It’s always accessories, it’s that hybrid work thing that keeps us looking for just the right gadgets.
If you’ve been struggling with using the touchpad on your laptop all this time, stop being so proud of it, do yourself a favor and get yourself a nice, slim mouse. I’m guessing that’s minutes more productivity you’ll gain just from that.
Whether you have some sort of dual-screen setup or just want to use a full-size monitor, keyboard and mouse when you bring your laptop home, you’re really going to need the perfect stand.
Even if you just want to improve the angle of your webcam so your colleagues aren’t looking straight at you every time you join an online meeting, a decent stand certainly helps.
So here are a few suggestions…
mouse first. Let’s face it, there are a million options out there and most of them will probably do the trick. However, there are a few basic requirements that you should check off.
First, if you plan to put it in your laptop bag or school bag, it must be slim. That doesn’t necessarily mean too small or flat – then it gets fiddly to hold. Ideally, you’re looking for something that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, but is curved enough to easily slip into and carry your bag without leaving too much of a bulge.
Second, it must be rechargeable. Surely we are long past disposable batteries, right? The planet certainly doesn’t need them and you certainly don’t need to buy them all the time.
Third, no dongle. There are two types of wireless mice in this world; The type that has a separate USB dongle to pair with your device and the type that connects directly via Bluetooth. Unless, for some reason, your computer is Bluetooth-enabled (which pretty much every laptop these days should be), you don’t need a dongle. It just unnecessarily occupies one of your valuable ports and it’s another thing to lose in your travels.
After all, if you’re anything like me, you use both PC and macOS devices throughout your day. This gets pretty confusing when it comes to keyboard shortcuts and mouse buttons. I understand Apple wanted to keep things simple with its virtual buttons and scroll wheel, but having actual buttons and a physical scroll wheel makes for more consistency between the two platforms. I don’t know about you, but when I get home from work on the computer (PC), I can’t remember how to use a completely different type of mouse (Mac).
The Satechi M1 Wireless Mouse meets all of these criteria. Despite being super slim, it still has enough weight to feel solid in your hand and stay right where you leave it on your mouse pad. It’s actually a pretty classy looking little accessory thanks to its brushed aluminum finish, aluminum scroll wheel and contrasting buttons.
It works well too – a reliable Bluetooth 5.0 connection and good, solid clicks from both buttons and the scroll wheel. The M1 wireless mouse comes with its own USB-C charging cable and Satechi also has a range of keyboards to go with it.
Which brings us to the possibility of using the laptop differently at home. I like to pair my MacBook Pro with an iPad to create a dual monitor setup. As I write this, I have the browser window I’m typing open on one screen and the Satechi and TwelveSouth websites on another. When I’m done with the article, I preview the published page on the second screen and make any necessary corrections or updates on the first screen. See what I mean about making yourself more productive with the right gear?
However, to get my MacBook screen up to the height of my second monitor, I use the TwelveSouth HiRise Pro.
And I mean just the right height; The HiRise Pro features a spring-loaded rear column that can be precisely adjusted using the locking wheel on the back. The angle of the V-shaped support arms is fixed, but because they’re rubberized throughout, the HiRise Pro is compatible with pretty much any laptop, although it’s designed specifically for MacBooks and Mac accessories like the Apple Studio Display.
There’s a real premium feel to this device that extends to the vegan leather finish on the base, which isn’t just for show – it actually hides the HiRise Pro’s most brilliant feature; If you have a MagSafe charger for your iPhone (the 6cm disc version), you can build that into the base of the stand so you can charge your phone while you work.
This is a quality, solidly built product, but if you plan on typing on your laptop’s newly raised keyboard, you’re going to need to tighten that rear screw pretty damn tight. The only flaw with the single, centrally positioned support column is that things can wobble a little when you press on one of the edges of your laptop – not a problem for me as I use the HiRise Pro in combination with an external Bluetooth keyboard on the back use below at desk level.
However, if you’re looking for an elevated typing experience – perhaps at a standing desk – or want even more height than the 6-inch maximum rise offered by the HiRise Pro, TwelveSouth has another, more portable option, the Bend Curve.
This design offers more balanced front-to-back support and can safely tilt your entire laptop up to 45° – combined with its very firm hinge mechanism, you can extend the Curve Flex to elevate your laptop screen by a whopping 22 inches.
This is ideal for me at work as the large sound desk I run in my radio studio is surrounded by many raised monitors and it is much more ergonomic for me to have my laptop screen at the same height. And as I mentioned in my introduction, the other major reason to raise your screen is to get your webcam at eye level. My presenter is currently broadcasting remotely so I kept a zoom window open throughout the show to keep eye contact with him. Thanks to Curve Flex, he now gets the full effect of my dirty look when he talks too long into the news break.
The Curve Flex really is the stand for every situation as the height and angle range from flat to that maximum 22 inch extension and everywhere in between. In usual TwelveSouth style, there’s a nice bonus in the box; a soft carrying case so you can safely slip the folded stand into your laptop bag or shoulder bag. This bag even has a small hidden pocket for the included Allen key should you ever need to tighten the hinges.
But what if you want to make your laptop completely disappear? You may not have noticed, but you can still use your laptop when it’s closed. When you’re connected to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse and don’t need (or don’t have the room for) two screens at once, keep them closed and out of the way with the Satechi Dual Vertical Laptop Stand.
There really isn’t much to say about it other than that it gets the job done easily and efficiently. The double vertical laptop stand is designed to Satechi’s typically high standards – it’s understated, sturdy, stylish and will hold a tablet or phone as well as your laptop.
There are practical as well as aesthetic and space-saving reasons to store your computer on its side if you keep it closed during use – first and foremost it’s the best way to keep things well ventilated and cool. This means your laptop’s internal components are working at their best – which in turn increases productivity all round.
From now on, we’re all likely to spend a lot more time working from portable devices, either at home or on the go. I’ve found that the hybrid work experience with just the right accessories doesn’t have to be a compromise, it can be an enrichment.