The AOC E1649FWU USB monitor (screen shot)
McLean, VA (written by Alice Truong/Special for USA Today) -- With abundant sunshine and cheerier spirits, you might be wondering why you're still inside a drab office.
Let me suggest three letters, my friend: WFH, short for work from home, a ubiquitous acronym in the start-up world.
Go explore and work from your favorite coffee shop, park or beach. These gadgets will keep you productive, even if you're in summer Friday mode.
Verizon MiFi keeps you connected
Even if you're not putting in face time, you need to be visible online. That means being available on instant messenger, responding to emails and you know, actually getting things done. That's where Verizon's Jetpack MiFi 4620L Hotspot comes into play.
The Jetpack can connect up to 10 devices at once, enough to power a small team workstation, and at 4G (3G if that coverage isn't available in your area), it's blazing as well. During periodic speed tests, I found the network to reach 10 Mbps downstream and about 4 Mbps upstream, comparable to many home Internet connections. In fact, when I was settling into a new apartment, it functioned as my main connection the few days before my Internet service was activated. The network, however, was noticeably more choked in urban downtown San Francisco , with download speeds at times slowing to 1 to 2 Mbps.
The 4G hotspot can also be a bit pricey, with the unit costing $50 and monthly plans an additional $50 for 5 GB or $80 for 10 GB. (Did someone say 'company expense'?)
Charge five devices with one outlet
Between your laptop, smartphone, tablet, portable hotspot, camera and myriad of other devices you simply must have at all times lest the world stop functioning, it's easy to run out of outlets.
Belkin to the rescue with its extremely simple but useful mini surge protector ($24.99). Not only does it have three outlets, but it also includes two USB ports to charge your personal devices - letting you power five gadgets for the price of one outlet, thereby helping you avoid being that jerk hogging every available socket. The cleverly designed plug also rotates 360 degrees to accommodate awkwardly positioned outlets.
Backpack lets you juice gadgets on the go
But what if you're nowhere near an outlet and waiting for a critically important call on a near-dead phone from your boss, client or mom?
With myCharge Portable Power Bank, you're always carrying a charge. The battery pack is made by the same folks who created Powerbag, a line of backpacks with built-in batteries and pre-wired charging cables. While the idea behind Powerbag is smart, its style might not have meshed with yours. (Despite the company's overuse of the word stylish, I found the accessories anything but.)
Instead, myCharge brings an element of modularity by allowing people to convert their favorite knapsacks, totes and suitcases into Powerbag-like packs, capable of delivering up to 6000 mAh of energy. The second generation of myCharge battery products will be available August 1, beginning at $39.99.
A portable monitor you can bring anywhere
Not content to stare at your puny laptop screen all day? You can still create a mini workstation while working remotely. It might be a tad excessive, but AOC has a 16-inch portable monitor that connects to your computer via USB - no hassle dealing with power cords or DVI/VGA cables here.
The E1649FWU monitor ($139) bears a striking resemblance to a tablet with a kickstand, supporting both landscape and portrait modes. The LED screen is also low power, compliant with Energy Star and EPEAT specifications. If you're concerned about the strange looks you'll get hooking up a monitor to your laptop at a coffee shop, at least you didn't bring a PC tower complete with CRT monitor to Starbucks -really.
Block out distractions with plush headphones
For many, a pair of headphones can make the difference between extreme productivity and eavesdropping on (later leading to engaging in) other people's conversations.
But not all headphones are made equal. Some are great for exercise or travel. Incase has a surprisingly good pair for working. Yes, this is a company best known for its laptop sleeves and iPhone cases, but hear me out. The audio for the Sonic headphones is decent for the $149.95 price point, but where they really excel is in their construction.
These are the comfiest cans I've ever worn. Whereas other headphones cause discomfort squeezing my ears after hours of continuous listening, I can wear the Sonic cups for hours on end because my ears feel like they're resting on a bed of pillows, fresh laundry and clouds. They also fit snuggly with effective passive noise cancellation, letting me focus on work instead of ambient noise.