Cindy's Home Office for the Holidays - A Gift Guide

Cindy's Home Office for the Holidays
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Who said that the season of giving ends in December? It's never too late to purchase a 21:9 monitor, a KVM switch, automated shades, noise-canceling headphones, a UHD webcam, a powerful microphone, or a work-from-home tech kit for a favorite person on your gift list. Plus, check out my top three great tech gifts for kids that will make their homework experience more enjoyable.

While I am working on the Ultimate Work from Home Office Guide to be published in February, I'd like to call out a few items that would make an excellent gift for anyone on your holiday list (sending a link to my family).

Starting with my favorite is the 21:9 monitor, which is a must-have for expanding the digital desktop. Many are designed with gaming in mind, but if you are doing video editing, these powerhouses will be your best friend. And, if you're like me and work with a locked-down, company-issued computer while also utilizing a personal computer, the 21:9 monitor with a KVM will also declutter the physical desktop.

Quality audio and video is paramount for the remote worker to ensure meeting equity. Please ditch the $19 microphone you took home in March 2020 and stop using the built-in camera on your laptop. Below are some options that will change your remote work experience.

Anyone who has been in my home knows that I am passionate about proper lighting. This includes controlling natural light, which is important while on a videoconference. Below are two products that will place you in a new light.

I hope that in 2023 more companies will equip remote workers with the technology necessary to ensure meeting equity. But until then, here are some great home office suggestions that will completely change the remote experience for that special someone on your gifting list.

Jupiter Pana 34

Jupiter’s Pana 34

(Image credit: Jupiter)

Jupiter’s Pana 34 enhances desktop productivity and meetings with rich features, a more natural viewing experience that is panoramic, ergonomic, accessible, and truly immersive. This includes a 124-degree ultra-wide field of view swing/tilt 4K camera, 8-microphone array, 24-watt speaker system, a bezel-less OGM mutual capacitive touch display, and a flex-stand that swings and lowers to a faceup drafting mode for its 4,069 levels of pressure sensitivity pen. 

The Pana 34 offers modern functionality for desktop collaboration and connectivity for corporate offices, mission critical applications, as well as virtual film production where directors prefer a 21:9 format to review film playback after shoots. Engineers and designers will especially love the flexible bezel-less display experience. With 65-watt USB-C power delivery, HDMI, and DP ports, it is one of the most complete desktop display solutions on the market.

LG UltraGear 38GN950

LG UltraGear 38GN950

(Image credit: LG)

From our sister publication, Tech Radar: If you’re looking for the ultimate gaming monitor the LG UltraGear 38GN950 is certainly the one to beat. With a 144Hz refresh rate that can be easily overclocked to 160Hz, 1ms response time, spectacular image quality, and many other gaming features like G-Sync, an ultra-wide aspect ratio, and Display HDR 600 this is a truly remarkable monitor. 

During testing, the 21:9 ultrawide aspect ratio certainly delivered the ‘wow’ factor –games feel much more cinematic on this display, offering not just a super-immersive experience, but also a tactical advantage. In particular, Microsoft Flight Simulator greatly benefited from the ultrawide design as it allowed us to keep an eye on landmarks and runways without pressing a button to switch views.

We found that playing at 144Hz and 160Hz results in an enjoyable experience without screen tearing. Meanwhile, the DCI-P3 98 percent color gamut support makes it a good option for photographers and video editors.

IOGEAR's Port 4K KVM with DisplayPort/USB-C

IOGEAR's Port 4K KVM with DisplayPort/USB-C

(Image credit: IOGEAR)

IOGEAR's Port 4K KVM with DisplayPort/USB-C with audio switch is simple, straight-forward, and easy to use. It addresses the issue of connecting more and more mixed devices. This KVM provides the connections to both DisplayPort and USB-C computers. It is perfect for users with a USB-C laptop and DisplayPort tower setup who use a single monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Shure’s MV5C Home Office Microphone

Shure’s MV5C Home Office Microphone

(Image credit: Shure)

Shure’s MV5C Home Office Microphone can be used with or without headphones. Simply plug it in with the supplied cables to a Mac or Windows computer and join virtual meetings with the confidence that you sound just as good at home as you do in the boardroom. Speech enhancement processing improves speech intelligibility, and a directional microphone element provides increased voice isolation and minimized room reverberation. 

Plug the MV5C in and join video conferences from home knowing that your voice will be heard with pristine clarity and consistency. It is compatible with third-party software conferencing platforms including Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The MV5C default setting allows the user to listen through a computers built-in speakers, an external speaker or headphone output. Playback mode can be activated to monitor directly via the headphone output for podcasting or voice overs.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Bose)

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is a new level of home office headset. The detachable boom mic is designed to reject noise and pick up only your voice so you’re heard crystal clear. Away from your desk, the built-in noise-rejecting dual-microphone system provides clear calls, even in noisy environments. This headset is ready for hours of work at home, the office, and everywhere in between.

With Acoustic Noise Cancelling technology, the QC35 II uses a combination of patented active and passive noise cancellation innovations. The result is crisp, clear audio and rich, deep bass over a bed of virtual silence. Whether it’s the details in the game or the beat of your music, you can hear more of what matters to you.

The QC35 II has up to 40 hours of battery life in wired gaming mode and up to 20 hours in wireless lifestyle mode. If you need a little bit more, 15 minutes of quick-charge gives you up to 5 hours more for wired gaming, and up to 2.5 hours more in wireless lifestyle mode.

Jabra PanaCast 20

Jabra PanaCast 20

(Image credit: Jabra)

Jabra PanaCast 20 is the next generation of intelligent, secure, portable video collaboration. Harnessing advanced on-board AI to deliver an intelligent feature set that takes your video experience to the next level, PanaCast 20 is a personal camera that knows exactly what you need, when you need it. 

PanaCast 20 uses advanced processors, powerful on-board AI, and a 13-megapixel camera to deliver an impressive real-time 4K Ultra-HD image that’s crystal-clear, with virtually no latency. AI-based Intelligent Lighting Optimization analyzes your environment and automatically adjusts your image in real-time to enhance the video quality.

Logitech Brio 505

Logitech’s Brio 505 1080p webcam

(Image credit: Logitech)

Logitech’s Brio 505 1080p webcam provides an easy, plug-and-play hybrid meeting experience. RightLight 4 automatically adjusts to any lighting, so users look natural, even in poor lighting conditions. Full HD 1080p resolution and AI-based face image correction delivers crisp image quality so everyone is seen clearly, and the integrated, easy-to-use privacy shutter completely blocks the camera when users don’t wish to be seen. Brio 505 elevates employees' voices by filtering out background noise. Brio 505 is compatible with most video conferencing platforms and is certified for use with Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, and is TAA compliant.

Hall Technologies Work From Home Kit

Hall Technologies WFH-KIT Work-from-Home solutions kit

(Image credit: Hall Technologies)

Hall Technologies WFH-KIT Work-from-Home solutions kit comprises the HT-WebCam-4K-AI (Auto Framing 4K WebCam) and the HT-Satellite-DOCK (Smart Docking Speakerphone).

The HT-WebCam-4K-AI camera is a 4K ultra-HD USB webcam with high quality video at 30fps. The lens is an ultra-wide-angle lens with auto color-correction and white balance to help improve the image in dimly lit areas. The AI technology includes the ability to turn on auto framing or presenter tracking along with microphone noise reduction.

The HT-Satellite-DOCK is a smart docking station with built-in speakerphone. The docking station supports up to two USB 3.2 devices such as the HT-WebCam-4K-AI camera as well as a monitor using HDMI and can charge most laptops using a single USB 3.0 Type-C cable. And, with four microphone elements the omnidirectional speakerphone can clearly pick up 360° audio up to 5 meters (16.4ft) away. The speakerphone also includes AEC (automatic noise cancellation) and noise reduction to reduce echo to the far end and local background noise. Both are fully compatible with most operating systems, including Windows 7/8/10/11, macOS, Android, Linux and Chrome OS.

Crestron UC-MM30-R

Crestron UC-MM30-R tabletop conference device

(Image credit: Crestron)

The Crestron UC-MM30-R tabletop conference device pairs an enterprise-grade speakerphone with the powerful control of the Crestron Home operating system to provide one convenient home office companion. The sleek, low-profile form factor of the conference device is suitable for any home office environment. The minimal amount of device connections eliminates cable clutter for a clean user experience and simple installation.

The tabletop conference device natively runs the Crestron Home app and offers complete integration with an existing Crestron Home system to provide lighting, shade, climate, media, security, and camera control. The Crestron Home app also offers the ability to create and recall scenes to achieve a desired ambiance throughout a home. The intuitive user interface allows for dynamic home control and convenient in‑call volume control via the device's large 7 in. HD color touch screen.

Simply connect the included USB cable from the conference device to a computer for a seamless audio-conferencing experience. When connected, the conference device acts as an AEC-enabled USB speakerphone with four built-in omnidirectional microphones for 360° audio pickup.

Lutron’s Serena Smart Shades

Lutron’s Serena Smart Shades

(Image credit: Lutron)

Lutron’s Serena smart shades offer the beauty, luxury, and quality of a Lutron motorized shade at a more affordable price. Available in insulating honeycomb and roller styles, Serena shades offer a wide variety of fabric colors and textures, for complete design customization. These ultra-quiet window coverings install and operate without wires, and feature industry-leading battery performance. At the touch of a button, shades operate in perfect unison, and can even be controlled from anywhere in the world using the Lutron App and Smart Bridge.

Lume Cube’s Edge Light 2-Pack for Glare Prevention

Edge Light 2-Pack for Glare Prevention

(Image credit: Lume Cube)

Lume Cube’s Edge Light 2-Pack for Glare Prevention comprise two properly angled Edge Lights eliminate glare on your monitor and ensure you're seen on-screen through your glasses on video calls. The Edge balances high-quality personalized light with a flexible design to enhance your focus, mood, and your appearance. Edge-Lit Technology provides perfectly balanced light, sparing your eyes from harsh bright spots.

3 Great Tech Gifts for Kids

LeapFrog LeapPad Academy Kids’ Learning Tablet

LeapFrog LeapPad Academy Kids’ Learning Tablet

(Image credit: LeapFrog)

Inspire school success with LeapPad Academy (ages 3-8 yrs.). This learning tablet includes 20 educator-approved apps that build reading, math and science skills, explore creativity and more. Expand vocabulary with a word of the day, draw masterpieces and bring them to life with Art Studio Ultra and explore nature during a field trip to the forest with Ms. Giraffe. Kid-friendly right out of the box, this tablet has a stylus, tough bumper with a built-in kickstand and a 7-inch shatter-safe screen. Parent controls can be used to set time limits and expand content. As a bonus, LeapPad Academy includes a three-month free trial of LeapFrog Academy, an interactive learning program that progressively guides children on Learning Adventures across more than 2,000 games and activities.

iClever Cat Ear Bluetooth Headphones BTH19

iClever Cat Ear Bluetooth Headphones BTH19

(Image credit: iClever)

Being around a lot of loud sounds can make children lose their hearing—and once it's gone, they can't get it back. That's why it's so important to start protecting your child's ears now, while they're young.

iClever Cat Ear Bluetooth Headphones BTH19 features include 74/85/94dB volume; limited hearing protection; Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity; built-in microphone, colorful RGB LED lights; 45-hours play time; both wireless and wired mode; USB C fast charging; hands-free calling; and soft protein earmuffs.

Kindle Kids

Kindle Kids

(Image credit: Amazon)

Kindle Kids is purpose-built for reading (not a toy)—no apps, videos, or games. The upgraded 300 ppi high-resolution, glare-free display for sharper text and images. A single charge via USB-C lasts up to 6 weeks. The Parent Dashboard allows you to add books from your account to your kid's library, view reading progress, adjust age filters, set a device bedtime, and more. Amazon Kids+ is a subscription designed for kids aged 3-12 to safely learn, grow, and explore. On Kindle, kids can have unlimited access to thousands of books, and hundreds of audiobooks.

Cindy Davis
Brand and content director of AV Technology

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.