From a beautiful-but-dumb phone to mood lighting to transform working from your living room, our tech expert, David Phelan, rounds up the latest devices to make your life a little better and more beautiful – no matter where you’re working from
The best tech helps us work smarter, faster and more efficiently. The latest gadgets can help you focus or lift your spirits. A phone with fewer features can prevent distractions. And the right lighting, adjustable by one quick command, can put you in a more industrious mood…
1. Portable speaker
£399 from sonos.com
If you like music while you work, with the right tracks to help you focus, this is a high-quality speaker you can take anywhere – though do try not to annoy your neighbours by pumping up the volume. This is the first portable speaker from audio wizards Sonos. It has the same intuitive set-up as other Sonos speakers, and you can connect it via Wi-fi to any others you have if you’re at home. Additionally, if you want to work outdoors, then the Bluetooth connection will connect to your phone or tablet easily enough. It sounds brilliant, with deft clarity for both vocals and bass. It’s light enough to be carried but solid enough to ensure great audio.
2. Smart lighting
From £129.99 from philips-hue.com
Mood music is one thing, so how about complementing it with mood lighting? Harsh fluorescent strip lights are thankfully a thing of the past. Smart LED lights let you change brightness, warmth or colour instantly. The Philips Hue range includes table lamps, light strips and smart bulbs. A starter kit gives you a hub and smart bulbs. White bulbs go from cool to warm while colour ambience bulbs offer literally millions of colours. Controlled from a smartphone app (or your voice if you have Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant), you can schedule an energising bright white for the morning and a gentler golden shade for the afternoon, for instance.
3. A ‘dumb phone’
£293 from punkt.ch
Smartphones are brilliant. But sometimes they can be just too distracting. If the familiar ping from your phone means you think, “Ooh, a new Facebook update,” and you investigate, try something less intrusive. The MP02 from Swiss company Punkt. is delightfully minimal. The colour screen mostly adopts an elegant black-and-white look. It’s meant for calls and texts, and that’s more or less it. However, because it’s a 4G phone, you can check emails or surf the internet wherever you are by using it to provide connectivity for your laptop. It fits the hand perfectly, is superbly simple to use (real buttons!) and has great battery life.
4. Portable battery
Native Union Jump+ Wireless Powerbank
£84.99 from Amazon
A portable battery is a boon, especially if your phone is running low on juice and there’s no convenient wall socket. This neat device is very versatile, with two outputs – regular USB-A and the latest USB-C – which is faster. You can charge an iPhone from flat to 50% in half an hour with USB-C, for instance. There’s also a wireless charging pad built in so you can plonk a compatible phone on top and it’ll charge it. The design is thoughtful: it has a silicone finish so the handset won’t slide off.
5. Charging dock
Moshi Symbus Q Compact USB-C Dock
£164.95 from moshi.com
Some of the latest laptops can be short on sockets, often lacking USB-A at all, for instance. So a dock like this can give you the freedom to connect everything you want. The cool-looking dock from Moshi uses just one USB-C port on your computer and does a lot: it powers the laptop, adds two USB-A ports, has an Ethernet port for a fast wired internet connection and HDMI so you can use an external display. All from one smart little device. Oh, and it has a wireless charging pad, too.
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