Over the last few weeks, T3’s Back to Class month has been providing you with everything you need to go back to your work or studies in September – whether that’s advice on the best laptop to buy, what type of e-bike is most suited to you or which is the best watch to keep you on schedule.
Whether you tend to work at home, at an office or library, or in a mixture of places, there are some simple changes that will make a huge difference to your day-to-day.
Here's how to improve your office setup – don't underestimate the power of a few accessories! A keyboard can speed up your typing, a mouse will improve your browsing, a new monitor will do wonders for your eyes, a pair of the best noise-cancelling headphones can help you focus and a webcam will boost the quality of your calls.
1. Buy a new keyboard
Anyone who spends a lot of time typing – be that emails, essays or notes – will undoubtedly need one of the best keyboards. Not only will it help you get the words down faster but it’ll be better for your wrists, and if you use a laptop, it’ll extend the longevity of your built-in keys.
If you work in different spots throughout the week, the Logitech MX Keys Mini is a fantastic wireless keyboard which is compact and portable as well as stylish. It’s a small tenkeyless keyboard that connects up to three devices at once over Bluetooth, and the battery will last up to 10 days with the backlights turned on, or up to five months with it turned off. We loved typing on it when we tried it out because the keys have a circular dish to match your fingertips as you press down on them.
For those who aren't so fussed about having a wireless keyboard, or for those who game in their spare time, the Das Keyboard 5QS will be the better choice. It's one of the best gaming keyboards, having picked up 5-stars in its T3 review. You can expect high-quality construction, premium switches and keys, and smart notification features.
On a budget? The Logitech G413 TKL SE is a wired keyboard that doesn’t cost the earth. It’s well-made and reliable for use across work and play.
2. Use a mouse
If you're on your computer at all during the day then you’ll benefit from using a mouse. Spending too much time on your laptop trackpad isn’t healthy for your fingers or for your wrist, and it'll give you a lot less control over the cursor. A wireless mouse will more often than not be the best choice because it’s more practical and more portable than one that connects to your computer with a wire.
Wireless mice tend to come in more shapes and sizes as well, for example, you could consider one of the best vertical mice if you do a lot of creative work.
You’ll be able to use a wireless mouse from much further away from your device, and some will let you connect to a few devices at once, switching between them at a press of a button.
We recommend the Logitech MX Anywhere 3 because it’s very well priced, it’s small so won’t be a hassle to slip into your bag and the design is excellent with a sturdy scroll wheel.
If you are looking for an ergonomic vertical mouse then the DXT02W Rechargeable Wireless Precision Mouse is about as good as they get. Both left- and right-handed users will get on with it, there are four adjustable DPI modes for precision and the rapid charge feature will give you two hours of juice after just 30 seconds plugged in!
For those who don’t want to spend too much on a new mouse, the Microsoft Bluetooth Ergonomic Mouse is a lot cheaper and does the job. We tried it out and reported that it was both comfortable and accurate – what more could you need?
3. Do your work on a monitor
Every home office should have a monitor – it’ll give you more screen real-estate to work with, it’ll be better for your posture, and it’s likely to be kinder on the eyes as well. You’ll get the nicest experience with one of the best 4K monitors, but they tend to be pricier than a more standard (and cheaper, usually) Full HD display.
For most people, the Dell Ultrasharp 27 4K USB-C Hub Monitor (U2723QE) is our top pick. We tried it out and thought that the image was crystal clear, we were impressed by the number of available ports, and we loved the fact that you can connect up to three computers and switch between them from the keyboard.
Gamers will prefer something like the LG 27GP950-B. It’s a fair amount more expensive but this 27-inch display comes loaded with top-end specs that will be perfect for speedy gaming, including an HDMI 2.1 and a 144Hz refresh rate.
If you don’t want to spend too much cash then the AOC U27P2CA 4K monitor should be at the top of your list. You can move it around by changing the height and the tilt of the display, and you get a decent selection of ports. Naturally, with the price being quite low, there are some sacrifices to be made like the underwhelming design and stripped-back specs – but if you plan to use it for your studies then it'll tick all your boxes.
4. Headphones can help you focus
Offices, cafes and study spaces can be noisy and distracting – so you’ll need some of the best headphones to keep you focused. But that’s not all they’re good for, the commute will become a lot more bearable and they can make your calls sound more pleasant too.
You’ll need to decide between over-ear and in-ear headphones – which you choose will come down to what you intend to use them for and which style you prefer.
The best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy right now are the Sony WH-1000XM5, a pair of over-ear cans which boast everything from comfort to outstanding audio and seriously good ANC. Granted they don’t come cheap but they’re totally worth it – and will last you for years to come!
The best noise-cancelling earbuds are the Sony WF-1000XM4 because they impress in almost every way with effective noise cancelling, excellent sound, a subtle design and a long-lasting battery. Because they’ve now been succeeded by a new XM5 model, you can find some good deals on these right now – which makes them even more convincing than ever.
If you’re hoping to keep the price low then you’ll be better off buying the JBL Tune 660NC. They sit on top of your ears but still manage to do a great job of cutting out distracting sounds, and they look pretty cool too.
5. Make video calls using a webcam
Last but not least, a new webcam will change the game when it comes to both video calls and content creation.
The Obsbot Tiny 4K is likely to be the most suitable choice for the masses, not only is the picture quality top tier but you get loads of really useful extra features like subject tracking and you can control the shot using hand gestures too.
Or, if you're happy to spend a bit more cash then you literally can't beat the Insta360 Link because the quality will blow you away, and you get some seriously advanced features like automatic tracking for your head, torso or entire body.
You don’t need to spend loads of money to get a decent webcam, though. Take the Logitech StreamCam: it’s not too pricey but will still deliver much better image and microphone quality than the standard laptop webcam.