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What gear should I buy for a home office?
February 5, 2008 1:51 PM   Subscribe

What technology gear makes for a good home office?

My employer provides a technology allowance for making home-office related purchases. It can be applied to a broad range of tech gear, including computers, networking equipment, printers, or any other technology items that reasonably can be tied to working from home. It cannot be used for non-technology items such as desks, chairs, etc.

Aside from a computer, what technology items do you find most useful for a home office? So far the things we are considering include a laser printer, upgraded wireless networking equipment, and a paper shredder. Anything else worth putting on the list? Assume a total budget of around $1,000 to $1,500.
posted by brain_drain to Work & Money (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Big monitor, high quality headset, decent speakerphone.
posted by iamabot at 1:56 PM on February 5, 2008


Dual monitors and a good chair. These are your most important buys.
posted by bigmusic at 1:59 PM on February 5, 2008


I would strongly recommend an external storage device with some sort of redundancy, although that might blow through most of that $1500 (or more) if you're not careful. In my own home office, I have a Linksys NSLU2 "slug" which cost me $80, and two external USB HDDs that cost maybe $180 apiece. That's definitely on the cheap end, but it's reliable enough.

If you have multiple computers, a KVM switch is very useful.

As for a printer, I'd recommend either a separate scanner in addition to that printer, or a multifunction device that scans and prints.

If you don't already have a computer that supports dual displays, the Matrox Dualhead2Go is pretty neat. Multiple monitors is very nice.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:59 PM on February 5, 2008


Noise-cancelling headphones! These are a godsend for concentration. They shut out fan noise, cars on the street, etc. etc.
posted by mkb at 2:02 PM on February 5, 2008


Would you find yourself marking up papers by hand and sending them back to the office? If so, either a multi-function printer or a scanner (probably want a sheet feed) would be useful. Admittedly you can get by without this.

Don't forget software, which might include whatever core productivity apps you use, maintenance utilities, and apps that help you work better (if you're one of those GTD people, there's a zillion apps to support that habit).
posted by adamrice at 2:03 PM on February 5, 2008


Definitely a decently-sized (1000-1500 KVA) UPS, with a provision for new batteries every few years. Also consider a secondary, redundant Internet connection - it's probably $20-$30 a month for low-speed DSL, and an outage at the wrong time could cost many times that.
posted by pocams at 2:03 PM on February 5, 2008


Too bad about the no-furniture proviso; a good office chair is my most important piece of equipment after my computer.

• Separate phone line for work with voicemail, either land-line or cell.

• redundant internet connections (for home brew, DSL and cable rather than one or the other) if you do the kind of work which requires you to be net-accessible at all times.

• Uninterruptible power system

• automated file backup

• Even though my computer can send/receive faxes, I've found having a stand-alone fax machine that can accept paper feeds has come in handy many times.

• a second computer (laptop or an older machine which you can use if your main one bites the dust right in the middle of a deadline).
posted by jamaro at 2:04 PM on February 5, 2008


Back when my boyfriend worked from home the things he found most useful were: good headset for working while talking on the phone, KVM switch so he could keep his home computer separate from his work one, decent printer, a filing cabinet, and an ADSL router so all our computers could share the broadband (work also paid for the internet connection).
posted by shelleycat at 2:06 PM on February 5, 2008


I work from home full time for my employer, which has a similar setup budget (except mine pays for office furniture too).

I already have a lot of gear (since I'm a geek and a pack rat), but the most important bits were a good monitor, a good chair, a UPS, separate phone line, cordless phone with headset, multifunction printer (fax/scanner), high-capacity external USB 2.0 drive for backups, a filing cabinet and a thumping great whiteboard (ie external brain storage).
posted by 5MeoCMP at 2:39 PM on February 5, 2008


a scanner?
posted by sully75 at 2:54 PM on February 5, 2008


If you don't already have a computer that supports dual displays, the Matrox Dualhead2Go is pretty neat. Multiple monitors is very nice.
If you're buying extra hardware to support multiple monitors, might as well jump straight to the TripleHead2Go. I'm using one right now.
posted by krisjohn at 4:04 PM on February 5, 2008


A digital camera is a must for me. I also like my all in one printer-copy-fax-scan machine. Obviously, not everyone needs these.

If you have a laptop, wireless networking equipment.
posted by yohko at 4:33 PM on February 5, 2008


It sounds mundane, but if you ever have to move large files around the house, having gigabit Ethernet will make you moan in ecstasy. You will probably need new NICs and router/switch.

Dual monitors, too. If you do any kind of graphic design work, I favor the NEC LCD2490wuxi.
posted by kindall at 4:38 PM on February 5, 2008


external hard drive for backup
printer/scanner combo (fax if necessary, but i prefer e-faxing)
thumb drive for moving stuff you work on at home to work and vice versa.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 5:40 PM on February 5, 2008


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