WORK: Gift ideas for the office (or home office)

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Acer c120 projector

$250

This very portable projector weighs only 6.35 ounces, making it very easy to stick into a laptop bag for mobile workers and sales staff. The DLP Pico projector connects to a user's Windows PC (sorry, Macs not supported) via a provided USB cable (two cables attach for power, or you can also connect a power adapter for additional brightness). The projector supports an input resolution of up to1280 by 800 that down-converts to 854 by 480, and has 100 lumens of brightness and a 1000:1 contrast ratio.

The small size and light weight of the C120 is a huge factor for sales professionals who don't have to lug around a heavier projector when traveling. The USB connections are also very nice -- too many times I've seen people struggle with trying to connect a VGA adapter or other connector to their laptops for projecting presentations -- the USB connection works quickly and easily.

However, end users need to make themselves familiar with the device -- it has a maximum projection distance of 12.14 feet, and a minimum of 15.75 inches, so figuring out where to place the projector for the best possible image could be tricky at first. In a larger board room setting, the brightness was not optimal -- this would be better for smaller room settings, and you still need to keep the room very dark. It took some time for me to find the focus wheel on the device -- the unit's minimal user guide could use some updating. I was also disappointed that the projector had no Macintosh or even iOS support -- connecting an iPhone or iPad to the C120 would be extremely awesome.

- Keith Shaw

ZyXEL IPC4605N CloudEnabled IP camera

$194 (Amazon)

I absolutely love Wi-Fi pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras, and I've used them for everything from home security and monitoring applications to catching an elusive flying squirrel that had taken up residence in my attic. The ZyXEL IPC4605N CloudEnabled IP Camera features up to 720p video, infrared LED illumination for night use (with limited range and no color, of course), 10x digital zoom, panning to 340 degrees, and tilting to 100 degrees. The output can be viewed via the cloud on any browser. A 30 frames-per-second rate is obtainable at up to 640 x 480, at 720p this drops to 15 fps, which is still quite good. A broad range of video adjustments is included, as is - and this is cool - two-way audio via a speaker port. Mounting hardware is included for walls and ceilings as well. And it's relatively small and unobtrusive.

Now if it only worked.

I'll probably get it to eventually, but just consider the problems I discovered after only a few minutes: the AC power cord was missing from the box. The .pdf of the manual is missing from the CD (yes, they ship a CD, and the PC software installer was not available on their website). The password to the unit (when accessed from a browser) is "1234", not "admin" as it states in the manual. A plugin from videolan.org is required once you do get into the browser, but only 32-bit browsers are supported. The included setup software only works on PCs - so Mac users are out of luck. Support is spotty and ZyXEL's website is hard to use due to an overly-complex structure. Wireless isn't built-in; rather, a USB key adapter is included. In short - it's amateur hour over there, and thus we have in this product a gift suitable only for your less-favored friends.

- Craig Mathias

D-Link Cloud Camera 5000 (DCS-5222L)

$250

In essence, the DCS-5222L from D-Link is a security camera that can be mounted as a traditional security camera (upside down), vertically on a wall or on a table or other flat surface. It can rotate 360 degrees and will pan/tilt. A scan feature moves the camera around 360 degrees at the level it's set, returning to its previous position. You can also toggle between night vision and normal viewing.

The picture is pretty crisp, and the sound from the microphone is above average (you can almost hear too much). You can record the video feed with a built-in microSD card slot, and you can connect wirelessly to a router via WPS (I had to quickly check if my router had those capabilities - luckily most new routers do). If you don't want to connect over wireless, you can attach the camera via Ethernet (they include a cable).

Setup via WPS was simple - just press a button on the camera, then the WPS button on your router and it instantly configures. Software needs to be downloaded to your computer (I did have some issues with the required Java Runtime Environment for my Mac), and you also need to create an account on mydlink.com in order to view content over the cloud.

In addition to viewing the camera's video via browser, you can access the camera from mobile devices. I tested apps for my Android phone as well as an iPad. The iPad interface had less functionality than the Android app, which appeared to be the same experience as if viewing from the computer.

I mainly used the camera and apps to watch what my dogs were doing while I was at work (they're older and require more attention). This can be a perfect gift for pet owners, as well as those who have caregivers in their homes, or for people with second homes who want to keep an eye on their place while away. The fact that the camera can be moved around (although you can also permanently attach it to a wall if you want) is very helpful, especially if you're unsure about placement.

- Juan-Roberto Ortiz

Brookstone 1080p HDMI Pocket Projector

$300

The Brookstone 1080p HDMI Pocket Projector is just what the name says. It's a small, 3.9-inch x 3.8-inch x 0.89-inch HDMI projector. It weighs in at 0.5 pounds and will fit in a jacket pocket. This projector provides a good quality picture that can project up to a 60-inch diagonal picture, which is very respectable for its size.

Size isn't its only convenience; the projector can also run off the internal battery for up to two hours. All of these things make it a really good gift from a company to their road warriors. Salesmen never need to worry about a last minute change of venue that might not have a projector. They can connect this in seconds and be up and running.

I found only one downside with this projector that, to me, limits its use to the above-mentioned one. The projector doesn't display dark colors or true black very well. This would keep me from using it with video games or movies.

It comes with HDMI adapters that work with most devices, but will need a Apple Digital AV Adapter to be purchased to work with iOS devices. So if you are thinking of an added gift for your sales force this might be it.

- Tom Lupien

Read more about pc in Network World's PC section.

This story, "WORK: Gift ideas for the office (or home office)" was originally published by Network World.

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