Top tech toys for high-flying executives

With Christmas around the corner, these gadgets are the perfect fit for those looking to combine business with cutting edge technology.

Asus S1 Mobile LED Projector 

Ditch that projector and notebook for those business presentations on the road. Travel light by beaming your presentation from your smartphone to a pocket-sized projector instead.

The Asus S1 is a pocket-sized portable projector with a relatively long battery life (3 hours) that can beam a 100-inch WXGA (854-by-480) resolution image from 2.4 metres (or a 41-inch image from just one metre away) and also has the ability to charge other mobile devices attached to it.

The sweet spot is at 55-inches as brightness drops of dramatically at 100 inches.

Measuring in at 110.5 x 30.7 x 102mm, the S1 is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Built with a solid square aluminium housing and an etched concentric-circle design, this is one impressive looking little unit.

In terms of connectivity, there is a single HDMI port, which doubles as a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) for directly hooking up a compatible Android tablet or smartphone. HDMI-DVI adapters can also be used to connect older laptops. Sound is taken care of thanks to the built in 2-watt speaker though you’ll want to sit close to hear it.

Of all the palmtop sized projectors on the market, we prefer the Asus S1 for its ability to serve double duty as portable charger for mobile devices, impressive internal battery life, brightest image in its class (200 lumens), solid build quality that should standup to the rigours of travel and shorter throw distance than typical data projectors.

As is the case with most pocket-sized projectors, you will need to use the unit in a relatively dark room to produce a decent image.

Bose QuietComfort 25 noise cancelling headphones

Regular jet setters swear by Bose’s QuietComfort headphones and for good reason - it has hands down the best noise cancelling performance of any pair of headphones on the market. The new QuietComfort 25 is the first update in five years, making improvements in both noise cancellation and headphone design while also upping the audio quality in the process.

Build quality is incredibly important for an expensive pair of headphones - you want to feel reassured that your investment will last you a very long time and Bose has really upped its game on that front. The headphones are still largely made of plastic but it has an incredibly strong frame, cast-zinc hinge, ear cups that show no signs of flexing and a thicker detachable cord.

At 196 grams, the QuietComfort 25 is also one of the lightest over the ear headphones in its class and is every bit as comfortable as its much lauded predecessor.

The QC25 folds into a case that’s 30 per cent smaller than the older model, which is about as small as you can get for a pair of full-size over-ear headphones. The leather case includes a multipurpose airline adapter, space to store a spare AAA battery, integrated business card holder and storage space for other travelling paraphernalia such as a passport and boarding pass.

While the QC15 was more restrained when it came to audio quality, the new model has a brighter and clearer sound that is likely to please regardless of whether you are listening to music or watching an inflight movie. The QC25 also does a slightly better job at blocking out ambient sound such as the engine noise of a plane or a loud office. The active noise cancellation now lasts longer as well with up to 30 hours off a single AAA battery.

LG G Watch R or Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch

Smartwatches have been slowly gaining momentum in the market, with almost every smartphone maker and notable luxury brands getting in on the act.

After a rather bland debut of the first round of Android Wear smartwatches in the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, tech companies are now taking a more sophisticated approach to design and nowhere is this more evident than in Motorola’s Moto 360 and LG’s follow up - G Watch R.

Both smartwatches look more like a traditional timepiece with a circular stainless steel watch face and genuine leather straps. Both leather wrist straps are removable and can be swapped out with any standard 22mm watch band. The emphasis on design extends to the software with an extensive library of customisable watch faces.

Both the G Watch R and Moto 360 are driven by the Android Wear OS which means that it supports any Android smartphone running 4.3 or higher and offers automated alerts, notifications, ability to answer calls, music controls, voice-activated messaging and emailing, weather information, web searches, turn-by-turn directions and third party app content, all presented in glanceable form on the watch face.

It also has the smarts of Google Now that delivers information to your wrist before you even ask for it. For example, a smartwatch can notify you if there is bad traffic on your commute to work or if your flight has been delayed, update you on the status of a delivery and remind you of an upcoming meeting without having to go looking for that information.

Though not perfect, once you have experienced the convenience of a smartwatch, it’s hard to go back. Both the G Watch R or the Moto 360 are excellent choices and it’s worth noting that there are some subtle differences between the two which might sway your purchasing decision.

Both have a heart rate monitor onboard, however, the Moto 360 is more useful in that it checks your heart rate periodically in the background at regular intervals during the day and logs it to your daily and weekly activity levels. The G Watch R also lacks an ambient light sensor unlike the Moto 360 which can automatically adjust its brightness based on the lighting conditions around you.

The beautiful circular face of the Moto 360 is somewhat marred by an ugly black bar at the bottom that some have dubbed the ‘flat tyre’, a problem that the G Watch R doesn’t have. And unlike the Sony Smartwatch 3, both the G Watch R and Moto 360 lack onboard GPS, so you will be required to carry your smartphone if you want to track your runs. However, both smartwatches do at least support offline music playback so you can listen to music with just your smartwatch provided you own a pair of bluetooth headphones.

Livescribe 3 smartpen

Writing with a stylus on the glass of a smartphone screen will never feel as natural as the pen on paper experience, but with the Livescribe 3 Smartpen, you can have the traditional writing experience all with the digital perks of easily archiving and sharing your handwritten notes on your iDevice.

The smartpen, which pairs via bluetooth to your iPhone or iPad, is a regular albeit chunkier ink pen used to write on an actual full-size spiral bound notebook but thanks to a tiny infrared camera stored in the tip of the pen, handwritten notes are digitised and appear almost instantly on your iPhone or iPad.

All digitised notes are sorted into chronological order and all numbers, dates and addresses can be automatically saved as a phone contact, entered into iOS’s Calendar app or opened up in Apple Maps.

Written notes can be emailed or copied and pasted into other apps and can even be tagged for easier retrieval. For those who have trouble deciphering their own handwriting there is also the option to convert masses of scribbled notes into legible text by simply swiping the smart pen’s tip over written text in a left to right motion.

If you regularly need to voice record speeches or interviews then the ability to sync recorded audio with your handwriting, so you can jump to specific parts of the recording by simply selecting the relevant line of text, is a much appreciated timesaver.

The Livescribe 3 currently only works with iOS devices, however, the company is planning on expanding compatibility with Android devices in the future.

 

Luggage tracker - Trackdot or Lug Loc

There’s nothing worse than having your luggage go missing after a long flight and this is where a luggage tracker can come in handy. Over 30 million bags go missing via transit every year worldwide, meaning that airlines are losing over 3,000 bags every hour. While using a luggage tracker doesn’t completely eliminate the nuisance of lost luggage, it does give you a greater chance of actually recovering your belongings by making them traceable.

The gadget in question is a tracking device which is a small tag roughly the size of a mobile phone that you slip inside your suitcase. The small emitter sends out its location using cellular (GSM) signals, which you can then track by using a phone app. The tracking device will automatically shut off when in an airplane and turn back on when there is no movement detected so as to not interfere with avionic systems and also aids in preserving the 40-day battery life.

Two of the most popular luggage trackers on the market are the Lug Loc which costs $49.95 and is available at select retailers across the country, and Trackdot, which is only available for purchase online from the Trackdot website for $59.95 plus postage and a onetime activation fee of $US8.99. 

Be aware that there is an ongoing charge to use both devices: Lug Loc costs $US2.99 per trace or $US29.99 for 30 traces. Trackdot has an annual service fee of $US12.99 which includes an unlimited number of traces.  

While this may not be a worthwhile investment if you don’t travel very much, those who do are likely to find it an invaluable travel companion.

Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector LSPX-W1 

If you have some serious cash burning a hole in your pocket, then look no further than Sony’s jaw-dropping 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector also referred to as ‘LifeSpace UX’.

Individually handcrafted to order, the projection system is enclosed inside a white credenza with a sleek aluminium construction that resembles a high-end piece of entertainment centre furniture.

The unit is designed to be placed right up against a wall and beams a glorious 147-inch 4K (4096 x 2160) resolution image directly above as opposed to across the room as is the case with traditional projector setups. This means that you won’t have to deal with a complicated installation involving ceiling mounts and it also eliminates viewer shadows. And as this is a laser based projection system, you won’t have to worry about replacement lamps either.

The top cover of the unit opens or shuts automatically depending on whether the unit is turned on or off, keeping it inconspicuous and free from dust, while the ends of the unit serve as storage space for other home electronics that can be tucked away complete with internal wiring. The unit even integrates a 2 way speaker system with a sizeable sub-woofer and tweeter.

The luxurious but unobtrusive furniture design gives it flexibility to be placed anywhere in the home or boardroom while the sophisticated projection system effectively turns regular walls into fluid displays.

At a cool $US50,000 however, only those with extravagant tastes and deep pockets need apply.

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