Regular dispatches from AccountingWEB gadget devotees including executive peripherals editor Nigel Harris, community correspondent Rachael Power, community manager Henry Osadzinski, and Accountants Power Tools' Kevin Salter.
Christmas Gadget Countdown Day 10: Head in the cloud?
Now that the "Cloud" is becoming more and more the norm in business and every day life, it seemed only right to look at its merits in the field of gadgetry.
Cloud applications can be useful in several gadget-related areas.
The most fundamental is the ability to buy whatever gadget you want, whenever and wherever you want, using a smartphone or tablet. Amazon, eBay and many other online retailers offer free smartphone apps to enable you to track down and buy that essential gadget you never knew you needed.
But having bought your new toy, just look at the Cloud applications you can now access. Online accounting solutions such as Xero, Kashflow and Aqilla - to name just a few - offer you a firm business justification for that expensive tablet purchase that you thought was just for leisure use! What's more, services such as Google Apps, Microsoft's SkyDrive and Dropbox give you access to business documents created in the office from a whole range of mobile devices.
For pure after hours enjoyment the Cloud opens up all sorts of entertainment opportunities. On the music front, Spotify reigns supreme delivering digital music to you wherever you are, and with a £9.99 a month Premium account you can download as much music as you can squeeze onto your iPod or iPhone (believe me, I've tried and can't get anywhere near filling my iPod Touch's capacity!) to listen to offline. Spotify, iTunes and other Cloud music providers also offer a very convenient way to buy music if you find something you like.
Faster broadband and more powerful devices have seen the rise of streamed film and TV programmes, LoveFilm and NetFlix being a couple of the leading services. And if you can get the Internet on your TV or have a decent computer monitor in the lounge - don't forget, you can get an HDMI connection to plug your iPad into a TV - there's virtually unlimited televisual delights on YouTube for free. So you really have no excuse if you can't find anything to watch on terrestrial/satellite/cable TV over Christmas!
Talking of iPads and smartphones, these devices are becoming a standard device for multi-player gaming too, so even that area is covered by the Cloud. Look at the games apps available for your favourite device in the relevant app store - a lot of these use the Cloud to deliver content or connect you with other players.
You obviously can't "buy" the Cloud for Christmas this year, but you can certainly buy into it - and probably already have. If not yet, you won't be able to avoid it for much longer.