With the recent discussions around working from home and home-based learning due to COVID-19, someone asked me what equipment I use at home, and I wrote up something to make a list of what serves me well. It’s equipment that I have collected over the better part of 10 years buying some things new and some things used to end up with a setup that works well for me. For most part, I have the same setup in the office which makes muscle memory work more effectively.
Here’s the list of the hardware:
- Thinkpad T460: this is my workhorse that is due a change soon but has served me well for the past 4 years. It’s equipped with a 6th Gen Core i7 CPU backed up by a lot of disk (2TB SSD) and memory (32GB). It also has a touch screen that is used occasionally only since most of the time the laptop is docked and the screen is shut.
- Thinkpad Dock with support for 2 monitors: I like working with multiple monitors and have found that 2 monitors work best for me. I find it difficult to work with monitors of different sizes, so I don’t use the laptop screen when the computer is docked. I think I picked this (and the one in the office) as used items off Amazon sellers. I also prefer a dock that the computer is snapped into rather than a USB dock where you have to plug in/ plug out cables every time you start to use it.
- Monitors: I don’t game or do high end design, so relatively basic monitors work well for me. In my case, these are 2 Full HD 23" monitors from DELL (2320 and 2330) – the good (and important) thing is that they are the same screen size and very similar in build (identical models would be perfect) so that when I line them up next to one another, they are completely in line. I got one first (on a discount) and the other one on a second hand site, but both are very very similar – so, it works great. One has VGA and DVI, the other one has VGA, DVI and HDMI – so, there are plenty of connectivity options on the two monitors. There is some wizardry here to allow one of the monitors to be shared between my son’s computer and mine (basically, an HDMi siwtch) but I use both together when he doesn’t need it.
- Thinkpad (Wired) USB Keyboard: I read the reviews for the current Thinkpad Bluetooth keyboard (I think a new one is on the horizon) and it seemed a bit underwhelming. I decided to save a few dollars by sticking to the wired version. The particular model is important since it is exactly the same as the keyboard on the laptop. It helps muscle memory that the keyboard is the same. (I’m not a touch typist).
- Logitec M570 Trackball: I am quite happy to use the Thinkpad trackpoint (the little red thing on Thinkpad keyboards) but when at a desk, I find it nice to be able to also use a mouse. In this, I really like the Logitec M570 trackball – once you’re used to it, you don’t want to use anything else. It helps that it doesn’t take much space and doesn’t need to be moved around.
- Audio-Technica ATR-2100 USB Microphone: I had no idea about this microphone and based it on a Google search for good microphones for video calls and making videos. The reviews painted it as extremely good and it was only just above the edge of the budget that I was willing to pay. That said, I am extremely pleased with this and the quality is fantastic. Given the number of video and voice calls that we have now, I am glad that I have this. I don’t have a different one in the office, so I just brought this home once working from home started.
- Logitec C920 Web Camera: I had seen this camera before and this is a really good webcam! I think I managed to get it on a sale on Amazon and it is very well worth it. Again, I have just the one which I usually keep in the office but brought it home when we started working from home. When we were doing a week home and a week in office (Team A/ Team B), I would take it and leave it in the same place for a week – not carrying it up and down daily.
- Wacom CTH-490 Writing Tablet: another item that I have only one! However, this is a major productivity item for me. I like to draw things when I try to explain something (does a picture say a thousand words?) and this does a great job. I couple it with Microsoft Whiteboard and OneNote, and use it a lot in meetings. I think this is one item that I would miss the most! One of my ex-colleagues graciously gave me this, and I’m eternally thankful for it.
- Bose AE2i (Wired) Headset: it’s old but it works well. The sound is very good but some day, I intend to change it. This moves with me wherever I go (it’s always in my bag or around my ears) and is heavily used. I prefer a wired headset mainly because of not wanting to recharge batteries but also since using wired headsets is easier with in-flight systems! (remember flights?)
- OKI MC363dn Multifunction printer: the final item in my list is also the newest. My older FujiXerox printer died after many years of service and I was on the lookout for a replacement. We don’t print much and we print even less in colour, but it comes in handy for some assignments for the kids (especially now with home based learning). So, I wanted to get a laser (or LED) colour multifunction printer so that it would serve all the needs from a single package (also because colour laser/ LED have finally become very much more affordable). I drew up a wishlist for the new printer and narrowed down to this one since it was available at an exceptional price and did everything I wanted (though printing from Android is still to be sorted out)
So, that is it! I think I would be hard pressed to see what I would drop from here, but if you have questions about any of the things that I use or about the reasons why I chose something, please feel free to ask.