It’s often derided as one of the great untruths of modern life. Say that you’re, "working from home” and many people will assume you’re just sitting around in your pyjamas watching daytime TV.
Yet more and more people are either starting their own businesses, or taking advantage of new technology and flexible employers, to cut out the daily commute and work in their own homes.
If you’re planning on joining them and turning that spare bedroom into an office then of course you need some kit. Here are some suggestions of the best technology to help you put together a productive workspace in your home.
Desktop: Lenovo C260 - Go there now
Desk: Ergotron WorkFit-S - Go there now
Laptop: HP Spectre x360 - Go there now
Chair: eLink Pro - Go there now
Tablet: iPad Mini 16GB - Go there now
Printer: Samsung CLX-4195FN - Go there now
Router: Linksys WRT1900AC - Go there now
Desktop – Lenovo C260
In a home office space can be at a premium so you may not want to have a conventional tower PC taking up floor or desk room. The Lenovo C260 is a neat all-in-one design with everything built around its 19.5-inch screen.
Just because it’s compact doesn’t mean it’s short on features though. The C260 comes with a 2.41GHz Intel CPU, 4 GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive, a DVD rewriter and a 6-in-1 card reader. In addition there’s a 1.0MP webcam and built-in microphone making it ideal fro Skype calls.
Wi-Fi is built-in too and there’s an HDMI interface if you want to link to a bigger screen for presentations or to enjoy movies outside of working hours. It’s supplied with a screen and keyboard and with Windows 8.1 pre-installed to get you up and running fast. The C260 is available in black or white to fit in with your décor.
Desk - Ergotron WorkFit-S
Now you’ve got a desktop you need a desk to stand it on, right? You could go down to your local DIY store and get some self-assembly chipboard job that will fall apart in six months, or you could get an Ergotron.
The WorkFit-S is a clever design that lets you work sitting down, or raise it to work standing up. You can switch whenever you choose but will always have your screen and keyboard at the perfect height. Working standing up improves your blood flow, burns calories and improves your posture, so you can get fit while you work.
The only trouble is, when you go back into the office looking lithe and toned they’ll think you’ve been spending your home working time down at the gym.
Laptop - HP Spectre x360
If you don’t want to be tied to working in one room, or you need to go out and about from time to time to visit clients, you’re going to need a laptop. You might think that HPs are bland corporate fare, but the Spectre x360 is a pretty tasty item of kit.
It has a machined aluminium chassis that at 16mm thick and weighing just over 3lbs makes it a strong competitor for the MacBook Air. There are a range of models with Core i5 and i7 processors and all with a full HD touchscreen.
The Spectre’s party piece though is a flip over screen which allows you to use it as a conventional laptop, as a tablet, or in “tent mode” for making presentations or watching videos. HP has worked closely with Microsoft to provide a fast, clean Windows user experience and ensure long battery life into the bargain.
HP Spectre x360
Chair - eLink Pro
Your office chair is where you’re going to be spending a big part of your day, so it’s probably the most important piece of kit you’ll be buying. If you’re not comfortable you won’t be productive, so it’s best to avoid the cheap seats.
The eLink Pro not only looks funky it’s designed to help you avoid back problems and RSI. It comes with a tray that allows you to use a laptop, or the keyboard of your desktop PC, in a natural, ergonomic position, eliminating awkward stretching and relieving stress on your back and arms. There’s a separate circular tray for your mouse too.
The only problem is that it’s so comfortable you may not want to leave work at the end of the day!
Tablet – iPad Mini 16GB
You might question the use of a tablet as a business tool, but if you need to handle communications and appointments on the go, or make presentations, they’re becoming an almost essential item of equipment.
The iPad Mini scores over cheaper Android alternatives thanks to its Keynote presentation tool and its ability to use Apple TV or Airport Express to easily share its output. Apple’s Siri voice control system makes it easy to run searches or arrange meetings. You also have the option of secure private networking, encrypted email and location-based reminders.
The Wi-Fi version will suit most people’s needs but there’s a 3G version too is you really need go anywhere connectivity. There’s a vast ecosystem offering iPad accessories too so whether you need a smart cover or a Bluetooth keyboard they’re easy to find.
iPad Mini 16GB
Printer – Samsung CLX-4195FN
Despite all of the hype surrounding paperless offices, we all need to be able to produce paper documents at some time or other. Your home inkjet printer probably isn’t going to cut it for business use though and will end up costing you a fortune in cartridges if you’re regularly printing big reports.
For serious home office use what you need is a colour laser printer. The Samsung has a compact footprint that won’t take over your room, yet it offers 18 page per minute printing and has a dual core CPU which ensures your prints are turned out faster.
Built-in Wi-Fi means you can use it from any device anywhere in the house. It uses Samsung’s award winning Eco Driver software to keep down printing costs by minimising toner and energy use. There’s a built-in scanner and a sheet feeder which means it’s able to take care of your copying needs too. There’s even a fax feature should you be doing business with the 1980s.
Router – Linksys WRT1900AC
Fast, affordable broadband has made it possible for more and more people to work from home and still access their office networks. However, the basic router supplied by your ISP may not be up to the demands of business use, especially if you need to use features like VPN for secure connections.
The Linksys WRT1900AC has four antennas to ensure a strong, reliable wireless signal on both 2.4GHz and 5 GHz wireless bands. Clever “beamforming” technology focuses the signal towards connected devices rather than distributing it randomly.
The router also has gigabit Ethernet ports for fast performance over a wired network if you prefer. There are USB 3.0 and eSATA ports onboard as well to allow you to connect a disk drive for network storage