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Expert Reviews Remote Working Awards 2020: Essential home-working products, tested by experts

Expert Reviews Staff
27 Jul 2020
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The very best devices you need to work from home

We have entered a new era for remote working. Once a niche proposition, working from home has suddenly become the new normal. And now that people have realised the benefits – a better work/life balance, less time wasted on the crowded commute – there’s no going back.

But working from home isn’t without its problems. Many have gone from well-considered office spaces, with fully functioning IT departments and expensive office equipment, to hunkering over a tiny laptop screen on the coffee table.

And when it comes to buying the right equipment, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s where we come in. We’ve tested hundreds of devices for your home working setup, finding the very best products to make your life easier and more productive.

From computer screens to wireless routers, we’ve painstakingly compiled this definitive list of the absolute best products we’ve tested, chosen from categories that pertain most closely to this newly normalised way of working.

Welcome to the Expert Reviews Remote Working Awards.

Expert Reviews Remote Working Awards

Best Monitor

Winner | Philips 346B1C | £460

Philips’ expansive 346B1C monitor provides screen real estate at a price point that will have you looking twice. Our new favourite ultrawide curved monitor is perched on a supremely adjustable stand and comes laden with more USB ports and video inputs than the average person will ever need. To protect your eyes, aid your posture and expand your workspace, this is the ideal candidate.

Highly Commended | Iiyama ProLite XUB2792UHSU | £335

There aren’t many monitors that can claim flawless sRGB colour accuracy at less than £400, but the Iiyama ProLite XUB2792UHSU is one of them. This aggressively priced 4K monitor blitzed our tests and proves that premium design needn’t come at a cost.

Best Budget Monitor

Winner | AOC 24B2XH | £114

A stylish and practical 24in display, the AOC 24B2XH impressed us with its barely-there bezels and trim frame – and then knocked our socks off by acing our display tests. It isn’t the most fully featured monitor on the market, but for around the £100 mark, there’s simply nothing better.

Highly Commended | BenQ GL2780 | £150

We love BenQ’s budget monitors, and the GL2780 is no exception. Measuring 27in from corner to corner, there’s plenty of room for working, and with a blue light reduction filter AND automatic brightness mode, you won’t strain your eyes in the process.

Best Printer

Winner | Canon Pixma TS8350 | £310

As printers go, the Canon Pixma TS8350 is pretty stylish. It also happens to be quite the performer: it’ll pump out 15 pages per minute in black-and-white and an entire 10 x 8in photo print in just shy of 30 seconds. Better still, print quality is always exceptional, Wi-Fi connectivity is flawless and paper handling is practical and efficient. Need we say more?

Highly Commended | Epson Expression Photo XP-8600 | £130

If you’re the type of person who prefers to print their holiday snaps, the Epson XP-8600 is the printer we’d recommend. Photos come out unbeatably crisp and detailed and, what’s more, regular printing, scanning and copying functions are just as good.

Best Mouse

Winner | Logitech MX Master 3 | £100

Logitech MX Master 3 render

This is beyond a doubt the ultimate wireless mouse. Impeccably comfortable to hold and use, the MX Master 3 works on any surface without issue, and will run for 70 days on a single charge. It also has a neat party trick: you can connect the MX Master 3 to up to three different devices at once, and even copy/paste text between them (if they’re on the same network). Truly a stunning all-rounder.

Highly Commended | Roccat Kain Aimo 200 | £90

It might have the hallmarks of a gaming product, but the Aimo 200 is so much more. You can customise everything about this mouse, from the buttons and lights to the lift-off distance. It works equally well as both a wired or a wireless mouse, and is blissfully light and comfortable to use for work and play.

Best Keyboard

Winner | Logitech MX Keys (Mac) | £100

You won’t find many keyboards that offer quite as many unique features as the Logitech MX Keys. Like the MX Master mouse above, this wireless keyboard can pair with up to three devices at once, and can copy/paste between them too. It’s superbly ergonomic, courtesy of chiclet keys with convex tops that guide your fingers as you type, and provided you keep the backlight off, it will keep running for up to 50 days on a single charge.

Highly Commended | Fnatic Ministreak | £100

The Fnatic Ministreak proves that gaming keyboards can be as good as, if not better to type on, than many regular office keyboards. Choose your key switches at the checkout, tone down the customisable RGB lighting (if you find it offensive) and you’ve got yourself an excellent compact keyboard that’s ideal for cramped home setups.

Best Webcam

Winner | Logitech SteamCam | £139

Full HD at 60 frames per second? Check. USB-C connectivity? Check. Stereo microphones? Check. Logitech’s StreamCam is an incredibly well-thought-out piece of kit. Built with streamers in mind, it comes bundled with Logitech’s Capture software – which facilitates things like picture-in-picture streaming – and has its own image stabilisation and auto framing tools, as well as built-in colour balance and brightness adjustment controls. It’s an exceptional alternative to your built-in webcam or smartphone.

Highly Commended | Logitech C920 HD Pro | £90

Unsurprisingly, Logitech claims both first and second place in the webcam category. The C920 HD Pro has long been one of our favourite webcams: it captures wonderfully crisp video and audio courtesy of a CMOS sensor (with autofocus) and dual microphones. Just clip it to your monitor with the versatile stand and you’re good to Zoom.

Best Conferencing Headset

Winner | Logitech Zone Wired | £119

With the Zone Wired, Logitech provides a lightweight, comfortable solution to the nagging audio quality issues associated with remote meetings. The mic is crystal clear, and the 40mm drivers hidden within each on-ear cup are good enough for much more than just your daily team catch-up. Throw in a long, tangle-free cable – and an appealing price tag – and it’s easy to see why this headset is a winner.

Highly Commended | Jabra Evolve2 65 | £178

The Evolve2 65 is the Rolls-Royce of conferencing headsets. Mic and audio quality are both excellent, and better still, it’s so supremely comfortable that it stays pretty much unnoticed for the duration of its 35-hour battery life.

Best USB Microphone

Winner | Blue Yeti X | £159

It’s no exaggeration to say that this podcasting mic does it all. Recording quality is impeccable, sure, but it’s the extraordinary number of extra features that sets the Yeti X apart from the pack – the front dial alone adjusts mic levels, audio mix and headphone volume, and is encircled by LEDs that represent mic levels in real-time. If you’re after the ultimate podcaster’s mic, the Yeti X is for you.

Highly Commended | Trust Gaming GXT 258 Fyru | £120

This unusually understated game streaming mic deserves a mention simply by virtue of its sturdy, high-quality design. It also happens to relay your voice with perfect clarity, and provides mic level and volume controls in an easy-to-reach location.

Best Home Working Laptop

Winner | LG Gram 17 (2020) | £1,433

It’s not easy to fit a large screen into a compact chassis and yet, somehow, the LG Gram 17 manages exactly that. The gorgeous, expansive display delivers acres of desktop space, perfect for those who don’t have the space for a proper monitor. And it comes at the expense of very little: the Gram 17 is inexplicably light and slim, and lasts a whopping 11 hours on a single charge. You won’t find any issues with performance, either – this really is an impeccable all-rounder.

Highly Commended | Samsung Galaxy Book Ion | £1,249

Just missing out on the top spot is the Samsung Galaxy Book Ion, one of the most stylish ultraportable laptops we’ve ever tested. In typical Samsung fashion, the QLED screen is astonishing, and the innards are up to scratch, too: the latest tenth-gen Intel processors and oodles of SSD storage will keep your working day rolling smoothly. There’s plenty of connectivity, too, so you can keep your home-working peripherals connected at all times.

Best Business Laptop

Winner | HP Elite Dragonfly | £1,811

“Absurdly wonderful”. That’s how we described the HP Elite Dragonfly when we reviewed it: despite weighing less than 1kg, this ultraportable beauty is still powerful enough to be positioned as a purebred business laptop. Indeed, with smart BIOS protection, simple fleet management and a 100% recyclable guarantee, it’s the best business laptop around.

Highly Commended | Dell XPS 13 (2020) | From £1,249

The XP 13 has a do-it-all appeal that few laptops can match. Put simply, it’s a very slim, very attractive slice of aluminium with a vivid 16:10 display and the latest Intel processors inside. It’s more than powerful enough for your daily tasks, and comfortable enough to make doing them a joy.

Best PC Speakers

Winner | Creative T100 | £110

Creative has a bit of a reputation in the audio tech industry, and the T100 desktop speakers illustrate why. Audio quality is superb but it’s the minimalist design and extra features that set these speakers apart: aside from simply plugging the T100 into your PC or laptop, you can also connect to them via Bluetooth, plug in a games console via the optical-input or even play music from a connected USB stick.

Highly Commended | Creative Pebble V2 | £23

Another Creative offering makes the runner-up spot in this category. The Pebble speakers are one of the more stylish products on the market and, while they aren’t as fully featured as their siblings above, they still pack a punch in the audio department. Oh, and they also happen to be wonderfully cheap.

Best Wi-Fi Extender

Winner | Devolo Magic 2 Next | £270

One of the fastest Wi-Fi extenders we’ve ever tested is also the most reliable. The Magic 2 Next is truly multi-talented: it’s a powerline adapter with dual-band Wi-Fi and speed that gives plenty of more expensive mesh Wi-Fi systems a run for their money. It should utterly obliterate black spots, and if you’re still having Wi-Fi trouble, you can always plug into one of the two built-in ethernet ports.

Highly Commended | TP-Link RE300 | £35

As it turns out, improving your home Wi-Fi doesn’t have to be expensive. The TP-Link RE300 is a sub-£50 extender that scores points for ease of use while still offering plenty of advanced features for the tinkerers out there. For the price, it’s also pretty quick, and it supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

Best Router

Winner | Netgear Nighthawk AX8 | £292

Aside from being one of the most striking routers we’ve ever laid eyes on, the Netgear Nighthawk AX8 is also blazingly fast, promising up to 4.8Gbits/sec on the 5GHz band and delivering supreme performance over both Wi-Fi 6 and 802.11ac. The AX8 is ideally suited to a life in your home office: with five Ethernet ports, plus two USB ports for file sharing over the network and support for various backup tools to keep those files safe. There’s very little this router can’t do.

Highly Commended | Asus RT-AX88U | £300

Narrowly missing out on the top spot – in part due to the price – the Asus RT-AX88U is nonetheless a remarkable router with fantastic performance. Watching Netflix in 4K is a non-issue, no matter where you might be in your home; and if you need the reliability of Ethernet, fear not – this router has no fewer than eight Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Best Mesh Wi-Fi Router

Winner | Asus ZenWiFi AC | £250

This is unequivocally the fastest 802.11ac mesh router bundle we’ve ever tested. It’s thanks in part to the ZenWiFi’s dedicated backhaul channel, meaning no bandwidth is taken up with the connection between each node. The intelligent stuff doesn’t stop here: like Asus’ high-end routers, the ZenWiFi AC has built-in remote network access tools and a firewall, plus four Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB port per node. Mesh Wi-Fi doesn’t get any better.

Highly Commended | BT Mini Whole Home Wi-Fi | £124

It’s not quite as high-powered as the Asus mesh system above, but BT’s pint-sized Whole Home Wi-Fi is still a remarkable product. Apart from being the cheapest mesh Wi-Fi system we’ve ever tested, the Whole Home Wi-Fi is incredibly simple to set up, and provides a blanket of Wi-Fi coverage for homes struggling with Wi-Fi dead spots.

Best External Hard Drive

Winner | Seagate Backup Plus | £102 (5TB)

There’s nothing overly complex about the Seagate Backup Plus and that’s exactly why we love it. It’s available in storage capacities from 1TB to a huge 5TB and performed superbly in our read and write speed tests. With a single USB-A port and the essential drive utilities, the only claim to extravagance here is a very attractive fabric finish on the front and rear surfaces. If simple, reliable storage is your top priority, the Backup Plus is perfect.

Highly Commended | Samsung T7 Touch 1TB | £340 (1TB)

Our favourite external solid state drive is lightning-fast, reaching read speeds of 894MB/sec in our tests. That’s not why it sits in this runner-up spot, though. The T7 Touch’s crown jewel is a top-mounted fingerprint sensor that can recognise up to four fingerprints – so you can share important documents with a few friends, colleagues or family members in safety.

Best NAS Drive

Winner | Synology DS218+ | £322

NAS drives come in all shapes and sizes, which makes picking an overall champion a bit of a challenge. The Synology DS218+ wins by being the absolute best value for money, and – more importantly – the simplest to use. The relatively beefy Intel Celeron processor inside helped the DS218+ nail our various benchmarking tests, making this a good choice for everything from simple file storage to 4K media streaming.

Highly Commended | Asustor AS6404T | £495

Asustor’s AS6404T caters to the more demanding NAS users with four drive bays and two Gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as HDMI and USB ports on the rear. This means you can viably use the AS6404T as a full-blooded PC – in part thanks to the powerful combination of an Intel Celeron processor and 8GB of RAM.

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