8 great gifts for anyone who works from home – TechCrunch
Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2021 Year-End Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We have a lot of them. We’re just starting to roll out this year’s gift guides, so check back by the end of December to find out more!
Once upon a time, I wrote the TechCrunch Traveler Gift Guide. It was fun and people liked it. People love travel gadgets! Of course, the events of the past year have left many of us on the ground for an extended period of time, so we switched to a remote work gift guide – assuming that by 2021 we’d be off. back on a trip.
The best plans, etc.
For most of us with office jobs, remote working will be the default for the foreseeable future, for better or for worse. In fact, it’s a safe bet that the pandemic will drastically change the way many companies think about doing business. Since it’s more than a passing fad, what better time to make the home office a little more comfortable for the telecommuter in your life?
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Apple iMac 2021
I included an Intel iMac model in last year’s roundup, so you know I’ll be adding the M1 model introduced earlier this year. Cons First: 1. It’s smaller, currently only available in 24 inches. 2. It needs more ports. I really want to grab an SD card reader (I looked at this one from Satechi). 3. Not all applications are supported by the new M1 chip.
That said, the new iMacs are powerful, compact, and look great. If you want to splurge with someone who is struggling to adjust to working from home, this is a great addition to any home office.
Price: From $ 1,259 on Amazon
Twelve South Curve Laptop Stand
If an all-in-one desktop isn’t their thing, a good laptop stand makes a big difference. There are a ton of different options (and you can get one for a pretty low price). It’s a simple product at first glance, so most of the time you choose between the aesthetic. The Twelve South stuff is still solid, so it’s a good place to start.
Price: $ 60 on Amazon
HUANUO Adjustable Laptop Stand for Desk
Speaking of stands, this is a smart (if not extremely affordable) standing desktop converter. A full standing desk might just be out of your budget – not to mention the cost and hassle of shipping something this size as a gift. This sits on a desk and adds up to 16.5 inches of height for laptops up to 15 inches.
It’s a good way to take a break for so many consecutive hours of sitting. Haven’t you heard? Sitting is the new smoking.
Price: $ 38 on Amazon
If you follow me on Twitter, you know the past year and a half has been… a struggle to work from home. My problem of five simultaneous construction projects within earshot may be very New Yorker, but we all struggle with unwanted noise every now and then, especially those of us in the big cities. A good pair of noise-canceling headphones can save your life – or at least your reason. Seriously.
There are plenty of great headphones out there at a reasonable price, but if you really want to muffle the sound, look for an on-ear model. The natural sound-absorbing cups pair well with the built-in active noise cancellation. This is doubly the case if you plan to wear them for an extended period of time – they are much more comfortable and the battery lasts much longer. Most models should allow you to spend more than a day of use for a fee – teleconference meetings included.
There are plenty of great options. Bose has just released new Quietcomforts, for example. But while the Sony WH-1000XM4s are a bit long in the tooth these days, they’re still the defending champion – at least until the M5 is released. They sound great, have solid noise cancellation, and are extremely comfortable. If you’ve seen me doing virtual interviews for TechCrunch, you’ve seen me with the M4s on my head.
Price: $ 348 at Amazon
Can you tell I quit drinking? I’m, like, great in the water now. Last year I sang the praises of the Aarke Carbonater. This time, I’m back to tell you about the Larq Pitcher. A Kickstarter success story from the same people who made these very popular UV water bottles, the pitcher is based on the same principle.
In addition to a carbon-based filtration system found in more traditional pitchers, Larq blows water with UV-C for an added level of purification. I’ve been using it for a few weeks at the time of this writing, and enjoy it. We’re lucky to have good tap water here in New York City (ask the people who make the bagels), but peace of mind is never a bad thing.
Like the Larq bottle before it, I was impressed with the design language here. I never thought about how the pitchers work (it basically lives in my fridge), but hey, it’s a nice pitcher. I also never considered the need for a connected app to let me know about the health of the filter, but that’s not a bad thing either.
Price: $ 148 from Larq
Hyken mesh task chair
I guess a lot of people hadn’t thought of a good home office chair before the pandemic. Nowadays, however, it is a lifeline. Honestly, this is probably the number one buy I made during the pandemic in terms of productivity and posture.
Made by Staples, it looks great and is solidly constructed (requiring assembly, of course). It offers a ton of support and comfort (including a headrest) at a great price. It’s easy to pay three or four times that for a decent chair, and listen, we don’t make any money here.
Price: $ 200 from Amazon
The problem with built-in webcams is that they are mostly terrible. It’s just not something most manufacturers think about, even though smartphone cameras keep getting better and better. That started to change a bit during the pandemic, but unless you have a newer system you’re probably out of luck.
These days, anyone with an office job has spent more hours than they’d like to admit in front of the camera, so you might as well dress up. For the majority of people, there is no reason to use, for example, a digital SLR for virtual meetings. The latest from Elgato is a nice plug and play solution that is highly customizable using the camera hub app.
Honestly, the system can have more firepower than most people need, shooting 1080p video at 60 FPS, but if you’re going to be filming a lot you might as well look good.
Price: $ 200 from Amazon
Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Dynamic Cardioid
A lot of people ask me which microphone I use for my podcast. Since my virtual move, I have recorded everything on the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Cardioid Dynamic. It also serves as a meeting microphone. This is a great unidirectional pickup that looks like a classic neck pickup. The rear has both standard XLR and USB-C output, with the latter easily connecting to the desktop.
It’s about as plug-and-play as desktop microphones, with few settings to fiddle with. It is these settings that tend to get most people in trouble. Remember to turn on the power (a mistake I made more than once).
Price: $ 99 from Amazon