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As back-to-school season kicks off in the next few weeks, there’s a chance that your school is offering a remote learning option, or delaying full time in-person classes for the foreseeable future.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to set up your room at home (or any other spare space in your place) as a work area. This is easier than ever thanks to advances in technology and the availability of tech accessories that were back ordered for several months last year.
Importantly, we’ve chosen to highlight tech accessories that work if you already have a computer. If you’re still shopping for a laptop, we have a dedicated guide to help you choose the best machine for the job.
Turning part of your room into a space for productivity can be tough, but these tech accessories can make it a lot easier.
1. Anker PowerConf 300 Webcam
An HD webcam is a remote learning essential, and Anker’s new PowerConf 300 is one of the best picks available right now.
It can record and stream video in 1080P, and can automatically adjust itself based on the lighting of your room, so you always look professional. The PowerConf 300 can even change how it frames an image, creating unique crops based on how many people are in the frame. This feature can be a big help if you’re giving a presentation, but don’t want to show people your entire room.
Your bedroom may be doubling as a dorm room, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to give up your privacy. The PowerConf 300 has a physical shutter button, which means you can totally block its view if you decide to leave it plugged into your computer all the time.
2. Fluidstance Slope
Need to take notes during a lecture, or refer to an outline quickly while giving a presentation? The best solution is Fluidstance’s Slope, a dry-erase board with a generous amount of spa.
The Slope is designed to fit on your desk or under a monitor stand (specifically the company’s excellent Raise+), so it’s there when you need it and out of sight when you don’t. Unlike paper notes, the Slope can be reused over and over instead of only once.
We like the Slope because of its sustainable, ergonomic design and overall utility. If you don’t use an external monitor, we recommend Fluidstance’s Lift, which is a two-in-one whiteboard and laptop stand.
3. Seagate One Touch SSD
Storing your reports, presentations, and homework in the cloud is very convenient, but we highly recommend keeping a full backup of your computer in case one of them gets lost.
Most computers come with backup software, but when it comes to hardware we like Seagate’s One Touch SSD. It’s the same size as a traditional external hard drive, but can read and write data several times faster, which means you won’t have to wait long to backup or restore previously lost files.
The drive comes in a variety of storage sizes, but the 1TB (Terrabyte) model hits the sweet spot. It’s capacity is high enough that you’ll be able to carry around a full backup of your computer plus additional files from additional backups.
4. Skylight Calendar
It can be annoying to keep track of your classes, club meetings, and scheduled Zoom calls with friends on your phone, but Skylight’s Calendar makes them available at a glance.
The calendar features a large, high resolution screen that shows your schedule by the day, week, or month. Skylight’s Calendar syncs with all of the major digital calendar services, including Apple’s Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Yahoo Calendar, or Google Calendar.
When you add an event, it’ll automatically sync to Skylight’s Calendar. You can also add events from the calendar, which will sync with the corresponding calendar app on your phone. If you keep this tech accessory on your desk, you’ll never be late for a meeting again.
5. Belkin Wireless Charging Speaker
Belkin’s Wireless Charging Speaker fulfills three important roles: Keeping your phone charged, making sure it’s pointed upward at a comfortable angle, and playing your music.
The stand can charge a smartphone at up to 10W (watts), the maximum wireless charging speed for most smartphones. It also cradles the phone, so there’s no chance of it falling, and tilts it, which makes it more comfortable to glance at if you receive a notification.
This wireless charging stand’s standout feature is the Bluetooth speaker built into it, which allows you to stream music while you charge. You can also pair the speaker to your computer, and use it to listen to lectures if your laptop’s speakers are too weak.
6. LG 24UD58-B 24-Inch 4K UHD IPS Monitor
Using a large, external monitor can help boost your productivity by giving you a bigger space to work on your projects, or help you see professors more easily during video lectures.
Our go-to external monitor recommendation is this 24-inch model from LG. It’s the perfect size for viewing two documents side by side, editing photos and videos, or playing games when class is over. It’s a 4K display, which means text, images, and video will look crystal clear.
LG’s display has an HDMI and DisplayPort input, so you should be able to hook any computer up to it directly without an adapter. If you’re using a Mac, or computer without an HDMI port, we recommend using this multi-port hub. If you’ve been making due with the small display on your laptop, LG’s 24UD58-B will be a substantial upgrade.
7. Philips Hue White Ambiance Bulb
If you’re prone to late-night study sessions before tests or big projects, the lighting in your room is critical to consider. Harsh white light can end up hurting your eyes after a while, and dimming the lights down can make it difficult to read books.
The best compromise is Philips’ Hue White Ambiance Bulb, which can be set to slowly change from producing a bright white light during the day to an amber one at night. You can also change this light bulb’s color temperature at any time using the Philips Hue app (iOS and Android),
8. LensDirect Crispin Glasses
Working late into the night is common when a critical paper is due, but subjecting your eyes to harsh light for 12 hours straight. If that’s your work style, we recommend getting a pair of blue light reduction glasses, which are tinted to reduce the amount of blue light that reaches your eyes.
Some studies have linked blue light to eye strain and difficulty sleeping, so limiting your exposure at night may help if you have those issues. We recommend picking up a pair of blue light reduction glasses from LensDirect, which offers these lenses in a wide variety of frames.
8. Razer Seiren Mini
A webcam will help your students and professors see you, but Razer’s Seiren Mini can make you easier to hear.
The small USB microphone can be plugged directly into your laptop, and record or broadcast very clean studio-like sound. It comes with its own stand, so you can tilt it up toward your mouth when you’re speaking for the best possible audio quality.
It’s true that the room you’re in will impact the way your recordings sound, but the Seiren for compensate for a less-than-ideal setting by automatically reducing the amount of noise it picks up because of its shock mount and supercardiod pickup pattern.
9. Bang & Olufsen HX Headphones
One of the biggest distractions to learning is constantly hearing other people talking or working around the house, which is why a premium pair of active noise cancelling headphones is so important to have.
Bang & Olufsen’s HX are the clear choice because of their excellent audio quality, precise noise cancellation, and most importantly comfort. We’ve been able to wear these headphones for hours at a time without feeling any fatigue due to the headphones’ plush (but not too thick) padding.
Over-ear headphones tend to be too heavy to wear for very long, and their earcups can squish the sides of your head after a while, but neither problem is present with the HXs. If you’d like to tune out everyone and everything around you so you can focus on your studies, these are the headphones to get.
10. Satechi USB-C Multiport Adapter
Modern laptops are thin and light, which is great when you need to carry them in a backpack, but their small size meant most companies stopped designing them with a lot of ports.
If you want to connect your notebook to all of your accessories at the same time, we recommend picking up Satechi’s USB-C Multiport adapter. This hub has two USB-A ports, an SD card slot, a MicroSD Card slot, one USB-C port, an Ethernet jack, and a VGA output.
Satechi bundles this hub with two USB-C to USB-C cables: One fits conveniently inside a slot in its center, so you can never forget it at home, the other is longer, and can be used while you’re at your desk. It’s little touches like this that make Satechi’s USB-C Multiport Adapter such a useful tech tool.