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Tools of the Trade: April 2021

By Michael Castelluccio
April 1, 2021

1. ACER SWIFT 3

 

If it’s time to re­place your laptop, the Acer Swift 3 ultrabook offers a solid, midprice alternative (currently $799.99 on the Acer website). The lightweight model designated SF314-59-75QC easily handles multi-tasking and will run all day. The aluminum and ­magnesium-aluminum body weighs as little as 2.65 lbs., depending on configuration, and is as thin as 0.63″. The 14″ Full HD (1,920 × 1,080) 16:9 screen features narrow bezels, Acer Color Intelligence, and ExaColor for increased color contrast. The long-lasting 56Wh battery can run up to 17 hours, and it can be fast-charged in just 30 minutes for up to four hours’ use. The processor is an Intel Core i7 quad-core 2.80 GHz with Intel Iris Xe Graphics. Memory includes 8GB standard and 256GB onboard SSD storage. There are built-in fingerprint reader, microphone, and a 1,280 × 720 webcam, and the keyboard is backlit. Along with an HDMI output port, there are three USB ports: one USB 2.0, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, and one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C. The operating system included is Windows 10 Home. Overall dimensions are 12.7″ × 8.6″ × 0.63″. www.acer.com

 

3. KENSINGTON DOCKING STATION

 

After all these months of working from home, are you ready for something more than your current laptop—or maybe would you just like to remove the rat’s nest of wiring now on your desk? It could be time to add a dedicated docking station that will allow you to add a full-size keyboard and normal mouse, external speakers, a second full-size monitor, and other external drives. A good general solution that offers a lot of connections and room to upscale to dual 4K displays is the Kensington Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station SD5300T. It’s Windows and Mac compatible and will connect monitors, hard drives, keyboard, mouse, and more. Up to 10 connections are available, and there’s even a built-in SD card reader. See all the specs and check the “docking station configurator” for advice on choosing the best dock type for your gear. www.kensington.com

 

3. OMNICHARGE OMNI ULTIMATE

 

The Omnicharge Omni Ultimate is a high-capacity power bank with enough stored power to recharge your camera up to 12 times, cell phone around 10 times, tablets up to five charges, laptops twice, and drones up to four charges. Along with the USB outlets, there’s a full-size wall outlet for AC output and an adjustable DC port. Layers of protection prevent power surges that would damage your devices. An OLED screen provides smart power readings for adjustable voltage and amperage. The Omni Ultimate bank can be re­charged in under four hours from nearly any power source, including solar. Other smaller Omni models also are available. www.omnicharge.co

 

4. BLUEPARROTT B450-XT HEADSET

 

The BlueParrott B450-XT headset provides a wireless connection via Bluetooth and can block out up to 96% of background noise in noisy offices, on the road, and in home office or homeschool environments. It’s designed for hands-free Microsoft Teams Walkie Talkie collaboration, with a button for that programmed in the panel. Push-to-talk also works with Zebra Workforce Connect, Zello, and others. The wireless connection works at distances up to 300 feet. USB charging provides 24 hours of talk time and 500 hours of standby time, and the headset has IP54-rated protection from moisture or dust damage. www.blueparrott.com

 

Michael Castelluccio has been the technology editor for Strategic Finance for 26 years. His SF TechNotes blog is in its 23rd year. You can contact Mike at mcastelluccio@imanet.org.


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