only restores all data from the last backup but also enable users to boot their old computers from a virtual machine. Why it’s worth it: Sure, there’s lots of software to help you with working better, but ShadowProtect will help your business stay protected and keep you up and running. Think of it: A virus worms its way into your network of business computers and begins to eat your data en masse, including those important finance folders. How can you recover?
ShadowProtect isn’t only worth paying for, it’s one of the only tools that can pay for itself in the long run. If you have a business that needs your computer, don’t leave it unprotected.
Price: $7.99 per month What it does: Already built with the power of Xobni’s free app Smartr, Xobni Pro adds a boatload of features that could boost any business. The smart system not only puts a face to every contact but also provides an in-depth email history and ports updates from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. And, the Pro features enable users to add contacts to Outlook and BlackBerry, gain access to powerful searching filters that comb through all email archives and group all contacts across all platforms in the cloud. Why it’s worth it:The standard, vanilla email client can often leave much to be desired for both productivity and efficiency. Xobni Pro is a great solution to the headaches of traditional contact management and email efficiency. Simply put, Xobni has one of the smartest and most efficient contact managers out there. It’s definitely worth your money, and it can change how you view the power of your contacts.