Are you looking for a unique give-away to show your best clients
how much you appreciate their business amid the traditional holiday
gift-giving season? Or maybe you’re simply looking to boost your
There are dozens of cool gizmos on the market that will fill
either role and are worth taking a look at.
With the help of Brian Smith, chief information officer at CSA
Travel Protection, here’s a peek at 10 such technological
Tablet PC. If a PDA is too small for your tastes, try a tablet
PC. Think of it as an electronic legal pad. There are two kinds
those with attached keyboards and a swivel monitor that lies flat
to write on, or those that dock to your desktop PC. I like the
latter best because it’s so portable.
Think how convenient it would be to scrawl notes on that next
fam trip directly into your computer. There are dozens of versions
on the market from makers including Acer, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard,
NEC, Toshiba and Fujitsu. From $1,000 to $2,500.
Wireless Adapter. I can’t live without my Linksys WPC55AG
Dual-Band Wireless A+G Notebook Adapter. It enables me to access
802.11a, b, and g wireless networks around the world with just a
I can file reports, send photos and keep up with business even
when I’m away from the office.
Illuminated Keyboard. I love this illuminated keyboard from
Auravision. It fits nicely with my desktop unit as well as my
laptop and is light enough to carry on long trips.
The illumination allows you to work in lower light, reducing
glare. That allows me to work longer and later without straining my
eyes or keeping my husband awake with lights ablaze. They also make
an illuminated optical mouse.
Windows-Based Phone Switch. If you have a small agency, this
could be a cost-saver. The CSA Call Center uses a telephony
switching system called “Interaction Client” from Interactive
Unlike a traditional phone switch that the big phone companies
sell to call centers and that are difficult to manage, Interaction
Client is a Windows-based system. It is easy for staff, with little
technical training, to configure call routing, monitor activity,
produce reports, etcetera.
XML Travel Booking Specification. CSA is a member of the
OpenTravel Alliance, a travel industry group that has developed a
standard specification for booking travel services including travel
insurance. This specification provides a common “language” for
travel partners for example, a travel agency and a travel insurance
provider to transact e-business.
The specification uses XML (Extensible Markup Language), which
has been rapidly accepted as the leading protocol for e-commerce
transactions for all industries.
Remote Access. GoToMyPC allows a traveler, on the road with a
laptop, to access and control a home or corporate computer.
“Remote control” software like this has been around for years;
what makes GoToMyPC special is that it operates through a Web
browser, making it particularly simple for travelers to connect
easily from anywhere at any time.
GPS-enabled PDA. Handhelds are great, but what about one that
knows where you are even if you don’t? Perfect for travelers and
travel professionals who need to know where they’re going, as well
as when and with whom. Best bet: the Garmini Que 3600.
PDA Phones. CSA field sales reps use PDA/cell phone combination
devices to carry all of their contact information with them, update
on the PDAs, and upload that information to CSA’s central Customer
Relationship Management system.
Hand-Crank Cell Phone Charger. This is a must for anyone who
travels particularly to remote locations and situations where
electricity is hard to find.
The SideWinder cell phone charger is a pocket-sized, lightweight
hand-crank gadget you power to power up your portable phone. It
comes with several adapters to fit most phones and has a nifty LED
that’s bright enough to serve as a flashlight.
Cell Earpiece. I really like the new JABRA EarWave Boom
earpiece. It’s ultra-light and seriously effective, providing
crystal-clear reception and optimum volume.
And the noise-canceling microphone makes you easier to hear on
the other end whether you’re in a bustling airport terminal or on a
The GE Wireless Weather Station. This smallish device offers you
instant climatological information on the go. The sensor goes
outside and beams a wireless weather report directly to the
portable base unit. It keeps time (there’s a handy alarm function,
too) and offers indoor/outdoor temperature and humidity
Other cool features: an ice alert, a lunar phase indicator and a
“weather estimator” that gives you a 12- to 24-hour forecast. And
all on the go. Runs on four AA batteries.