February 8, 2023

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8 Great Gifts for Anyone Working From Home • TechCrunch

Two years ago this time, I changed the focus of my annual gift guide from traveling to working from home. After all, very few of us were on the road a lot back then. I planned to switch back when the world opened up again; Today, however, it is clear that for many of us there is no turning back.

The pandemic has had a number of lasting effects on our lives, including how – and where – we work. But the transition from the office to home requires more than just deciding not to get on that train every morning.

Setting up a home office is a conscious act. The focus is on building a space where it’s possible to be just as productive without face-to-face meetings and awkward break-room conversations. You need to create a place that separates work life from personal life sufficiently for eight to ten hours a day.

Here’s a handy gift guide for that person in life who needs a little extra boost – or maybe needs a refresh on some of the gear they bought at the start of the pandemic.

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1. Mac Studio

Mac Studio desktop

Credit: Brian Heater

This thing is a beast. This is that money-is-no-object gift to really turn that spare bedroom into a home office. There are far cheaper options out there – including several from Apple – but the Mac Studio is a beautiful and incredibly powerful desktop.

And hey, while you’re picking up that little square computer, why not splurge on the $1,599 27-inch 5K Studio Display? It’s a darn good double combo – although fair warning is the Studio Display’s webcam is still missing for a system at this price point. That being said, once you pick up one of these, you’ll never want to go to the office (or maybe leave the house) ever again.

Price: Mac Studio $1,999, Studio Display $1,599

Available from: Apple

2. Opal C1

Opal C1 desktop video camera

Credit: Brian Heater

Speaking of webcams, I continue to get many compliments on the Opal C1’s image quality. The startup’s hardware had excellent image quality right from the start, almost rivaling that of a desktop DSLR, and subsequent software updates have only improved things. The company has worked out most of the beta bugs, with firmware that works with all major teleconferencing platforms, and tweaks to image quality that make this hard to beat.

The Insta360 link is also worth a look. The webcam is the same price at $300, but the clever gimbal base makes for more dynamic shot tracking. This is great for those who like to move around in remote meetings.

Price: $300

Available from: Opal

3. Shure MV7

Microphone Shure MV7

Photo credit: Shure

I love this microphone. I asked Shure to send me one to test out the gift guide, and in the meantime I wrote a little love letter to the thing. As I transitioned from in-person to remote podcasting during the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of time finding the perfect USB mic. With design and sound quality to rival its famous XLR counterparts, the directional MV7 will be hard to beat.

I recently taped an NPR interview on the thing and made it my daily conference call mic. It’s as close to plug-and-play as you can get at this level, and the sound rivals studio-quality recordings. Honestly I can’t say enough good things about it. Pair this with the opal cam and wow everyone on this zoom call.

Price: $225
Available at: Amazon

4.Google Nest WiFi Pro

Google Nest WiFi Pro image

Credit: Brian Heater

The Google Nest WiFi Pro is a somewhat odd duck. Like some of the products above, it’s super easy to use. After years of wildly complicated router installations, this is a breath of fresh air. Setup is practically as easy as powering up a smart speaker. Also as above it can be a lot more powerful than most need. The system supports extremely fast download speeds via WiFi 6E – and there’s a good chance your existing ISP will be the biggest bottleneck.

I happily swapped my ISP’s hardware for one and have no regrets. It’s reasonably priced at $200 (larger households may want to go the mesh route with the two- or three-device bundle) and designed to blend into its surroundings, much like the rest of the Nest line.

Price: $200
Available at: Google

5.SonyWH-1000XM5

Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones on woman

Photo credit: Sony

Unless you live alone in the middle of nowhere, good noise-cancelling headphones are a must – and over-ear models are no better than these. Sony continues to be my top pick in this category thanks to sound quality, comfort, battery life, and active noise cancellation. And bonus: when it’s time to get back on the road, these make a perfect carry-on companion.

Price: $350
Available at: Amazon

6. Satechi Accessories

Satechi Accessories Headphone Stand with iPhone Charger

Photo credit: Satechi

I love me a good Satechi accessory. The company makes clever, well-designed products that blend in well with their surroundings.

The 2-in-1 wireless charger headphone stand is an especially good desktop companion. The bar at the top gives you space for the over-ear headphones, with a USB-C port on the back to keep them charged. Below is a MagSafe-compatible wireless charging pad for your iPhone or AirPods.

The 3-in-1 magnetic charging stand is a bit more expensive. It’s a great way to charge iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch all in one go. The MagSafe pad is also designed to hold the phone upright so you can keep using it while charging the battery.

Price: 2-in-1 Headphone Stand with Wireless, $80 | 3-in-1 Magnetic Wireless Charging Stand, $120
Available from: Satechi

7. Keychron Q5 QMK Custom Mechanical Keyboard

Keychron Q5 QMK Custom Mechanical Keyboard

Photo credit: Keychron

I asked my friend (and fellow TechCruncher) Frederic to recommend a nice, accessible mechanical keyboard for my work from home work. He recommended the Keychron Q5 QMK Custom Mechanical Keyboard. The accessories are customizable, but it’s nothing fancy, just a great feel, great-sounding, great-value mechanical keyboard that will help your loved one reconnect with the joy of typing.

Price: $200
Available from: Keychron

8. Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Powerful

Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Powerful appearance in the children's room

Credit: Coway

What about the person who otherwise seems to have their office in order? No one has ever regretted bringing a quality air purifier into their home. There are a lot of overpriced products and quite a bit of snake oil in this category, but the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty is a budget powerhouse. Designed to clean a room up to 874 square feet in about half an hour, this HEPA filter promises to reduce 99.999% of 0.01 micron particles.

In addition to removing pollen and odors, there is a built-in pollution sensor that shows the air quality of a room in real time. It’s hard to think of a better gift than breathing air.

Price: $220
Available at: Amazon