2021 Must Have Gear: Work From Home, Video Calls and Virtual Live Streaming
2020 completely disrupted how we work, where we work, and what we need to be successful to work.
It's time to RE-THINK the gear, gadgets, and setup you have in your home office or even your remote working setup from your couch that you'll be using for much of the near future as we move into a hybrid working future!
I've worked from home for 12 years as a manager with the department of defense, as a technology evangelist at a startup, and for the last 6 years as an entrepreneur where I produce live streaming, podcasts, and virtual presentations.
I'm a proud geek (isocialfanz brand was created because of iPhone, iPad, and isocialfanz as a proud Apple fanboy) and I enjoy testing gear and gadgets not only for work but in my personal life as a Girl Dad of 3 kids under the age of 10 and managing remote teams and a long-distance relationship.
In this post I breakdown the MUST HAVE GEAR into 4 categories
Over the past 5 years, I've created 3.5k+ live streams and 300+ podcast episodes while managing a virtual studio providing webinars and virtual keynote presentations as a professional speaker. As you can imagine I've been sent lots of gear and tested, tweaked and adjusted my home studio on a regular basis.
I decided to breakdown the gear below into categories that will hopefully simplify your decisions and better understand why I find that piece of gear valuable.
In full transparency, most of my gear is sent to me as a tech influencer but I will never promote or market a piece of equipment or gear that I don't use and all brands I work with understand this. For context in 2019, I was sent 22 tripods from different brands wanting me to use theirs for my live streams on Facebook live and Instagram live. Unfortunately, I didn't LOVE any of the 22 and stuck with the one I had been using the year prior. This includes all of the gear on my Amazon Influencer storefront!
Ok enough of the context here are the MUST HAVE GADGETS:
Video Chat and Web-enabled Camera's
I own 8 of these cameras and first purchased one through crowdfunding and I've been impressed with each product I've purchased from Wyze Labs.
I currently use the Wyze Cam Pan, as a remote camera for monitoring my daughter's bedrooms and had used it in the past as a crib camera.
I use the Wyze Cam V3 as security cameras inside my house while giving my girlfriend and family remote access to these devices.
The app for managing the cameras is easy to use and share with family and I like that I can manage notifications, create a schedule for when the camera's record motion and the new Cam Plus has really increased the value now being able to record more than 12 seconds into the cloud where I can review and download the footage from anywhere.
With multiple iPad's, laptops and smart speakers, the last thing I thought I would need is a dedicated video chat device.
The Facebook Portal+ changed my mind as the high-quality screen, premium speakers, and smart tracking camera this device transformed video chats between my daughters and grandparents and I use this daily for coworking remotely.
With 3 daughters under the age of 10, it's always high risk to give them a device like an iPad knowing how easy the screens crack and how difficult they can hold. The iOgrapher iPad Mini case removed that concern and has given my daughters the freedom to create videos and facetime with grandparents. Also, being able to mount it on a tripod has made watching movies easy everywhere without needing a desk nearby or having them put it on their bed waiting for it to fall off.
Work From Home Musts:
10 minutes after opening my package from Ubnt my Amplifi Alien mesh network was set up and the iPhone app has provided more diagnostics & wifi info than anything I've ever used!!
The mesh network device market is very crowded and I wasn't sure what would be best for my home setup and I couldn't be happier that the AmpliFiHome team reached out to me on Twitter and sent me this gear.
Not only is the setup so easy, I'm confident my parents could even set this up without having to call me for tech support but managing the advanced settings and customizing it for your own home has really transformed how I connect the 41 devices in my home.
This desk is my favorite piece of equipment in my home office as it's programmable, sturdy, large enough for two monitors and looks great! I've given this desk as gifts to clients and the customer support has been world-class. For the price, there is no better standing desk on the market.
Anyone that's purchased a new Macbook laptop over the last 3 years you've stumbled upon the "dongle mess" of figuring out how to connect all of the devices to your laptop. For me this was problem was amplified as I use 2 monitors and 5 web camera's and after upgrading to a 2020 Macbook Pro I purchased 3 different USB-C hubs to test, which would be best for me.
Although this device is large and you have to manage the wires and find a place on your desk but it's allowed me to connect all the monitors, cameras and microphones while also powering up my Macbook and keeping the high quality of the inputs
Upgrade Virtual Studio
This has been the most popular question I've received in 2020 was what should I buy first when upgrading my virtual setup for zoom video calls and working from home. I created an under $500 package on Amazon that upgrades the webcam, microphone, and ring light. But for those looking at gadgets and gear beyond a basic upgrade here are the devices I recommend:
I used the standard Amazon chair for 3+ years without any issues but with less travel and more time in my office, I wanted to upgrade my chair. I'm not a gamer and most of the gaming chairs I had sat in always seemed to focus more on the look and less on the comfort and features. When I saw the limited edition game of thrones version of SecretLabs chair I decided to test my theory and I couldn't have been more wrong.
The chair arrived in a massive box and the detailed instructions were provided on a posterboard sized insert. The attention to detail, threads and high-quality parts make the first impression of this chair JAW DROPPING.
But after having it for months I can say the different settings and comfort of the chair make it a MUST for everyone working from home as it's as comfortable as sitting on my couch and I love being able to recline the back at a truly laid back level.
I've tested out multiple logitech web camera's, 3 different DSLRs and AI enabled cameras and the complexity and configuration of settings always outweighed the quality of the camera. When I first started using the GoPro as a webcam it was with my GoPro Hero 8 and it required an Elgato Camlink attachment for my macbook to use it a webcam.
In 2020 GoPro released webcam software that allows you to connect your GoPro with the provided USB camera as a webcam. The reason I recommended the Hero 9 is because the front screen makes creating eye contact with the web camera super simple and you can stay in the frame even when you aren't looking at your own video on the screen.
If you follow me on Instagram you'll know my love for the GoPro Max 360 camera. In short, I was sent 3 different 360 cameras in 2018 and didn't like any of them and couldn't see a business use case worth keeping them.
Fast forward to 2019 after my client Adobe gifted me a GoPro Max I was blown away at how easy it was to edit the footage on the GoPro app while also finding multiple use cases for leveraging 360 camera. I can say without hesitation that I booked 6 figures worth of virtual speaking gigs in 2020 where the client mentioned a GoPro Max video that caught their attention or in most cases clients requesting a 360 video as part of my contract.
I've tested out multiple wireless lav microphones and never felt the quality was premium enough to manage the battery life and setup. Saramonic changed my mind after sending me their newest setup. The quality is far better than my desk microphone and my ability to move around my office while presenting virtually doesn't impact the sound levels for the audience like the boom microphones I've used in the past.
I also recommend getting these Amazon rechargeable batteries and I plug my Saramonic receiver into this easy to use sound board which I also use for recording my podcast with my premium podcast microphone.
Live Streaming and Podcast Setup
I've written about live streaming and podcasting gear for years and you can check out my entire podcasting setup here. But when it comes to leveling up in 2021 with your gear I believe you have to think beyond the basic gear and think about mobility and upgrading your live streaming broadcast.
I held off getting a rodecaster as I was very happy with my $85 soundboard that I had been using for 4+ years but after multiple podcasting friends swearing by this device I gave in and I'm glad I did. There is no better device for managing your podcast audio while also managing inputs, including other sounds without being a master of audio.
I've never invested a lot of money in a tripod as I felt the lower price ones would do the job I needed. After purchasing and returning 3 lower-priced monopods I decided to splurge on the iFootage Monopod.
Wow, I can honestly say this monopod has transformed how I live stream and the types of content I can capture with my iPhone 12 Pro Max and my GoPro cameras.
The quality is world-class yet it's easy to extend the pole up to 72 inches while also swapping in different heads to switch between my GoPro and iPhone mount. I can also say the ability to configure the feet in different ways makes this a tool I will be traveling with on every trip in 2021!
With so many players in the live streaming, studio lighting and HD device market there is only 1 in my opinion that is innovating while also understanding the importance of customization and style.
The Streamdeck is a device I use every single day to change cameras, display comments on screen and toggle between microphones and applications.
I can also say after buying multiple knock off 4k/HDMI converters the Elgato Camlink is worth the price and crushes all the others. In 2021 I'm planning on upgrading to the Elgato Key Light and Wave 3 microphone after testing out a friends setup.
2021 will be the year work from home gear takes a massive leap and I plan on testing out even more gear but I can promise you each of the pieces I shared here will be transform your work from home life far beyond 2021!
Ok so that's the gear for 2021 that I recommend at the moment but if you are looking for more gear or additional context for how I set up my gear please check out the links below.
Flipboard Story, I curated about Work From Home Gear: https://flipboard.com/@isocialfanz/gadgets-gear-for-virtual-working-from-home-beid0laiujv2qin6?from=share&utm_source=flipboard&utm_medium=curator_share