In 2006, I started writing about mobile tech on the Mobile Gadgeteer section of ZDNet. I was also employed as a professional engineer with a daily commute to and from Seattle that was more than two hours a day.
This extended commuting time on trains provides me with the opportunity to thoroughly test new mobile technology. In March, the commute stopped as our engineering firm went fully remote in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
I continue to test out new mobile technology and as you can see in the images boxes continue to stack up. My home office provides a separation between my engineering work and my freelance writing with many Star Wars items occupying the walls and shelves of my office.
Here’s a rundown of key products used daily in my home office. Don’t worry, I won’t list the nearly 100 phones, PDAs, tablets, and watches in my collection.
Since I’ve been working at a consulting engineering firm for nearly 20 years, I no longer spend time modeling or using advanced engineering tools on a daily basis. My computing needs have lessened a bit as a manager so I use a Microsoft Surface Pro 6 for Teams, Outlook, Excel, Word, and other PC-based tools.
The Surface Pro 6 works well for daily commuting and also for regular business travel around the US and the world. It serves as the foundation for my engineering consulting work.
The Surface Pro 7 is available now, but I haven’t migrated to the latest version as the improvements are minimal for my needs. If higher end graphical needs are required then the Surface Pro 7 is what you should definitely consider. One thing I do miss by sticking with the Surface Pro 6 is the USB-C port, which is very handy for all of my mobile gear.
Keychron K2 wireless mechanical keyboard
It’s tough to beat the response, sound, and overall typing experience of a mechanical keyboard and the Keychron K2 recently joined my arsenal, knocking out the Surface keyboard.
With the Bluetooth capability, I connect the K2 to my Surface Pro 6, Google Pixel Slate, various Android smartphones, and an iPad.
After my initial home office article and video, Vari reached out to offer a test drive of a new Vari Electric Standing Desk to replace my old Costco desk. Vari has two sizes of its Electric Standing Desk available in an assortment of finish options. I tested out the 60×30 inches desk.
The ease of transitioning from a sitting to standing position is fantastic and seamless. The different perspective offered by changing your positions breaks up the monotony of sitting for 10-12 hours a day working away.
The Vari ESD is very well built, easy to assemble, and very stable. You can load up to 200 pounds on the desk and it has been a joy to use.
While my engineering office has a Varidesk platform so that I can switch between standing and sitting, my home office and older Costco desk is currently not setup this way. Thus, I made sure to purchase a nice chair and had the opportunity to buy it from my oldest daughters company as they moved to the East Coast.
The Herman Miller Aeron office chair is awesome and I can sit for 10-12 hour days without any discomfort. It’s a rather expensive chair, but I feel that a comfortable and supportive chair is vital to being productive. It is also better for your overall long-term health to have a chair that is not going to cause any back issues.
The chair has height adjustable arms, tilt lock toggle, and adjustable lumbar support.
Ever since the original Pixelbook, my primary platform for writing has been a Google Chromebook. For almost the last year, my primary writing computer has been the Google Pixelbook Go. Prior to that it was the Google Pixel Slate, but I like the keyboard and ability to have two pages open side-by-side on the Pixelbook Go.
While I have access to a Surface Pro 6, I find the Chromebook experience provides me with a platform that helps me focus on writing content without ever thinking of the hardware.
While I use various wireless earbuds during my commute and while running, for getting work done in my home office I rely on the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC headset. It’s comfortable, the battery lasts for hours, the swing down boom is easy to manipulate, the simple mute button works reliably, and it has never let me down.
I use it all day with Microsoft Teams and with its Bluetooth support it is even easy to connect to my primary mobile phone for calls.
AUKEY Multiport USB-C adapter
The AUKEY Multiport USB-C adapter provides two USB-A 3.0 ports, a USB-C male cable, an HDMI port, a VGA port, an ethernet port, a Secure Digital (SD) card slot, and a microSD card slot in a single compact package.
While I keep the computing platforms for my engineering and freelance writing separate, I share the monitors with each platform. I use the AUKEY adapter to connect the Pixelbook Go to an external monitor for more efficient writing.
A closer look at Matthew’s office
My main office wall is covered with Star Wars artwork with shelves lined with more Star Wars artifacts. I have original Star Wars trading cards dating back to when I was an eight-year old kid and have been collecting Star Wars items for more than 40 years.
As a mobile tech reviewer, I get sent a lot of products to review and this is an extremely busy time for new watches, phones, cases, and more. My office is littered with boxes and I have yet to come up with a cleaner solution.
There are also lots of older phones in drawers, organizers, and shelves, dating back to my first PDAs I started using in 1997.