Work and home schooling are part of the new normal. Putting together a home office setup that is enjoyable, comfortable and productive can be difficult and time-consuming, but luckily for you, we’ve been working from home for years here at Ars.
We’re here to tell you that remote work doesn’t have to be like this at a distance.
Of course, as discerning tech connoisseurs, we have some well-curated choices for all the gadgets and furniture you need to make setting up your home office welcoming and productive. We’ve also introduced some nice upgrades to your workspace if you already have the basics.
A monitor (or two) goes a long way
Dell UltraSharp 49 U4919DW
Dell UltraSharp 34 U3419W
The UltraSharp 49 is Dell’s big monitor and the UltraSharp 34 is its equally expansive little brother. They measure 49 and 34 inches wide but not overbearing, respectively, measured diagonally. The 49 reaches a maximum resolution of 5,120 x 1,440 with a refresh rate of 60 Hz, while the 34 reaches 3440 x 1440 even at 60 Hz.
As you may have noticed, the 49-inch has a 32: 9 aspect ratio which makes it wide and narrow, essentially forming two 27-inch (2560 x 1440) QHD displays joined together seamlessly into one. In fact, in addition to using this ultrawide as a single seamless “dual” monitor for one computer, you can use Dell’s Picture-by-Picture feature to split the monitor in half and view two separate computers side by side. You can even swap mouse and keyboard with each other via Dell’s built-in KVM feature and use hotkeys to activate swapping on Windows machines.
The 34-inch has the same functionality in its 21: 9 aspect ratio, but using two computers on a 49-inch screen is significantly less cramped than a 34, although this feature is quite usable on both displays. Both monitors have two HDMI ports, one DisplayPort, at least four USB 3.0 downstream ports (the 49-inch has five), two USB 3.0 upstream and USB-C with power to charge the device.
Dell UltraSharp 49 and Dell UltraSharp 34
As for the image quality, you will not miss anything for your business needs. The colors look very accurate and the details are sharp. You also have plenty of gamma to change this monitor’s colors for different times of the day (or night) or various applications. This flexibility and simple, intuitive menu and shortcut options make the UltraSharp 49 and 34 easy to live with for long working days.
They can do for gaming too, although 60Hz is the limit of the refresh rate in all resolutions, which may not cut it for hardcore gamers.
If you’re a MacBook user, it looks like you’ll need to use a notebook with a discrete non-Intel GPU to properly configure the 49’s resolution to its 5,120 x 1,440 maximum. Otherwise, you’re stuck at 3,840 x 1,080, which alters the sharpness a bit, although it’s still fully usable and easy to get used to. Neither the HP Specter Elite x360 nor the Dell XPS 13 I tested had these issues, displaying perfectly sharp, full resolution images without any issues.
Plus, with Windows PCs, you can also use Dell software to tweak a few things, like setting hotkeys for the KVM and making sure all open windows are arranged exactly the way you did every time you plug in and unplug your computer. Although the first feature is Windows exclusive, the monitor seemed to remember the window arrangements perfectly well on my Mac without Dell’s Display Manager software.
However, even with the slightly reduced resolution displayed by my 13-inch MacBook Pro, the extremely usable size of these monitors is a beautiful aid to productivity, while their controls and flexibility are so intuitive and fast it’s hard for me to imagine. to go back to a smaller dual monitor setup.
Competitors like the Philips Brilliance 499P9H, while extensive and beautiful to look at, lack the granular controls to properly adjust this display in different lighting scenarios that we so enjoyed on the Dells. Additionally, cable management on this model is poor and the menus are frustratingly unintuitive. It’s been months and I still never click the buttons I mean, partly due to the lack of visual representation on the screen, but the layout doesn’t help either.
If you’re looking for a 49-inch or 34-inch ultrawide, Dell’s versions won’t disappoint.
- Ultrawide can do the work of two monitors in one display
- Sharp details with good color representation
- Easily configurable image for different needs
- Simple menu layout
- KVM functionality and USB-C charging
- Maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz
- 49 inches reaches a maximum resolution of 3840 x 1080 on some MacBooks
Dell UltraSharp 27 U2720QM
Dell 27 S2721QS 4K UHD Monitor
With many of the same features we love from Dell’s 49- and 34-inch curved monitors, the U2720QM gives you all that goodness in a small 27-inch flat screen. It doesn’t have the “picture by picture” mode which allows two separate computer inputs, as the larger ultrawides do, but at this size it wouldn’t be the best experience anyway.
Otherwise you still get intuitive menus, crisp image quality and highly customizable color profile, as well as options for viewing via DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0 or USB-C with power delivery.
If USB-C capability and device charging via the monitor aren’t important to you, but a PBP mode is, the latest Dell S2721QS is your next best choice at 27 inches and around $ 200 cheaper. Thanks to their small size, they fit almost any area of the desktop and can also rotate so that the screen can be used horizontally on the included stands.
- Same performance and ease of use as the 34 and 49 inch models (see above)
- I have to choose between USB-C or PBP charging in different models
Dell UltraSharp 27 and Dell 27 4K UHD monitors
Eliminate clutter and charge quickly with these USB-C quick chargers and cables
Nekteck 5-Port 111W USB-C Wall Charger
Anker PowerLine II and Nekteck USB-C cables
USB-C is finally the norm among electronics manufacturers – even recent iPhones come with a USB-C to Lightning cable. Rather than having a bunch of chargers for all of your devices clogging up your workspace, it’s better to save that clutter and tangle of cables with an all-in-one desktop charging solution. Of course, by doing so, you don’t want to miss a drop in charging performance.
Nekteck 111W USB-C 5 Port Wall Charger and RAVPower RP-PC128
Nekteck’s 111W 5-Port USB-C Wall Charger is a rugged addition that offers both USB-C and USB-A charging. Its 87W USB-C PD port can charge power-hungry laptops like the latest MacBook Pro or Dell XPS 15 at full speed, or at least close to full speed, while charging most smartphones and tablets at the same time. higher speeds. There are four handy USB-A ports alongside the one for charging multiple devices at once, and Nekteck includes a fast-charging USB-C cable in the box. The device is also USB-IF certified, so you can rest assured it won’t fry any of your devices. At over six inches in length and about three inches wide, it’s not the smallest desktop charger around, but if you want durable power at your fingertips, this can provide it.
If you’re all right for desktop chargers and would prefer a more mobile wall charger that you can move around the house, consider RAVPower’s RP-PC128. This includes two USB-C PD charging ports that can individually deliver up to 90W or split that power when two devices are connected at the same time. For example, you can charge two low-power laptops at 45W each, or charge a more powerful device at 60W while your phone maxes out at 18W. This charger is not USB-IF certified, but has received high feedback across the web and comes with an 18 month warranty. It comes paired with a cable and being a gallium nitride (GaN) charger, it is nicely compact at 2.5 x 2.5 x 1.2 inches. Best of all, it usually retails for under $ 50, which makes it great value for the performance and versatility it offers.
These are general recommendations, but there are many other useful fast chargers for those who want to spend less time waiting for their devices to recharge:
- Nekteck’s 72W 4-Port USB-C Wall Charger is another excellent USB-IF certified wall charger if you don’t need that much power – its USB-C PD port reaches a maximum of 60W, which is still enough to charge most mobile devices and many laptops at full speed and would prefer something smaller and less expensive.
- Aukey’s PA-B3 is a quality dual-port 65W charger if you need a USB-A port. It’s another GaN charger, which makes it just as pocket-sized.
- And if you need more USB-C cables to take advantage of all this power, we can guarantee the durability and safety of Anker’s PowerLine II USB-C to Lightning cables for iOS devices and Nekteck’s USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 cables for laptops, Nintendo Switch and Android devices.
- Maximum charging speeds for iOS and Android devices, Nintendo Switch and many laptops
- Fast-charging USB-C cable included with each
- The 111W Nekteck charger isn’t the smallest we’ve used