Tech 10: Cool Products To Transform The Modern Workplace Into A Mobile One

Mobile And On-The-Go

The modern workplace is a mobile workplace, now that being "on the job" increasingly equates to being "on the go." For solution providers, there are multitudes of options to consider when it comes to potential mobility solutions for customers. Laptops and 2-in-1 tablets are serving as key business devices in many workplaces, while smartphones with new capabilities -- and even wearable devices -- are playing a bigger role in the enterprise. To give a sense of what's out there, we've rounded up 10 of the latest cool products in mobility that solution providers should know about.

Apple iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is the centerpiece of Apple's big push into the enterprise. The tablet combines a speedy processor (Apple's A9X) with a high-resolution Retina display and up to 10 hours of battery life -- while also working with a keyboard and stylus (two options initially spurned by Apple). While originally available as a 12.9-inch tablet, Apple said it's seen especially strong adoption among businesses for the latest iPad Pro, a 9.7-inch model.

Dell Chromebook 3189

Dell's Chromebook 3189 is an education-focused 2-in-1 that easily switches between different modes of usage. The must-have features for schools are all here, too: The Chromebook comes with a water-resistant keyboard and clickpad, along with a shock-absorbent body and Gorilla Glass on the display. And, the 11.6-inch display is a touch screen, which should give a welcome boost to interactivity for students.

HP Elite X3

With the Elite x3 smartphone, HP has developed the first "3-in-1" device -- able to provide the computing for mobile, laptop and desktop experiences. To do that, HP has developed the new Desk Dock that enables the 6-inch smartphone to turn into a Windows 10 desktop, using Microsoft's Continuum technology. The Elite x3 can also offer a laptop experience by connecting to HP's new Lap Dock, a 12.5-inch screen-and-keyboard combo. The smartphone uses Qualcomm's speedy Snapdragon 820 processor and runs Windows 10 Mobile, which includes security features such as Bitlocker encryption and enterprise-grade VPN.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Tablet

Lenovo's 12-inch ThinkPad X1 is a 2-in-1 convertible tablet that might seem like a copy of the Surface Pro 4 on the face of it -- but that's not the case. The X1 tablet stands out by connecting to special modules such as the Productivity Module, which extends battery life by five hours, and Presenter Module, which turns the tablet into a projector. For 2017, Lenovo has updated the ThinkPad X1 tablet with seventh-generation Intel processors.

Microsoft Surface Book I7

The lines between convertible tablet and laptop are perhaps nowhere blurrier than with Microsoft's Surface Book, which consists of a 13.5-inch touch-screen display with detachable keyboard. The latest update to the device, known as the Surface Book i7, features a sixth-gen Intel Core i7 processor, GeForce GTX 965M graphics and up to 16 hours of battery life on a charge.

Motorola Moto Z Droid

Along with sporting a thickness of just 0.2 of an inch, Motorola's Moto Z Droid differentiates itself by working with "moto mods" -- external devices that can be snapped onto the phone to add functionality. For instance, the moto mods can turn the phone into a projector, attach a JBL SoundBoost speaker or add extra battery life.

Panasonic Toughbook 20

Panasonic's Toughbook 20 manages to be both fully appropriate for rugged environments and also able to serve as a convertible. Switching the device from laptop to tablet can also be accomplished with one hand, and the display can be used with or without gloves. The 10.1-inch tablet features an array of port options and up to 20 hours of battery life with an optional spare battery.

Samsung Gear S3

Samsung says that the Gear S3 smartwatch is the world's first wearable tuned to the needs of enterprises. The Samsung Gear S3 features capabilities for enterprise device management and integrates Samsung's Knox security platform. Even more importantly, though, businesses can access a new SDK to create customized apps for the Samsung Gear S3. The SDK includes 300 business-to-business-specific APIs for developing apps for the wearable device.

Xplore Xslate R12

There's a lot to like about the rugged XSlate R12 tablet – even apart from the fact that it can survive drops and some exposure to water. The Windows 10 tablet features an appealing octagonal design, a sharp and bright 12.5-inch FHD display, and lots of thoughtful touches. For instance, the tablet comes with a kickstand that magnetically attaches to the back of the tablet and folds up when not in use.

Zebra Technologies 3600 Ultra-Rugged Series

Tailored to the most challenging business environments -- such as manufacturing plants and warehouse aisles -- the 3600 Ultra-Rugged Series bar-code scanner from Zebra verges on indestructability with its rugged features. Those include waterproofing and protection against dust and sprays. Not to be overshadowed is the performance of the 3600 Series, which allows for rapid scanning that works for bar codes that are in practically any condition.