Gadgets for writers: Tech bling for your home office
Published: September 7, 2011
When my daughters were young, they always found me amusing when we shopped for back-to-school supplies. As they studied folders with ocean scenes and wildlife, I found myself fascinated by gadgets that might have been designed for students but could also come in handy for writers. My purchase of a gadget was a sure thing—tech bling for my home office or, for that matter, for travel.
Kay B. Day
Over the years those gadgets have become more sophisticated, and I often enjoy exploring them when I head to the office-supply store. Here are ten such gadgets. I can’t (or won’t) do without most of them:
Mini-speaker for a laptop
1. Mini-speaker for a laptop: Very handy when you’re trying to cull quotes from a video with less than optimal sound. The speaker can also be used with a Zoom or iPod, and the sound will amaze you. My speaker cost around $15 on sale at a major office-supply retailer. They come in all colors, shapes and sizes.
2. Stackable locker shelves: Adaptable to the small home office and a great place to put a calculator, paper clip holder and pencil sharpener. I freed up a good amount of space on my desk and even found room for a vase with a flower. These are very inexpensive.
3. Plug-and-play projector: A definite aid for any writer who needs to do presentations for a group. These projectors aren’t cheap, but being able to plug one right into your laptop and segue into your presentation makes it worth the cost.
4. Laptop cooling board: Very useful for older laptops that tend to run hotter than newer models. Some boards even have a cushion.
5. Laptop light: Small and snakelike, this is great for travel or using when you’re rooming with someone who’s sleeping and your night-owl creative urge kicks in. The lamp plugs right into your laptop.
6. Portable external hard drive: Can save you much pain if your computer crashes. This is also useful for storing old photo files that take up a lot of space on a hard drive. Prices for these have really decreased as more models have become available.
7. Bluetooth headset: You really need this if you travel or drive a lot and have to take calls.
8. Shredder: These come in numerous styles, sizes and prices. No office should be without one because it’s the only way to make sure no one gets that old bank statement or credit card you no longer use.
9. USB flash drive: Makes travel a snap and also offers a great way to store graphics or other files you want to keep as backup or verification. Prices for these have really come down, and you can even buy them shaped like cartoon characters. I seriously considered one that looked like Curious George because I thought it’d be easy to spot it in my work bag. I declined when I saw the look my writer friend gave me when I blurted out the benefits.
10. Automatic trash can: I’m serious. You can now find a lidded trash can with an automatic sensor; it runs on batteries. Essential? No, but it’s fun and allegedly germ free.
Of all the gadgets I’ve listed, the one I’ve most often used is the laptop mini-speaker. I often view videos from organizations or independent writers and the audio can be a challenge. The mini-speaker amazed me because the sound is big. We’ve also used it with a Zoom while we enjoyed a summer evening on the deck. Mine was a gift from my musician daughter who stays on top of tech items and always has a curious gadget to tell me about.
I’m not much of a shopper for the most part, but there are two places I can’t resist. One, predictably, is a bookstore. The other is the office-supply store where I never know what I’ll find that might inspire me to come up with ten reasons to buy another gadget. My small office wears the tech bling well.
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for
The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International,
The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To learn more about Kay Day, see kayday.com. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.