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On test

Tayla Ansell tries out this month’s selection of new office products


KeepCup Original
KeepCup Original

KeepCup re-usable cups are promoted as a sustainable alternative to single use paper cups. The range includes KeepCup Original, available in 8oz, 12oz and 16oz sizes, and KeepCup Longplay in 12oz and 16oz sizes. All sizes are compatible with barista style coffee machines.

A new addition to the range, the Longplay glass cup has a removable triton outer layer that works like a thermos to maintain the temperature of hot and cold drinks and protect hands from heat and condensation.

Business Info tested a medium-sized (12oz) Keep Cup Original and a large (160oz) Longplay. Almost everyone who saw the KeepCup Original likened it to a child’s drinking cup because of its shape and bright colours.

One useful feature is the wide silicone grip – I would have made it even wider – as the cup can be hot to hold when filled with coffee or tea. This isn’t so much of a problem with Longplay thanks to its insulating outer layer.

The cups are made up of four parts, five in the case of Longplay, which you will need to take apart for proper cleaning. This requires more effort than throwing a paper cup in the bin, but it’s worth it if it helps to reduce the billions of disposable cups that end up in landfill.

KeepCups are clearly a sustainable alternative to paper cups, but they do have one or two of the same drawbacks. For example, you can’t throw one in your bag to take back to the office and be confident that it won’t leak.

The cups are available in a range of colours, standard editions and special editions, including a new Star Wars collection.

iStorage datAshur PRO

iStorage PIN-authenticated, hardware-encrypted storage devices secure sensitive information with military-grade XTS-AES 256-bit full disk hardware encryption and an optional Brute Force Self Destruct feature that automatically wipes all files after 10 unsuccessful PIN attempts.

iStorage datAshur PRO
iStorage datAshur PRO

The range includes USB Flash, Hard Disk and Solid State Drives. Business Info tested the datAshur Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive. Considering its many features (super-fast USB 3.0, read/write speeds up to 116/43 Mbps, a keypad and rechargeable battery), this USB device is surprisingly slim and compact. It’s longer than many standard USB sticks but still fits comfortably into a pocket – any smaller and the keypad would be difficult to use. A metallic blue aluminium sleeve protects against dust, water and accidental keypad use.

A handy Quick Start Guide explains how to unlock the drive and how to change your PIN from the default code. It’s vital to choose a PIN you can remember as without it you won’t be able to access the device or the files saved on it, including the full User Guide.

This you will definitely need, as changing settings can be complicated. For example, configuring a User and Admin PIN, which enables the boss to retrieve data if an employee leaves the company, is done through the device itself with only coloured LED indicators as a guide (e.g. solid green LED means it’s unlocked). However, with three different colours, used individually or simultaneously, and a distinction between ‘blinking’ and ‘flickering’ lights, this system is complicated and hard to remember.

iStorage datAshur Pro
iStorage datAshur Pro

For people who carry highly sensitive information, the optional Brute Force Self Destruct Feature provides reassurance that even if a device is lost or stolen data will be protected. Moreover, because the datAshur Pro USB 3.0 Flash Drive is unlocked via the on-board keypad, it is not vulnerable to software/hardware-based keyloggers.

Drives with these security features cost more than standard flash drives (from £69 for 8GB), but we can see how valuable they would be for a business with sensitive data, such as a government or healthcare organisation.

Rexel ActiVita Pod+ Daylight lamp

When the clocks went back, the chance to review a desk lamp that simulates daylight to improve energy and concentration levels was too good to pass up. The model we tested was the Rexel ActiVita Pod+ Daylight lamp.

Featuring a minimalist, white design that would suit any modern office, the lamp has a flexible neck that lets you shine light exactly where you want it and a battery-operated LCD panel that displays the temperature, time and date. This can also be used as an alarm. Rexel’s Strip+ model includes a USB port for charging mobile devices.

Rexel ActiVita Strip Lamp
Rexel ActiVita Strip Lamp

The long-lasting (40,000 hours) energy-saving Blue LED lamp has a warm light mode for relaxation and reading and a whiter, daylight mode that mimics natural sunlight to “lighten your mood, enhance concentration and increase productivity”. Each mode has five brightness settings so that you can get the light exactly as you want it.

I don’t know what effect, if any, the lamp has had on my mood, but the control it gives me over my working environment makes it a very useful supplement to overhead office lighting, especially when reading or note-taking. Because I have a large-ish working area, I would prefer the lamp to be taller and cast light over a wider area, but for standard desk sizes (or bedside tables) the Rexel ActiVita Pod+ Daylight lamp is hard to fault.

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