Advisory: mouse, keyboard, adapter & Co for the home office

Anyone who works at home needs a decent job. We show how to equip the office at home with a mouse, keyboard and adapters at low cost to work more effectively.

Home office sounds relaxed at first glance, but in fact working at home is a tough job. While the colleagues from heise online in the article Working in times of the corona virus In terms of the psychological and administrative side of the topic, we look at the practical problems: the equipment.

Because a notebook as a working device at home is different from the computer in the office. And if you are not used to editing large tables on the trackpad, you will quickly curse your laptop. But don't worry, with little effort and low costs, you can set up a decent job at home.

In the home office you can work well with solid equipment.

Most notebook keyboards fall into the range of usable, but not really good. Especially those who type a lot and switch completely from a keyboard at work to a notebook will quickly become uncomfortable. An external keyboard can help. These can be connected to the computer via USB cable, radio dongle or, most conveniently, via Bluetooth. Choosing the keyboard depends on your own preferences and budget. There are models without a number block that take up significantly less space. However, if you work with numbers, you will quickly get annoyed with the input.

Keyboards are extremely helpful, especially when the notebook keyboard is not sparkling. It doesn't have to be high-end models, reasonable keyboards with cables start under 10 euros.

The cheapest options are wired keyboards. You can get simple devices from Dell, Cherry or Logitech for less than 10 euros, there are also numerous no-name manufacturers who demand even less. We would recommend not working with cheap devices, but ten to 15 euros is a reasonable budget for a standard keyboard.

If you want to do without cables, you have the choice between two radio concepts: Either the manufacturer provides its own dongle, which probably uses the 2.4 GHz band, or the keyboard uses Bluetooth. If you have the space for a dongle – for example on a USB hub – you can access both products. With Bluetooth you don't need any additional dongles, but the notebooks have to meet certain Bluetooth standards. The version is in the technical data of the device or the information on the built-in Bluetooth hardware, Microsoft explains how this works. Mac users can find their Bluetooth data via this Instructions from Apple.

If you use a radio dongle, you should immediately consider whether you might want to connect several devices to it. Logitech, for example, offers its own protocol called Logi for almost all current wireless products. In other words, if you want to connect the mouse and keyboard, you can use an adapter. You can get sensible wireless keyboards from around 30 euros, although the price range here is extremely high. An Apple Magic Keyboard, for example, costs around 125 euros. Many keyboards now have an integrated battery that is charged via a USB cable. Nevertheless, you should check this in advance and, if necessary, create the right batteries as a reserve.

Frequent writers quickly notice bad keyboards in their wrists. If you hack your texts in a 10-finger system, you should immediately consider buying an at least somewhat ergonomic keyboard for your home office. These are not straight, but mostly slightly curved, so that it is more comfortable for the hands. A palm rest supports the hands. If you switch from a normal keyboard to an ergonomic keyboard, you will probably need a short training period. Simple ergonomic keyboards start at around 40 euros.

Where you can usually still work with keyboards on a notebook, trackpads are absolute horror for many. They sit under the keyboard and are therefore uncomfortable to reach. In addition, cheaper notebooks often have poor palm recognition and you accidentally move the mouse. A mouse is needed!

Mice are important for working, often it works better than with a trackpad.

As with the keyboards, there is also a wide range of mice. Cheap devices cost a few euros and usually do their job better than a trackpad. Reasonable devices from Cherry, Logitech or Speedlink cost around 5 euros; If you take 10 euros in your hand, you have a huge selection.

With wireless mice, you can choose between 2.4 GHz radio and Bluetooth. If you already have a keyboard with a dongle, you should check whether the manufacturer can also connect a mouse. Bluetooth mice and keyboards can easily be used in parallel, there is no limit here. In terms of price, reasonable Bluetooth mice start at around 15 euros. Here, too, the upper limit is almost open.

Mice now all rely on an optical sensor. However, this can lead to problems with reflective or transparent surfaces. If you work on a glass table, for example, you should throw a mouse pad into the shopping cart. Alternatively, a booklet or a sheet of paper usually works.

By the way: left-handed people now have a very good selection of devices. Anyone who has been flirting with buying a mouse for a long time can use the home office time for this.

In addition to classic mice, there are a few alternative forms of input. The classic is the trackball, even if it looks a bit out of time. On the other hand, if you value ergonomics more, you should take a closer look at the vertical mice. These are directed upwards at an angle and are intended to relax the arm and hand. The colleagues at c’t compare in the article The right click angle six different vertical mice, including the Logitech MX Vertical. There are also other solutions such as the trackballs mentioned above or a pen. More on this in c't article Feeling mice.

Notebooks are cruelly forced to save, at least when it comes to external connection options. USB-A ports are often in short supply, USB-C ports are one or maybe two. HDMI and LAN? Usually completely saved, just like the card reader. Of course, this is not always the case, at least the business devices are often a little more connected. Nevertheless, it does not hurt to have a USB hub at home to be able to plug in input devices or USB sticks without much hassle.

USB-C hubs bring the saved connections back to the notebook.

The good news: A cheap hub is enough for most USB devices, since they hardly have any high throughput requirements. Even with simple USB sticks, one can be sufficient, the data transfer then takes a little longer. But if you work with large data or want to transfer RAW photos from memory cards, you should use a reasonable hub with USB 3.0. These cost around 10 euros.

If you want to retrofit individual connections, such as card readers, LAN or HDMI via USB, you should check whether your notebook already supports USB-C. Because then you can use simple port replicators that bring a whole range of connections in one device. If you don't have a USB-C port yet, you should get the adapters you need.

One of the most versatile solutions are docks that are directly connected to the notebook and on which the entire periphery is attached. Business devices usually have special docking ports, laptops are simply attached. Thanks to USB-C, such docks can also be used for many other devices. Regardless of whether it's a surface tablet, Macbook or other notebooks, you can easily multiply the available ports via USB-C. The disadvantage of docks: they are usually more expensive and often bulky. They are particularly suitable if you want to stay in the home office after Corona and set up a fixed office corner. Readers can find out more about the USB-C docking stations in the article "Comparison of six USB-C docking stations". It is also important here that you do not use any USB-C cables. This can result in massive drops in throughput and functions. More on this in the article "USB-C cable: not everyone can do everything"

Macbook users suffer the most from the clear cutting of the connections. Since you need an adapter for almost everything, we unravel the differences in the article "Purchasing advice: The most important USB-C accessory for your Macbook".

When entire departments work at home, the hour of virtual meetings comes. And everyone should do the other in the room the favor of using a reasonable microphone and headset. The microphones integrated in the notebooks are often just usable, but they hardly offer any filter functions to hide the children or other roommates. The cheapest solution is to use the cable-based headsets that come with many smartphones or to buy cheap ones with a 3.5 mm jack. Most notebooks have combined plugs for microphone and headphones, so just plug in such headphones.

Headsets seal off the user in the home office and ensure better conversation quality.

If you want something better, you should switch to over-ear headphones. They have the advantage that they not only offer good sound, but also isolate the worker from noise in the area. The premier class would be Bluetooth headsets with ANC (theme world). If you don't want to spend so much, you can not only choose from special business devices, but the insider tip is gaming headsets. They are optimized so that the microphone doesn't pick up any noise, have a good fit, good sound and also isolate the user from his environment. In the article "Six gaming headsets up to € 75 in comparison" we show that you can get reasonable headsets for around € 50.

Many headsets rely on the classic jack plug, but this is often split into two connections for gaming devices. Often a cable whip is included with which you can bring the two connections back into one. The alternative is a USB sound card with the right connections. But then it needs a suitable USB slot again.

By the way, here is another practical tip: Video calls require significantly more bandwidth than pure voice chats. So if your own internet line gets down on your knees during meetings, it can make sense to switch off the video transmission.

Conference spiders with Bluetooh are a very good alternative to headsets. They connect to smartphones or notebooks, have significantly better microphones and bring a reasonable speaker. You don't have to spend a lot of money on it, the Logitech P710e or the Anker Powerconf (Amazon) is available for less than 120 euros.

We have had good telephone conference experiences with both in the past. The microphones pick up one or more speakers, even if they are further away. Sure, in the current phase you shouldn't be five in front of it, but since flexible workstations will hopefully continue to exist after Corona, these devices are a good investment in future calls.

In addition to the purely technical side, there is an ergonomic aspect in the home office. Or, in short: if you work on the couch, you break your back. Since very few want to afford a height-adjustable table at home, there is a fairly simple solution for notebooks with raised stands to work better.

Notebook stands increase the viewing angle on the device.

In combination with mouse and keyboard, you can easily increase the display and then look straight at it. The stands are available in different models and materials. The price starts around 15 euros. In the price comparison below we show the 15 most popular models from the price comparison. Even more There are products here at Amazon.

Home Office sounds simple at first, but it actually has a few pitfalls. There are a couple of things to keep in mind, especially when you get started. In addition to a regular work routine, this also includes reasonable equipment. There is a reason why keyboards and mice are available in most offices – notebooks alone are often a horror for long periods of work.

In our opinion, external input devices in particular are important so that you don't completely twist your fingers at home. It is of no use if you are spared from Corona and then develop tendonitis. Ergonomics is also the job of the employer in the home office – just like in the normal office. This applies at least if you work more often at home. This includes, for example, sensible chairs.