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Issue #54: Home office savers

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Hey there!

I’m writing this under the constant barrage from a fan, and yes, it feels like a barrage because of the horrible (warm) weather we’re having. It’s quite a leap, going from air-conditioned offices, to a home office, isn’t it? This week, I figured I’d look around me and see what makes it more bearable to work from home on an iPad.

Twelve South HoverBar Duo

You might recall the ergonomics issue, where you can see that I have wall-mounted a sort fo stand for my iPad Pro. It puts it in the right height for me. Unfortunately, I can’t always sit at that spot (or I’m in my summer home), and that’s where the excellent HoverBar Duo from Twelve South comes in.

I’ve gotten a lot of use out of the HoverBar Duo. It’s a versatile product that uses a strong rubberized clamp to keep your iPad in place. You can turn it any way you like, so if you want portrait rather than landscape, you can do that. The stand is solid with a wedge for your Apple Pencil, but the HoverBar Duo also comes with a clamp if you’d rather attach it to your desk or a shelf. Very handy, although I don’t use it that way.

For me, the HoverBar Duo’s biggest strength is the height it can get your iPad. It’s almost as high as my wall-mounted brackets, although not quite, which means it offers superior ergonomics compared to any laptop out there. I’ve used it on desks with a keyboard and mouse, and it works great. The stand’s sturdy enough for touch interactions, and my only complaint is that the grip’s so strong, it’s a bit of a bother to remove the iPad. There’s no risk of damaging anything though, and I’d rather have a strong grip than a flaky one, so I guess it’s mostly a good thing.

I’ve used the HoverBar Duo a lot for video meetings as well. The 2021 M1 iPad Pros have Center Stage, which makes sure the front-facing camera follows the participants. My video meetings are sitting down, but we’re usually two on my end, which makes this a great solution. Getting the iPad Pro to a proper height with the HoverBar Duo is truly useful.

You rarely go wrong with Twelve South products, and the HoverBar Duo is no different. While I would’ve preferred some other, maybe magnetic, solution to holding the iPad, I understand why they went with the safe and strong clamps. This has been a great addition to my home offices the past month or so, and I recommend it.

ℹ️ The Twelve South HoverBar Duo is about $80. Learn more here.

Keyboard and mouse

You know, I keep referring to all pointing devices as a mouse, even though I almost always mean a trackpad. Old habits die hard, and all that. Anyway, when using my iPad Pro in a more stationary setting, I’ll pull it out of the Magic Keyboard and rely on stand-alone devices. This’ll help with posture and protect your neck.

It’s been said so many times, but if you like mechanical keyboards and want them to be wireless, you really can’t go wrong with the Keychron K2. I’m not going to dive any deeper than that because maybe you don’t want a noisy clicky thing to slam on, which is fine, just get a bluetooth keyboard you enjoy.

As for the mou… pointing device, Apple makes the best trackpads, so I’ve got a black Magic Trackpad 2. I’ve also got a black Magic Mouse 2, which I generally loathe but sometimes use when designing. I won’t recommend nor link to it though, find another, more traditional, mouse if that’s your pointing device type of choice.

⌨️ The Keychron K2 start at $69 (aluminum and RGB is $89). Learn more here.

🖱 Apple’s Magic Trackpad 2 will set you back $129. Learn more here.

Elgato Ring Light

Finally, there’s the Elgato Ring Light. Ring lights as such are available from a ton of manufacturers, some being better than others. Elgato’s offering is great, I have no gripes with it at all. It goes up to 2500 lumens but is completely dimmable, and you can adjust the heat as well, from 2900 to 7000 K, if those are numbers you understand. Elgato calls it from ”sunset amber to arctic blue”, and I can sort of get behind that. From warm to cold, is what they mean, so you can get the lighting right. All of it is controlled by an app, obviously, and there are Mac offerings as well. If you’re using Elgato’s Stream Deck you can integrate it there too, somehow. It’s pretty clear they’re targeting youtubers here, isn’t it?

I usually use the Ring Light as an actual light, meaning to light a scene. That scene can be the desk I’m at while doing a video meeting. To be fair, it’s a bit overkill for that — there are cheaper solutions — but I like it. You can control where the light falls well enough, thanks to the ball head that holds the light on the stand. It comes with a clamp for more permanent settings, but I like to use it with a camera stand. I have used the Ring Light for photography too, mounting a camera inside the ring using standard mounting equipment. It works well enough, especially if you’re doing video up close.

If you’re in the market for a lighting source of this kind, then you can’t go wrong with the Elgato Ring Light. There are cheaper solutions, but this is a quality product and not a cheap knock-off, and that’s almost always worth paying for. And while my usage might be a bit overkill, I wouldn’t go back to simple lighting sources for my small needs just to save a little money.

💡 The Elgato Ring Light is about $200. Learn more here.

Those are some things making my home offices bearable. It’s not everything I’ve got in here, obviously. There are desks and chairs (both simple and boring) and headphones (AirPods Max) and whatnot too, but I found that these devices merited a proper mention. 

Do you have any must-haves things in your office that makes your working from home more bearable? Send me a tweet and let me know!

See you all next week!

— Thord D. Hedengren ⚡️

In the wild…