How to Make Your Technology Budget Stretch Further

It can be difficult to cut back on technology, especially when we are bombarded with advertising for the latest gadgets every week.  Before you make that expensive investment, here are a few ways that you can stretch your existing technology:

1.  Your mobile’s camera:

Most mobile phones (even very basic ones) have built-in cameras, which can be used for much more than sending photos to friends.  A service called Qipit turns the camera into a portable scanner, which allows you to print out the photo later via a website.  You could also scan an actual document and fax it for later retrieval and read-back on your mobile with an app called scanR.

There’s also barcode reader technology, which can help you when it’s time to make a technology purchase. There are several smartphone apps that enable this, allowing users to scan a barcode at the store and instantly do an online price comparison. Aside from traditional barcodes, 2-D barcodes (think digital camouflage, not vertical lines) have become a new trend in marketing, allowing cell phone owners to scan a barcode and get more information about a product or service. These barcodes are even making their way onto business cards.

2.  Mobile Chat:

An alternative to text messages for businesses is instant messaging.  Most of these are free for users, but do require a data plan for internet usage.  Still, for mobile travellers, a data plan is probably cheaper than a texting plan.

3.  VoIP technology:

Using voice over internet protocol can save money on mobile minutes, by allowing you to make free or nearly free calls.  There are smartphone apps available to allow your mobile to work as a VoIP device, so you can make calls at similar prices to traditional computer VoIP calls.  Some of these services do require a data service plan, but this does allow you to make international calls for the cost of using the mobile Web.

4.  Reduce your power usage:

One way to cut costs is to power down devices that you aren’t using.  If you are using a power strip, plug multiple devices into the single strip and flip the power switch to easily shut down at the end of the day.  There are also Smart Strips which can detect when a device is not in use and completely turn it and accompanying devices off.  Power strips also act as surge protectors and can save devices from a sudden jolt of electricity, such as during a thunderstorm. Not having to replace an expensive electronic device is as good as money in the bank.

5.  Digital Meetings:

If that business trip is not really necessary, consider whether a video conference call, meeting online or other method of communication would work instead.  Some businesses even use virtual worlds like Second Life to hold meetings.  If you use a Mac, you can hold video chats through iChat applications for free and Google, Skype, AOL and Yahoo also offer free chatting services.  These free services allow you to be more productive in the office rather than being stuck on a motorway or waiting for a flight.



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