Tag Archives: PC Magazine

Holiday Gift Ideas for Those Working from Home

 By Tracey Dowdy

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that working from home isn’t the dream some thought it would be. Unreliable internet, frequent interruptions from our family or housemates, and the countless other distractions that come with working at the kitchen table mean our productivity and job satisfaction have been all over the place. 

With the number of COVID cases skyrocketing around the country, many employers will maintain their “work-from-home” policies well into the new year. That means we need tech that adapts to our new environment, helps us stay focused, and lets us hold on to what’s left of our sanity. 

Tech Radar just published a list of the best noise-canceling headphones of 2020, whatever your budget. Top of the list is Sony’s WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones, but at nearly $300, they may be outside your price range. A less expensive but still reliable choice is their WF-1000XM3/S for $168.

If you still need to hear what your kids are up to, a white noise machine may be a better option. The Lectrofan Noise Machine gets consistently high marks from sites like PC Magazine and Wirecutter. It offers brown and pink noise options, is aesthetically pleasing, and at just $30, the price is hard to beat. 

Though most offices do their best to be paperless, desk organizers are still essential. An organized workspace is an efficient workspace, so choosing the right design is important. Get inspired with this list of The Best Desktop Organizers from Wirecutter, or check out this list of The Best Desk Organizers, According to Professional Organizers from New York Magazine. 

Speaking of going paperless, a smart notebook is a great way to eliminate waste while making note-taking more intuitive and interactive. Smart notebooks allow you to write with pen and paper while offering the ability to turn notes into digital files users can edit and manipulate digitally later on. Business Insider has a list of the best smart notebooks ranging in price from $25 to $200. 

According to a study by the University of Exeter, a houseplant transforms your workspace and has the potential to boost productivity by 15%. Who knew? And, who doesn’t need a little boost these days? The Sill offers a huge selection of plants, with entire categories dedicated to pet-friendly and beginner-friendly plants. Of course, if even hardy succulents aren’t a good option, sites like IkeaTargetWest Elm, and Wayfair offer plenty of artificial alternatives. 

If your commute included walking or time for the gym, working from home may have interfered with your fitness routine. You can change that up with an under-desk elliptical like the Stamina Inmotion Elliptical, the Cubii Pro Under-Desk Elliptical, or replace a  traditional desk with the Flexispot Bike Desk

Somehow, it seems choosing a healthy snack or lunch is trickier when working from home. It’s easier to grab something quick or to eat whatever you’ve fixed for your kids. To help resist the temptation to make poor choices, Urban Tastebud collated a list of the 20 Best Monthly Healthy Subscription Boxes at various price points. The list includes organic, gluten-free, and vegan options, and even boxes designed with the perfect personalized protein powder blend.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


Best Tech For Mother’s Day

 By Tracey Dowdy

 Mother’s Day is fast approaching – are you ready? I’m guessing not if you’re checking out an article with suggestions for gifts. Not to worry, whether mom is tech savvy or the clock is blinking on the microwave because she doesn’t know how to reset it, we’ve got suggestions for you.

Give the gift of endless entertainment. Both the Amazon Fire Stick and Roku Streaming Stick Plus are easy, plug-and-play style media streaming devices. The Fire Stick is a solid option if your mom is an Amazon Prime subscriber while the Roku Streaming Stick is a great option for anyone.

Give the gift of time. Though the term is a bit of a misnomer – you have to allow time for pressure to build and release along with actual cooking time – an Instant Pot is more than just a pressure cooker. The Duo 7-in-1 series combines the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge maker, steamer, sauté/browning, yogurt maker and warmer. You can cook food from frozen, like this 30 Minute Chicken Cacciatore.

Give her back her sanity. Well, that may be a stretch, but if your mom is constantly losing her keys, the remote, her phone, or your dad, a Tile may be the answer. These little Bluetooth trackers can be paired with your phone to track items within a range of 300 ft/90 m. And right now, Target has a four-pack Tile Mate, featuring a rechargeable battery, and a bonus gift of a Google Home Mini (a $40 value) for just $60.

Put happiness in her hands. If you’re shopping for a mom of little ones, other than an all expense paid vacation, there’s no better gift than the Ember Mug designed to keep her beverage of choice at the perfect temperature for an hour, upping the odds that she’ll get to drink it while it’s still hot despite endless interruptions by roughly a million percent. Once paired with the Ember app on her smartphone, mom can choose her ideal temperature between 120-145° and Ember will wake up and maintain that temperature all day on its coaster (or an hour off).

Give her her own Rosie the Robot Maid. Okay, well maybe not an actual Rosie, but a robot vacuum cleaner is the next best thing. There are a lot of robot vacuums on the market, but PC Magazine breaks down your best options at a variety of price points.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.