by Paul Mah

Five Must-Have Productivity Gadgets

Apr 04, 20124 mins
Computers and PeripheralsLaptopsNetworking blogger Paul Mah uses--and reviews--a lot of gadgets, many of which quickly make their ways into a drawer or onto a shelf after their initial novelty wears thin. rnBut some electronics are essential. Here's a list of the five productivity gadgets Mah simply cannot do without.

Being a gadget blogger means I experiment with a lot of gadgets. After seeing as many gizmos and devices as I have it honestly takes a lot to impress me. But some gadgets are indispensable. Check out the following list of five gadgets I can’t live without. (Note: These gizmos aren’t large electronics or PCs, etc. Instead, they’re the accessories and add-ons that help me get the most out of other large gadgets.)


Ergotron LX Arms

The Ergotron LX Arms are designed to hold your LCD monitors or laptops aloft, and they can be mounted on a desk or a wall. The product uses Ergotron’s patented Constant Force (CF) technology, which helps adjust heavy displays with minimal effort.

Ergotron says the arms will last 10 times longer than other comparable gadgets from its competitors, and I completely believe the company; all of the Ergotron products I’ve purchased and/or reviewed were superbly engineered. As a multi-monitor user who loves having lots of space on my (physical) desktop, I really like how the LX Arms can be rotated, tilted, panned or lifted out of the way whenever you want.

Bluelounge CableBox


The Bluelounge CableBox is a simple yet elegant cable-management solution that is designed to contain power strips or surge protector of all sizes and shapes. A long slit on each end keeps power strips, power adapters and lengths of cord hidden inside the box, and a lid helps keep dust out. Two generous strips of rubber feet on the bottom keep it from slipping.

I use the CableBox to hide the oversized AC adapter for my laptop dock, a power strip, two Kensington Universal Multi-Display (DisplayLink) adapter and excess cable.  At $29.95, some may argue that it’s a tad expensive for what is effectively a nicely constructed plastic box. And I agree, but I’ve also spent a lot of time looking for a more effective way to address the cable chaos around my desk, while keeping dust out, and have yet to find that solution.

Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX


The Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX is a wireless mouse that uses Logitech’s “Darkfield” laser-tracking technology. Darkfield works on a variety of challenging surfaces that traditional optical and some laser mice have problems with. The Anywhere Mouse MX also has a dual-mode scroll wheel mechanism that can toggle between a free-spinning mode for ultrafast scrolling and ratchet-scrolling for precision.

The Anywhere Mouse MX has been my constant companion for a long time now, and I haven’t found any other mouse with the right combination of features to replace it with. The Darkfield laser tracking works better than anything else on the market on most surfaces, and its dual-mode scroll wheel helps me quickly scan through long documents and webpages. The Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX costs $59.99.

Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750


As its name implies, the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 is a wireless keyboard that recharges via solar panels located along the top of the keyboard. The K750 has chiclet keys for easy typing, and its thin profile measures just a third of an inch thick.

My previous favorite keypad was Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, which is a Bluetooth-based chiclet keyboard. Unfortunately, that Bluetooth keyboard didn’t get along very well with my Windows 7 machine so I was forced to find an alternative. The K750, which costs $79.99, supports Logitech’s Unifying receiver so I can use the same USB dongle with it and my Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX. The K750 has a rechargeable battery for use in environments with insufficient lighting, but I’ve found that the light from one of my LCD monitors is adequate to power it in an otherwise dark room.

Peplink Balance 30 Multi-WAN Router


The Peplink Balance 30 is an affordable network router with some special features. The most notable feature is probably its multi-WAN support, which allows the router to utilize multiple WAN links to help ensure reliable Internet access. Four gigabit Ethernet ports mean it can serve as a backbone switch for home or small business environments.

Because Internet connectivity is vital to my work, I subscribe to two different Internet providers for my home office – one using standard telephone lines (ADSL) and another via fiber optic cables laid as part of Singapore’s FTTH initiative. The Balance 30 performs flawlessly in spreading the workload between the two providers to deliver Internet regardless of maintenance downtimes or the occasional erratic performance. I especially like the Balance 30’s versatile algorithms that can be configured to define a limitless range of load-balancing configurations. The Peplink Balance 30 is currently listed on Amazon at $379.99.

Which gadgets are your favorites? Drop a comment below to let me know or send me a tweet.