For plenty of people, 2021 became the year the home office turned from a temporary stopgap to a more permanent proposition, and that means it's going to need to be kitted out with appropriate gear for the long haul. There was no shortage of work-from-home gadgetry that dropped this year. Here are the highlights.
Twelve South SurfaceSnap
The SurfaceSnap is a unique and elegant cable management solution. It's a leather band with button snaps that can be attached to the side or underside of a desk via an adhesive (and it leaves no trace when removed). You can purchase the SurfaceSnap in two different colors, black or grey. ($30 gets you a three-pack.)
Jabra Evolve2 30
The Evolve2 30 is a new $100 headset that's designed for the new breed of mobile workers. The wired headset easily plugs into your laptop or desktop and, thanks to its mic-and-boom, will make you sound significantly better on video calls. There are some on-ear controls for playback, too.
Satechi USB-C On-the-Go Multiport Adapter
Satechi is well know for its line of Apple-friendly accessories and its latest addition is a high-end USB-C adapter for a MacBook Pro/Air or iPad Pro/Air. It adds nine ports including three USB-C ports (one for your host connection, which supports USB-C PD charging up to 100W), HDMI and VGA display ports, two USB-A charing ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and slots for your micro/SD card. It costs $100 but Satechi is running promo now through March 15 — get 20-percent off when using code MULTIPORT20 at checkout (works at both Amazon and Satechi's website).
Samsung 2021 External Monitors
Samsung announced its new line of S6, S7 and S8 high-resolution monitors, with each model supporting HDR 10 technology, vivid colors and a wide 178-degree viewing angle. The S8 is the company's flagship line of USB-C monitors with its most beautiful display (99% sRGB color gamut), fastest transfer speeds (up to 10Gbps) and up to 90W charging. The S6 and S7 are Samsung's slightly more entry-level (read: affordable) lines. No pricing or availability information has yet to be announced.
Colorful M1 iMacs
Apple announced new iMacs that are decked out with its M1 processing chip, 24-inch display, a thinner design, a smaller base, a 1080p webcam, improved microphones and better speakers (that support Dolby Atmos). The new iMac will be available in seven new colors, too, including red, white, blue, green, purple, orange and yellow.
Microsoft Modern Webcam
Microsoft's newest webcam is a pretty basic option. It supports an HD video (not 4K) and connects to your computer via USB-A (not USB-C). It comes with a privacy shutter and has a built-in LED light that will indicate when it's on. If you're looking for a fairly affordable option that will upgrade your laptop or desktop setup, this looks to be a solid option. It will be available this June.
Anker PowerConf C300 Webcam
Anker is getting into the webcam market. The PowerConf C300 is a 1080p webcam that connects to your computer via USB-A. The neat thing about it is that Anker has integrated an AI chip that enables what the company is calling "smart framing," which allows the webcam to keep you in focus as you move around the screen. The PowerConf C300 is available right now.
Simplehuman is best known for its excellent and well designed (and yes, expensive) trash cans, and the company has taken that same ethos and integrated into its first-ever UV smartphone sanitizer. The Cleanstation works kind of like a toaster; you place your smartphone into the top, it automatically lowers, sanitizers and (30 seconds later) rises up a clean smartphone. Its UV light chamber sanitizes all around the smartphone, so you don't have to sanitize each side separately. And it's available in three aluminum finishes: brushed, slate or white.
Nomad Base Station Mini
Nomad announced a smaller and more affordable of its Base Station wireless charging pad. The Base Station Mini looks almost identical to the company's existing wireless chargers — a combination of metal and leather — but it's only large enough to charge one wireless device at a time. It's powered by USB-C and as an integrated LED that lights up to let you know when it's charging. It costs $60, but you'll need a separate 20-watt USB-C wall adapter to get the most out of it because Nomad doesn't include one. (Nomad can bundle its own USB-C adapter for an extra $14.)
SteelSeries Rival 5
The Rival 5 is SteelSeries's newest gaming mouse. It's affordable and versatile, and should be a good fit for most gamers, whether they're playing Valheim, Fortnite or Minecraft. It has a number of primary and thumb buttons, toggle bars, an RGB-backlit scroll wheel and a DPI switcher. It also has a TrueMove Air optical sensor for accuracy. Its lightweight and ergonomic design should make it comfortable, too. And at just $60, it's a good chunk cheaper than a lot of other gaming and standard mice (like Apple's $79 Magic Mouse).
The Rival 5 is available now.
Epos B20 Streaming Microphone
The Epos B20 is the company's newest USB microphone that's designed for gamers, streamers and podcasters — or basically anybody who wants a better mic for their work-from-home computer setup. It supports 24bit audio (so you can record in high-resolution) and, conveniently, it comes with a desk stand. It's compatible with Mac and PC.
We've covered Linedock pretty extensively in the past. The company makes 3-in-1 gadgets (that share the same name) that each work a docking station, a portable power bank and an external hard drive. More importantly, they're designed to perfectly match and fit under your MacBook Pro. The company's newest gadget, the Linedock 16", is designed specifically to match the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which Apple first introduced in late 2019. (Note: the $479 model doesn't come with any extra storage.)
Dell UltraSharp Webcam
Dell announced a high-end webcam that can work with either Windows 10 PCs or Macs. The UltraSharp Webcam is a true 4K webcam (a rarity) that connects to your computer via USB-C. You can adjust the resolution and the frame rates of the captured video — it can capture 4K at 30fps or 24 fps, and 1080p video at up to 60fps — and it also has some neat AI tricks to keep you in frame and in focus. The only real downside is that, considering its steep price, it lacks a mic.
Satechi Stand & Hub for Mac Mini with SSD Enclosure
This is Satechi's new stand-and-hub combo that's optimized for the M1 Mac mini. It has a hidden enclosure for M.2 SATA SSD storage (which all recent Macs have), meaning you can more affordably add storage (rather than buying an external SSD). The stand-and-hub combo sits flush underneath your M1 Mac mini, connects via a single USB-C connection, and adds a bunch of much-need ports, including a USB-C data port (5Gbps), three USB-A ports (5Gbps), both micro SD and SD card readers, and a headphone jack. It's available right now.
Plugable USBC-HUB7BC hub
This is a first-of-its-kind of docking station. It has seven USB-A ports, all of which can charge and transfer data (up to 5Gbps) at the same time. It comes with USB-A (3.0) and USB-C adapter cable, too, so it can work with a newer USB-C laptop or older laptop with a USB-A connection. And its stackable design means you can add two (or three) in case you (or a classroom) need to charge a bunch of devices simultaneously.
The StudioCaddy is neat little charging dock for your various Apple devices. It plugs into the wall for power, and has an integrated charging stand for your iPhone and a wireless charging pad for your AirPods Pro (or AirPods, should they support wireless charging). There are USB-C and USB-A ports on the side of the device to simultaneously charge your MacBook and iPad. And, thanks to its modular design, you can add vertical stands to hold said MacBook and iPad without taking up much desk space.
Anker PowerExpand 9-in-1 USB-C PD Dock
Anker's newest dock supports 60-watts of passthrough charging via USB-C. It can also add a bunch of new ports to your workstation, including USB-A (3x), USB-C (1x), a 3.5mm headphone jack and a Gigabit Ethernet connection. It also has an HDMI port that supports 4K and a DisplayPort port, so it can be used to connect up to two external monitors (although, it can only be used with one external monitor when connected to a M1 Mac). It's available for purchase now.
Samsung Odyssey Neo G9
Samsung announced a beast of gaming monitor this week. The Odyssey Neo G9 is a 49-inch curved monitor that packs a Mini LED backlit panel — the same technology used into Samsung's high-end line of Neo QLED TVs — to help it get really bright (up to 2,000 nits) and still achieve deep blacks with excellent contrast. It also supports 240Hz refresh rates and 1ms response time. The fact that it packs two HDMI 2.1 ports means that you can hook up the Odyssey Neo G9 to either your PC or a next-gen gaming console.
Logitech Circle View
Logitech announced a new smart home camera, the Circle View, that's designed to work within Apple's HomeKit ecosystem (in fact, it doesn't work with any other smart home ecosystem). It's the next generation version of the Circle 2 and has mostly the same capabilities, such as 1080p video capture, 180-degree FOV, two-way talk, and night vision. The difference is that the Circle View has a completely different design — it's not modular — and there's a privacy button on the back that lets you shut off the mic and camera in one fell swoop.
HP 2021 X-Series of Gaming Monitors
HP revealed its 2021 lineup of X-Series gaming monitors this week — and there are seven of them. They range in includes 27-inch and 34-inch gaming monitors that have flat and curved screens, screen resolutions that are either 1080p or 1440p, and come in prices ranging from $260 to $460. Each monitor has the same number of ports, support for the VESA mounts (which can be lowered or raised) and a panel with the same peak brightness.
Satechi USB-C Clamp Hub
Satechi's newest USB-C accessory adds ports to your M1 Mac in a pretty clever way: a clamp. It attaches to the base of the display, right near its rear-port array, and adds six ports — USB-A (3x), USB-C (1x) and SD and Micro SD card readers — while also elevating off of your desk. The other neat thing is that Satechi is making the Clamp Hub in silver and blue so that it will match the colorful M1 Mac. (If you have an M1 Mac with one of the other five colors, you're out of luck for now.)
Twelve South StayGo mini
The StayGo mini is a USB-C hub for Apple's latest iPad Air and iPad Pro, as well as any one of its latest MacBook. It adds USB-A, HDMI (supports one 4K external display) and USB-C ports, the latter for passthrough power, as well as a dedicated headphone jack. It's essentially a smaller and more affordable version of the company's StayGo.
The Logi Dock is Logitech's newest all-in-one hub for your home workstation. It's decked out with multiple ports — USB-C (3x), USB-A (2x), DisplayPort and HDMI — and it supports up to 100-watts of passthrough power, which allows it to power up to two external monitors and charge your laptop. However, what makes the Logi Dock really unique is its built-in speaker (along with excellent mics) that are designed to elevate your video conferencing experience. It's compatible with both Macs and Windows PCs, as well as popular video conferencing services like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. It's also available in two colors: white or graphite (shown).
Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Hub
Plugable announced a neat new hub for USB-C laptops. It adds a number of useful ports and is compatible with many of today's most popular USB-C standards — most significantly being Thunderbolt 4. The big thing with Thunderbolt 4 is that allows for faster data transfer (up to 40Gpbs), 60-watts of power deliver and support for up to two 4K displays (both over USB-C).
The nicely named "TBT4-HUB3C" hub is available now and is compatible with both Mac and Windows computers.
Plugable's newest docking station, the UD-3900C, is both powerful and movable. It's designed for hybrid workers who are used to "hot-desking," or sitting in a different area of the office each day. The UD-3900C can connect to your laptop via a USB-C or USB-A connection, and it adds a number of ports for your peripherals: HDMI (2x), USB-A 3.0 (2x), USB-A 2.0 (4x), two 3.5mm audio jacks (for a microphone and headphones) and a Gigabit Ethernet port for a wired connection.
The Plugable UD-3900C is available now.
YubiKey Bio Series
Yubico is one of the best-known makers of physical security keys that plug into your device via USB — you can think of them as a type of two-step verification, but instead of a getting a text message or email with a code you have to plug in the physical security key into your device. The company's newest series of physical security keys, the YibuKey Bio, take that a step further by integrated another layer of security: an integrated fingerprint reader.
Price: $80 (USB-A model); $85 (USB-C model)
Satechi Pro Hub Mini
The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros answered a lot fo peoples' prayers by bringing back a wide variety of ports (something that had been missing for years). And yet, for some people the new port selection might still not be enough. Enter Satechi's newest adapter. It connects to the MacBook Pro's USB-C port and adds even more ports, including an Ethernet and USB-A (2x) ports that are still not on the new Pros, while not blocking off the new MagSafe charger.