As we migrate to a post-COVID world, those of us fortunate enough to work from home have had a chance to determine what technology has made an improvement in our lives. I’ve found the following products to be indispensable.
For the home office, the Jabra Evolve 2 85 wireless headset ($500) works like a charm for everything from Zoom meetings to client calls. Music quality is also first rate. The headset supports two devices simultaneously, so if you’re watching a video on your tablet and a call comes in, you can switch. You can pair up to eight different devices! The batteries are formidable. When fully charged, you’ll get 37 hours of time. Just plug in a USB “C” charging cable and you’re good to go.
It offers supreme mobility around the house. I can place my phone on the kitchen table and walk anywhere in my home without a shift in reception. A little foldout boom mic offers enhanced voice quality, or you can use its other built-in mics in the headset without “deploying” the boom.
Notably, it has excellent passive noise-canceling capabilities. It will diminish the honk of a car, or if you happen to be washing dishes while talking to a friend, no one will be the wiser. (Of course, you’d never do anything like that). I tested it on calls with the radio blaring, the faucet running, even dropping a baking pan, and the “noise canceling” was first rate.
You’ll also appreciate this product’s comfort. You can wear it all day. It has large cups, reminiscent of earmuffs you’d see on a rifle range, but it’s surprisingly light. It ain’t cheap, but as noted by my colleague Cindy Ramirez, a local voice-over artist, you’re paying for consistent audio quality, which is challenging to find in wireless headsets. This headset is light-years better (for me) than earbuds, which seem to tumble out of my ears at the worst possible moment.
When Zoom became ubiquitous, we all had to be cognizant of production values. Crappy “optics” do not score points in a meeting. The solution? The Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam ($100). Its high-end features — autofocus, light correction and full HD video — make a huge, positive impact. If you’re serious about looking professional and acing that job interview, this is the ticket. I tested it in poorly backlit settings, and the image was crystal clear. It couldn’t be easier to set up — just plug and play. You can clamp it on your desktop monitor or use a tiny tripod (included in the package). Audio (there are two mics) is decent for everyday use, but for optimal quality, you’ll want a headset or an external mic. Zoom fatigue is usually the consequence of straining to hear someone’s garbled voice, so crisp audio is very important.
Logitech’s H390 USB wired headset is an inexpensive option ($24) to pair with the webcam. I was skeptical because of the price, but came away impressed with its audio. Ramirez, my voice-over artist friend, also was pleasantly surprised with the audio but noted for long periods of use, it’s going to feel like a $24 headset.
The humble mouse is an item we take for granted. A good one makes me more productive. I liked Logitech’s compact MX Anywhere 3 ($79.99) as well as its full-sized Ergo M575 ($49.99 ) and MX Vertical ($54.99). The MX Anywhere 3 is perfect if you’re on the go. It’s comfortable, sturdy and the “Magspeed” scroll wheel is infinitely adjustable to your needs. Unlike an inexpensive mouse, it operates flawlessly on any surface — even glass. A full charge will last 70 days and you can customize it for any app.
The Ergo M575 is designed with a sculpted ergonomic shape and differs from a conventional mouse because it remains stationary. You just move the trackball, which is quite precise. You can either use it with Bluetooth (with an AA battery) or with a USB cable. If you have a disability that inhibits use of a conventional mouse, this is a perfect solution. The MX Vertical is a full-on workhorse capable of connecting up to three devices. Designed with a 57-degree vertical angle, it reduces the strain on the wrist and comfortably positions the thumb. It’s incredibly precise and buttery smooth. If you have any wrist or arthritic issues, this mouse is also a good option. The MX Vertical and the MX Anywhere 3 utilize USB “C” charging. Both the Ergo M575 and the MX Vertical have earned the coveted “Amazon Choice” moniker. All three paired seamlessly with Bluetooth.
Rob Kay, a Honolulu-based writer, covers technology and sustainability for Tech View and is the creator of fijiguide.com. He can be reached at Robertfredkay@gmail.com.