NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- It's time yet again to find that special client that special gift.Who knows where the year went. (Was 2011 even a full year? I seriously doubt it.) But here it is, the end of October and in case you haven't noticed, it's just two months to Christmas Day, or barely enough time for us business professionals to order, package and ship our good holiday presents to our good customers. The news on the pro-present front is, this year finds a bumper crop of readily available yet downright useful gifts. And assuming you order something ASAP, any of these will be in your client's hands by the holidays. Better get busy!
Readily available through several U.S. Web-based resellers, these European-created umbrellas are my pick for business gift of the year. The people at Senz had a brilliant idea: Take the unneeded part at the front of the umbrella and put it where you really want it, in the back. The result may look really odd -- and it may cost more than other umbrellas -- but once you get your mitts on a Senz, you will realize what a lovely tool it is. A small, light tool that you can carry anywhere, that really does keep you dry in the driving rain. I loved this thing.
What's cooler than an Apple ( MacBook)? A MacBook only you can see. And the maker of the Post-It, 3M ( MMM), makes just such a wonder device. This heavily polarized, stick-on plastic screen guard not only protects your beloved Mac but ensures that only the person sitting right in front of the computer -- that is, you -- can see what's on it. And if you don't think that will turbo-charge the proprietary work you do on your next flight, think again. Trust me, giving this kind of privacy to customers is worth $32.50.
Attention, cheapskates: Antec might just have the under-$15 professional present of the season, namely the soundscience LED backlight kit. For $13, you get a simple-to-install LED strip that sticks on the back of a monitor and bathes that horrible work PC in cool, easy-on-the-eyes white light. I have found such lights greatly reduce the eye strain from too many hours staring at the PC. And my gut tells me this unit will improve productivity. (Plus, it looks great.) If you want an affordable gift your clients will thank you for, give the Antec.
No one stays king of the reasonably priced, for-travel headphone wars for long. The competition is simply too brutal. But right this second I like what Wilsonville, Ore.-based Sol Republic is doing with its latest over-ear cans, the Track HDs. This three-part, modular headphone system is effectively indestructible. Two independent headphones slide onto a flexible plastic headband that can be bent in half and not snap -- a concept that opens all sorts of storage and usage possibilities. The overall fit and finish is also excellent. Now, the acoustics are not absolutely top-shelf, but they are perfectly good for headphones in this price range. As an upgrade to the disgraceful earbuds that ship with say, an iPhone, the Sol Republic Tracks is my current choice for your audiophile customers. >To submit a news tip, email: email@example.com.
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