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Given the time you save on commute and coffee runs (not to mention suiting up) working from home can often prove more productive than hitting cubicle-land each day. But it doesn’t much matter how productive you could be if you’re stuck using the beater home PC for crunching reports and your kids’ paper scissors for shredding confidential docs.
This Spring, give yourself the home field advantage by upgrading your workspace. From corporate-quality servers to cordless Bluetooth handsets that convert your cell into ordinary phones, this top-notch tech makes working from home a breeze. And, if you still need to make that coffee run, we’ve rounded up a few products that will let you transform any cafe into a home (office) away from home.
Launch the gallery here.
Note to Self
Don’t worry if you hear a little voice telling you what to do. It could be this digital calendar, which has a built-in video camera and voice recorder for creating multimedia reminders. Audiovox Digital Message Board $200; audiovox.com
Answer your cellphone even if it’s in the other room. The No Jack base connects to your cell over Bluetooth and sends calls to the two included cordless handsets from across the house. GE No Jack $100; ge.com
A Laptop That Docks Without Wires
The R400 is the first laptop that can connect to any peripheral—printer, monitor, speakers, anything with a USB plug—wirelessly. Just plug them into the docking station. It communicates with the laptop through a new wireless technology called ultra-wideband, which carries video, sound and data faster than Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Signals can travel short distances with nearly the same quality as they would have over cables. $3,700; toshiba.com
Disaster-Proof Your Data
The first fireproof and waterproof hard drive for the home is encased in the same concrete-based material used to insulate safes. Your data and all internal electronics can withstand 24 hours underwater or short bursts of 1,550°F. SentrySafe Fire-Safe/Waterproof Hard Drive (80 GB) $240; sentrysafe.com
Power is Knowledge
Keep tabs on your energy use with an LCD-equipped surge protector. It displays real-time info on power draw, as measured by a current transformer.
Acoustic Research LCD Surge Protector $85; araccessories.com
This paper shredder prevents jams by strictly enforcing its 15-sheet limit. A tiny optical sensor measures the thickness of the sheaf you insert, and the shredder stops and tells you if you try to overstuff it.
Fellowes SB-89Ci $230; fellowes.com
Want to know who’s hogging your Wi-Fi? This wireless router uses an LCD screen to display your network speed and how many kilobytes each user is downloading, as well as advice on setup and troubleshooting.
Belkin N1 Vision $200; belkin.com
Control Your PC from Anywhere
With HP’s new server, you can open applications or files on your home PC from any other computer in the world—without any complicated network know-how. Just type in a personal Web address, and up pops an easy-to-understand interface, based on Microsoft’s new Windows Home Server operating system, that gives you access to anything on the machine. The server can also host a photo Web site, or automatically back up all the computers in the house.
HP Mediasmart Server $600; hp.com
A big draw of working from home? No need to turn down the music. These mini computer speakers create booty-shaking bass without shaking themselves off your desk. Two speaker cones push low notes out slots on opposite sides of the cabinet, canceling out vibrations that cause some speakers to move around.
Bose Computer MusicMonitor $400; bose.com
For the Road: Flash Stash
Don’t worry about losing this flash drive, even if it holds confidential information. Computers can’t access it unless you enter a PIN, which activates a switch that sends power to the drive’s controller.
Corsair Flash Padlock $30; corsair.com
For the Road: Skull and Phones
This is the only Bluetooth headset to sense your voice entirely from vibrations in your skull bones. Since it lacks a regular microphone, it won’t pick up annoying ambient sounds like traffic or crowd noise.
Invisio Q7 $150; nextlink.to
For the Road: A Precise Peace
The first digital noise-canceling headphones eliminate background din with finely tuned modes for planes, traffic and offices. Instead of trying to cancel out analog sound waves, they convert sound to digital files and use software to excise noise.
Sony MDR-NC500D $400; sonystyle.com
For the Road: Diskreet
Using the first 1.3-inch hard drive (iPod Classics use a 1.8-inch), LaCie crams up to 40 gigabytes—equivalent to 36,000 8×10 digital photos or 60 hours of standard-def video—into a glossy box smaller than two packs of gum.
LaCie Little Disk $120 (30GB), $150 (40GB); lacie.com
For the Road: Pocket Hotspot
When you can’t take being at home any longer, no need to hunt down Wi-Fi. Share your cellphone’s Internet connection with your laptop—or all the laptops on the bus. This battery-powered router turns a phone into a wireless hotspot, which you can open to others or password-protect.
CradlePoint PHS300 $180; cradlepoint.com