2016 is almost over, startup entrepreneurs! As we head into the final month of the year and your businesses gear up to hit the ground running in 2017, we've got a treasure trove of newly tested products from the PCMag Labs with which to stuff your office stockings. December's toolkit packs new laptops and convertible 2-in-1 devices, business apps that cover everything from mobile scanning to identity management, and plenty more.
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Software and Services
Mobile scanning apps need to one thing very well: fast, accurate document and text scanning. Abbyy FineScanner is an easy-to-use app with extremely precise optical character recognition (OCR) technology across its Android and iOS apps in 193 languages and 12 output formats. In terms of straight-up mobile text recognition capability, it's our clear Editors' Choice in the category and ideal for a startup with employees out in the field dealing with digitizing documents of all shapes and sizes.
It takes the right combination of tools to get search engine optimization (SEO) just right, and startups need a platform that combines the best of all worlds across keyword research, crawling, and position monitoring. AWR Cloud by far the best SEO tool we tested for ongoing position monitoring and rank tracking on high-value search keywords, and the rest of its SEO functionality—particularly once you integrate it with Google Analytics and Google Search Console—isn't too shabby. It's a comprehensive SEO package at a very reasonable price.
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In a startup atmosphere, pitching a new project or idea is a lot about executing your vision. The way in which you lay out and visually present that pitch could be the difference between gaining a new client or starting development on your company's next big product. Lucidchart is a great responsive tool for building good-looking online diagrams on which you can collaborate with your team and incorporate into a professional presentation. Don't waste time in meetings. Spin up a Lucidchart project and start creating.
Okta Identity Management
Okta Identity Management is a veteran player in the Identity-Management-as-a-Service (IDaaS) space, and its Editors' Choice software exemplifies that experience. As startups grow and begin scaling up with more employees or different locations, a good identity management system ensures everyone's credentials (and the integrity of your company's data system) remain orderly and secure. Okta sports an intuitive user portal, easy Active Directory (AD) integration, automatic app launching, great support, and a host of other features that make it a no-brainer when it comes to identity management you can set and forget, knowing your bases are covered.
VMware Fusion 8.5 (for Mac)
VMware Fusion (for Mac) has long been an Editors' Choice tool for running stable and reliable MacOS virtual machines. If your startup is running largely on Macs and finds itself in need of spinning up more VM instances to handle greater loads, the latest iteration of VMware Fusion supports MacOS Sierra's built-in tabbed windows and can also share its VM with Windows and Linux machines running VMware software.
Canon Maxify iB4120 Wireless Small Office Inkjet Printer
Printers are not something startups want to spend much time, hassle, or money on in 2016. The Canon Maxify iB4120 Wireless Small Office Inkjet Printer is inexpensive, but provides generous paper capacity, competitive running costs, solid speed, and excellent output quality. There aren't all that many small office printers on the market, and this Editors' Choice tool fits the bill for startups in every regard.
HP ZBook Studio G3
As laptops go, the HP ZBook Studio G3 is one for the creatives in your startup. While it looks like a large-screen business laptop, the ZBook Studio is a powerful yet compact device with great multimedia processing and real-time 3D graphics capabilities. The thin mobile workstation is ideal for the number-crunchers, designers, artists, and creators within your startup who need the freedom and power to build. Plus, at less than 5 pounds, it won't weigh down your laptop bag.
Oyen Digital MiniPro 3.1 USB-C Portable Solid-State Drive
For the startup looking for fast, reliable storage capacity with no frills or fuss, the Oyen Digital MiniPro 3.1 USB-C Portable Solid-State Drive is an easy pick. This SSD sports a solid metal build and comes with anywhere from 256 GB to 2 TB of storage along with fast data transfer speeds. Cloud-based storage is cheap and easy, but backing up core data on a secure SSD is never a bad idea.
Plugable USB-C Docking Station With Power Delivery
Need to spin up a command center on short notice during a conference or a client meeting? The Plugable USB-C Docking Station With Power Delivery is an ideal hub for your startup team in the field. The station includes ports for USB-C connectivity, keyboards, mice, an external hard drive, headphones, and a monitor plus power for all of them. It's a true plug-and-play dock.
Startup Tool of the Month: Microsoft Surface Book
Arriving only a year after the inaugural Microsoft Surface Book, the Microsoft Surface Book (2016, Intel Core i7) impressed us with a slew of hardware and power upgrades that upped performance plus lots of configuration options, gobs of battery life, and the Intel i7 processor. Although it's a pricey incremental upgrade to last year's model, the Microsoft Surface Book remains our Editors' Choice for high-end, detachable-hybrid tablets and easily delivers business value. This is particularly true when its graphics and processing power are paired with other Microsoft apps and services.