Running a business isn't easy, but these gifts can help. Whether you're buying for a first-time entrepreneur or a veteran small business owner, here are 10 gadgets that will make your recipient more productive.
1. Voice recorder: Philips DVT7000Credit: Phillips
A voice recorder is a great gift for business owners who attend conference and seminars, or just want a better way to review company meetings. The Philips DVT7000 recorder actually has three microphones — one on each side and a third on top — so it can capture sound from multiple directions at once. Plus, it has generous onboard storage: 4GB of internal storage, plus an extra 8GB via an included SD card. You can play recordings back right on the device, or plug it into your computer's USB port and listen at your desktop while simultaneously recharging the battery.
2. Smartwatch: Moto 360Credit: Motorola
A smartwatch can beam notifications from your smartphone right to your wrist, ensuring you'll never miss an important message, phone call or calendar alert. The Moto 360 is one of the best smartwatches yet, and its sleek, round face gives it a more professional look than that of the average boxy smartwatch. It's only compatible with Android smartphones, however. If you're buying for an iPhone user, the Pebble Steel is a good bet.
3. Smartpen: Livescribe Sky Wi-Fi SmartpenThe Livescribe Sky Wi-Fi smartpen saves your pen-and-paper notes in a digital format. Credit: Livescribe
Livescribe's Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen isn't a stylus that you use to write on a tablet screen. It's actually a real pen that uses real ink, with some really handy, high-tech capabilities. The pen uses a tiny camera in tandem with special paper to record your strokes and save them on the pen's internal memory. When you get back to your computer, you can beam a digital recreation of those notes from the pen to your computer over Wi-Fi. In other words, the Sky Wi-Fi pen ensures that a business owner never misplaces important notes jotted down during a meeting. Users can even record audio while they write, then tap a portion of the notes to hear what was being said while those words were being written.
4. Touch-screen-compatible gloves: Isotoner SmarTouch glovesCredit: Isotoner
Winter weather means bundling up to fight the cold. But it's hard to use your smartphone or tablet when you're wearing gloves. That's why touch-screen-compatible gloves like Isotoner SmarTouch gloves are such a handy gift. They come with special capacitive pads on the fingers that allow for touch screen usage. And like any good winter gloves, they're warm and water-repellent.
5. External battery: Anker Astro E3Credit: Anker
For most people, a dead smartphone or tablet is a nuisance. For a small business owner, though, it could be a serious problem. That's why a portable battery pack to keep that business owner's devices fully charged makes such a good gift. The Anker Astro E3 is a solid pick, striking a strong balance between high capacity and portability. It also includes handy features like the ability to shut itself off after devices are fully charged, as well as a low-battery warning that displays when the battery pack itself needs to be plugged in.
6. E-Reader: Kindle PaperwhiteCredit: Amazon
Reading an informational book, or even a biography of a successful business leader, is a good way to get an edge on the competition. Instead of buying paper books for your favorite entrepreneur, consider loading a few titles onto an e-reader like Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite. An e-reader lets users carry around a whole library in a small, portable device that won't weigh them down on their daily commutes.
7. Mobile hotspot: AT&T Unite mobile hotspotCredit: AT&T
Dealing with spotty hotel Wi-Fi can be a thing of the past with AT&T's Unite mobile hotspot, which provides a persistent, secure Internet connection from anywhere. This could really come in handy for business owners who travel. The Unite hotspot boasts long battery life and a touch screen, so you can easily tweak settings. And it's free from AT&T when you sign a two-year contract. The downside is that you'll have to commit to monthly payments for the duration of the contract, but that's a small price to pay for fast and reliable Internet from anywhere.
8. Tablet: iPad Air 2Credit: Apple
A tablet is a great tool to help entrepreneurs stay connected and productive on the go. And tablets don't get much better than Apple's new iPad Air 2. Thin and powerful, it offers the best library of mobile productivity apps you'll find on any platform. And if you pair this tablet with a credit card reader, it can even be used to process payments from anywhere. On the other hand, the Surface Pro 3 is a better tablet for business users who depend on Windows Software, but it's pricier than the iPad Air 2. And if you're looking for something more affordable? Dell's 7-inch (17.8 centimeters) Venue 7 tablet is one of the best bargains in mobile tech this holiday season.
9. Accounting software: Intuit QuickbooksCredit: Intuit
Not every entrepreneur is a natural accountant. Thankfully, the right accounting software can make balancing the books a breeze. Intuit Quickbooks is a good software package to help business owners track the money coming into and out of their businesses, while getting ready for tax time. And the best part is that you don't have to be an expert to use it.
10. Tablet keyboard: Belkin QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad AirCredit: Belkin
If your gift recipient already owns an iPad, you can buy a keyboard case to boost the tablet's productivity potential. The QODE Ultimate Keyboard Case is one of the best options, since it can essentially turn the iPad Air 2 into a miniature laptop computer with big, responsive keys and a built-in kickstand. And when the keyboard's not in use, it doubles as a case to protect the iPad Air 2 from dings and drops. Plus, it's pretty thin and light, so it won't add much bulk to the tablet.