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With the pandemic now entering a second year, I had to change a lot of the ways I write my articles and do my research. No more going to a cafe with my laptop. No more going to trade shows. No more going to meet engineers and designers. Everything is done at home working from my home office. Because of that, I had to rely more heavily on tech stuff to do most of my work. Here is the list of my top four must-have gadgets that I currently use in my office. Obviously, because I use them, I can highly recommend them without any hesitation:
Belkin TrueFreedom PRO
Not being able to meet various people directly, means I have to do many meetings with my Smart phone that results in rapid battery drain.
Of course I could use a wired connection to ensure my phone is fully charged at all times but since me tripping on the charging cable sending my phone hurled into the ground has happened just too many times, I prefer to be wire-free. Using Qi charging helps this matter but the necessity to plop the phone just at the right spot results in the accidental moments where my phone was sitting on the charger while not being charged at all.
Thankfully, Belkin released the multi-coil Qi charging base. By having a dozen or so charging coils internally, I can plop my phone down at any angle and it charges my phone anywhere it happens to land on the base. It is also a high wattage charger (10W charging per device for up to two devices) making the charging process as fast as my device (iPhone 8 Plus) can accept. I plan to buy a second unit for my night stand.
Having a phone meeting running for at least 30 minutes upwards to 90 minutes makes it uncomfortable for me to use the phone in the usual handheld fashion. Of course I can use the speakerphone function but then the other party will have to suffer listening to my home office’s room reverberation and echo.
The solution? Wear a headset! However, wearing a headset such as the Plantronics Voyager 5200 (which I also own) can be uncomfortable and it is tiring as it blocks out one of my ears, meaning I also can’t listen to my music in stereo.
I’m glad when Aftershokz sent me their OpenComm bone conduction headset. As it hangs around my head, the weight distribution makes it feels like I’m not wearing any headset. A major improvement over their previous models is the boom microphone. This makes my voice clarity to be amazingly abundant to the person on the other side of the call. According to my call recipients, my voice sounds like I’m talking directly in to my phone.
Thanks to its 7th generation bone-conduction technology, music quality has been improved quite dramatically over the 5th generation that I own (I do not own the 6th generation). While it can not replace a proper headset, it is a very good compromise between comfort and function as I tend to wear the OpenComm for at least 6 hours at a time.
The battery life is highly commendable too as I only need to recharge the OpenComm once a week in my 3-day per week interactions (and music) from my home office.
Being copped up inside a room for hours on end can be taxing on your lungs if you don’t have good air circulation. My office doesn’t have great air circulation and the air feels stagnant after sitting the room past three hours. I have tried to run a small fan to move the air, but the fan noise is just too loud and distracting for my taste All my problems are solved with Sensibo Pure.
Sensibo Pure is more than a fan. It is a smart air filter equipped with a strong HEPA & Carbon filter that removes particles as small as 0.1um and protects against viruses, bacteria, dust, smoke and bad odours.
How well it removes odours is unknown as the room was not smelly to begin with, but the sense of freshness in the air is clearly apparent. Perhaps that fresh smell is the smell of clean air! I can only assume the claim of HEPA is true as there is no benefit for any company to lie about it.
The most important smart feature of the Sensibo Pure is the Pure Boost mode that boosts the air purification in turbo mode while you’re not in the house so when you re-enter the room you feel that freshness all over again. I like this feature.
The only drawback is that at this moment, you can only buy the replacement filter through Sensibo. Well, not really a drawback. It’s just easier if I can buy the filter through a Canadian seller to avoid shipping hassles created by international shipping.
LaCie Rugged Mini
LaCie takes a utilitarian product, in this case a back up hard-drive and makes them beautiful. As much art as they are function. The Rugged Mini is indeed rugged and the orange colour helps a lot when I want to find the hard drive in a stack of typical-black stacks of office-related devices. And most of all, going back to the rugged design, if I ever dropped them by accident, the hard drives are fully protected from bumps and drops through the silicon sleeve.
I’ve been using these series of LaCie hard drives for many years and I’m always willing to pay the premium in order to have my data protected from my clumsy fingers.