The Retail Resurgence
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the perfect time to upgrade your home office
Spending your days on Zoom doesn't have to be so bad.
Photo: Old Scarff/Getty Images
The most important thing you need to know about Black Friday is that pretty much everything's on sale. Given the pandemic that's upended your life, and the entirety of the retail industry, you're likely not doing much of your shopping in stores this year. So you're not limited to whatever's on sale and in stock at the local Best Buy. Want something? Google it.
While you're shopping for needlessly large and needlessly high-res TVs, upgrading your mattress and buying something for your office's virtual Secret Santa, you should also spend some time updating your home office setup. For the first time in months, most things are back in stock (for now), and it's looking like we're all in for at least a few more months of taking Zoom calls from home offices/kitchen tables/the top of the dresser next to the crib.
We went through everybody's coupons and and found a few good deals to get you started. Everything in here is on sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday (we'll link to deals, but again, just Google it), meaning this is the best chance yet to upgrade your setup — and improve the WFH life of all your loved ones.
I can't overstate how nice it is to have a dedicated videochat device so you're not stuck taking notes (or goofing off mid-meeting) on the same gadget you're using to chat. Facebook's Portal is a shockingly great one: I recommend either the Portal TV for your living room or the small 8-inch Portal Mini for your desk. (The Portal and Portal Plus are also on sale, but they're too big for a home office.)
Sony's RX100 is probably the best point-and-shoot camera on the planet, and it doubles as a really great and not terribly enormous webcam. (You'll get better deals if you buy a slightly older model, too.) Even a GoPro Hero8 Black or a Logitech C930e will look a lot better than the junky webcam in your laptop.
(Speaking of Logitech: Almost everything the company sells is on sale in one place or another, and it's practically unbeatable for things like mice and keyboards. People have finally stopped complaining that I type too loud on Zoom calls.)
The cheapest way to upgrade your calls, though, is to fix the lighting. Rather than buy a ring light, get a few dimmable, color-changing Philips Hue bulbs for wherever you do most of your calls. You'll be amazed how much better you look in light that's a little lower and a little warmer.
Apple's new M1-powered Macs are excellent, and you'll get an Apple gift card worth up to $150 if you buy one. (That's about as good a deal as you'll ever see from Apple, and applies to a bunch of its other products too.) If you're in more of a Windows-y mood, the on-sale Surface Laptop 3 is a good place to start, but for my money, you can't beat the Dell XPS 13 at $150 off.
You should also get a mesh Wi-Fi setup if you're tired of your internet buckling under the weight of everyone being online all the time. Eero's starter packs are on sale right now, and tend to be most people's go-to choice, but Google's Nest Wifi and the Netgear Orbi system are both pretty solid too.
If you're ever going to buy a Herman Miller chair, now's the time: everything the company sells is 15% off, which means it's time to get your butt in an Aeron. Steelcase is having an identical sale, in case the Gesture is more your speed.
Need a new desk? Uplift, which makes everybody's favorite sit-stand combo desk, is also marking everything down for the holidays. If you're looking for something a little cheaper, I sit at a Unicoo desk all day and like it just fine.
A good set of headphones is WFH 101, so you probably already have AirPods or something like them. You should upgrade. A good set of noise-cancelling cans is good for your sanity, good for your ears and only slightly silly-looking on calls. I like the Sony WH-1000XM4, but the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 work well too. Both also have good mics for calls, which is crucial.
There's a mile-long list of little things you can do to make your work-from-home life easier. Get a Rocketbook reusable notebook and never hunt for a scrap of paper again. Buy a printer, because they don't cost very much and sometimes you just need a printer. Get a Fitbit to make sure you're actually standing up every now and then, or an Apple Watch so you can go for walks without missing anything.
Put an electric kettle on your desk to make sure you always have piping-hot oolong ready to go. Stash a bunch of 10-foot phone chargers around your house so it's always easy to plug in. Get a Roomba, because honestly, who needs housework right now? (The one with the built-in dirt emptier is truly a game-changer.) Buy a Nintendo Switch, because all work and no play makes everyone crazy. Or, better yet, buy an Oculus Quest 2, because if you can't actually leave the house at least you can trick your brain.
But there's really only one thing you absolutely, no question, 100% need to add to your WFH arsenal if you haven't already, and that is fancy sweatpants. Everybody has their favorites (though Nike's a good place to start, and think joggers instead of sweats), but if you're still wearing the baggy gray numbers you wear to the gym — or worse, actually dressing up like a person every day for work — it's time to upgrade. Nobody's seeing you from the waist down anyway.