CES Offers Little Flash, But Some Solid Tools

LAS VEGAS (TheStreet) -- The high desert seems to suit small-business technology.

The overall mood at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show -- which kicks off today -- has a definite "seen it/done it" vibe. There's no breakout consumer tech product, not even a new product from Apple to riff off of. So most of the 100,000-plus geeks who descend on this desert town to see the largest electronics trade show on earth have struck a rather blase pose. Small-business types would be smart to pay this techno elite no mind, though. Smaller firms should find a lot to like.

Here are my early picks for small-business tools making waves at CES:

The Black & Decker iShred Vertical Shredder may not be flashy, but it's technology that can be useful -- and attractive -- to small-business owners.

Black & Decker iShred Vertical Shredder ( SWK) ($99)
Good home office security starts with a good home shredder, so my hat is off to toolmaker Black & Decker. The company is showing a radical new design in shredders: Vertical teeth that are fully enclosed, away from your -- and your kid's -- searching fingers.

The iShred, which is available at Best Buy ( BBY), Frye's and other retailers, also does a nice job keeping the shredded bits inside a conical holder, not all over the floor. The only downside from the unit, in my early tests anyway, was a supposed six-sheet limit. Serious shredding is beyond this tool. But overall the iShred packs a serious shredding punch in a small package. Impressive stuff.

Mavizon Technologies' Mavia Proximics Enterprise Platform (Approximate Price: Less than $300)
Cars that can navigate, communicate and otherwise stay in touch with their owners have strictly been the stuff of big, fancy companies that can afford fancy new cars. No more. Mavizon Technologies' Mavia telematics module can grab any any car's onboard data and make it available on the Web and beyond. The unit works with any vehicle made since 1996 and can generate everything from a vehicle's location to what parts need to be serviced. It can also contact emergency personnel in case of an accident and supplies, at least in theory, robust mapping and fleet management tools.

Now, without question, how Mavia actually works in the real world will have to await some testing. But it holds the promise of getting a smarter work vehicle without having to buy a new vehicle.

Tremont Electric nPower PEG Kenetic power charger (estimated price $159)
The next interesting idea in portable power comes out of Cleveland and a cutting-edge portable power company called Tremont Electric. The firm has what is probably the world's first kinetic charging system, which captures the energy of moving users and stores it where cell phones can use it. Called the nPower PEG, the roughly 7-inch cylinder houses a small sliding weight connected to very efficient electrical generator. The weight slides back and forth as you walk, creating power that gets stored in onboard batteries.

Keep in mind: This not the Niagara Falls of electrical generators. One minute of walking creates just one minute of play time for something like an Apple ( AAPL) iPod Nano. Using your device for an hour would mean a three-mile hike. Most users will want to use the system's back wall charger to have enough power.

But nPower PEG's designers claim that the tool, if left inside your work bag as you walk over the course of the day, will capture enough power to keep most average users in juice. Certainly real testing awaits this tool, but from what I have seen here, the nPower could be that handy backup charging solution that can bail you out when your other power options fail. Worth paying attention to.

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