Photos: 10 hot devices to boost your productivity in 2016
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Productivity boosting devices
Highly productive professionals are always looking for tools to make their work faster, simpler, and more efficient. Here are some of the best productivity boosters TechRepublic has evaluated in 2016.
1. Dell UltraSharp 34-inch Curved Monitor
Curved televisions don’t make much sense because you have to always sit right in the center of one to benefit from the view. However, curved computer screens make perfect sense because you are always sitting in the center of your monitor. And as curved monitors go, you can’t beat the Dell U3415W. It eliminates the need for dual monitors, offers 21:9 aspect ratio and 3440 x 1440 resolution, and you can find one for as low as $750 at places like Amazon. In testing a U3415W, I easily placed three windows next to each other on the same screen, which especially made for much quicker copying-and-pasting than flipping between different monitors or virtual desktop spaces.
Dell U3415W Curved Monitor
2. Microsoft Surface Book
The world’s first Microsoft-branded laptop offers high-end graphics, a powerful stylus, solid design and aesthetics, and 2-in-1 tablet and notebook versatility. It can be a boon to graphics designers, project managers, Microsoft Office power users, photographers, and other types of creative professionals. It’s very heavy and the hinge design makes it a bit awkward, but the mix of standard laptop, touchscreen, and pen computing make it a unique workhorse.
3. iPad Pro with Apple Pencil
Apple, of course, doesn’t want the Microsoft Surface line to steal its thunder with creative professionals—a demographic that has long ties with Apple. There’s a cadre of professionals who love the iPad as a laptop replacement (or companion) because it forces them to focus on one task at a time—whereas multitasking is an opportunity for distraction. For them, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the tablet they’ve been waiting for. The humongous screen (with 2732 x 2048 resolution) is a big canvas for drawing, editing photos, looking at highly visual web sites, viewing documents, and marking up files and images with the new Apple Pencil.
iPad Pro with Apple Pencil
4. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga with OLED display
Perhaps the most versatile machine on the planet, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga packs a 14-inch OLED touchscreen with 2560 x 1440 resolution. It also features a stylus that docks into the machine and recharges. And, the hinge allows it to swivel completely around so that it can be used at any viewing angle. Hence, it can work as a normal laptop, as a straight tablet with the keyboard flipped all the way around, in presentation mode with the screen at a reverse 45 degree angle, or in tent mode for video watching. But, by far the best and most productive feature of the X1 Yoga is the option for integrated LTE, which allows you to switch between Wi-Fi and mobile broadband as seamlessly as an iPad or a Chromebook.
ThinkPad X1 Yoga
5. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
People tend to love or hate the “Edge” edition of Samsung’s Galaxy phones. For example, I’ve always appreciated the elegance of the Edge design, while my colleague Bill Detwiler can’t stand the Galaxy S7 Edge because his fingers often hit the curved side of the screen without meaning to. As far as work phones go, the S7 Edge is a ringer. It has a beautiful display, zippy processor, fast fingerprint scanner, and a top notch camera. The Edge dock can put your most used contacts, calendar, weather, news, and more just a quick swipe away. But, it’s most productive aspect is the form factor. It puts a 5.5-inch screen (same as the iPhone 6s Plus) in a device roughly the same size as the iPhone 6s, which makes the Galaxy S7 Edge a phablet you can operate with one hand.
Galaxy S7 Edge
6. Linksys WRT1900ACS Gigabit Wi-Fi Router
If you’re lucky enough to be in an area that has access to a gigabit fiber connection—such as Google Fiber or AT&T GigaPower—then one of your biggest problems may be that your router isn’t fast enough to take advantage of all that speed. For startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses that want to use that bandwidth as rocket fuel for their companies, a $200-$300 upgrade to a next generation router like the Linksys WRT1900ACS will make a huge difference in internet and Wi-Fi performance. Another option is the ASUS RT-AC3200. For other choices, check out CNET’s Best Wireless Routers of 2016.
Linksys WRT1900ACS Router
7. Philips 40-inch 4K UHD monitor
If you can’t deny your affection for big monitors like the Dell U3415W mentioned above, then here’s an even bigger one to consider: the Philips BDM4065UC 4K 40-inch monitor. This ultra high definition display with 3840 x 2160 resolution is bigger than a lot of televisions. Unlike curved monitors, this one is optimized for a wide viewing angle, so it’s especially useful when you want others to gather around and see your display, such as a shared video editing machine.
Philips BDM4065UC 4K 40-inch monitor
8. Samsung Galaxy TabPro S
The Galaxy Tab Pro S is a Windows 10 Pro slate with solid specs and great integration with Samsung smartphones. It offers Microsoft Surface-like capabilities, starts at $800, and gives you phone notifications and lets you respond to texts straight from the tablet. This 12-incher is more tablet than laptop, so think of it as more of a competitor with the iPad Pro than the Surface Book. It’s best as a tablet where you only occasionally drop into laptop mode to do a few keyboard-intensive things. As a pure tablet, it’s one of the best Windows 10 slates you can buy.
Galaxy TabPro S
9. Apple Magic Trackpad 2
For the Mac users in the crowd, one of the best productivity boosters you can buy is the Magic Trackpad 2. I used to loathe trackpads and whenever I used a laptop with one I’d always plug in a real mouse (and when I used a Lenovo Thinkpad I always preferred to use the little joystick). However, the gestures on the Mac trackpads have changed my preferences in the past few years and the Trackpad 2 enhances the experience with a much larger pad and the addition of ForceTouch functionality (which has its advantages and disadvantages). Gestures are essentially the mouse equivalent of keyboard shortcuts—they make you more efficient by streamlining hundreds of little things you do every day. My favorite in this case is setting up multiple “spaces” (desktop workspaces) on the Mac and then using the three-finger swipe to quickly switch between them. While the Magic Trackpad 2 is overpriced at $129, that one gesture for switching between spaces can have an outsized impact on your workflow.
Magic Trackpad 2
10. Dell XPS 15 with 4K Infinity Display
For those Windows users who have MacBook Pro envy, one of the best options for a high powered Windows machine is the Dell XPS 15 with a 4K display that is nearly bezel-less. The XPS 15 offers the kind of simplicity of design that has made the MacBook Pro famous. It also includes high-end features like 16GB of DDR4, 512GB NVMe storage, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M graphics, a 4K UHD touch display, and an 84 WHr battery. One its most productive features is the Dell “Power Companion” that you can charge off your power adapter and then bring with you on a long flight, for example, so that you can keep working even if your laptop runs through its entire battery.