The best gifts are often practical ones the gift recipient could actually use. With that in mind, I've rounded up several gift ideas for people who work on the go or from their home office. These office accessories and mobile accessories solve problems--a thoughtful gesture in itself. ~ December 4, 2012
Help end desk chaos with gifts such as cable organizers, a charging station, tablet or smartphone stand, portable scanner, laptop docking station, compact shredder, or that quintessential productivity tool: a labeler. Shown here is the Brother PT-2730 P-Touch Label Maker (MSRP: $99.99). Even those who hate the idea of color-coding and labeling everything will appreciate the neatness that a labeler adds to a space. Prices for the other desk organization tools range from $9.99 to $199 for the portable scanner.
Hard drives are a great value right now, with prices having dropped significantly in the last few months. Everyone could use more digital storage space, especially for backups. Shown here is the WD My Passport External Hard Drive with a 1TB capacity (around $90 now). You can pick up an external hard drive in a wide range of storage sizes.
A mobile hotspot lets you go online from anywhere with your wireless tablet, laptop, or other devices. FreedomPop offers a case of iPhones/iPod touches as well as a laptop USB stick and a standalone mobile hotspot--and it gives you free mobile data up to 500MB a month, with additional packages available. In my tests, the hotspot was a reliable, fairly speedy source of mobile data. This could be a very inexpensive gift that gives all year long.
For those who don't have enough space for a dedicated home office or simply want to set up an impromotu workspace (e.g., in the living room), a laptop stand comes in very handy. You can find a variety of stands ranging in price from $50 to $200. The one I own is shown here: The Tiffany Industries Laptop Computer Caddy (~ $100).
A keyboard transforms the iPad into a laptop-like productivity machine. This one by Kensington features a removable keyboard and multiple viewing angles, as well as an attractive leather case. It's on sale now for as low as $65.
Rolling laptop bags can pack a lot of documents and accessories in addition to large laptops. They're great for traveling and can sometimes also double as a carry-on case. I've previously highlighted seven wheeled laptop cases from prominent manufacturers, such as Samsonite, SOLO, and TravelPro. Shown here is the McKlein Ohare Fly Through, which is available in various materials and colors and features a checkpoint-friendly laptop sleeve for flying through security.
If a standard laptop bag just won't do for your gift recipient, give them a personalized one you design yourself. You can get a one-of-a-kind, built-to-order laptop backpack, messenger bag, or briefcase from Timbuk2, Oakley, and other laptop makers. Order soon, though, because these cases take a bit more time to make and deliver. (As an alternative, Timbuk2 offers a design-your-own laptop bag giftcard.)
The LiveScribe Echo Smartpen works with special notebook paper to digitally capture whatever you write and then save those scribbles or notes on your computer. It can also record audio. Available in 4GB and higher models, the Livescribe Echo is a great tool for those who attend a lot of meetings or prefer writing with a pen as opposed to typing. I use mine to record interviews and it comes in very handy.