These entries were winners this year.
As another year comes to a close, it is time to carefully look back on all of the products I've reviewed (here and elsewhere). After careful review, here are some of the best technology tools.
Here are the ground rules: Software and hardware candidates can be either new products or improved versions of existing products that are capable of having a positive impact on an advisory practice.
Industry-specific products qualify, as do general-purpose products. Rookie of the Year contestants are new products used by financial professionals that may not yet be perfected, but that either break new ground or hold great promise.
Before we go any further, let's not forget the annual disclaimer: Morningstar has no involvement in the selection process, so please direct all accolades and complaints directly to me. Morningstar or I do not necessarily endorse any product mentioned in this article. This is just my way of highlighting some products that are particularly worthy of recognition in 2008. And no, I don't present the winners with actual awards. Winners will have to be content with bragging rights until we do this again in 2009.
Hardware Product of the Year
In the current market environment, which shows no sign of improving in the immediate future, I expect advisors to be a little more cautious in their technology spending, as they should be. In such an environment, low-cost items that can produce an immediate, identifiable productivity increase (and hence a good ROI) will be in demand. Two hardware products I reviewed here earlier this year, the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution and the CardScan Executive clearly fit that description, so I'm going to honor them both as Hardware Product of the Year Awards.
As those of you who read my June 12 article might recall, I got serious about reviewing mouse/keyboard combinations when the previous favorite, the Microsoft Optical Desktop Elite for Bluetooth, died on me. At first I was highly skeptical that I would be able to find a suitable replacement, but after completing my tests, I decided to continue using the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution with my primary computer, so I have now logged six months as a full-time user.
If anything, I'm a much more enthusiastic fan of the Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution today than I was when the original article was written. The mouse design, which appears somewhat radical to the uninitiated, is without a doubt the best I've ever used. It is very comfortable and highly responsive. I probably don't use all of the programmable mouse buttons as extensively as I should, but at least they are there, and unlike some on competing products, they don't get triggered by me unintentionally. I do use the scroll wheel extensively, and I really appreciate the hyperscrolling feature.
I find recharging this mouse particularly convenient. Charges last quite a long time, but I tend to put the mouse in the convenient charger every night, so it is always fully charged in the morning. Power consumption on the keyboard is fine. On the odd occasion that I need to change batteries (or recharge the mouse), the little battery meter near the Windows clock usually alerts me before the situation gets critical.