Holiday 2012: Gifts for Co-workers, Colleagues and Customers
It’s nice to take opportunities like holiday parties and corporate gatherings to say thank you to your co-workers, colleagues, employees and clients. If you’re on a gift list of some kind, or if you’re looking for a present that says "thank you" while still keeping things professional, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of holiday gift ideas for everyone on your business or corporate gift list. We’ve organized this article into categories to provide you with some helpful suggestions to get the ball rolling.
All three of the desktop speaker systems in this section are affordable and stylistically sophisticated—meaning they’ll blend seamlessly with most decors. The Bose Companion 2 Series II Multimedia Speaker System features two speakers with easily accessible controls, a ported cabinet design and TrueSpace stereo signal-processing technology, which creates a wide stereo sound from compact computer speakers. With dual inputs, you’ll be able to dedicate one input to your computer, while leaving the other open for an MP3 player, iPod, iPad, smartphone or tablet. The speakers have a front panel headphone jack as well.
The next two speaker systems both feature 2.1-channels. The Creative Labs Inspire T3130 2.1 Desktop Speaker System includes two magnetically shielded speakers and a powerful subwoofer with a large flared port tube design. The system’s Creative IFP design enhances imaging, and the wired remote control affords convenient operation of the system. The Sony Desktop Speaker System also provides 2.1-channels with a 27 Watt total output. The angled satellite speakers will look good on any work or home office desk and the subwoofer’s front-panel controls allow you to manage the bass output easily. There’s a conveniently located headphone jack as well.
If you’re looking for a more modest gift that will still improve your co-worker’s sonic experience, then consider Audioengine’s Perfect Desktop Stand. These compact wedges angle your desktop speakers up at a 15° angle. They also act as acoustic-dampening isolation stands.
Wireless Sound for Tablets, MP3 Players and Smartphones
A good gift for a professional relationship should be neutral enough to please a wide range of people. And considering that almost all of us have tablets and smartphones, a wireless Bluetooth speaker is safe bet. For a basic model available in multiple colors, consider the compact iLuv MobiTour Portable Bluetooth Wireless Stereo Speaker. It’s equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that charges quickly via the speaker’s micro-USB port. You can use it to stream audio from most Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices and there’s an integrated auxiliary jack as well for non-Bluetooth audio devices.
Similar to the MobiTour, the Creative Labs D200 Bluetooth Wireless Speaker supports streaming audio from Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices from up to 33 feet away. The speaker supports apt-X for CD-quality wireless audio and the full-range drivers and digital amplifiers afford rich sound. A rear bass port provides enhanced bass response. The D200 is equipped with a convenient Connect button that quickly pairs your Bluetooth device with the speaker. Like the MobiTour, the D200 also features an auxiliary jack for wired connectivity.
Another wireless speaker that would make a good gift for a colleague is the Beacon Audio Phoenix Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker. It’s available in blue, red or black, and it supports Bluetooth version 2.1 + EDR with a 30- to 35-foot wireless range. It contains an integrated lithium-ion rechargeable battery that charges via USB and lasts up to eight hours between charges. The speaker’s compact size makes it an ideal travel partner, and a button interface affords fast pairing with your Bluetooth device. The speaker supports A2DP and AVRCP Bluetooth profiles for quality stereo playback and it features two titanium cone drivers with a passive radiator. Like the other models, the Phoenix has an auxiliary jack as well.
Small Computer Accessories for the Office
If your coworkers spend all day in front of a computer, then the silver Belkin WaveRest Gel Mouse Pad or WaveRest Gel Wrist Rest would most likely be a welcome present. Both offer an ergonomic design, and the mouse pad features universal compatibility with any standard mouse. The wrist rest features a unique wave design with a GelFlex Comfort Zone cushion built right into the pad. The Rain Design mRest Gel Wrist Rest & Mouse Pad is another option. It includes both the mouse pad and keyboard wrist rest. It reduces strain and fatigue. Plus, the mRest silver color scheme has been specifically designed for Apple computers, so if your office is full of Macs, then the mRest will fit right in.
Another small and affordable gift idea is a new mouse. There are hundreds of mice with all sorts of different features including special laser technology, touch interfaces and ergonomic designs. In the limited space of this article we will only be able to take a quick look at a handful of the standout options. The Kensington Orbit Trackball with Scroll Ring provides all-day comfort, USB connectivity, click-free scrolling and an ambidextrous design. It also features optical technology and it’s compatible with both PC and Mac computers. The Kensington 4-Button USB Expert Pro Mouse also features a trackball and scroll ring. Plus, it adds Diamond Eye optical technology and a built-in wrist rest for added comfort.
Logitech is another manufacturer that produces a variety of mice for all different tastes and preferences. One that I find especially intriguing is their wireless Cube Mouse. The Cube is an aesthetically pleasing, compact touch mouse that doubles as a handheld presenter for conferences, meetings and presentations. The embedded Logitech Unifying receiver connects up to six compatible devices with a range of up to 82 feet. And the wireless connectivity keeps your USB ports free for other peripheral devices. Logitech’s Trackman Marble is another unique mouse. It features an ambidextrous trackball design with an ergonomic palm area that provides comfortable support for your hand.
If you’re looking for a wireless mouse with a full touch surface, then the Logitech Touch Mouse T620 is the best candidate. It features advanced 2.4 GHz wireless technology, optical tracking and quick access to the Windows 8 Start Screen. Plus, it’s available in a modern graphite or classic platinum white finish. Another wireless option from Logitech is the Cordless Optical TrackMan Mouse with an integrated trackball and ergonomic design. It includes a wireless USB receiver and MouseWare software. This model is specifically for right-handed users, but there is one for lefties, too, so make sure you know if your co-worker is right- or left-handed.
The last mouse we’ll look at from Logitech is the MX Anywhere Mouse, which features a compact, portable design and a Logitech Unifying wireless receiver that works with other compatible Logitech wireless peripherals so you won’t need multiple USB receivers. The MX Mouse also features thumb-navigation buttons and Darkfield Laser Tracking, which works on virtually any flat surface—even glass tables. Logitech also sells keyboard/mouse combo kits—and the Cordless Desktop MX550 Revolution is a fine choice. It includes a wireless keyboard and mouse that are both compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7. The keyboard is equipped with convenient hot keys and a Bluetooth USB mini-receiver provides the wireless connection to your computer.
One last truly innovative mouse that would make a great gift is the Evoluent VerticalMouse 4. It’s available for either right-handed or left-handed users. The VerticalMouse 4 keeps your hand in an ergonomically designed “handshake” position that’s sculpted for comfort. It features an adjustable laser sensor, pointer speed indicators and an illuminated logo. For added flexibility, the VerticalMouse 4 works with Windows, Linux and Mac OS.
Keeping in touch when you're on the go is more of a necessity than a luxury these days. Working professionals need to stay in touch with clients, colleagues, etc. So, if you’re looking for a thoughtful gift for someone in your office this holiday season, consider one of these three Bluetooth headsets.
The Bose Bluetooth Headset Series 2 is available in a right ear or left ear model. It features adaptive audio adjustment technology, which automatically heightens or lowers your headset volume depending on the surrounding noise level. Plus, the noise-rejecting microphone blocks out ambient noise and promotes crystal-clear calling. The Series 2 is equipped with conveniently located phone controls and a comfortable, flexible StayHear ear tip. The A2DP Bluetooth profile supports wireless calling, but it supports music streaming as well.
Another option is the aesthetically industrial Jawbone ERA Bluetooth Headset. It’s available in a variety of unique finishes and it features military-grade NoiseAssassin 3.0 noise- and wind-canceling technology. Like the Bose Series 2, the ERA is equipped with its own form of auto adjust volume control. The Jawbone headset also features a 10mm wideband speaker for streaming music with your headset. You can take advantage of the MyTalk platform as well, which provides access to apps and customizable features like Caller ID, language options and automated voice choice. You can even use MyTalk and the companion app for your Android or iOS smartphone to send emails and text messages using only your voice.
Another convenient feature is the battery-life indicator, which displays the headset battery level on the corner of your iPhone, Android phone or BlackBerry screen. The ERA Bluetooth Headset even allows you to answer calls by tapping the headset anywhere; you don’t even need to press an actual button. The MotionX technology also supports Shake Shake pairing with your smartphone. All you have to do is shake the headset and it will attempt to pair with your mobile device. Other features include multiple ear tips for a custom fit and eco-friendly packaging made from recycled materials and PET plastic.
The last model we’ll examine in this article is the Motorola Elite Sliver Bluetooth Headset. It features HD Audio Plus technology for immaculate call clarity and CrystalTalk dual-microphone technology, which utilizes two mics in order to effectively cancel out ambient background noise. The Elite Sliver also features a sophisticated and minimalistic design that was innovative enough to earn the headset a coveted IDSA 2012 International Design Excellence Award. Highlighted by an over-the-ear design, the Elite Sliver gets its name from the exposed sliver of shiny metal that sits in front of your ear. The rest of the headset is discreetly hidden behind your ear.
On the technical side, the Elite Sliver supports Bluetooth 3.0 with Enhanced Data Rate (EDR) and an extended wireless range that maxes out at around 300 feet. It also supports multiple Bluetooth profiles including A2DP 1.2, Hands Free Profile (HFP 1.6) and AVRCP 1.4. The integrated battery affords up to 15 hours of talk time and the included carrying case is outfitted to hold a charge, so you can even charge your headset while on the go. Like the Jawbone headset, the Motorola model also benefits from application support. In this case, the headset works with the free My MotoSpeak app. Just download it to your Android smartphone and you’ll be able to listen to incoming text messages and send a reply using only your voice. Plus, the Elite Sliver can be paired by simply tapping the headset against any compatible phone with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.
Stands and Docks
If you know what size laptop or which iPad model your co-worker uses, then a stand or dock would be a nice—and affordable—gift idea. There are hundreds of options to choose from as well, which means if you know your colleague’s tastes, you may be able to pick out the perfect stand. They are so numerous that I’ve picked a couple to illustrate a few different possibilities.
First up are a few iPad dock/stand combinations. This first model is perfect if you have a co-worker who aspires to be a chef in his or her free time. The Belkin Chef Stand + Stylus is compatible with the original iPad, the iPad 2, the iPad (3rd generation) and the iPad mini. It features a kitchen-safe iPad stand with a non-slip rubber base. It includes a stylus holder and a stylus that’s easy to grip for when your hands are messy. The stylus also features a magnetic tip that will wake up your iPad when pressed against the touch screen. The stand is case compatible as well, which means you can dock your iPad in the stand even while it’s still in a protective case. For added convenience, the stand and all the included components can be hand-washed using warm water and soap.
For a more traditional option, the Griffin Technology A-Frame Stand is compatible with the original iPad, the iPad 2, the iPad (3rd generation), the iPad (4th generation) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The A-Frame is constructed from aluminum and it features a simple design that swings open. The stand supports both portrait and landscape orientations. You can use it at an upright angle for watching videos or at a low angle for surfing the Web, reading and typing emails. The non-slip rubber cradle leaves room for docking your device with the case still on. The A-Frame design facilitates quick and easy access to the dock connector for charging and syncing your iPad or Galaxy Tab.
This next stand is designed exclusively for all generations of the iPad and iPad mini. The Twelve South BookArc Tabletop Stand for iPad provides hands-free use of your iPad in four different viewing positions. You can keep your iPad at a 75-degree reclined angle for typing and surfing the Web. You can also use the stand to keep your iPad in an upright position for storage and watching movies. Plus, each one of these position options supports both landscape and portrait orientations. Physically, the stand matches Apple’s brushed-aluminum aesthetic. And the arc design elevates your iPad, which provides complete access to the iPad dock connector for charging and syncing.
B&H also offers dozens of laptop stands. Some are general stands that work with multiple models and some are designed specifically for a single laptop. The Griffin Technology Elevator is a unique stand designed to elevate your laptop screen by 5.5 inches. It’s compatible with most PC or Mac laptops, and the brushed-aluminum finish matches Apple’s line of MacBooks, as well as the many of the PC Ultrabooks. The Elevator features a non-slip surface that securely holds your laptop in place. The elevated position allows 360° of airflow to keep your laptop cool. The Elevator stand is also a great choice if you use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, since the stand leaves plenty of room for peripherals, while also raising your screen up to a more comfortable viewing height.
For MacBook owners interested in a stand similar to the Elevator, but looking for one made specifically for the MacBook, consider the Just Mobile Xtand Pro. It features solid aluminum construction to match your MacBook perfectly. It was the winner of a Computex Taipei Design & Innovation Award. However, PC laptop owners can enjoy the stylish Xtand, since it can support most laptops up to 17 inches. The Xtand is height adjustable as well, with two settings to select. The stand also features non-slip feet, and by raising your device above the tabletop, it keeps your MacBook, Ultrabook or notebook cool.
Just Mobile also makes the Cooling Bar, which is an attractive and totally aluminum alternative to an ordinary laptop stand or cooling mechanism. The Cooling Bar raises your MacBook or PC laptop slightly for more comfortable typing. This creates an air space that keeps your laptop cool and affords convenient cable management. The Spartan design was an iF Design award winner as well.
Chargers, Cable Management and Convenience
Give the gift of organization. The right charger or cable-management system might be just what your co-worker needs to keep their workspace or home office organized. This section is dedicated to some of the more popular products. The Bluelounge CableDrops come in a set of six muted-color multi-purpose cable clips. They feature an adhesive base that will stick to your desk surface or on the side of your desk. Each CableDrop can support one cable. So, when you’re done using a charging or peripheral cable, you can secure the cable by snapping it into the CableDrop. This will keep your cables from falling off your desk and becoming disorganized. Bluelounge also offers a six-pack of Small Cable Clips for bundling and storing cables.
If you and your colleagues travel a lot for work, then you might want to consider a gift that will keep all your portable devices and their cables and adapters organized. Cocoon makes the CPG10 GRID IT organizer that fits right inside your laptop bag or carry-on luggage. It features multiple configurations with a rubberized woven elastic system of straps. All your cables stay wrapped up and organized. Plus, there’s an additional pocket for other accessories. Cocoon also makes the similar CPG4 GRID IT as well, which is smaller but still features the same elastic strap system.
In today’s hectic work environment, mobile devices are just as important as the desktop computer. We’ve all got smartphones, tablets, eReaders, MP3 players, laptops, cameras, etc. And all these electronics need power, so there are plenty of charging and power related gift ideas. If you’ve noticed a colleague’s outlet overflowing with chargers, you should think about getting him or her the 360 Electrical PowerCurve Mobile Surge Protector, which features two rotating outlets and two USB ports. It’s compact enough to fit snugly under your desk and it will keep your portable devices safe from a power surge or spike.
Another option is the stylish Bluelounge Refresh Charging Station. It is a mobile device charging tray with six charging connectors and a universal AC power supply. The device is certified by Apple as “Made for iPod” and “Works with iPhone.” The Refresh Charging Station is compatible with most mobile devices and it can charge two Apple mobile devices, as well as four other USB-powered devices simultaneously. Plus, it’s available in Polar White, Fresh Pink or Jet Black.
The last gift idea for your professional and business relationships we’ll look at in this article is the Trendnet 2-Port USB KVM Switch, which is a convenient device that lets you share a single monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc. between multiple computers. It features USB peripheral connectivity, as well as a VGA monitor port that supports up to 2048 x 1536 resolution. The switch also features pre-programmed hot keys and push-buttons that allow you to quickly and easily change all connected peripherals from one computer to the other. You can also use the KVM Switch to have your laptop show up on your desktop monitor.
If you’ve made it through this article and still haven’t found the perfect gift for all of the people you work with or work for, then consider checking out one of these other holiday articles: If you know someone that travels as much as he/she is in the office, then check out this Holiday 2012 article on travel accessories. If you know your coworker or business partner loves everything related to Mac, then try this Holiday 2012 article on Mac gadgets and accessories. Or, if you know someone in your office loves gaming, take a look at this Holiday 2012 article on gaming accessories. If there’s anyone else on your holiday gift list this year that you still haven’t found a gift for, then check out the rest of our Holiday 2012 articles.
If you still have questions, you can speak with a B&H Sales Professional via live chat, over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or in the B&H SuperStore.