7 Easy Pieces to Improve the Way You Work
A Desk That Hides Your Mess
Hide your mess in the hidden recess. All of your external drives, chargers, routers, and a power strip can be tucked in a compartment under the desktop — cords can be fed through an opening at the back — freeing up precious surface area for your paperwork. Bluelounge StudioDesk, $600. bluelounge.com.
Storage that's Wireless
Any cord you can eliminate is one fewer to deal with on your desktop and when you travel. The G-Connect is a wireless storage and streaming device for Apple and Android phones and tablets, as well as laptops and desktops. It holds up to 500 GB of content — think of all those bulky HD movie files — which can be accessed via an iPad app or Web browser. It even acts as a Wi-Fi hot spot for up to five users. And at less than 10 ounces, it's no sweat to bring along with you for on-the-road access. G-Connect, $200. g-technology.com.
The Receipt Tamer
What if you could organize those receipts, business cards, and other documents cluttering your desk? NeatReceipts scans them and collects the data, then organizes it all and saves it in a searchable format. You can keep track of business expenses or make a contact list; search for what you spend per year on a particular item or service; and export the info to Excel, Quicken, TurboTax (the scans are official enough for the IRS), and other programs, or save as PDFs. NeatReceipts, $200, PC or Mac version. neat.com.
Speakers That Look as Good as They Sound
These space-age speakers have changed little in appearance since the originals came out a decade ago (the design is so classic that MoMA features the subwoofer in its permanent collection). But they do more than just look great. The sound fills the room, and the bass — always a challenge with small speakers — is deep and clear. And they're easy to use — just plug them into any 3.5mm stereo jack, the kind on most portable devices and computers. Harman Kardon Soundsticks III, $170. harmankardon.com.
A Switchboard for the Digital Age
About the size of a small answering machine, this hub links all of your chat lines — Skype or other Web-based calls, as well as mobile and landline calls — into a single unit. It can be used as a speakerphone, with a Bluetooth wireless headset, or with corded earphones. Calisto 800 Series Phone, from $180. plantronics.com.
The Energy Saver
You know you're supposed to unplug chargers and other occasionally used devices to avoid constant power drain. But some things, like a router or a cordless phone, must always be connected. This unit makes it easy to be eco-conscious: six of the outlets can be shut off with a handy remote on/off switch, while the other two stay on. It saves lots of energy, including yours. Belkin Conserve Switch, $40. belkin.com.
Lighting That Lasts Longer Your Mortgage
Designed by Jake Dyson (son of inventor Sir James), the CSYS has a minimalist body that references a construction crane and is adjustable in any direction (up, down, side to side), with smooth, stable movements. The warm white light shines evenly, and you can fine-tune its spread and intensity. Too much heat wears out LEDs, so unique technology dissipates it down the length of the arm for greater efficiency and longer life — the bulb should keep going for more than 35 years. CSYS LED Task Light, $930. Available spring 2012. jakedyson.com.