Today, Apple released a slew of new products, including a new iPad Pro and, with it, a brand new keyboard for its iPads, the Magic Keyboard. Its design is notable for several reasons: Apple's built a trackpad into this iPad keyboard, its stand can hinge so you can adjust the angle at which you're working and the the new Magic Keyboard itself now sports a USB-C port for charging on-the-go.
If you got the order to start working from home this week, you’re very likely not alone. Some people have work-issued laptops they can bring back to their spaces. Others might only have an iPad — now ripe for an upgrade if you feel the need — or a shared computer that isn’t going to serve everyone’s telecommuting needs at once. It might become a lot to juggle. I’ve been working from home regularly for more than a decade and have picked up some lessons on what works and what doesn’t — especially in the way I invest in my home tech. If you find yourself in need of some last-minute tech to get things done — and to get by — here are a few options that won’t break the bank.
Let’s start with the obvious: A computer. There are plenty of great laptops out there right now, but if you don’t want to shell out $1000 or more for a high-end machine, I recommend checking out Chromebooks and lower-cost Windows machines to get you through the next few weeks.
You might be surprised how far a ChromeOS-based laptop will get you. HP’s Chromebook x360 gets you all the browsing, email and other tools you need with higher quality hardware than a comparably-priced Windows laptop. It isn’t the most affordable Chromebook available (you can find 11-inch models for under $200, for example) but it’s one of the most affordable I’d recommend for actually doing work.
If you absolutely need Windows for your job, Acer’s long-running Aspire 5 line has some of the best performance you can get for the money. I recommend the Ryzen 5 version with 8GB of RAM, which should serve most people well.
Alternatively, if you have an iPad at home, you can turn that into a halfway decent laptop with a few extra pieces of hardware.
A keyboard case can turn your iPad into something actually useable for work, though I generally don’t recommend Apple’s own keyboard cover. Instead, grab Logitech’s offering, which has a much better keyboard with less mushy keys (not to mention a protective case that goes all the way around your iPad). Make sure you get the version that matches your iPad, as Logitech makes them for various models — old and new.
You might not realize this, but the latest version of iPadOS allows you to use a mouse with your iPad — yes, a mouse. Technically, it’s an accessibility setting (find it under Settings > Accessibility > Touch > AssistiveTouch), and it doesn’t work quite like a real cursor, but it’s still a big improvement from reaching your hand up all the time. You’ll want a Bluetooth mouse that pairs easily with your iPad, and Logitech’s portable MX Anywhere mouse fits the bill beautifully.
Finally, if all else fails, you can grab that old computer sitting in the basement and hook it up to your TV for an impromptu work-from-the-couch setup. You just need the right cables and adapters.
If that old computer is a laptop made after 2008 or so, it’ll either have an HDMI port — in which case you can just use any old HDMI cable — or it’ll use something like Mini DisplayPort, necessitating its own cable like this AmazonBasics model. Check that old laptop and see what it supports. If it’s even older, it may require Mini-DVI or even VGA, which requires a converter box to connect to HDMI-based TVs.
If you want to really make things ergonomic, grab yourself a real desktop monitor (or two). It isn’t a top-tier display, and the price is likewise appropriate. BenQ has crammed some solid specs into this display: It’s brighter than much of the competition (so you can still see it in a well-lit room) and even has decent specs for a little gaming in between work sessions. Its stand isn’t height-adjustable but you can stack a few books under it to get it up to eye level, if need be.
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