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The best work-from-home and office essentials for graduates

Regardless of where they work, these gadgets will help them get it done.

·12 min read
Engadget

After they’re done celebrating their academic accomplishments, your grad might already have a new job or internship lined up, or they may be very close to a new opportunity. If so, they’ll want a few essentials that will ease them into the working world, whether they’re dealing with a daily commute or logging on from home. Here are a few gift ideas that they’ll appreciate regardless of where they find themselves doing most of their work.

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LumeCube Edge Desk Light

Bad lighting can prevent graduates from putting their best face forward when virtually speaking with colleagues. The LumeCube Edge Desk Light can fix that.
$130 at Amazon$130 at Adorama

Even if your graduate already has an upgraded webcam, bad lighting can prevent them from putting their best face forward when virtually speaking with colleagues. The LumeCube Edge Desk Light can fix that with its multiple brightness and warm-light settings, plus a bendable neck that makes it easy to adjust the light’s position. Since it’s quite flexible, they can use it for other things, too, including note-taking and live streaming. And we know they’ll appreciate its built-in USB-C and USB-A charging ports, which will let them conveniently power up their phone, earbuds and more while getting all of their work done. — Nicole Lee, Commerce Writer

Logitech MX Anywhere 3

Photo by Valentina Palladino / Engadget
The MX Anywhere 3 is a comfy mouse that can easily slip into a bag, though not as easily as it connects via the included receiver or Bluetooth.
$80 at Amazon

Today’s office life is more on-the-go than ever, with workers switching between home, office and maybe the occasional coffee shop in between. But being mobile doesn’t mean having to settle for an unresponsive trackpad. The MX Anywhere 3 is a comfy mouse that can easily slip into a bag, though not as easily as it connects via the included receiver or Bluetooth. And it really does work anywhere — including on glass surfaces. — Kris Naudus, Commerce Writer

Logitech Brio 500

The Brio 500 shoots 1080p video and they can customize aspects of their feed, including brightness, contrast and additive filters, by using the free Logi Tune software.
$124 at Amazon

There’s a good chance your grad will have to take regular video conference calls at their new job, even if they go into the office from time to time. Sure, they could use their laptop’s built-in basic camera, but a webcam like the Logitech Brio 500 can help them put their best face forward on every call they take. The Brio 500 shoots 1080p video and they can customize aspects of their feed, including brightness, contrast and additive filters, by using the free Logi Tune software. But most of the time, the cam will do the hard work for them: it has remarkably good auto-light correction, which will help them look better in dark environments, noise-reducing dual microphones and auto-framing with RightSight. If the latter is enabled, your grad can shift in their chair and move around and the Brio 500 will adjust automatically to keep them in the center of the frame. And when they’re not on a call, there’s a handy shutter that covers the camera lens for extra privacy. — Valentina Palladino, Senior Commerce Editor

Sony WH-1000XM5

Will Lipman Photography for Engadget
Whether they’re going to work on a loud train or trying to finish prepping a presentation at home, a pair of ANC headphones like Sony’s WH-1000XM5 can help them stay in the zone.
$398 at Amazon$398 at Adorama

Blocking out the world in an attempt to focus isn’t something that only new graduates do — but they, too, can benefit from having a little help in that area. Whether they’re going to work on a loud train or trying to finish prepping a presentation at home, a pair of ANC headphones like Sony’s WH-1000XM5 can help them stay in the zone. The XM5 are Sony’s latest flagship model and the best wireless headphones you can get right now by our standards. Sony packs so much into these cans: improved noise cancellation, excellent sound quality, handy touch controls and a 30-hour battery life, just to name a few things. Their redesigned design makes them even more comfortable to wear for hours on end, and their ability to connect to two devices at once means your giftee can easily switch from taking a call on their phone to listening to music on their laptop. — V.P.

Keychron K10

Keychron
Keyboards like this are far and away more fun to type on than standard laptop built-ins, and the K10 shouldn’t be too noisy to annoy a cubicle neighbor or a roommate.
$84 at Keychron

Laptop keyboards are fine when you’re working on the go, but having a separate keyboard at work or in your home office will make long stretches of typing much more comfortable. There are tons of options out there, but Keychron’s K10 would be a good pick for almost anyone. It’s a full-sized mechanical keyboard with Gateron switches that’s neither too loud or too subtle. Keyboards like this are far and away more fun to type on than standard laptop built-ins, and the K10 shouldn’t be too noisy to annoy a cubicle neighbor or a roommate. We like that you can pair it with up to three devices simultaneously and it can be used wired or wirelessly. It also has more than 15 different styles of RBG backlighting, so you can switch between something more subdued and an all-out light show with a few presses of a button. — V.P.

Sonos Era 100

Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget
Deputy editor Nate Ingraham gave this speaker an 88 in his review, praising its loud, room-filling sound that combines heavy bass with a defined higher end.
$249 at Sonos

Laptop speakers are fine for playing music while you work, but to do lofi chill hop beats justice, your grad may appreciate a quality speaker. We’re big fans of Sonos’ latest, the Era 100. Deputy editor Nate Ingraham gave it an 88 in his review, praising its loud, room-filling sound that combines heavy bass with a defined higher end. It looks great on a shelf thanks to its clean, compact design and it comes in white or black, so you can match it to your home’s aesthetic. It has a line-in port for turntable or other auxiliary connections, and is one of Sonos’ first plug-in models that includes Bluetooth connectivity. However, most people will likely use Wi-Fi connectivity and Sonos’ app to control their streaming services of choice. — Amy Skorheim, Commerce Writer

BenQ ScreenBar

Photo by Igor Bonifacic / Engadget
The BenQ Screenbar put the finishing touch on our weekend editor Igor Bonifacic’s WFH setup – he even said the soft glow helps dispel the gloom of a Canadian winter.
$98 at Amazon

The BenQ Screenbar put the finishing touch on our weekend editor Igor Bonifacic’s WFH setup – he even said the soft glow helps dispel the gloom of a Canadian winter. The lighting fixture mounts at the top of a monitor, making it ideal for small setups where a desk lamp wouldn’t fit. A sensor automatically dims and adjusts color temperature according to the room’s ambient light, or you can change it yourself with the buttons on top. The one drawback is that the ScreenBar takes up the same real estate on a monitor as a webcam would. If you think your grad will be on a lot of Zoom calls, this might not be the best fit. – A.S.

Bellroy Transit Workpack

We like Bellroy’s Transit Workpack because it has dedicated spaces for a laptop, headphones, wallet, tech organizers and even a change of clothes. If you go for the larger 28-liter size, a pair of shoes will fit too.
$199 at Bellroy

If your grad’s first gig is hybrid, freelance or in-office, there’s a good chance they’ll be on the move a lot. Daypacks and laptop bags specifically designed for work are easy to carry like a standard backpack, but include enough pockets and pouches to organize the necessities of a modern work day. We like Bellroy’s Transit Workpack because it has dedicated spaces for a laptop, headphones, wallet, tech organizers and even a change of clothes. If you go for the larger 28-liter size, a pair of shoes will fit too. We also appreciate that the sleek profile hides the water bottle pocket on the side so the bag looks like something meant for the office rather than a hike. – A.S.

Mophie Powerstation Pro XL

Grads who plan to travel or are trying their hand at the digital nomad lifestyle will appreciate the multiple hours of juice the Powerstation can deliver to their phone, laptop and peripherals.
$200 at Mophie

Mophie’s Powerstation Pro XL is the best battery pack for powering a mobile command center I’ve tested. Grads who plan to travel or are trying their hand at the digital nomad lifestyle will appreciate the multiple hours of juice the Powerstation can deliver to their phone, laptop and peripherals. It can give an iPhone 14 more than three charges and has a trio of USB-C ports to refill multiple devices at once. Best of all for someone entering the workforce, it comes in a fabric-covered case that looks professional. – A.S.

Elevation Lab Go Stand

This clever folding stand holds a phone or tablet at an adjustable angle, so the screen is easy to read, sans an awkward balancing act.
$20 at Elevation Lab

Some advice if you end up buying the Go Stand for your grad: snag one for yourself, too. This clever folding stand holds a phone or tablet at an adjustable angle, so the screen is easy to read, sans an awkward balancing act. I use one daily to keep my phone visible on my desk and I find it works better than any stand built into a phone or tablet case. It folds to a tiny flat wedge that fits in a pocket when not in use, and it has a nice rubberized, non-skid texture. I ended up buying a second one when my family kept stealing mine. – A.S.

Roost laptop stand

Hunching to stare at a desk-level laptop is hard on anyone’s back and neck. You can help protect your grad’s posture with a Roost laptop stand that raises nearly any laptop to eye level.
$90 at Roost

Hunching to stare at a desk-level laptop is hard on anyone’s back and neck. You can help protect your grad’s posture with a Roost laptop stand that raises nearly any laptop to eye level. I’ve used a previous generation Roost for about four years running and it still works like it did when it was brand new. It folds down to a skinny stick and fits in any pack that can hold a laptop. Once unfurled, it can accommodate nearly any notebook, including larger ones like a 16-inch MacBook Pro. One thing to note is that your grad won’t be able to use their computer’s trackpad or keys when the stand is in use, so they’ll need an external keyboard and mouse. – A.S.

Uplift standing desk

Photo by Amy Skorheim / Engadget
Uplift makes some of the best standing desks available right now, and you can customize yours to your liking.
$599 at Uplift

There are endless brands selling standing desks now, and Uplift makes some of the best ones. The V2 model I bought has made my workdays far more comfortable. After two and a half years, it still raises up and lowers down multiple times a day, all week long without complaint. If your grad will be working from home, a standing desk will make a difference since experts advise incorporating some movement throughout the day. That said, this is no small investment and the amount of customization Uplift offers verges on overwhelming. If you don’t know exactly what your grad might want, you may be better off skipping the surprise and ordering the unit with them. If that’s not possible, the company does offer gift certificates. – A.S.

ErgoFoam Adjustable Foot Rest

The ErgoFoam Adjustable Foot Rest strikes the right balance between cushy and firm, and its velvety, gently arched frame encourages your legs to rest at an angle that feels natural.
$40 at Amazon

A dedicated footrest can help your legs feel more comfortable during those long stretches of being stuck at your desk. The ErgoFoam Adjustable Foot Rest is a good example: It strikes the right balance between cushy and firm, and its velvety, gently arched frame encourages your legs to rest at an angle that feels natural. This model has a removable, two-inch base that you can take off if you find the standard height uncomfortable. It can also be flipped over and used as a foot rocker if you want to move your feet around while working. None of this is a substitute for periodically getting up and moving over the course of the day, but when that’s not feasible, it can help. — Jeff Dunn, Senior Commerce Writer

Nekteck 107W USB-C Desktop Charger

Nekteck's charger packs four ports in a relatively compact frame: two USB-C, plus two USB-A for lower-power gadgets.
$40 at Amazon

In the eternal struggle to keep all our devices charged, it’s easy to see the convenience of a desktop charging station that puts multiple ports within arm’s reach throughout the workday. If you don’t already own one of these, Nekteck’s 107W USB-C Desktop Charger should do the job. It packs four ports in a relatively compact frame: two USB-C, plus two USB-A for lower-power gadgets. The two USB-C ports top out at 65W and 30W, respectively. The former isn’t powerful enough to charge some heavy-duty laptops like a MacBook Pro at full speed, but it’s still usable, and both can refill many phones, tablets and smaller notebooks quickly. We’ve found Nekteck chargers to be reliable and this device is certified by the USB-IF, so it shouldn’t present any safety concerns over time. Best of all, it’s a good deal at $40, and it comes with a six-foot USB-C to USB-C cable in the box. — J.D.

Sorbus 3-Tier Bamboo Desk Organizer

This desk organizer is about a foot wide and offers three drawers for tucking away smaller accessories like notepads, jewelry or charging cables, plus a top shelf space for more essential items you want to keep in view.
$36 at Amazon

As you accumulate more papers, accessories and random tchotchkes at your desk, it’s easy for your workspace to become cluttered. Stuffing some of that mess into a dedicated organizer is a simple way to save space and make your environment feel less chaotic. The Sorbus Bamboo Desk Organizer should help here: It’s about a foot wide and offers three drawers for tucking away smaller accessories like notepads, jewelry or charging cables, plus a top shelf space for more essential items you want to keep in view. The light wood finish shouldn’t look out of place on most desktops, either. — J.D.

Ergotron LX Desk Monitor Arm

This monitor arm's aluminum frame lets you comfortably move a VESA-compatible monitor in any direction and supports panels up to 34 inches and 25 pounds.
$177 at Amazon

If you plan to work in front of a monitor for most of the work week, you should make sure it’s positioned around eye level to avoid excess strain on your neck and back. The stand that comes with your monitor might be flexible enough as it is, but if not, consider a monitor arm. It’ll give your display a wider range of motion, and it can save desk space to boot.

Ergotron’s LX Desk Monitor is a well-regarded take on this idea. Its aluminum frame lets you comfortably move a VESA-compatible monitor in any direction and supports panels up to 34 inches and 25 pounds. When it’s hooked up, the arm can lift your screen up to 17.3 inches above a desk surface, pull it forward about 25 inches, tilt it 75 degrees and rotate or pan it a full 360 degrees. It’s fairly simple to set up, too, plus it comes with a 10-year warranty. Just note that if you’re a little over six feet tall, you should get the “Tall Pole” model instead. — J.D.

Audioengine A1

Audioengine’s A1s deliver a nice mixture of sound quality and aesthetic appeal for just under $200 without taking up too much space.
$199 at Amazon

A set of desktop speakers will make listening to music, playing video games and watching movies in your home office much more pleasurable than using the tinny speakers built into most monitors and laptops. Audioengine’s A1s deliver a nice mixture of sound quality and aesthetic appeal for just under $200 without taking up too much space. Because they’re on the smaller side at six inches tall, they don’t have the deepest bass response, but they still sound accurate and pleasingly balanced. The black and gray exposed driver look is stylish, and they can pair over Bluetooth in addition to traditional cables. If you do take the plunge, though, you should also look into buying a pair of speaker stands that angle the sound directly toward your ears.

Note that Audioengine sells a different version of the A1 that trades Bluetooth for WiFi, though it costs $30 extra. Another set, the A2+, goes for $269 but comes in more colors and offers more connection options like RCA and USB. And if money is less of an object, the HD3 and A5+ offer progressively richer sound as you go up the price ladder. — J.D.