Will Lipman Photography
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Let’s face it, it’s rare that we go through life with only our laptops or smartphones. Over time, accessories become crucial to our daily routines — and that’s been truer than ever in 2020 when we’ve been forced to rely further on technology in lieu of seeing people face to face. In short, we’re spending a ton of time with our devices, so might as well make the experience as comfy as possible. Here, we’ve gathered a list of 14 computer and phone accessories that will make anyone’s lives easier, be they power users or the tech challenged.
ViewSonic VX3276-2K-MHD monitor
Will Lipman Photography / viewSonic
A good monitor can make all the difference in your home-office setup. Even if you don’t anticipate working from home all day, every day in the future, more screen space can make it easier to be productive — not to mention help reduce eye strain. ViewSonic’s VX-series includes four solid options, and we’re particularly fond of the 32-inch 1440p frameless model. The monitor itself is pretty slim and its nearly edge-to-edge panel makes it look especially sleek. We like the 1440p resolution because it provides a noticeable step-up from 1080p and will be better for anyone who does even occasional creative work. (If you absolutely need 4K, the same monitor is available with that resolution in 27-inch and 32-inch sizes.) It also has HDMI, DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort inputs, so PC and Mac users will be able to hook it up and get to work immediately.
Buy ViewSonic 1440p monitor at Amazon - $279 Buy ViewSonic 1440p monitor at Walmart - $259
Logitech K480 multi-device keyboard
Will Lipman Photography
Drafting an email using only your tablet’s keyboard isn’t the most comfortable experience. A Bluetooth keyboard can make typing on a tablet (or even a smartphone) less of a headache. Logitech’s K480 multi-device keyboard is an oldie but a goodie — not only does it work across Windows, macOS, iOS and Android, but it can connect to up to three devices at once and you can use its small dial to switch between them seamlessly. But many will find the built-in cradle indispensable because it can hold tablets and smartphones of various sizes, propping them up at an optimal viewing angle for typing. If you already have a case or stand for your mobile devices, you can opt for the equally stellar Logitech K380 keyboard, and for those that need a number pad, the Logitech K780 is a good option (and it doesn’t forgo the cradle either).
Buy Logitech K480 at Amazon - $35 Buy Logitech K480 at Walmart - $29
Logitech MX Anywhere 3 mouse
The new MX Anywhere 3 mouse combines the best things about the full-sized MX Master 3 with the portable design of the MX Anywhere 2s. Logitech made a smaller version of the metal MagSpeed wheel and stuck it inside the Anywhere 3, allowing for faster, smoother scrolling. It also supports side-scrolling and adjustable scroll force, which you can change using the Logitech Options software. Also included in the software hub are new app-specific presets for Zoom and Microsoft Teams that let you turn off your camera or mute your mic while on a conference call.
But what really makes the Anywhere 3 stand out is its compact design, making it small enough to throw into a backpack. The Anywhere 3 also tracks on any surface including glass so you can literally use it wherever you are. We also like that it supports most major operating systems (including Chrome OS and Linux) and that it has USB-C charging.
Buy MX Anywhere 3 mouse at Amazon - $80
Incase Bionic Commuter backpack
Will Lipman Photography
The search for the perfect backpack is never-ending, but Incase’s recent collaboration with Bionic produced a solid contender. This bag is made with Bionic yarn, a durable material forged from recycled coastal plastic. Each backpack is made from roughly 26 plastic bottles, making it an excellent choice for those who want to buy more recycled goods but also want those pieces to be sturdy and stylish.
The material feels smooth to the touch and durable without being too heavy. Like other Incase backpacks, it also has a minimalist silhouette that’s at once functional and stylish. Its wide main pocket has a sleeve that can hold up to a 16-inch MacBook Pro in addition to multiple organization pockets for accessories, notebooks, pens and more. I also personally never buy a backpack without a water bottle holder, and the Commuter backpack has one that magnetically folds against the side of the bag when you’re not using it.
Buy Bionic Commuter backpack at Incase - $100
CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock
Will Lipman Photography / CalDigit
A docking station like CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock is a good solution to a common problem: the constant plugging, unplugging and swapping of peripherals and accessories that’s required when you’re working on a laptop with few ports. Instead, connect your laptop to the USB-C Pro dock and use it to do the heavy lifting. The dock has 10 ports, including multiple USB-A sockets, USB-C connections, DisplayPorts and a Gigabit Ethernet jack, so you can connect pretty much anything you need simultaneously. The dock also supports up to two 4K displays at once and 85W of laptop charging. But the best part is that it works with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C laptops — so even if you don’t know the capabilities of your giftee’s laptop, you can still safely assume the USB-C Pro Dock will be compatible.
Buy USB-C Pro Dock at Amazon - $200 Buy USB-C Pro Dock at Walmart - $200
Ivoler Adjustable laptop stand
A solid laptop stand can not only make your desk more organized, but it can relieve some of the physical stresses of using a computer all day. We like Ivoler’s aluminum alloy stand because of its compact and versatile design. It folds down easily so you can take it with you wherever you go, but it’s strong enough to hold up to 15-inch laptops and up to 35 pounds of weight. You don’t have to only use it for your laptop either — it works with smartphones and tablets of all sizes, too. There are six different viewing angle adjustments so you’ll be able to prop up your devices at the precise angle to suit your work. It also won’t scratch up your furniture (or slip off of it) thanks to the silicone pads underneath.
Buy Ivoler laptop stand at Amazon - $19
Satechi 7-port USB charging station dock
Will Lipman Photography / Satechi
Charging gets more complicated with each additional device we bring into our homes, but Satechi’s 7-port charging station can make it a bit more manageable. It has seven slots where you can place and charge all of your devices, be they smartphones, tablets or accessories. Each USB port has surge protection and smart battery charging, so only the optimal amount of juice is delivered to your gadgets. Not only does a dock like this help minimize unruly cables all over the place, but it also gives you a designated spot for all of your devices. That should help those who are prone to misplacing their tech, and it could also aid those who want a specific spot to place their gadgets at night when they’re asleep (preferably far away from the bed).
Buy 7-port charging station at Amazon - $50 Buy 7-port charging station at Walmart - $60
Aukey Omnia 100W GaN PD charger
Will Lipman Photography
There are thousands of chargers out there, but Aukey’s 100W Omnia PD charger with gallium nitride technology (GaN) is one of the best jack-of-all-trades chargers we’ve tried. The GaN tech allows the adapter to be smaller than others (2.24 x 2.24 x 1.26 inches to be exact) but still powerful enough to charge both mobile devices and laptops. A key feature of gallium nitride is its ability to handle high heat well, so even when this charger is using 100W of power to keep your 16-inch MacBook Pro running, it’ll stay much cooler than other adapters. It also works with other USB-C laptops, smartphones and even the Nintendo Switch.
Buy Aukey 100W charger at Amazon - $46
DJI OM4 gimbal
Will Lipman Photography
Many have gotten in touch with their inner videographer thanks to smartphone cameras being as good as high-end shooters nowadays. Certainly the best camera you have is the one in your pocket all the time, but smartphones still need some help when it comes to shooting smooth, dynamic video. DJI’s OM4 gimbal can do the trick and its new magnetic panel makes it even easier to attach your smartphone to it and start filming. That’s the biggest difference between the OM4 and the previous-gen Osmo Mobile 3, the former of which relying on a traditional (and clunky) clamp mount. Otherwise, the OM4 offers all of the great features that the Osmo Mobile 3 had, including one-touch controls, a design that, when folded down, can fit into a jacket pocket; 15-hour battery life; and software features like Dynamic Zoom and Active Track, which locks in on a moving subject to follow it while you’re filming.
Buy OM4 at Amazon - $149 Buy OM4 at Walmart - $149
Samsung T7 Touch SSD (1TB)
Will Lipman Photography
It’s hard to beat Samsung’s line of portable SSDs because they’re both impressively compact and speedy. The new T7 Touch SSD has read speeds of up to 1,050 MB/s and write speeds that max out at to 1,000 MB/s, so not only will it transfer files to and from your computer quickly but it’ll do so even for RAW photos, 4K videos and more. It works with laptops and PCs as well as smartphones and even some game consoles, so depending on the storage capacity you choose, it could be your main source of extra space. We like the T7 Touch’s fingerprint sensor, which adds another layer of security (on top of the optional password protection and AES 256-bit encryption). That said, you can skip the sensor if you wish and opt for the otherwise identical T7 SSD.
Buy T7 Touch SSD at Amazon - $170 Buy T7 Touch SSD at Walmart - $230
Tile Essentials 4-pack
Whether or not your giftee is prone to losing things, Tile’s Essentials 4-pack can help keep track of their stuff. This set has the greatest-hits of Tile’s trackers: one Slim, one Mate and two Stickers, all of which have Bluetooth technology that lets you see their last location from your smartphone. The waterproof Slim attaches to larger items without adding much bulk; the Mate clips onto keys or fits neatly into a wallet; and the Stickers adhere to, well, just about anything. You can track just about anything with the variety of Tiles in this pack, and since they’re compatible with Alexa and the Google Assistant, you can also ask your smart speaker to find your things for you.
Buy Tile Essentials (4-pack) at Amazon - $70 Buy Tile Essentials (4-pack) at Walmart - $70
Amazon Echo Dot
Are there better sounding speakers out there? Yes. But there’s something to be said for the value that Amazon’s Echo Dot provides. It will be suitable for most people’s tiny desk concerts, and Alexa doesn’t discriminate when it comes to music services — Spotify, Apple Music and many others work all the same. All of Alexa’s other powers are at your disposal with the Echo Dot, including delivering weather forecasts, controlling smart home devices, acting as a makeshift home intercom system (if you have other Echos) and accessing the thousands of Alexa Skills available. Regardless of if you get the third-generation hockey-puck-looking Dot or the new fourth-generation orb-shaped Dot, you’re getting a very capable gadget for your money.
Buy Echo Dot at Amazon - $50
Anker PowerWave Fast Wireless charging stand
Wireless chargers may not power up your items as quickly as wired models, but it’s hard to deny their convenience. Sometimes it’s easiest to set your smartphone on a Qi charging pad and forget about it. There are a bunch of wireless chargers out there but we like Anker’s PowerWave Stand in part because it works with most smartphones and even supports fast charging for iPhones and Samsung devices. And, since it supports both vertical and horizontal orientations, you can check social media, watch videos and do other things comfortably with your smartphone while it’s charging up. This particular model doesn’t come with a wall adapter, but you can get a similar PowerWave charger that comes with an adapter (plus two built-in USB ports) for $15 more.
Buy PowerWave fast charger at Amazon - $30 Buy PowerWave fast charger at Walmart - $30
Otterbox, Spigen, Casetify phone cases
Some of us are holding on to our smartphones for longer now and a phone case can protect it from many of life’s hazards. The problem is that phone cases are often a dime a dozen — meaning there are a ton of bad ones out there. If you’re going to gift one, you’ll want it to be one that actually protects the phone it carries while also fitting the personality of the owner. Spigen makes a wide range of smartphone cases that provide a good amount of protection and fit various style preferences, but we really like them for their affordability. For those who are accident-prone or simply want the most protection possible, Otterbox is always a safe bet. And for those who want their smartphone’s case to show off who they are deep inside, Casetify has a number of fun pre-fab models — or you can customize one from scratch on their website.
Shop Otterbox phone cases Shop Spigen phone cases Shop Casetify phone cases