Remote working is set to stay after a tumultuous 2020 and 2021. Check out these 18 gadgets under S$50 that’ll make it much easier to work in your room without burning a hole in your wallet.
‘WFH’ is an acronym that was burned into the minds of the global workforce in 2020. Even as countries began to loosen COVID-19 restrictions in 2021, many firms have continued to adopt remote working policies.
For instance, professional social networking platform LinkedIn lets its employees decide whether to work from home fully or head back to the office occasionally.
But with great flexibility comes the great need for customisation. It’s neither comfortable nor productive to be working in a makeshift home office for more than a year. Unfortunately, replicating your workplace’s setup in your room can cost a pretty penny.
So, what’s a dedicated employee to do?
Fret not, because there are plenty of affordable gadgets and gizmos out there to boost your productivity and make the WFH experience more comfortable. Check out the top 18 that you need to have in your room. The best part? They all cost under S$50, especially when you’re shopping smart.
- Gadgets to boost your productivity
- Gadgets that will improve your quality of life
- Gadgets you never knew you needed
Gadgets to boost your productivity
There is a smorgasbord of tech tools to boost your productivity at work, so there’s no need to constantly spring for equipment that’s top-of-the-line. Check out these six gadgets that’ll help you speed through the day’s tasks. Who knows, these might even accompany you back to the office one day.
Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard: S$37 – S$49
Logitech has been producing computer peripherals of all sorts since 1981, but tech geeks would argue that its strength lies in keyboards and mice. And with the K380 available, it’s easy to see why. This wireless keyboard sports a tenkeyless design and a thickness of just 1.6cm, allowing you to save space for the other 17 tech toys on this list.
However, it’s true calling card would be its level of compatibility. It’ll play nice with devices running on Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, iPadOS, and Chrome OS. And you can connect it to three devices simultaneously for easy switching.
The icing on the cake? It costs just S$37 – S$49, depending on where you’re purchasing it from.
SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.1 Flash Drive (256GB): S$40 – S$45
Sure, cloud computing is a thing now and households would’ve had plenty of time to set up a home server in 2020, but for the lazy and/or paranoid, nothing beats an old school thumbdrive. SanDisk’s Ultra Fit flash drive sports the latest USB version, promising read speeds of up to 130MB/s and write speeds of up to 60MB/s.
Don’t let its small size – just 0.5cm thick and 3cm long – fool you. Its storage capacity at the S$40 – S$45 price range is a whopping 256GB.
What’s more, SanDisk has included two nifty features within the Ultra Fit, with SecureAccess letting you create a private folder and RescuePRO Deluxe allowing you to recover files that have been accidentally deleted.
PROLiNK PEN1201 Wi-Fi Extender 3-in-1 Device: S$20 – S$25
Singapore’s apartments aren’t exactly the largest, but it’s still possible to have several spots at home that your wi-fi can’t reach. If your room is located in the corner of your apartment, all the more that PROLiNK’s PEN1201 wi-fi extender will come in handy.
Promising speeds of up to 300Mpbs, it’s more than sufficient for high-quality video conferencing and web browser duties.
This device is more than a wi-fi extender, as its ‘3-in-1’ name suggests. Stash it away in your luggage when you’re travelling because it can be used as a travel router. And if your wi-fi router at home kicks the bucket, this can serve as a backup until a new one arrives.
As for the price? Just S$20 – S$25.
Maxell Wireless Trackball Mouse: S$39.90
If you’re lacking space at your table, trackball mice are the way to go. These funky-looking mice allow you to control the on-screen cursor via the eponymous trackball, meaning that you won’t need to move your wrist as much, if at all. Maxell’s wireless option helps you save even more space due to its small size and lack of cables.
The company has included two programmable buttons above the trackball for good measure.
And its price isn’t out of this world either, at just S$39.90 a pop. If you’re frustrated at your laptop’s trackpad, this is one to consider.
Verbatim Type C USB 3.1 Hub & Card Reader: S$29
If your laptop has less ports than a landlocked nation, you’re going to need a USB hub, especially if you plan to connect a mouse and an additional keyboard. Verbatim’s option offers connectivity via USB Type-C, which is perfect for slimmer laptops. The hub has three USB 3.0 ports and slots for an SD card and microSD card.
At a price point of S$29, this level of connectivity is more than sufficient, especially if your table doesn’t have much space to begin with.
Verbatim’s USB hub won’t be a hassle to store in your drawer or organiser either, sporting a 1.5cm thickness, 10cm length, and 47g weight.
Corsair MM300 PRO Spill-Proof Cloth Mouse Pad (Medium): S$25 – S$29
If you’re wondering, no, those green cutting mats for arts and crafts will not do as a mouse pad. It’ll wear out the feet of your mouse at a much quicker rate and are fairly hard to store, given their size. Enter Corsair’s MM300 PRO cloth mouse pad. Because of the material it’s constructed from, it’ll allow your mouse to glide smoothly across.
Additionally, Corsair says that this mouse pad is spill-proof and stain-resistant. And because it’s made from cloth and rubber, you can easily roll it up and tuck it away once you knock off work.
The medium version of the MM300 PRO will do for most tables, being sized at 36cm by 30cm and priced between S$25 and S$29.
Gadgets that will improve your quality of life
These six gadgets are designed to make life a little easier, especially if you’re spending hours working and relaxing in your room. On the other hand, one of them might have the opposite effect if you’ve been enjoying food deliveries and ‘circuit baking’ a little too much.
Anker PowerWave+ Pad with Watch Holder: S$49.90
So many devices to charge, so little power sockets. Anker’s PowerWave+ Pad kills two birds with one stone, letting you wirelessly charge a smartphone and an Apple Watch simultaneously. Furthermore, the PowerWave+ Pad is able to provide a 7.5W charge, which is superior to other 5W wireless chargers at this price range.
Speaking of prices, this two-in-one charger costs S$49.90. And if you’re looking to wirelessly charge other devices, that’s possible too, as long as they’re equipped with Qi-standard technology.
And as with a good number of devices in this list, the PowerWave+ Pad can be kept easily, being both slim and light.
AromaSG Ultrasonic Humidifier Aroma Diffuser: S$19.90
Working from home isn’t exactly stress-free, given the circumstances that landed folks here in the first place. Having an aroma diffuser on hand will help to soothe a frayed nerve or three after a long day of conference calls.
AromaSG provides an affordable yet reliable option, with its S$19.90 500ml ultrasonic aroma diffuser that functions as a humidifier too.
This is perfect if you’re spending a lot of time in an air-conditioned room and are unwilling to splurge on a dedicated humidifier. One particularly useful feature would be that it automatically switches off once there’s no more water left in the tank, preventing the aroma diffuser from getting damaged.
Muduan Portable Electric Heating Cup Mat: S$11
Nobody likes a hot cup of coffee or tea turning cold while they’re busy wrangling with work. Muduan’s mug warmer is a simple but effective solution, automatically heating up your cup once it’s plugged in and switched on.
There are two heating modes available: low and high. Although you can’t set the exact temperature, it ranges from 40°C to 60°C.
You need not worry about the warming pad’s durability because it’s made from tempered glass. Plus, the temperature range is relatively low, being able to keep beverages warm but not to the extent that they boil. A safety feature the absent-minded will appreciate would be that the mug warmer automatically switches off if nothing is placed on it.
Muduan’s mug warmer is available for S$11.
Xiaomi Mi Body Composition Scale 2: S$20 – S$35
There are weighing scales and there’s Xiaomi’s Mi Body Composition Scale 2. Fair warning: this high-tech weighing scale will not spark joy if you have been indulging in several rounds of home baking and food delivery. That’s because it’ll display data across 13 measurements, including your weight, BMI, muscle mass, and body fat percentage.
On the flip side, they say that knowledge is power, so you’ll know exactly what you need to work on after stepping off the scale. And if you’re actively trying to get in shape, the Mi Body Composition Scale 2 serves as a great form of encouragement.
It doesn’t cost a bomb either, ranging from S$20 – S$35.
Belkin Universal Cable with Micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning Connectors: S$24 – S$29
USB cables aren’t the most exciting gadgets in the world, but Belkin has managed to jazz things up by creating a space-saving three-in-one solution. This 1.2m-long universal cable has three connectors: micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning.
That safely covers any device you might have in your room and ensures that it won’t be littered with cables of multiple types.
Although Belkin’s universal cable costs anywhere between S$24 and S$29, bear in mind that Apple’s asking price for its own Lightning cable is S$29. The brand has ensured that it’s MFi-certified to boot, which means that it’ll work just as well as Apple’s own cables.
Bagsmart Glendora Electronics Organiser: S$30
A fabric electronics organiser is the furthest thing from a gadget, but it’ll keep all your cables and devices in check. Bagsmart’s Glendora can pull double duty as well, fitting into any backpack or luggage as easily as it would a cabinet. That’s because it’s just 2.5cm thick, 24.1cm long, and 16cm wide.
This electronics organiser has compartments for cables, power plugs, SIM cards, SD cards, and smaller gadgets like smartphones and digital cameras. It’s the perfect addition to your room if you’re constantly misplacing accessories while working from home.
The Bagsmart Glendora will set you back S$30 and the brand produces a range of bags for other purposes too.
Gadgets you never knew you needed
Apart from the gadgets listed above, there are the more esoteric ones. These six gadgets might appear alien, but they’ll do wonders for your room. In fact, one of them might prove to be especially entertaining, given that its full-service counterpart could not operate ever since the COVID-19 pandemic became a serious threat.
LED Ring Light + Accessories: S$20 – S$45
Face it, there were moments during the many personal and professional video calls you had throughout 2020 and 2021 where you felt you could have looked better. Likewise for when you were honing your TikTok skills or snapping selfies for the ‘gram in your room. This is where an LED ring light will (literally) brighten things up.
Having an LED ring light in your room is akin to how professional photographers rely on external light sources to bring out the best in their subjects.
However, these ring lights don’t heat up and won’t cost you an arm and leg, being priced between S$20 and S$45 depending on how many accessories you’d like to add on to your purchase.
One Apple AirTag: S$45
If you’re still bewildered that Apple released the AirTag in April 2021, it clearly isn’t meant for you. For folks who are more forgetful, however, this is a godsend. You can attach it to anything you want in order to keep track of its whereabouts, whether it’s your car keys or your backpack. And Apple being Apple means that the AirTag is more than a simple tracking device.
If someone has mistakenly left their AirTag in your room, for instance, your iPhone will alert you to that as well. The cost of entry for this sophisticated tracker is steep though, being priced at S$45 a pop.
And then there’s the additional cost of replacing the battery annually. Fortunately, you can do that on your own, unlike with any other modern Apple device.
StillCool Gooseneck Smartphone & Tablet Holder: S$16 – S$23
A favourite of national servicemen present and (recent) past, the gooseneck smartphone mount does all the holding for you so your hands can be occupied with your favourite snack and beverage instead. StillCool’s option takes it to the next level with a bevy of upgrades while still being priced affordably at S$16 – S$23, depending on where you purchase it from.
For one, it’s not just limited to smartphones, being able to hold devices that are up to 19.5cm wide. Secondly, the StillCool Gooseneck Smartphone & Tablet Holder features a ball and socket joint, letting you position your device to the exact viewing angle you desire.
Lastly, it can be mounted to any surface with a maximum thickness of 7.5cm.
Kaku Tianlai Series Wireless Karaoke Microphone: S$29.90
KTVs – at least the legitimate ones – have been shuttered ever since March 2020. Although it’s easy to set up a karaoke system at home, your housemates won’t hesitate to certify you as a freak if you’re belting out the Billboard Top 100 after work at maximum volume. Not all is lost though, because you can take the warbling to your room with a wireless karaoke microphone.
Kaku’s Tianlai wireless karaoke microphone has the bells and whistles of a full-fledged system, including control over its volume, reverb length, and backing track. It pairs with your preferred device over Bluetooth and will do nicely if you need to record an interview or podcast too.
It costs S$29.90 and yes, those rainbow-coloured lights are indeed built into the microphone.
Philips Fabric Shaver: S$19 – S$29
Fabric pills, lint, and stray threads are annoying. Getting rid of these manually using a separate set of tools is even more annoying, especially when you own a pet cat or dog. Why not enlist the help of a single fabric shaver to speed things up? Philips’ option is hard to beat, given the Dutch corporation’s expertise in consumer electronics.
Philips’ fabric shaver is straightforward to operate and can be used for all garments. It’s powered by two AA batteries and comes with an easily removable fabric pill container, which makes cleaning sessions effortless. Philips has included a cleaning brush too, letting you get rid of fabric that stubbornly clings to the blades and container.
The price? Anywhere from S$19 – S$29, depending on where you’re purchasing it from.
X-mini CLICK 2 Bluetooth Speaker: S$40
Bluetooth speakers are a dime a dozen, but what makes the X-mini CLICK 2 unique is its size. It weighs just 85g and sports a diameter of 5cm, but doesn’t skimp on the features. Expect six hours worth of playback, a built-in microphone, and stereo capabilities when you pair it with another X-mini CLICK 2. And with a 10m range, it’s perfect for any bedroom or study.
If you take plenty of calls and your phone’s speakers aren’t up to snuff, the X-mini CLICK 2 will be right up your alley. And if you’re wondering why it has ‘CLICK’ in its name, that’s because it comes equipped with a remote shutter function.
What makes more sense is its price, which matches the size at S$40.
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By Ebel Tang
A geek culture enthusiast who’s also a little too invested in the wide world of whisky and watches. And no, he was not named after the Swiss timepiece brand.