The best home office essentials for 2021February 22, 2021
Many of our favorite home office essentials became impossible to buy online after working from home became mainstream last year. But now, our favorite webcams, monitors and USB mics are once again available without long delays. These peripherals, accessories and services can elevate your home office setup and upgrade the remote work experience.
The must-haves for a remote worker are obvious: A full-size keyboard, a wireless mouse and. But there’s a handful of other gear — from a proper desk to to a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones — that can make your workday less frustrating, more productive and quite comfortable. Our recommendations for the best home office essentials are below. We’ll update this list periodically as we review new products.
Logitech’s new-for-2020 mouse is ostensibly geared for travel, but it’s really just a good all-around mouse for anyone who finds the step-up Logitech MX Master 3 to be overkill. From the scrollwheel to the programmable side buttons, this mouse can handle any pointing task. It charges via USB-C, and interfaces with devices via the included USB-A Unifying dongle or Bluetooth. There’s also an Apple-centric model available for the same price.
If space is tight but you need to print shipping labels, shopping lists or homework assignments a few times a month, this is your machine. The HP LaserJet Pro M15w is a great fit for practical, nonfussy tasks and its tiny footprint, measuring about 8 inches deep and 14 inches wide, fits perfectly on a bookshelf or filing cabinet. And it connects via Wi-Fi to nearly any device, which means you can print from your phone. If the students in your family can live without a scanner — after all, phone cameras can handle most scanning jobs now — and color output, the LaserJet Pro M15w is a great choice for under $120. Just make sure you stock up on printer paper too.
It’s not my favorite webcam — that would be Logitech’s StreamCam, which has been hard to find in recent months — but the C920S will get the job done. The image quality and sound pickup are pretty good and the clip-on design makes it suitable for an external monitor or laptop computer. The physical privacy shutter is a nice, confidence-inspiring flourish that promises to protect you and your office space from prying eyes.
If it’s sold out, you can use a tripod and your phone’s HD camera for video chatting. Here’s how to do it. And if you’re looking for other gear to help enhance your meetings online, we’ve got a roundup of gear for video chats.
The Shure MV5 digital condenser microphone combines an unfussy setup and high-quality audio with a compact form-factor. I wouldn’t recommend it for high-stakes recording projects, but it will certainly boost the sound quality of your Zoom meetings and other webconferencing interactions. It comes with both USB-C and Lightning cables.
If you’re willing to spend more, and can find it in stock, the Blue Yeti is an even better mic for advanced users. It features three capsule microphones, four pickup patterns (for different kinds of recording) and just enough controls to help optimize the way you sound without overloading you with super technical features.
Many newer gadgets have transitioned to USB-C charging, but plenty of us still have legacy USB-A cables around the house. With the Aukey Omnia 65-watt charger, you’re good to go with any of them. It’s got both types of jacks, and the USB-C one is Power Delivery compatible, meaning it can charge most compatible laptops, too. Best of all, this costs as little as $25, thanks to a semipermanent Amazon instant coupon.
This sneaker-slipper hybrid may be the most comfortable footwear I’ve ever worn. The recycled “looped wool” interior keeps things temperately balanced, so your feet stay warm but not sweaty. The thick rubber outer sole provides support and protection from the elements. And the appealing future-primitive aesthetic is slick enough to transform your sweatpants and inside-out t-shirt into a fashion-forward ensemble. I wear these all day, every day. Highly recommended.
There’s a lot to like about the Edge Desk System. It provides a highly ergonomic sitting position, with an ergonomic chair and knee supports that can relieve the tension of sitting in a traditional chair. It’s highly adjustable and we’ve been able to change the height and angle to accommodate everyone in my family, including an 8-year-old child. It can also easily and quickly fold up into a surprisingly compact and mobile package; you can essentially use it in any room, whether your work environment is your living room or even next to your kitchen table.
Tabletop real estate is at a premium in my house these days, with two adults working full-time and two kids who occasionally dabble in remote schoolwork. In an effort to make a room of her own, my wife bought this simple, inexpensive and surprisingly adjustable two-piece desk system. Aside from the roller wheels, which are great, but which weren’t fun to install, the setup was painless. The desk allows her to work seated or to use it as a standing desk, with one platform for a keyboard and another for a laptop or display.
BenQ is currently offering $50 off this 32-inch 4K LED display. That’s a good price for a large, ultra high-def HDR display.
Apple’s Magic Keyboard is awesome. It has the old-school Mac keyboard design and space, with the pleasing scissor key mechanism, and it’s wireless, connecting via Bluetooth. Best of all, the battery, which is rechargeable via USB, lasts for months on a charge. (I also love Apple’s Magic Mouse 2 for the same reasons.) The larger version with the numeric keypad — yep, that’s great, too.
You can use Apple’s peripherals with Windows machines, but if you’re looking for an alternative Bluetooth keyboard that will work with anything from Windows PCs to Macs to iPads to phones, the Logitech K380 (about $30) is a great choice. Pair it with up to three devices, and toggle between each of them with the click of a button.
If your kids invade your office and you really need to tune out distractions from your home setup, headphones are a good way to maintain focus. V-Moda’s Crossfade 2 Wireless are comfortable to wear and deliver absolutely killer sound quality — with full bass and high detail. Though the headphone design runs too close to the steampunk aesthetic for me, the audio, intuitive controls and sturdy design more than make up for it. And these headphones, which comes in three different color combos, are currently on sale for $200.
A back-up pick: The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 provide excellent wireless noise canceling and they cost considerably less than comparable models from other companies. They’re also comfortable to wear, sound great on phone calls and are smart enough to pause whatever you’re listening to when you take them off. If you need more options — including AirPods-style true wireless models — check out our list of best noise-canceling headphones.
When you work from home, making coffee becomes a sacramental practice. Think of this kitchen appliance as the Swiss army knife of the drip coffee maker world. The Ninja programmable brewer (with frother, thermal carafe and reusable filter) offers an uncanny degree of flexibility, making it the best coffee maker for those who don’t always want the same cup. It can create everything from solid drip, to perfect cold brew, to iced coffee, to latte-style drinks with its milk frother, and it will adjust the temperature according to your choice. Its thermal carafe will keep tea or coffee hot up to two hours. This programmable coffee maker even lets you brew iced coffee and hot coffee in multiple sizes, from small cups, mugs and travel mugs, all the way up to half and full carafes.
When you’re not commuting, there may be some more time for dinner prep. Dinnerly rolls out exciting-sounding and delicious meals such as summery chicken panzanella and risotto with asparagus and cannellini beans. But with no more than six ingredients per recipe, the damage done to your time and kitchen is minimized. The price tag for Dinnerly puts it squarely in the budget-friendly category, clocking in with a cost per serving of around $5. The subscription options include a Two-Person Box for $30, or a Family Box for $60, each with three recipes for the week. Looking for more options? Check out our list of best mealkit services.
More stuff to make WFH go smoothly
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.