Personal tech for restaurateurs

Tame your busy workday with the latest gear and gadgets on the personal tech front

For the restaurateur who...

...wants to top the iPhone

Palm Pre, $200 with contract
In the crowded ranks of iPhone foes, the Palm Pre is a contender. This fully loaded smartphone can work with one of Sprint's affordable all-you-can-eat data plans to keep your usage costs down. The tantalizing feature list includes Wi-Fi, GPS, combined messaging, QWERTY keyboard, 3 megapixel camera, a multitouch screen and Palm's brand new webOS.

...needs to hear and be heard

Plantronics Voyager Pro, $99
Some Bluetooth headsets are all about miniaturization and sleek looks. The over-the-ear Voyager Pro is all about sound quality. The advanced noise canceling technology uses dual mics as well as an electronic filter and screens designed to counteract wind noise. Whether you are in the middle of traffic or wading through the clanks and clangs of a working kitchen, the conversation stays in the clear.

...knows that videos speak louder than text

Flip UltraHD, $200
The Flip line of digital camcorders are popular for ease of use and low prices. The Flip UltraHD is the newest family member. It boasts up to two hours of recording time, a 2-inch screen and HDMI output. As the name suggests, it records in 1,280 x 720 high definition. You can get creative about applying a camcorder to restaurant uses: make your own training videos, put a virtual restaurant tour online or start a video blog to spice up your Web site.

...wants to see the big picture

BenQ Joybee GP1 Pocket Projector, $499
The name may sound a little naughty, but the Joybee GP1 is the kind of gadget that has a ton of potential uses. This packable LED projector weighs just 1.4 pounds and can project images onto any handy surface, even in small spaces. Set it up in the kitchen for training videos, display your daily specials on the wall and take it home at the end of the day to unwind with some “big screen” video games.

...needs to take it with them when they go

Iomega Blackbelt eGo Portable Hard Drive, $140
Data piles up in your restaurant. You have inventory lists, training materials, emails, Web site updates, videos, menu designs and employee information. When you have more than one location or a penchant for putting in time at home, the 500 GB Blackbelt eGo lets you back up and move all that data around in style. The design is ruggedized to survive the hard knocks of restaurant life.

..knows that good things come in small packages

MSI Wind U123, $380
Very portable laptops once cost upwards of $2,000. The MSI Wind U123 is a three-pound dynamo with Windows XP, 160 GB hard drive, 10.2-inch screen and up to eight hours of computing with the 9-cell battery option. The sub-$400 starting price puts the U123 well within reach for those with tight budgets. Toss it into your briefcase, balance it on your knee or carry it around your restaurant. This netbook puts portable computing in easy reach.


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