LAS VEGAS (TheStreet) -- Could 2010 be the year of the small-business gadget? Yes, the buzz at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is mostly big announcements by, and for, big companies. Google (Stock Quote: GOOG) and its Android OS are taking on HTC, Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL), Motorola (Stock Quote: MOT) and the rest of the mobile-device market. A new generation of e-readers is gunning for the Amazon (Stock Quote: AMZN) Kindle and the Nook from Barnes & Noble (Stock Quote: BKS). And ESPN jump-started the 3-D TV space with a new network and flock of 3-D TVs from everybody from Sony to Panasonic to Vizio.
But behind these mega trends, the Planet Small Biz is getting some tech love. I am finding a surprising number of cheap, effective and directly useful small-business tools here in the high desert. None of these will score points with tech fashionistas.
But for those of us who count on technology to help us make our living, these are the tools to look for in the coming year:
1. An office life for your laptop -- HP USB 2.0 Docking Station ($99): This boring-looking $99 black box might, in fact, be the SMB wonder tool for 2010. The HP USB 2.0 Docking Station enables full-motion video to be carried via any USB connection between a laptop and a PC or display. Better yet, the system requires no tricky software to install: Simply connect that beaten-up road warrior laptop of yours to the docking station. Then connect whatever monitor or monitors you have. And poof! Your laptop's screen is rendered across all your screens. No clicking. No applications to run. Just plug in the your computer, your monitors. Turn 'em all on and they are done. How cool is that?