From the December 1999 issue of Startups

Making your list? Check it twice--you may have left off a few of the latest gizmos and gadgets designed to bring fun and functionality to the home-office experience. All priced at less then $100, they're perfect for almost any budget. Best of all, most can be found online. And with research consulting firm The Gartner Group expecting consumer e-commerce sales worldwide to top $12.2 billion this holiday season, online seems the way to go. So let's go shopping . . .

Get Things Done

For the person who likes function and form:

  • EarShades (www.gnnetcom.com, $94 street), a funky new breed of headsets from GN Netcom Inc. comes in translucent colors of blueberry, grape, lime and strawberry. Designed to enliven the homebased experience, the EarShades Mobile version is compatible with cordless, cellular and wireless telephones.
  • Brenthaven Glove (www.ebags.com, $89 street) is a small, lightweight business case with compartments for the basic essentials and a laptop computer. Complete with a zippered panel, pocket organizer and a pouch for papers and files, it's the perfect day-tripper's companion.
  • The Apollo P-1200 (www.hpshopping.com, $49 street after mail-in rebate) is a color inkjet printer that comes in vibrant colors. Easy to set up and use, the P-1200 offers performance comparable to other ultra-low-end printers, with output speeds of up to 3 1/2 pages per minute in black and 1 1/2 pages per minute in color. The printer also includes a HP color cartridge for printing brilliant color graphics and crisp text.
  • And the bank buster: The iPhone (www.infogear.com, $399 street) from InfoGear Technology Corp. is a standard telephone with a touchscreen, laptop-sized keyboard (it slides under the phone). Its software allows users to communicate by phone or e-mail, access the Internet and conduct e-commerce transactions such as online shopping and banking. With a tilt screen, 56K modem, full duplex speakerphone, integrated digital answering machine and two separate phone lines, iPhone allows users to browse the Web or send e-mails while simultaneously talking on the phone.

Got A Feeling?

For the person who needs a bit of atmosphere to heighten the home-office experience:

  • The Eclipse Computer Light (www.onetech.net, $49.95 street) is a task light that helps correct symptoms associated with eyestrain or Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) by providing the proper amount of light for the workstation area without producing any glare on the screen.
  • The WOW Thing Box (www.wowthing.com, $29.95 street) will help you enhance your home-office musical experience with a combination of audio enhancement technologies in a small 4-inch-by-5-inch-by-1-inch package. The WOW Thing Box is designed specifically for headphones or powered speakers, including flat panel speakers or those designed for the iMac.
  • Office Scents (www.officescents.com, $29.95 street) is a line of concentrated natural oils that stimulate productivity and creativity, enhance thinking and create a more pleasant environment in the home office. Office Scents' four fragrances are: Focus, a minty scent designed to help concentration and clear thinking; Energy, a citrus scent with naturally activating fragrances; Procrastination, a blend designed to help overcome burnout and fatigue; and Negotiation, a scent designed to foster cooperation and communication.

Technophiles, Unite!

For the true gadget fanatics:

  • Wanna surf on TV? WebTV Networks has released WebTV Classic (www.webtv.com, $99 street). With a 33K to 56K modem, a faster processor, increased memory and a built-in printer port, the Classic offers functionality in a slimmed down industrial design not much bigger than the size of your hand. The Classic is perfect for home office workers who have to deny their children use of the "home/business computer" to access the Net.
  • SurfSaver (www.surfsaver.com, $29.95 street) for the downloadable version, $39.95 street) for the CD-ROM) permanently saves Web pages on your computer-a real advantage given the "here today, gone tomorrow" nature of the Internet. SurfSaver is a browser add-on, which lets you store and organize Web pages directly from your browser into searchable folders. By saving pages with graphics, frames and other formats, SurfSaver is an ideal tool for writers, researchers, packrats and basically anyone doing online research.
  • Rand McNally's StreetFinder Deluxe 2000 mapping software and GPS receiver bundle (www.randmcnally.com, $29.95 street) for software after $20 mail-in rebate, $99 street) for the bundle) is perfect for the at-home business exec preparing for travel in unfamiliar territory. Find the optimal travel route using address-to-address directions; create detailed street-level maps with cross streets, major points of interest and Mobil Travel Guide-rated restaurants; or search the database of more than one million business listings. An enhanced Palm Computing support transfers info to a Palm Pilot.

That Little Something Extra

Shopping for someone else? Here are a few ideas:

  • Datebooks (www.datebook.com, $9.99 street) can personalize your gift-giving with a City Calendar representing your metro area. The Datebook has 16 pages of information on each of 33 major cities in a booklet with a foil-stamped, embossed cover featuring a city landmark or skyline. Info includes sports schedules, a complete calendar of events for the year, maps of the city and downtown area, important city phone numbers, airport and transportation information, a calendar of major cultural events, parks, golf courses and area attractions. There's even a section for birthdays, addresses and e-mail. Datebooks are also available as corporate planners with your company's logo or name foil-stamped on the cover, plus two to 16 pages of customized company info (around $5 each with a 250 minimum order).
  • Still not sure what to get the people on your holiday list this year? Send an electronic gift certificate. Jupiter Communications reports more than 70 percent of online merchants intend to offer gift certificates this holiday season. Sites like Giftcertificates.com, Webcertificate.com and Clevercat.com sell gift certificates for many national and regional retailers via the Internet. Consumers have a plethora of categories to choose from, including sporting goods, books, technology, apparel, restaurants and even spas (consider a certificate from Spawish.com, honored at more than 700 day spas nationwide).

Many of these sites, like Giftspot.com, offer online reminders and a gift history that automatically tracks and records certificates and alerts the gift-giver when the certificate has been redeemed.


Jeff Zbar is a homebased writer, speaker and author of Home Office Know-How (Upstart Publishing).