The 10 Coolest Products For SMBs In 2016 (So Far)

Cool Stuff That's No Longer Futuristic

In today's constantly changing world of technology, products that were once only depicted in Ray Bradbury novels are now not only a reality but so commonplace that they're being utilized by even the smallest of businesses.

In the first half of this year, some technology vendors have been capitalizing on the opportunity that small businesses offer around cutting-edge technology, releasing products that bring virtual reality, finger-size computers and professional-grade 3-D printing even further into the SMB space.

The year is far from over, but vendors including HP and Microsoft already have promised even more between now and December. Here's a look at 10 of the coolest SMB-targeted products introduced so far in 2016.

(For more on the "coolest" of 2016, check out "CRN's Tech Midyear In Review.")

D-Link's Full HD Outdoor PoE Mini Dome Camera

While many owners of small businesses spend a lot of time managing them, they can't always be there to look after them in off hours.

Or can they? With D-Link's DCS-6212L Power over Ethernet (PoE) outdoor camera system, owners of small businesses can keep their eyes and ears on their entities 24/7. The system can be remotely operated via D-Link's mobile app and set up to send alerts when the system detects noise or motion.

This camera, which records in 1,080p high definition, has 30 feet of night vision and an on-board microSD slot for hard-copy recording. It's also built ready for outdoor use with a weatherproof casing.

Intel Compute Stick With Skylake

Intel's Compute Stick was released in early 2015 and was generally seen as a home-use gadget. But since then, the company has been working to make its ’computer on a stick’ tool more powerful and better suited for businesses.

The Compute Stick's compact size can help a business grappling with limited space. Its portability can help mobile employees stay on the move, and its Trusted Platform Module 2.0 delivers security and encryption to meet the security demands of end users who work with sensitive information.

The newest Compute Stick features Intel's more powerful Core m3 and Core m5 Skylake processors, which have beefed up the pack-of-gum-size devices.

Now, for $150, a user can take any monitor, TV or device with an HDMI input and turn it into a Windows 10 computer with much more power than Intel's previous Compute Sticks.

Synology DiskStation DS216

The popularity of the cloud is increasing, but that doesn't mean small offices don't have use for local storage solutions.

In March, Synology released a NAS device aimed directly at small offices to help end users keep their data protected while maintaining access to high-speed file sharing.

The DS216 comes equipped with an Intel Celeron Processor N3050 and Intel AES New Instructions encryption for high-speed performance that exceeds 111 MBps reading and writing.

Measuring 1.3 x 9 x 6.5 inches, this device can help small offices that need a NAS device but don't have the space or need for larger products.

XYZprinting's daVinci 1.0 Pro 3-In-1 3D Printer

The 3-D printing space has continued to heat up this year, with new products being launched and offered by startups and tech giants alike. For small manufacturers, these devices are a time-saver in creating a prototype or a model.

XYZprinting, for its part, has been putting out lower-cost 3D printers for several years and this year introduced its new professional product to the market.

The daVinci 1.0 Pro 3-in-1 is both a 3-D scanner and printer and can be equipped with an optional laser engraver for professional manufacturing and designing.

The new daVinci is Wi-Fi-enabled, so it can connect to any device. It's capable of using third-party ABS and PLA filaments and can accommodate a 20 x 20 x 19-centimeter build size on top of the heated aluminum print bed.

Dell SonicWall Advanced Threat Protection

"Cool" might be a relative term, but for small businesses concerned with the security challenges of today's connected world, Dell's new Advanced Threat Protection service, which debuted at the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco this year, really is cool.

This new system is Dell's first advanced threat protection product. It provides an extra level of protection against threats for SMB customers and will be available as an optional subscription service on top of Dell's SonicWall appliance.

Dell says the product differentiates itself by lacing together three sandboxing engines -- SonicWall, Lastline and VMRay- - to deliver a multilayer defense approach.

The system also boasts no file size limit for the cloud sandboxing service and scanning of encrypted or unencrypted traffic.

Dell Chromebook 13

Dell's new Chromebook 13 is a product made for SMBs looking for a business-class notebook with fast cloud access at an affordable price.

Starting at less than $430, the new Chromebook base model comes with an Intel Celeron processor, 16-GB solid state drive, 13-inch non-touch LCD, 12 hours of battery life and Chrome OS for quick access to the cloud.

Lenovo/Nutanix HX 2000 Hyper-Converged Solution For SMBs

Expanding its hyper-converged infrastructure offerings into the SMB market, Lenovo released its new Converged HX 2000 offering, which is combined with Nutanix's Xpress software specifically for SMBs.

The HX 2000 Series is engineered to offer management simplicity and built-in data protection.

Lenovo's product is equipped with next-generation Intel processors, DDR4 memory and tiered storage, and is compatible with Lenovo's XClarity management software, which helps IT professionals in SMBs manage more of their environments with a single point of contact.

Samsung Gear VR Headset

With new applications that help real-estate agents give virtual tours of properties or allow retailers to virtually show items to customers, SMBs are beginning to venture toward virtual reality.

And Samsung's new virtual reality headset is one device available to them.

The Samsung Gear VR headset was made in collaboration with Oculus and fits over the user's head like a visor, using a mobile phone as the application device and screen.

Samsung Gear VR contains an optical lens as well as sensors, and connects to select Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy s6 Edge Plus, with a microUSB.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet

After the launch of Microsoft's Windows 10 OS, many vendors have begun to come out with less-expensive, less-feature-rich alternatives to the Microsoft Surface products.

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 is one notebook that can arguably compete head to head with the popular Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet.

Lenovo's base model ThinkPad X1 tablet, which has three optional clip-on modules to add functionality, can be configured with Intel's Core m7 processor. It has a 10-hour battery life, 12-inch display and weighs 1.75 pounds at a slender 0.3 inches thick.

The base model costs $900, about $100 less than the Surface Pro 4.

Acer's Aspire Switch Alpha 12-Inch Notebook

Acer's 12-inch Aspire Switch Alpha 2-in-1 notebook is a sleek, multifunction laptop that fits SMBs whose people need to work on the go.

This fanless, liquid-cooled device runs quietly without a humming fan built into its back and won't overheat if it's not vented or if it accumulates dust.

The notebook also comes with Windows 10, and it has 8-hour battery life, long enough to get work done even if users are out of the office and without access to a power outlet.

Pricing for the notebook, which was released in April, starts at $599.