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Expert Reviews Remote Working Awards 2021: The very best home-working products

Our pick of the best products this year to improve your remote working setup

Remote working is here to stay. Even as life returns to something resembling normal, for many of us, the nine-to-five routine has been irrevocably altered. And that’s not a bad thing at all: remote working has made us more productive and freed up both time and money that might otherwise be spent on the daily commute. 

Anyone committed to working from home will have realised by this point that they need to furnish their new workspace with the best possible equipment. After all, the last thing you want is to strain your eyes and your neck working on a subpar laptop screen or suffer connectivity issues midway through a crucial meeting. The trouble is, there are several key product areas to consider and countless products vying for your attention within each one. 

It’s our job at Expert Reviews to cut through the proverbial thicket. Every year, hundreds of products pass through our home offices, garages and sheds. We’ve been furiously testing everything from PC monitors to conferencing headsets to help you pick out the very best equipment for your remote working space.

Below, you’ll find our pick of the absolute best products we’ve tried this past year, across 16 distinct categories. These are the products that no self-respecting remote worker should do without; the products that stand out in a market crowded with fierce competition. 

Welcome to the second annual Expert Reviews Remote Working Awards. 

Expert Reviews Remote Working Awards 2021

Best monitor

Winner | LG UltraWide 38WN95C | £1,300

This might just be the ultimate PC monitor. Its huge, 37.5in curved panel is large enough to hold up to three windows side-by-side without overlap and, thanks to the remarkably accurate QHD+ IPS panel, those spreadsheets and Slack conversations will look absolutely phenomenal. It’s also bristling with connectivity options, including a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port capable of supplying 90W of power. If you want the very best for your desk, this is it. 

Highly Commended | Dell UltraSharp U2720Q | £655

Delivering a stunning 4K panel for a competitive price is no mean feat but the Dell UltraSharp U2720Q achieves exactly that. It aced our tests and, better yet, it’s packed with ports and has a huge range of height, tilt, pivot and swivel adjustability. 

Best value monitor

Winner | Iiyama ProLite XUB2493HSU-B1 | £175

Iiyama continues to dominate the value monitor market with the XUB2493HSU-B1. This unassuming 1080p monitor has the hallmarks of a much more expensive product; phenomenal colour accuracy, myriad stand adjustment options and a strong selection of ports combine to earn it a glowing recommendation. Even the onscreen display is a joy to use. 

Highly Commended | Philips 242B1H | £220

Narrowly losing out to the Iiyama above is Philips’ excellent 242B1H. With a built-in pop-up webcam that’s ideally suited for meetings at home, combined with good results in our tests and a versatile stand, it’s clear why we love this 1080p screen. 

Best printer 

Winner | Canon Pixma G650 | £250

There’s very little not to like about the Canon Pixma G650. By adding two extra colours into the mix compared with its predecessor, Canon’s latest ink-tank printer produces cartridge-quality prints at a fraction of the cost. An improved refill system means topping up the six ink tanks is completely fool-proof and setting the printer up is a doddle. Throw in the scanner and photocopier and it’s clear why the G650 scoops up a win here. 

Highly Commended | Canon Pixma PRO-200 | £449

When we put this A3 printer through its paces, we were blown away by the results. Photo prints in particular came out pin-sharp and colour-accurate, regardless of size. If you need to print more than just A4 documents for work, the Canon Pixma PRO-200 is an easy recommendation. 

Best mouse

Winner | Logitech MX Master 3 | £100

It’s quite telling that not a single mouse has managed to knock the MX Master 3 from its top spot since this time last year. Our favourite wireless mouse is capable of connecting to up to three devices simultaneously over Bluetooth, and it can last for up to 70 days on a single charge. With seven programmable buttons and two scroll wheels, plus the option to copy-paste text from one connected device to another, no other rodent comes close.

Highly Commended | SteelSeries Rival 3 | £35

The Rival 3 is a keenly priced gaming mouse that can turn its hand to a bit of office work with ease. Slim and light, this mouse is a pleasure to use for extended periods, and gamers should note the six programmable buttons and unobtrusive RGB flair – all customisable via SteelSeries’ excellent Engine application. 

Best keyboard

Winner | Logitech Ergo K860 | £110

This ergonomic keyboard goes one better than the competition by including a wrist rest consisting of several layers of memory foam, just like your mattress and the result is that it’s one of the most comfortable keyboards we’ve ever used. Like other Logitech peripherals, the Ergo K860 can connect to up to three devices at once and switch between them at the press of a button. The keys even have Windows and macOS markings, so you never need to guess which one does what.

Highly Commended | MSI Vigor GK50 Elite | £80

Gaming keyboards often trump standard models for daily use, and the GK50 Elite is no exception. The mechanical keys make for an immensely satisfying typing experience, while the aluminium frame and tuneable RGB lighting add a bit of gaming flair without shouting about it. 

Best webcam

Winner | Anker PowerConf C300 | £120

If you’re happy to spend a bit more than the bare minimum, the Anker PowerConf C300 is an exceptional webcam with a few nifty tricks up its sleeve. It can automatically pan and zoom to keep participants’ faces in the frame and uses AI to produce uncannily good autofocus, so you won’t have to worry about the image going blurry at the wrong moment. It also has a noise-cancelling mic and records video at 1080p, 60 frames per second. Truly a remarkable all-rounder.

Highly Commended | Poly Studio P5 | £113

Like the Anker model above, the Poly Studio P5 is much more than your average webcam. Its feature list is simple but it does the basics phenomenally well, with rock-solid autofocus, excellent image quality and has an excellent microphone to boot.

Best conferencing headset

Winner | Poly Voyager Focus 2 | £164

For a conferencing headset, the Voyager Focus 2 packs a serious punch in the audio department and it’s brimming with features. This headset has two increasingly intense levels of active noise cancellation, one microphone with Acoustic Fence technology (to keep unwanted noise out of your Zoom calls) and an impressive 19 hours of talk time. It’ll even hang up calls or pause audio playback when you take it off your head.

Highly Commended | EPOS Adapt 135 | £42

The EPOS Adapt 135 is a monaural (single ear) headset that offers a similar feature set to its binaural siblings at a fraction of the cost. We particularly like the in-line audio controls, comfortable earpiece, noise-cancelling mic and – most importantly – competitive price tag. 

Best USB microphone

Winner | Shure MV7 | £259

Podcasters and YouTube streamers looking to up their audio game – or anyone who wants the very best sound for video calls – should take a good look at the Shure MV7. It’s beautifully made, comes with dual USB and XLR connections and has touch-sensitive controls built right onto the body of the microphone. Most importantly, recording quality is phenomenal – it’s particularly good at cutting out background noise – and the accompanying software makes it a doddle to get the settings right. Our favourite USB microphone for any application.

Highly Commended | Shure MV5C | £105

Shure cleans up in this category with the MV5C, a simple microphone that balances price and performance beautifully. Small and light, this mic takes up very little space on your desk – it’s perfect for more cramped working environments. 

Best home working laptop

Winner | M1 Apple MacBook Air | £999

On the surface, the latest MacBook Air is indistinguishable from its predecessor. But take a look inside and you’ll find Apple’s new M1 chip running the show, which means unbeatable performance and great battery life. The M1 MacBook Air outdoes Windows rivals at a similar price and does so without fans, meaning you won’t hear a thing while this laptop is in use. It’s not just the best MacBook Air; it’s the best laptop of any kind that you can buy. 

Highly Commended | Samsung Galaxy Book Pro (15.6in) | £1,449

There’s very little not to love about the Galaxy Book Pro. It’s exceptionally light and paper-thin, and yet it packs a good amount of power courtesy of the latest Intel processors. The display is gorgeous, the battery life is substantial; in brief, it’s our favourite Windows laptop of 2021.

Best business laptop

Winner | Dell XPS 13 (2020) | £1,599

The laptop we described as “the best Windows laptop you can buy” certainly earns such high praise. The latest XPS 13 packs an enormous amount of quality into its slim frame. From the colour-accurate display to the generous (and beefy) specification, this laptop is built to take the knocks of day-to-day use and keep on running and our tests proved that it has the battery life to go the distance. It helps that it looks gorgeous, too. 

Highly Commended | Lenovo ThinkPad T14s (AMD) | £1,243

ThinkPad laptops are synonymous with office work, and the T14S is no exception. This is a solid, dependable laptop with one of the best keyboards we’ve ever used, plenty of ports and more than enough performance to get the job done.

Best PC speakers

Winner | JBL One Series 104-BT | £169

By taking our favourite desktop speakers and adding Bluetooth compatibility, JBL has earned itself a win in this category. The One Series 104-BT has the added benefit of being able to monitor all inputs simultaneously, meaning you don’t have to miss out on PC audio when you connect your phone over Bluetooth. With powerful sound and a lovely design, the 104-BT is an ideal (and inexpensive) office audio solution. 

Highly Commended | Creative Pebble V3 | £35

The Creative Pebble V3 not only sound great for the money, but they also look good on your desk and don’t take up much room. Add Bluetooth connectivity into the mix and it’s easy to see why we selected this set as our runner up in the category.

Best Wi-Fi extender

Winner | TP-Link RE650 | £81

TP-Link’s wireless extender may not be the last word in high tech wireless but it’s incredibly easy to set up, and in our tests, we found it did a great job of reliably extending wireless signals to parts of our house it might otherwise not have reached. It also has a single Gigabit Ethernet port for wired connections and it’s affordable, too. As a means of extending Wi-Fi signal into the dead spots around the house, there aren’t many better purchases you can make.

Highly Commended | Devolo Mesh WiFi 2 | £300

As heavy-duty powerline/Wi-Fi extenders go, the Devolo Mesh WiFi 2 is expensive but you can’t get a more reliable way of extending the reach of your network across large areas. It produced staggeringly good results in our tests thanks to its 2,400Mbits/sec G.Hn powerline technology and, combined with dual-band 1,200Mbits/sec 802.11ac Wi-Fi is perfect for anyone who needs solid, reliable Wi-Fi everywhere in their home.

Best router

Winner | Asus RT-AX82U | £180

This dramatic-looking wireless router will grant you access to the latest (read: fastest) wireless standards without paying through the nose. Tests performed over Wi-Fi 6 produced excellent results in all corners of our house and it’s packed with features, too, including outbound VPN support and a built-in VPN server, plus comprehensive parental controls and network protection tools. It’s not quite the fastest around but it delivers more bang per buck than any router we’ve tested in the past year.

Highly Commended | Honor Router 3 | £80

The Honor Router 3 swings the Highly Commended award by being the cheapest Wi-Fi 6 router we’ve reviewed. It’s also easy to set up and use and, while not the most rapid router ever, delivered a solid performance in our tests. If you’re interested in Wi-Fi 6 but don’t want a spaceship like the RT-AX82U above, this is a great alternative.

Best mesh Wi-Fi router

Winner | Netgear Orbi RBK752 | £442

Performing a delicate balancing act between price, performance and features is the tri-band Netgear Orbi RBK752. We love this mesh system because it provides consistently good coverage and speed in a stylish, easy to use package. The built-in VPN and Alexa integration are lovely added bonuses but it’s the Orbi RBK752’s status as an unbeatable all-rounder that earns it the win here.

Highly Commended | TP-Link Deco X20 | £224

If it’s mesh Wi-Fi at an affordable price that you’re after, the TP-Link Deco X20 is our pick this year. With a tempting selection of extras – including built-in antivirus protection for your network – the Deco X20 is a doddle to set up and manage and delivers solid Wi-Fi coverage as well.

Best external hard drive

Winner | Samsung T5 SSD | £89

Samsung’s T5 SSD simply can’t be beaten. With speedy read and write speeds and a sleek design, the T5 is the ideal external SSD for anyone who needs both capacity and performance in a portable unit. You might find slightly faster SSDs on the market, but none that represent such great value for money. 

Highly Commended | WD MyPassport Ultra | £135

This unassuming external hard drive from Western Digital nabs the Highly Commended spot by delivering USB-C support, large storage capacities and whisper-quiet operation at a highly competitive price.

Best laptop stand

Winner | Twelve South ParcSlope | £50

This stylish laptop stand was made with MacBook and iPad users in mind, and it certainly looks the part. However, it’s also immensely practical: the easel has a small hole for cable management and there’s a thoughtful cutout on the bottom edge that lines up with the notch on the bottom of your MacBook so you can flip the screen open quickly. Even if you don’t have an Apple product, this is an excellent and good-looking laptop stand for home use.

Highly Commended | Trust GXT 1125 Quno | £40

The Trust GXT 1125 Quno keeps laptops up to 17 in size cool in sweltering conditions with five quiet and effective fans mounted under the easel. It also offers an impressive 19cm of elevation and even comes with a smartphone holder built in. An unbeatably versatile stand.

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