The Best Small Business Technology at CES 2011

Thursday Jan 13th 2011 by Thor Olavsrud
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The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas may focus on consumer electronics, but it offers plenty of small business technology, too. We look at the best CES offers SMBs.

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Unless it happens at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show, then it gets plastered all over the Internet. While the show is primarily dedicated to consumer products, more than a few of the exhibitors at CES 2011 had small business technology offerings to show off.

Here's a roundup of some of the best CES 2011 had to offer with respect to small business computing.

Small Business Technology at CES

The buzz leading up to the show was all about tablets, and exhibitors didn't disappoint.

Tablets Rule CES

Motorola Mobility showed off its new Xoom tablet, and it won the award for best gadget at the show. Xoom is the first tablet to feature the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system, developed specifically for tablets.

Motorola Xoom; tablet PC; small business computing
The Xoom tablet from Motorola Mobility.
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The Xoom features a 10.1-inch widescreen display, an Nvidia Tegra 2.1 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB DDR 2 RAM and front- and rear-facing cameras, one of which is capable of recording HD video. Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) said unique docking options would allow HD content streaming to TV and easy connection to PC accessories like mouse and keyboard devices.

The company teamed with Verizon to deliver wireless connectivity, and said 3G versions would be available in the first quarter of 2011, with 4G versions to follow. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Research in Motion (RIM) also made a strong showing with its new BlackBerry PlayBook. Rim (NASDAQ:RIMM) designed the tablet around a new operating system, BlackBerry Tablet OS, based on QNX.

The 5.1-inch x 7.6-inch tablet features 1 GB of RAM and an embedded 1 GHz, dual-core processor, along with 4G wireless (it's exclusive to Sprint), front- and rear-facing cameras that both take 1080p HD video and a mini-HDMI port. The device supports advanced security features, multitasking and is capable of syncing with BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

"RIM believes a significant portion of the tablet market will want a higher-performing, multitasking, professional-grade tablet, and that is why we chose to design the BlackBerry PlayBook for premium performance with a powerful dual-core processor and multitasking OS," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO at RIM.

"Together with Sprint, we are now building on that performance advantage with 4G and providing an unparalleled mobile experience for users," said Lazaridis. The company has not yet announced pricing or a release date.

Lenovo, meanwhile, is taking small business computing in a different direction. With the IdeaPad U1 hybrid and LePad Slate, the company aims to provide an experience that transforms according to user needs.

The LePad Slate, built on Android 2.2, features a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 10.1-inch widescreen display. It features a front-facing camera. But slide the LePad into the U1 base, and it becomes a hybrid laptop with full keyboard, the Windows 7 Home Premium operating system and an Intel CULV processor. Lenovo said its Hybrid Switch feature lets you seamlessly change operating systems while supporting a continuous Web browsing experience.

Lenovo IdeaPad U1 hybrid and LePad Slate; tablet PC; small business computing
The Lenovo IdeaPad U1 hybrid and LePad Slate.
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"Our IdeaPad U1 and LePad truly fit today’s mobile lifestyle," said Liu Jun, senior vice president, Idea Product Group, Lenovo. "Use the light-weight slate when you’re mobile, and then simply slide it into the U1 base when you need to create and edit content. Consumers shouldn't have to adapt their lifestyle to technology, and this product definitely delivers twice the functionality and fun in one device."

Lenovo said it would make the IdeaPad U1 with LePad available beginning in China in the first quarter of 2011. The LePad Slate will go for about $520. It can be purchased together with the IdeaPad U1 for about $1,300.

Lenovo also introduced its new V Series notebooks targeted at small office and home office (SOHO) users. The IdeaPad V370, V470 and V570 feature 2nd generation Intel Core processors and a host of integrated security tools. The tools include the OneKey Rescue System for data backup and recovery, the Lenovo Security Suite for encryption, Fingerprint Reader for bioauthentication and a USB Port Locker to prevent unauthorized access to USB ports.

The IdeaPad V Series will be available beginning in April and pricing starts at $599.99.

Small Business Desktops at CES

Dell added to its lineup of small business computing solutions with the Vostro V460, a mini tower desktop specifically designed for small businesses. It features 2nd generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 16GB of DDR3 memory and the Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0.

Its hard disk capacity is expandable to 3TB. Small business IT support is available with optional Dell ProSupport services. Dell said the Vostro V460 pricing will start at $599.

Meanwhile, HP debuted its own small business computer, the Compaq 4000 Pro. The small form factor computer comes with your choice of Intel processors, a maximum of 8GB of DDR3 memory and up to a 1TB internal drive.

Small Business Storage and Small Business Networking

But computers weren't the only new products at CES 2011. On the small business storage and small business networking front, Iomega released its Personal Cloud. The network attached storage (NAS) device allows users to give up to 250 devices access to files stored on the device via the Internet.

Jonathan Huberman, president of Iomega called the new Personal Cloud an innovative technology that separates Iomega's NAS products from its competitors.

"Utilizing the expertise of [parent company] EMC, the world's leader in cloud technology, we have transformed our next-generation NAS devices into cloud servers that users can access anywhere, anytime. In addition, by buying two or more of our NAS products, you can remotely backup your onsite data to an alternate location -- be it your office, home or some other location -- giving consumers and small businesses the ideal disaster recovery plan that's easy and economical to implement."

Iomega plans to release the device in two versions this month: a 1TB model for $169.99 and a $2 TB model for $229.99.

Dell Vostro V460 mini-tower desktop; small business computing
The Dell Vostro V460 mini-tower desktop PC.
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For another take on mobile small business storage, Lexar Media introduced its new JumpDrive S70 USB flash drive. The flash drive is notable for its advanced security software.

Lexar said it allows users to create multiple password-protected areas called Encrypted Vaults that automatically encrypt data. It also features a File Shredder feature to ensure the complete elimination of deleted files. The S70 is available in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions.

Small Business Networking at CES

To make small business networking easier, Samsung Electronics America introduced the Samsung Central Station, intended to seamlessly connect all elements of the IT workspace: notebook PC, display, peripherals, network and AV.

The Central Station features auto wireless detection, allowing it to find a laptop equipped with the included wireless USB dongle once it comes within 1 meter of the device. It functions as a second display for a connected laptop, without the need for cords or wires. It features two USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 connections for peripherals and an HDMI input.

"The Samsung Central Station answers a real need for consumers and business professionals looking to simplify their IT environment so they can move easily from a mobile to desktop setting," said Young Bae, director of display marketing at Samsung Enterprise Business Division.

"It enables users to effortlessly connect or disconnect their notebook PC to a wide range of peripheral devices without the inconvenience of having to constantly plug and unplug every time they do so," said Bae. The Samsung Central Station will be available in March. Pricing has not yet been announced.

Samsung also unveiled its MobilePrint app, which allows Android and iOS mobile device to print to Samsung wireless printers.

Smartphones at CES

Xoom wasn't the only product Motorola Mobility showcased at CES. It hit the show with a number of smartphones, including the Atrix and Cliq 2.

The Atrix, which Motorola will offer through AT&T in the first quarter of 2011, is intended to become a user's primary digital hub to create, edit and interact with documents, media and other content. Motorola plans to achieve this through its webtop application and new accessory docks, like the Laptop Dock, which provides users with a larger screen, keyboard and trackpad.

To facilitate the experience, the Atrix comes with a 1 GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM and up to 48 GB of storage (16GB internal and an optional 32GB MicroSD card). Small business IT managers may be particularly interested in the biometric fingerprint reader, which provides an additional layer of security.

Meanwhile, Motorola will offer the Cliq 2 through T-Mobile beginning January 19th. The company touted its increased business functionality, which it said includes robust calendar capabilities, corporate directory access and advanced security features like MotoBlur.

All contacts, login information, email and social networking messages are kept on the MotoBlur secure server, and customers can remotely locate and wipe their phone if it is ever lost or stolen. The Cliq 2 also features customizable sets of home screens for work, home and weekend life.

Thor Olavsrud is a contributor to SmallBusinessComputing.com and a former senior editor at InternetNews.com. He covers operating systems, standards and security, among other technologies.

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