Important Equipment to Working Remotely
March 12, 2021
I am currently studying my Master’s in Mechatronics Engineering in Germany and it is all remote with virtual lectures.
I was doing the first semester from Canada but the second semester I will be in Germany so I will be on local time. Having a
good set of equipment to do my work makes a huge difference in productivity and motivation. Having the equipment portable is
also an important part to being successful in studying remotely. I will cover the main pieces of equipment that I use in this article.
The first piece of equipment and most important one that I purchased was a quality laptop. I bought this laptop in November 2019. Prior to that I had a cheapy one I bought off Amazon. So, I upgraded and bought a Dell Inspiron 5500. This was a big game changer in day-to-day work. It has 16GB of Ram, 500GB of solid-state hard drive, i7 intel processor. This level of hardware really helps me get my work done without the headache of the hardware lacking.
Keyboard and Mouse
The laptop and mouse were my main equipment set up for the longest time. I really enjoy using a mouse over the touchpad of a laptop. It is 100X better in my opinion. I do not have anything special just a wireless one that works great. Then I bought a mechanical keyboard that my friend suggested, and this was a huge upgrade. Going back to the laptop keyboard I realize how nice it is to have a proper mechanical keyboard. I bought the Keychron K2 and it is a great keyboard. I have used other wireless keyboards and they are not much better than the laptop keyboard. The mechanical keyboard is much better user experience.
Another good piece of equipment that I purchased recently was a USB microphone. I bought one of Amazon for $50CAD and it works great. It was just plug and play with no complicated driver installs. I find the quality quite good on it. I use it for screen casting videos and for zoom meetings. It is good to have a proper microphone for zoom meetings. Before I upgraded the microphone, the audio that was produced from the laptop microphone was very poor. People I was meeting with had a hard time hearing me before the upgrade, now it is crystal clear.
I enjoy listening to music while I work on my laptop. It is something I have always done and enjoyed. For the longest time I used ear buds and they are a bit poor quality. Now I used over ear headphones that were given to me and that works perfectly. They are wired and not noise cancelling but that is perfect for me. At home I use a Bluetooth speaker as my computer speakers, and it works great for in private. The headphones work good for in public situations. I also use the headphones for when doing a zoom meeting for better quality sound and less feedback for the other party.
Another great piece of equipment that I use is Arduino Uno board. I can do a lot of projects with this microcontroller. It is easy to use and quite powerful but is simple compared to the Raspberry pi which I like. This little board can perform many tasks from building a robot manipulator to an RC Car. It is nice and light weight and the components that go with it are small and packable as well. I took a microcontroller course so that is why I first purchased the board, but I found so many good uses for it I will take it with me as my set up for any future projects.
Laptop stand works well because it raises the laptop screen to a proper height which is better for your posture and neck. When I am using the external keyboard, you need the laptop stand to elevate the laptop behind the keyboard. Without it the laptop is just on the same level right behind it and it does not work great. The combination of these reasons makes it quite useful to use the laptop stand. They are quite affordable as well, so it is a great purchase.
I use my iPad for YouTube and casual web searching. But one really good use for it is to use it as a second monitor to the laptop. The app is called Duet and it is for a one-time price of around $15CAD. It is a good use of the iPad if you already have one. There are cheaper portable monitors out there, but it is great if the iPad is already in your repertoire. The quality is okay, not great but it works for on the go. I don’t mind my laptop screen but having the second one to copy something over it is necessary and the iPad monitor works great for this.
Having good quality equipment that is also portable for ease of movement makes for a better and more productive work experience. I highly recommend investing in the equipment but making sure it is easy to pack. I have a regular second monitor that I use. It is really useful and has a big clear screen to work on but it isn’t as portable, so I won’t be taking it with me to Germany. Being able to move to Germany with not too much stuff is a big requirement of my move. I also want to be able to move on from there easily as well. I hope this helps you decide on what equipment to use for your work.