New Tech Products That Small Businesses Should Stay Away From

Small businesses need to be careful when investing their precious dollars in new technologies, and 2011 has seen the resurrection of some old ideas which didn’t work before …

Small businesses need to be careful when investing their precious dollars in new technologies, and 2011 has seen the resurrection of some old ideas which didn’t work before and are likely to be waste of money in 2011. Wireless networked flashlights, keyboardless computers and television tablets are just three of the technology trends small business should avoid in the coming year. See the following article from The Street for more on this.

Maybe what your business should do this year is unclear. Speaking technologically, at least, it’s clear what your firm shouldn’t do.

Yes, 2011 is just a few weeks old, and the early year techno-ritual of the Consumer Electronics Show just behind us. But several dangerous small-business trends lurk inside larger, legitimate business technologies such as fast 4G wireless networks from Verizon(VZ_), AT&T(T_) and Sprint(S_); fresh developments in laptops from such major makers as Samsung and Dell(DELL_); and tablet computers in the workplace from the folks at Apple(AAPL_) and Fujitsu.

But I’m telling you, evil lurks here if you dare to look. Here are three of the biggest risks. Print ’em out, hang ’em up and remind yourself to step away.

The 4G network zombies

New ultra-fast 4G wireless Internet access is, without question, the real, game-changing deal. But as these networks actually deploy, it turns out wireless operators have shamelessly — and I mean shamelessly — dug up every left-for-dead networking idea and tried to bring it back over the techno-River Styx.

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Just take a look at the so-called Verizon Wireless LTE Innovations Center. Here Verizon is trying breathe life into networking ghouls that have been nonstarters since the dawn of the Internet.

All the classic undead are here: appliances that communicate with each other and you; body function monitoring tools that broadcast “critical” data — that would be your weight — back to trainers and doctors; and, I kid you not, networked flashlights, the idea being that emergency personnel can be tracked by the tools they carry.

Certainly 4G has a play in the coming months. I already use these fast networks in my business. But please don’t bring fancy-sounding third-party networking products or services into your shop unless you have a very good reason to do so. Most of these ideas have been the walking dead over the traditional Internet for nearly a decade, and they won’t magically spring back to life over the wireless Web. Be warned.

The Mr. Potato Head PC

The keyboard-free tablet PC will play a significant role in 2011, no question. But this does not mean every knucklehead PC idea is worth a small business’ time. Especially dangerous is a new generation of mongrel — sorry, “hybrid” — PCs that combines the functions of a tablet and a traditional notebook. The two really scary bolt-together jobs, due out later this year, are the Dell Inspiron Duo And the Samsung 7 Series.

Sure, features such as keyboards that slide and screens that somersault look cool, but under no circumstances should a business come anywhere near these foolish new devices. Why? There is simply no track record in the durability, security or productivity for a PC whose screen rotates 360 degrees or one that slides to cover a keyboard. The traditional sinew of notebooks — that is hinges, screens and power supplies — have been battle tested for more than three decades. Which means they work. And that means you should leave these dubious new devices to the PC hipsters.

The TV tablet of death

Almost as dangerous — but potentially far more widespread — is the so-called TV tablet. Major TV makers such as Vizio and Viewsonic are jumping into the tablet PC/iPad market with abandon. Most are making a line of tabletlike TV controllers that enable a new generation of TV apps and allow for more traditional PC functions, including Web access and cloud-based software support.

Call it the iPad craze, but somehow entrepreneurs are seeing stars with these TV tablets and wondering if somehow these units can be transmogrified into business computers. And while technically possible — even relatively simple tablet viewers such as the Nook Color can be fooled into running business software — hoping that a tablet that ships with your TV can work in your office is simply nuts.

If you are flirting with putting a tablet display into your or your employee’s hands, by all means do so. The iPad, for example, has many excellent work add-on peripherals. But be smart. If you want a work tablet, buy a work tablet, not some add-on module for a TV.

This article has been republished from The Street. You can also view this article at
The Street, a site covering financial news, commentary, analysis, ratings, business and investment content.


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