How to Spend your Working From Home budget: Best Devices to Buy

How to spend your working form home budget the best buys
How to spend your working form home budget the best buys

Whether your firm has given you some budget to spend on your Working From Office or you are a freelancer working to make your work place the best it can be, we have put together the top list of devices you should consider.

The Blog Post will be a weekly rolling update, keep it book marked 🙂

The BEST WIFI devices for extending working from home connectivity

WIFI connectivity devices fall in to two main groups. Your House main and only Router that broadcasts WIFI and a WIFI range extender which extends the WIFI hotspot in your house and garden.

The Best Security Encryption for your WIFI setup

The main consideration with WIFI is security encryption and you will soon notice that the device offers you a shopping list of encryption options. To cut to the chase, you need to be selecting the highest encryption your device can handle which should be WPA2 AES encryption. If your device is older cannot handle this type of encryption perhaps it’s time for an upgrade. Here is a quick reminder of WIFI Encryption options you should see stamped on your device. The recommended option is highlighted in Blue.

  • Open (High Risk): Setting no passphrase allows anyone within range to connect and use your broadband. How bad can this be you may ask, someone could pull up in the street transact illegal activity using your broadband which could result in you being prosecuted, equipment seized, etc while you try and prove your innocence. In other words, do not do it.
  • WEP 64 : Risk: Old and is vulnerable.
  • WEP 128 : Risk: Old and is vulnerable, the only difference it uses a larger encryption key.
  • WPA-PSK (TKIP) : Risk: No Longer secure, superseded by WPA2
  • WPA-PSK (AES): Risk: WPA but replaces TKIP with modern AES encryption, no reason to choose this option
  • WPA2-PSK (TKIP): Risk: The start of the WPA2 standard with older TKIP encryption. This is no longer secure, to be used if the device cannot use a higher encryption
  • WPA2-PSK (AES): Secure: This is the most secure option. It uses WPA2, the latest Wi-Fi encryption standard, and the latest AES encryption protocol. You should be using this option. 
  • WPAWPA2-PSK (TKIP/AES): good compatibility but Vulnerable: This is a mixed-mode compatible mode that allows a cross-connection of devices. The vulnerability comes in the form of a hacker compromising the network using the weaker encryption protocol – best avoid unless you need those other devices to connect i.e. both WPA and WPA2, with both TKIP and AES.

WIFI Range Extender

WIFI range extenders replicate your router’s WIFI, builds a hotspot in another part of your property. When setting up the range extender you can either create a different SSID or use the same name as your existing SSID and password to allow your device to connect without reconfiguration. This also allows your device to go from hotspot to hotspot without issue. However, be aware there is a disconnection and reconnection and you do need to be aware that the device is compatible with the configuration of the extender i.e. do not set up a 5Ghz wifi hotspot for incompatible devices.

The Security Risks and downsides of WIFI Extenders

The risk with WIFI range extenders they often are not able to replicate the highest encryption protocol of WPA2-PSK (AES). Is this a problem? It is if you are a security-conscious user, after all, if your network is going to be a compromise it would be compromised via a weak area of your network.

The challenge is to find a WIFI extender that meets your security requirements and balance that with your need for an extended wifi hotspot. We here at the AK-K are still on that search for that security Utopia. If you have come across a WIFI range extender that can handle WPA2-PSK (AES) please comment below and we will add it to this best buy list.

Problem with Latency and WIFI Extenders

The last piece of information I would like to share on WIFI extenders is the matter of latency, but I also must say that I ran a CCTV network using a WIFI extender and though the lag is visible, there were other factors, it was altogether workable and avoided a wired network. Though you will not be WFH and playing games, you will need to test the lag and bandwidth in respect to using conference calling software, and do test it before you have that meeting or worse, interview.

The benefits of a good Range Extender

Putting aside security, they are great devices to fill in the hot spot blank spaces within your house and garden. To that end here are 3 top popular picks you can order and get through the door within a day or two from Amazon

NETGEAR Tri-band Wireless Mesh WiFi Internet Booster Range Extender

Covers up to 2500 sq ft and 50 Devices with AC3000 | Up to 3 Gbps (EX8000)

  • Built for Heavy-Duty Streaming
  • Up to 3000Mbps — the ultimate speed for demanding uses like 4K Ultra HD streaming and multi-player gaming.
  • Smart Connect up to 50 Devices Intelligently selects between 3 bands to minimize interference and maximize speed for a houseful of smart wireless devices.

TP-Link RE650 AC2600 Universal Dual Band Range Extender

Broadband/Wi-Fi Extender, Wi-Fi Booster/Hotspot with 1 Gigabit Port and 4 External Antennas, Built-In Access Point Mode

Send high-performance Wi-Fi across your home to eliminate dead spots and lag with the RE650. Using 4-Stream technology to boost its Wi-Fi capability, the RE650 delivers fast speeds of dual band Wi-Fi up to 800 Mbps on 2.4 GHz, 1733 Mbps on 5 GHz, which create ultra-fast AC2600 Wi-Fi for seamless gaming and HD/4K streaming in any room.

Power Over Ethernet

Making use of the mains electricity ring in your house to run part of your IP traffic over has been around for decades. I have personal experience in using this technology for several applications from CCTV backup, extended out to a garage and powering a WIFI extender. The solution works but there are some things to consider along the way

In Simple Terms how does Power over Ethernet Work

You need a minimum of two POE devices, one near your router and the other anywhere on the same electricity ring main in the house. The device near the router will accept an Ethernet cable from the router or switch. This is in effect node 1 on your POE network. Plugin your second device, press the pairing buttons on both (read the instruction on the device as each one does have a slightly different pairing method) once all lights flash you should start seeing rapid blinking of IP traffic lights. That’s it. Take the other device to another part of the house, plugin, and away you go. Plugin Ethernet to to the adapter and you are now wired to your broadband and internal network.

Latency of Power of Ethernet

There is latency like most of these network extension options. I have run CCTV back up over POE and it can live stream a lot of data adequately. Again test the solution. The quality of the house electrics does play a part, if you have two fuse boards in the house that may indicate there are two rings, especially if the house has had a roof extension. All things to bear in mind.

TP-Link TL-PA4010PKIT Passthrough Powerline Adapter Starter Kit

AV600 Mbps + 1 fast ports | Passthrough Product Description The TL-PA4010P KIT Powerline Adapter Starter Kit extends your wired Internet access throughout your home. It provides a stable, high-speed transfer rate via your home’s existing electrical wiring. With an Ethernet port, you can connect smart TVs, game consoles, and computers for HD streaming and lag-free gaming anywhere in your home. Also, it features two pass-through sockets, so you can use the socket as usual

Simply plug and play, no configuration required. It also uses power-saving technology to conserve up to 85 percent energy when not in use. Legal Disclaimer Product is sourced and shipped from the European Economic Area (EEA). Product is genuine original from manufacturer authorized distributors. Box Contains 600 passthrough powerline adapter (TL-PA4010PKIT) RJ-45 Ethernet cable Quick installation guide

Rating: 4 out of 5.

TP-Link AV1000 Gigabit Powerline ac Wi-Fi Kit, Broadband/WiFi Extender

WiFi Booster/Hotspot, Up to 300 meters over existing electrical wiring, No Configuration Required (TL-WPA7517 KIT)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

TL-WPA7517 KIT contain TL-WPA7517 and TL-PA7017 transforms your home’s existing electrical circuit into a Gigabit network and brings wired and wireless network to anywhere there is a power outlet. Using advanced HomePlug AV2 technology, TL-WPA7517 KIT ensures stable and high-speed Wi-Fi and wired connection, providing data transmissions of up to 1000 Mbps* over the electrical wiring for ranges up to 300 meters

Premium Wireless Mouse when you know you are worth it

Ever since the Apple Mackintosh, the mouse has changed little, for the first decade or 2 the mouse came with an actual rollerball and a lead, then followed by an optical mouse that replaces the need of having a ball. The next big leap was the wireless mouse which replaced the lead, which may surprise you to learn was invented in the 1980s but didn’t really go mainstream until some years later.

There are mice and there are mice, we have picked the top, they feel good, move great and have plenty of additional functionality. This is not bargain basement stuff. The switches and buttons feel like they have a purpose in life. If you are the type of person to like a fine Brandy, check out some of these top picks

Logitech MX Master 3 Advanced Wireless Mouse, Bluetooth or 2.4GHz USB Receiver

Ultrafast Scrolling, 4000 DPI Any Surface Tracking, Ergonomic, 7 Button, Rechargeable, PC/Mac/Laptop/iPadOS – Dark Grey

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What the users say

great customisation – almost every button can be set to run different keyboard commands based on app used. There’s a very nice implementation of the Mac OS commands (by using only the button where the thumb rests) such as Mission Control, Show Desktop, App Expose, switch fullscreen apps/desktops

Logitech M280 Wireless Mouse, 2.4 GHz with USB Nano Receiver

1000 DPI Optical Tracking, 3 Buttons, 18 Month Life Battery, PC / Mac / Laptop – Black

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What the Users Say

I think Logitech makes the best and most comfortable mice. For me, this is the most comfortable and tactile mouse I’ve used.

It’s very simple to set up. Simply plug in the USB connector and the wireless mouse works straight away

Wireless Noise Cancelling headphones to totally get into the zone

If like me you are easily distracted, help is at hand in the form of noise-canceling headphones to get you into the zone. Headphones are a great invention but there are a few things to be aware of. First off if you are working from home and you are the only person in the house, headphones on you are literally cut off from the world for the duration. That may not be such a bad thing you say, but do consider things like the front door, house telephone, mobile, house fire, intruders. Ok, you get the picture. There need to be some headphone ground rules with these top tips

Headphone Ground rules when working from Home

  • First off check your calendar, and ensure you are risk-free to go disturb-free.
  • Unless you are having screen-free time, make sure your notifications are on, and if your office is connected to your mobile phone ensure the pop-ups appear on your mobile – you are after all still working. You do not need to miss that emergency call, especially when the company may only have sight of you when they need you!
  • Prop the mobile phone within site of your work area (see above)
  • What you listen to through your headphones is almost as important as choosing the right type of headphones.
  • Say no to Podcasts, these may be recommended for the trip home (which you now do not have to do) but are not great for your working from a home office. The podcasts are conversational in nature, it is not recommended as the conversation requires more than ambient background attention to follow. In effect, you are multi-tasking your mind which is not a good thing.
  • Choose the best music that matches the biorhythm of your woking mind, whether that be classic, indie music, jazz, country and western or perish the thought, hard rock or death metal. Do not over energise out of sync with the work you are doing,

Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones – 30 hours battery life – Over-Ear style

Optimised for Alexa and the Google Assistant – with built-in mic for phone calls – Black

  • Battery Life: 30 Hours
  • Speak-to-Chat automatically pauses playback when you start a conversation, Wearing Detection powers off your headphones when you’re not wearing them, plus more smart features for a seamless, hands-free listening experience.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What a user says

OK, so I’ve been anticipating the release of the XM4, wondering what Sony could possibly do to improve upon the 2-year king of ANC headphones the XM3, and I must say that Sony didn’t surprise us with a stunning new look or with an explosive new performance worthy of an immediate upgrade, however, they did exactly what I suspected, they just made some refinements and additions to an already great headphone.

Rating of noise cancellation:
Bose QC35 (9/10)
Sony WH-1000XM4 (9.5/10)

Sennheiser M3AEBTXL Momentum Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Striking Design: One of the stand out features of these headphones is their adjustable headband. Crafted from fine looking pearl-blasted stainless steel sliders, held in place by logo-adorned buttons

Battery: Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless has a 17-hour battery life

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In users own words

I’ve owned the 1000XM3s, the PX7, and now the Momentum 3s. Out of the three headsets, the Momentums have the best sound quality, hands down. Everything from bass, to mid, to high is clearly audible and lively; I enjoy listening to my music again.

They are beautifully made, from good quality materials and are always a pleasure to pick up and wear. I bought these primarily for home use so sound quality, ease of use and the ability to use whilst wired and charging were all important to me. The only (slight) negatives I’ve found are occasional dropouts when two bluetooth devices are connected at the same time

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