About Us







Get this gear to chat with Mom, hit fitness goals and work from home like a boss – TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press

Posted: December 3, 2020 at 10:56 am


Consumer technology during a pandemic can feel like a lifeline.

Tech gadgets keep you close to your work colleagues and your loved ones when you cant be with them in person, soothe your COVID-triggered anxiety with all of your favorite audio and video content, help you achieve your fitness milestones when a health-club visit is out of the question, and make your home workspace more comfortable, effective and enjoyable.

Ive tried out all of the tech products that follow, and recommend them. They make great gifts.

Beats Flex. You will never run your wireless earbuds through the wash again. These models are one long cord that wraps around the back of your neck and stays there as you go about your day, but are wireless in that nothing connects physically to your phone.

Controls are within easy reach, and ear units at either end can be customized with the included rubber tips in various sizes (or with foam tips from third parties).

Though this is an Apple product (Beats is a Fruit Company subsidiary), the $49.99 Beats Flex work nicely with Windows and Android as well as Mac and iOS. They charge via the widely supported USB-C.

Facebook Portal. An alternative to traditional webcams for video calls, these camera-equipped devices provide pristine wide-angle video of you and the camera even follows you if you move around along with high-quality audio during a meeting or family visit.

Portal is obviously aimed at Facebook users and those who use Facebooks WhatsApp service. But the hardware is rapidly morphing into an all-purpose videoconferencing appliance with support for Zoom, GoToMeeting and other video-chat services. Amazons Alexa smart assistant is built in, too.

Portal versions are available in various shapes and sizes (including one that goes on top of your TV) and run from $129 to $279. Read more about Portal.

HomePod mini. Apple has been a bit of a smart-speaker also-ran with its original, pricey HomePod, but it may be closing the gap with its compact, affordable HomePod mini.

The spherical device pumps out decent audio for its size, and can be combined into stereo pairs. Stash minis around your home and use an intercom feature for calling the family to dinner. Control smart-home devices, such as lightbulbs, by talking to the Siri smart assistant.

The $99 HomePod mini isnt for you if you arent wedded to the Apple ecosystem, but its perfect for those who use Macs, iOS devices and the Apple TV.

Amazon Echo Show 5. Amazon recently updated its compact, low-cost Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers, but you may also want to look at its older Echo Show 5 smart display.

The devices speaker sounds pretty good, and its lovely screen lets you keep up with news and trends while giving you information about your smart-home gadgets and displaying calls from friends and family. You can talk to Alexa.

As the smallest of the Echo Show devices at just five inches, it fits in anywhere such as your kitchen counter, night table or home-office workstation. And its only $44.

Read more about Echo Show.

Google Nest Hub Max. This is Googles premium smart display, and the $179 deviceis a winner especially if you use Google services a lot.

Pull up video content, like cooking tutorials and Netflix shows, by asking the Google Assistant. Keep tabs on smart-home devices, such as Nest thermostats. If YouTube TV is your preferred way to watch your TV shows, you can do so here (thats how I kept up with the presidential election).

The camera-equipped Nest Hub Max needs work as a videoconferencing appliance Long-promised Zoom support is still MIA, but Googles own Duo and Meet services work pretty well.

Read more about Nest Hub Max.

Twelve South Curve. Months of laptop use during work-from-home sessions can cause neck strain. Fix this by putting the computer on a stand.

Twelve Souths $59.99 Curve stand is perfect for this. Its a stable, solid-metal accessory that suspends your notebook at an angle and places its display at eye level. Connect an external keyboard and mouse, and youre good to go.

Twelve South also offers the $79.99 Curve Riser, which it is marketing as a platform for standalone computer displays and all-in-one computers like Apples iMac. But I think it works just as well (perhaps better) as a laptop riser.

Work From Home Desks. Standing desks are a must for many who are setting up home offices during the pandemic and beyond. For such users, Work From Home Desks offers minimalist, modular workstations made of wood.

Shipped in pieces, these desks come together in a jiffy without tools. They are stable even when laden with equipment, such as multiple displays. Theyre versatile, too, with the option to set up as standing or sitting desks (or both, side by side) with all manner of shelving.

The WFHD catalog is rapidly expanding, so visit the company site for the latest options. Read more about these products.

Apple iPad Air. The iPad is the eternal cant-miss tech present. Even for those who spend hours on their laptop or desktop computers, an Apple tablet is a joy for casual computing around the house and on the go. I swear by the devices, especially during a pandemic.

Apples latest and greatest is the fourth-generation, 11-inch iPad Air, which is physically all but indistinguishable from the 11-inch iPad Pro (and works with all the same accessories) but subtracts a few features to be more affordable ($599 and up).

Who should buy the Air? If you are on a tight budget, the entry-level iPad is a better fit at $329 and up. If money is no object, you may want to hold out for the next-generation iPad Pro models (likely coming in 2021) with cutting-edge capabilities and prices to match. But the iPad Air is the best for most people right now with an advanced processor, an array of stylish colors, and cool features such as a fingertip sensor built into its power button.

Throw in the $299 Magic Keyboard and a $129 Pencil stylus, if your budget allows.

Apple Watch. For those who use an iPhone (such as one of the new iPhone 12 models), Apples smartwatch is the perfect add-on.

The device has long been a fantastic fitness tracker, and the new Series 6 model will even look for a low oxygen level in the users bloodstream (a potential COVID-19 red flag). In fact, the watch is in many ways an indispensable device during a pandemic (I go into detail on that here).

Theres an Apple Watch for every budget. The Series 6 starts at $399. The new Apple SE model starts at $279. The older Apple Watch Series 3 is still around for just $199.

Originally posted here:
Get this gear to chat with Mom, hit fitness goals and work from home like a boss - TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press

Related Post

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.