Leticia Barr, a work-at-home mom, founder of techsavvymama.com, and chief BitMom for computer-security-product company BitDefender, has several recommendations for the work-from-home pro to make life easier - and sweeter in 2011.
No 1. Vtech DS6321-3 Three Handset Cordless Phone System with Bluetooth Wireless Technology. It includes: DECT 6.0 technology that provides the best sound quality, security and range in cordless phones; expandable up to 12 handsets using only one jack; connects to Bluetooth cell phones; digital answering system; handset speakerphone. It allows you to receive calls on both your cell and land lines.
“It prevents me from running to find my cell phone in my purse and missing important calls,” Barr said. ($99.95 Vtechphones.com)
No. 2. Bluetooth headset. This allows you to have your hands free to type, take notes, send a fax, or do any other work-related activity and talk business at the same time.
No. 3. A good coffee maker. Doesn’t have to be placed in your office but it is definitely a must-have for those who work from home, especially a good buy for those who spend a small fortune at Starbucks (SBUX).
“Gone are the days of standing around the office coffee pot. Treat yourself to a great cup of coffee brewed at home for the fraction of the cost of going out,” Barr said. Her picks: The Cuisinart Grind and Brew with the thermal carafe that keeps coffee hot all day ($199 on Cuisinart.com), or the Tassimo T20 by Bosch ($129.99 Amazon.com) whose T-discs provide a selection of gourmet coffee, espresso, lattes, hot chocolates and teas.
No. 4. Epson Artisan 810 All-in-One Printer. If you don’t already have an all-in-one printer, Barr said this is the year to add it to your office. This one allows you to print in black and white or color, scan and fax -- without taking up much room. It’s wireless, so you can print from anywhere in your office or home. It prints up to 38 pages per minute and photos as fast as 10 seconds. It also features a touch panel, six different color cartridges for color printing, and has an auto document feeder to expedite scanning and faxing, and the ability to do two-sided printing. (Sale price $169.99 on Epson.com)
No. 5. Webcam - Whether it’s built into your computer or added on, a webcam allows you to make virtual eye-contact with suppliers, vendors and clients.
No. 6. A good laptop bag. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you always stay there; being mobile is often a necessity, as is a good protective case for your laptop.
“I like bags from Timbuk2 because of the wide variety of styles available, sturdy construction, well-padded laptop compartment, and abundant pockets to store everything you might need while on the go,” Barr said. “Timbuk2 also makes TSA-friendly bags so your laptop can stay in a flattened out version of the bag as it takes a ride through the airport x-ray machine.” (Variety of bags and prices found at www.Timbuk2.com)
No. 7. CardScan by Dymo. This device allows you to easily scan business cards in black and white or color and drag and drop, import and manage contacts. You can synchronize your data with other contact management programs such as Outlook, Lotus Notes, ACT! , GoldMine, Palm and Windows Mobile devices.
“I love that this slim machine scans both sides at once, recognizes the notes that I write on cards, and is easy to use,” said Barr. “The software makes it easy to manage your contacts thanks to categories that can be used to group contacts for outgoing messages. Summary tabs allow you to use one click to send an e-mail or navigate to a web page.” ($259.99 on dymo.com)