A Guide to Gadgets and Gear for a Productive Home Office

Layoffs due to the recession have created a wave of consultants, freelancers, part-timers and other home-office workers who must use their living space as their work space. For this ultimate test of work-life balance, here are a few essentials to make the job easier.

Coffee Break

Clock in and grab a cup of java made fresh by the cup with the Keurig Office Pro Brewing System. Select from 27 varieties of pre-packaged single-serving K-Cups of assorted coffees, teas, and hot cocoa to satisfy family and guests. You don’t have to brew a whole pot when you’re working solo, and though the K-Cups may seem a bit expensive compared to coffee by the pound, but they are actually economical because you don’t waste coffee by making more than you want since most other brewers require you to make at least two cups to get the right taste. Plus you can find the K-Cups reasonably priced at discounters like Costco and Bed Bath and Beyond. The machine is easy to operate and doesn’t require much cleaning, so you can focus on work. $129.00. Bed Bath & Beyond.

Ready Headset Go

With the Sennheiser OfficeRunner Wireless Headset, you can wander through the house, put in a load of laundry even get the paper from the driveway, all while taking a business call. This uber headset features impressive high-definition sound quality and allows users to talk on the phone as much as 400 feet away from the phone’s base station, and the noise-canceling microphone cuts most background clatter, perfect for home-office multi-tasking. The sleek and stylish headset weighs in at a mere .78 ounces, so you barely know it’s there, and the black cube charging station base looks attractive as it is non-cumbersome on a smaller desk.

The set can be coupled with an optional handset lifter that attaches to the desk phone and allows the user to remotely lift the phone handset off the cradle so that an incoming call can be answered when the user is away from the desk. One downside is that it requires a corded handset, the kind with a curly cord that plugs into the phone, so it is not compatible with cordless handsets. Set up is fairly simple, once you get all the parts out of the elaborate packaging, and if you have any difficulties, the nice folks at 1-800-headsets will patiently talk you through it. $299.95. headsets.com/officerunner.

Good Connection

The Uniden D1688-2, which offers the best of both worlds with a corded phone base and two cordless handset companions – expandable to 12. It features DECT 6.0 technology for clear, interference-free talk; digital answering system; large, lighted display; and a keypad and full duplex speaker phone on the base, perfect for the small office. $79.99. Staples, Target, and retail stores nationwide.

Hook, Line and Ringer

Separate work and home with the 6.0 DECT VTech DS6151 two-line phone system with a handy dial pad and speakerphone on the base and handset, along with hold and mute buttons. The digital answering system features selectable ring tones and a dedicated mailbox for each line and remote retrieval to get messages when you are out. Expandable to up to 12 handsets. $79.95. vtechphones.com.

Wheeling and Dealing

Talk and drive safely and easily with the SuperTooth Buddy, the perfect partner for making calls on the road. This user-friendly, hands-free Bluetooth speakerphone clips onto your sun visor and connects two phones at the same time, providing hassle-free talk time in the car. An auto-connect feature reconnects to your phone automatically every time you enter the vehicle. Compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled phones, and provides 20 hours of talk time. In-car charger and handy USB cable included; can also be charged from a PC via the USB. $59. Department, specialty and mobile phone stores or http://www.SuperTooth.net

Free-Range Mouse

Get a hand up on repetitive stress injuries with the Smartfish Whirl Mini Notebook Laser Mouse. Touted as the world’s most comfortable notebook mouse, this 2.4MHz wireless peripheral adapts to the motion of your hand movements using patented anti-gravity comfort-pivot technology. It can take a couple of weeks to get used to it, but when mastered the Whirl Mini, it feels like a natural extension of your arm so that you feel your hand is floating on air. It also comes in an array of colors and is MAC and PC compatible. Because its wireless that means less cords and clutter on your desk, and its portability makes it easy to take along to work in the kitchen, the dining room, Starbucks or wherever you roll for a change in scenery $49.95. getsmartfish.com.

Ace Up Your Sleeve

Working from home doesn’t mean you always stay put. When you take your work on the road, cart it in style and safety with the Acme Made Smart Laptop Sleeve, a handsome and durable ultra-slender sleeve with closed-cell foam padding for heavy-duty protection. It comes in fashionable patterns and features ballistic nylon and premium tricot lining, along with a handy removable nylon shoulder strap. $39.99-$44.99. acmemade.com.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Hear and be heard with the sleek and stylish Savi Office, the headset solution to unite your calls through a single desktop location. With crystal clear audio performance, you can answer both PC or deskphone calls with one-button control on the ultra-lightweight and comfortable wireless headset. It works with most home and commercial phone systems and can roam up to 350 feet from the base and lasts for up to nine hours without a charge. A noise-cancelling microphone and digital signal processing technology makes it easy on the ears for both the user and callers. $379.95. Plantronics.com.

Sky’s the Limit

Give up the old ball and chain of a wired hard drive and free up space on your computer with cloud computing by SugarSync. You can upload all those family photos, videos, music and other content that clogs your computer with a secure 5GB free online account for anytime, anywhere access anywhere you have an Internet connection. If you need more space, you can get 30GB to 500GB for $4.99 to $39.99 per month. Sugarsync.com.


Off the Hook

When flexibility is paramount and desk space is at a premium, the6.0 DECT VTech DS6321-3 is a compact phone and digital answering system with a small foot print but packed with powerful features to meet your home office needs. The phone’s ability to make and answer calls for both your landline and up to four Bluetooth-capable cell phones is an ingenious convenience, so you don’t have to juggle multiple handsets or miss calls searching for your mobile. The system can also pair the handset with a Bluetooth headset and conference between each of the three handsets, which all feature a hands-free speaker and mute and hold buttons. $99.95. vtechphones.com.

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