10 Essential Home Office Tools


5 Aug 2011
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It isn’t easy living a switched-on life. Always being in touch has somehow started taking on the implication of always being available for work, which in turn leads to the expectation that people must be ready to attend to work at any time of any day! Today, we’re expected to be on call and reply to our email at home, on weekends, and even on vacation. Of course we’re free to switch off, ignore their phones and refuse to check their mail, but just the thought of it makes many of us uncomfortable. What if there’s an emergency? What if someone else solves the problem and gets credit? What if I’m the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on?

Things get even more difficult when you’re your own boss. Every missed call could be a missed opportunity; every unseen mail could be an unseen business inquiry. Time and connections become way too complicated to manage, and the responsibilities of dealing with a power failure or crashed hard drive suddenly multiply!

The smart home worker needs the right technology to stay on top of his work and make sure it doesn’t get on top of him! Whether you’re a self-employed entrepreneur, a part-time telecommuter, or simply need a quiet spot to get your notes in shape each night, we’ve got the guide for you.

1. Laptop
In all likelihood, you'll need to travel or at least make presentations outside the office. A laptop is essential for making a good impression. While you'll get your choice of colors and finishes, make sure you get the basics right—a comfortable keyboard, light weight, and generous battery life.

2. Multifunction Printer
Combining the functions of a printer, scanner, copier and fax machine, multifunction devices or all-in-ones are a boon for small offices. Depending on your volume and the type of prints you need, opt for a color inkjet MFD or a mono laser MFD, the latter being more economical. Some models are equipped with Wi-fi or Bluetooth for wireless printing support.

3. Wi-Fi Router
In addition to providing wireless Internet access, a Wi-fi router allows sharing files and network resources between laptops and Wi-fi enabled devices such as smartphones. If you plan to install one, go in for a 802.11 n router which has a better range and throughput. You can also make desktop PCs Wi-fi-enabled by using USB or PCI Wi-fi adapters.

4. Broadband Internet Dongle
Anywhere Internet access is indispensable for those who are always on the move, and a tiny Internet dongle makes this possible. Plug it into a USB port and you can instantly check your emails, have video conferences with your clients, or surf the web. Service providers such as MTNL, Reliance, Tata and MTS have many schemes to offer.

5. Smartphone
You'll need to be fully comfortable with the handset’s interface and navigation system. It’s also important to make sure that the display is large enough for you to clearly view Web pages and email. Connectivity should include should include 3G support even though it’s not here yet, and Wi-Fi to save a little on your data usage billing.

6. Data Transfer Cable
Connect one end of the device to the source PC and the other end to the destination PC and you can transfer files between two PCs or laptops in a Windows Explorer-like interface. This device eliminates the need of an external storage device to backup or transfer data between two PCs. Some models features a USB port for sharing external storage devices.

7. Encrypted Storage Device
These are hack-resistant external storage devices that feature biometric security (fingerprint reader) or 256-bit AES hardware encryption to protect your sensitive data. The device allows access to data on swiping your finger or entering the correct password. All the data on the drive gets erased after a specified number of unsuccessful attempts.

8. Presentation Remote
With this device you can control slideshows wirelessly from up to 50 feet—no need to come close to your laptop or keyboard for changing slides. It comes equipped with a laser pointer to highlight key points in slides. Some models feature built-in storage for carrying presentations and can also be used as a mouse.

9. Internet Security Software
You shouldn't go online or use others' external storage devices without a security suite installed on your PC. It typically comprises multiple elements such as antivirus, antispyware, firewall, antispam, identity protection and browser protection to safeguard your data from viruses, hackers and web attacks.

10. Ergonomic Chair
The chair you select plays a very crucial role in maintaining a good sitting posture. An ideal chair should provide adequate lumbar support. The backrest should fit into the natural curve of your lower back in a way that it fills in the space between your back and the back of the chair. This prevents muscle fatigue and helps avoid excess pressure on the spine.

Source : Chip magazine
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