In order to make the most of your computing experience, you should consider the best ways to accessorize your computer.
We live in a society that is, quite literally, run by computers. What was once a tool for business or a luxury for home use is now a necessary part of our everyday existence. Originally, computers were centered in one room in a home or workplace. Today, portable laptops make the most ubiquitous devices, though tablet computers and smartphones hope to pass them. Even still, no matter what sort of device you use, to truly get the most out of it, you should accessorize your computer.
Things to Consider Before You Accessorize Your Computer:
Before you can accessorize your computer, you need to know what sort of machine you have and what you need to make it work. In most cases, whether you use a desktop or a laptop machine, they come with all the basics included.
In other cases, these extra devices are not included but are necessary if you want to execute specific tasks. So, first you must evaluate the system you already have. Think about the sort of work you do.
Some of the products to accessorize your computer are purely about cosmetics or convenience. All devices usually come with some kind of speaker system installed. In desktops, it’s usually a low-quality speaker somewhere in the device. With laptops, the speaker options can be better, but often their performance is still below what you want or need.
Consider the primary use of your computer.
Do you do many teleconferences? Then you will need audio and video equipment. Does your work require to create documents and circulate them, both online and with a physical copy? Then you will want to invest in a heavy duty printer.
Ultimately, you should let your needs and wants drive the way you accessorize your computer. A typical user doesn’t need all of the items listed below, but rather she should pick and choose which ones best serve her goals.
Whether for business or pleasure, be sure to do your homework before making the investment in computer accessories. You have to consider compatibility, price, and the quality of specific devices.
How to Accessorize Your Computer for Efficiency
1. Know Your USB Capabilities
It would be a shame to spend money on devices to accessorize your computer only to later learn you can’t connect them all to it. While many devices offer wireless connection capabilities, you have to ensure that you have enough USB ports to add the things you need like extra monitors, external storage, or other wired devices. Desktops and, especially, laptops have limited numbers of USB ports. Additionally, many will only feature one or two of the fastest USB transfer speed.
2. Dump the Touchpad and Get a Mouse.
When it comes to efficiency, usually what you learn first is what you like best. So, for a specific generation of folks, touchpads are no substitute for an old school mouse. Even for those who grew up using touchpads, the external mouse can help you work faster and with more accuracy.
The best thing about an external mouse is that they are inexpensive, yet that is almost no reflection of quality. You can find a gaming mouse, which features many extra buttons you can assign any number of functions to, that looks like it flew right out of a spaceship from the future from ten to twenty dollars. The product linked above is a slim, elegant style of mouse by Jelly Comb available in more than a dozen colors and doesn’t take up too much space.
Unless the mouse is equipped with a Bluetooth connection, you will need to devote a USB port to it. There are both wired and wireless options, but wireless is definitely the superior of the two. You simply insert a small USB receiver into your computer and the mouse starts working almost immediately. You can go to your settings to assign functions to extra buttons, adjust the mouse cursor tracking speed, or change the click sensitivity. Best of all, you can shut off the touchpad, avoiding randomly striking it and sending the cursor flying across the screen.
3. Protect Your Keyboard.
If you have a desktop, an external keyboard is not so much an accessory as a necessity. However, you can accessorize your computer with one even if you have a laptop, though it is just an added convenience. With an external keyboard, you can use a computer in ways you may not have even imagined.
Let’s say you want to dump your DVR service or your cable box altogether. You can use a computer connected via HDMI cable to record or stream the content you want to see. Using a wireless mouse and keyboard, you can control that computer from anywhere in the room. Like above, unless the keyboard is equipped with Bluetooth technology, you will need to devote a USB port to the device. Also, like above, there are wired and wireless options, with the latter being superior in every way.
Even if it is something as simple as wanting to type from a more laid back comfortable position, a wireless keyboard is a great way to accessorize your computer. In fact, you can use these keyboards to save your computer from the dreaded spilled liquids. The product above by Logitech is a washable keyboard. You can spill a Venti latte all over it, and then simply run the keyboard under the faucet.
4. Get Your Audio Experience Right.
One thing desktops and laptops have in common is that the speakers they come with could almost always be better. Whether you are listening to music or trying to hear the latest viral clip the internet is debating, a good set of speakers makes all the difference. One of the best ways to accessorize your computer is to upgrade your sound system, and you have many options for how you do it.
One of the most popular Bluetooth accessories are speakers that wirelessly connect to computers, tablets, or phones. Portable but powerful, these computer accessories ensure that you can take great sound with you wherever you go.
Another option is to go for the more traditional types of PC speakers, such as the Bose Companion Series III speakers linked above. Using your headphone/auxiliary input, speakers like these are light on bells and whistles but ensure you hear every detail should you want to listen to those sounds. Designed for a more static setup, these would be ideal for people who want high quality sound in their static workspace.
Whether you go wired or wireless, speakers are a great addition to any setup. It can enhance any experience you have using audio.
5. Upgrade Your Webcam and Audio Input.
Your computer is not just a device to display different types of media, but it is actually a compact media production studio. Whether you want to teleconference for business or start your own video podcast, you can use your computer as the crucial tool in that effort.
However, built-in computer webcams are rarely capable of capturing high-quality video. With everyone’s eyes so accustomed to high definition video, your factory webcam looks extra awful. For chatting with grandma on her birthday they work fine, but if you want to do serious video work accessorize your computer with a webcam and microphone.
The example we chose to highlight, the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, shoots widescreen video in stunning high definition. It comes with a tripod or it can be fasted to the top of a monitor or laptop screen. It also has two internal microphones so you can record natural audio in stereo. Though you can opt to get an additional microphone, which usually connects to the computer via USB port. While some HD webcams offer wireless connection, a wired USB connection will ensure uninterrupted picture quality.
6. Get Ready to Scan and Print.
Even though we do most everything digitally nowadays, you will want to at least give yourself the option to work with hard copies of documents or photos. If you find that you rarely need to scan a photo or document or don’t often need to print things, you will likely want to get a basic two-in-one device you can leave at your home base should the need arise. These devices don’t take up much space, like the Brother wireless printer and scanner combo pictured above. This particular device even offers a feature that allows it to automatically order ink and paper from Amazon should your stores run low.
Of course, that’s just one option. If you need to print or scan several documents, you can find bigger devices that handle a larger workload. Conversely, if you want portable options for scanning and printing, you can find those as well. Of course, in this case, portable is a relative term. Portable scanners and printers are compact, but still will take up more space than you’d have in an average laptop bag. Also, portable printers are not great for printing your dissertation or your novel. They are best for smaller jobs, such as printing invoices, receipts, or information sheets.
7. Add More Storage.
If there has been one consistent complaint from computer users across the decades is that they never have enough memory. Twenty years ago, the average computer user likely would struggle to fill up a gigabyte of memory. Today, that isn’t even enough memory for a high definition video file of a feature length movie.
Now most devices come with a sizable amount of storage, but you can always use more. If you use an internet-based laptop like a Chromebook, chances are you don’t have much to begin with. So, you might as well accessorize your computer with some external storage.
In this case, you have several options to choose from. You can use memory cards, but you will need to ensure your computer can read them. If it can’t, you can pick up a card reader that plugs in via USB very cheaply. You can also use USB thumb drives, or small external hard drives you can stick in a pocket or on a keychain. However, if you really want to maximize your storage, look to accessorize your computer with an external hard drive.
There are options that need be powered by more than just a USB connection offering more than a dozen terabytes of data. However, if you just want to save photos, video files, and music, you can likely stick with a USB external hard drive like the Seagate drive pictured above.
This particular device boasts two terabytes of memory and is about the size of a smartphone. Whether you are just using the hard drive to back-up your most important files or using it as a main storage device, it will be an essential computer accessory for you.
8. See More of Your Screen (with Another Screen).
Like the mouse and keyboard, if you have a desktop, a computer monitor is not an accessory but something you need. Still, even if you have a single monitor or a laptop, you might want to consider expanding your view by adding additional screens to your workstation. Extra monitors are not for portable computing, but it can help make big projects manageable.
Adding a second screen allows you to separate windows and gives you more screen area to work with. If you are doing data entry or writing a report, you can have your research and data on the other screen. You can also run video or games on one screen while leaving your main screen open to keep an eye on email or some time-consuming process. Folks who grow accustomed to using more than one screen often find switching back to one limiting and even claustrophobic.
One reason you might want to consider an extra screen, even if you don’t think you need it, is to take full advantage of 4K video. Streaming services like Netflix and YouTube all offer ultra high definition options, and a 4K monitor will make it seem less like you are looking at a screen and more like you are looking through a window. Accessorize your computer with a 4K screen, like the BenQ 32-inch monitor pictured above, and even your boring old work will look vivid and exciting.
9. Get a Cool Workstation, Literally.
One accessory that is mostly for laptop users are portable miniature desks because actually resting a computer on your lap is not always ideal. So, one way you can accessorize your computer is to find something you can use as both a desk and serves to keep the machine cool. If you have an older machine or are using graphics-heavy applications like video games, overheating can be a problem. Even if you aren’t, resting the computer on your lap for an hour or so can also get hot and uncomfortable.
There are plenty of portable workstations you can choose from to rest your laptop on, and some even come equipped with fans to help cool off the machine. While some are powered by batteries or external power, the ones powered by a USB connection are superior. And as cool as they are (pun most definitely intended), you really only need the fans if overheating is a problem on your machine.
Otherwise, you can use a product like the Jack Cube Design bamboo lap desk pictured above. It has a mouse pad and features slots where you can store notebooks, tablet computers, or your phone. The design, featuring circular holes throughout, is meant to keep air flowing so the laptop doesn’t get too hot on your legs. It also makes it a simple matter of just moving the lap desk if you have to get up rather than moving all the items individually.
10. Extend Your Battery Life.
When it comes to using our devices out in the wild of society, there is only one limitation on what we can do. Power. If you want to work at a coffee shop or on your college campus, if you don’t find a seat by an outlet your time is limited. However, you can accessorize your computer and other mobile devices with an external power bank to extend your battery’s life.
You can find these in about any size and shape, but the quality of the devices differ across brands. So, do your research and look at customer reviews in order to see if the power they promise is the power you get. For example, the Novoo power bank pictured above has received a five-star rating from more than two-thirds of the Amazon customers who left reviews. It can charge up to three devices at once and comes with a number of different adapters to charge all sorts of devices.
If you accessorize your computer with a power bank, make sure that it comes with the proper cables to charge your computer, phone, or other devices like cameras.
Putting everything into one device doesn’t always mean it will be more convenient, which is why you should accessorize your computer.
In theory, it’s nice to have everything you need from a mouse to speakers to webcams all in one device. Yet, because such a device is likely made to be portable, you may sacrifice quality in order to get everything to fit. Conversely, the entire business model around desktop computers depends on customizable accessories that allow users to do more with their machines. So, think about the things that will make your work easier when looking for computer accessories.
Hopefully you enjoyed this entry level tutorial into what computer accessories are out there. Use this as a jumping off point to learn more about how to accessorize your computer in the way that suits you best. You can figure out what you need or want by examining the above list. From there you can research more about the available products to figure out which are best for your specific needs.
Did we forget anything? Let us know, along with your thoughts and reactions to this essay in the comments, and remember to share the article with your friends.
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