THE BLOG

The King of Home Offices: The Couch

08/13/2010 12:33 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

I come from a land where people have houses. I come from a land where people are able to stretch out and put whatever they would like wherever. A studio apartment would be considered inhumane. My own (judged as 'spacious' here) modest 680-square-foot flat would be the butt of jokes for the gigantine rent I pay, even by London standards.

What I'm getting at is that New York is small, and thus people have to make sacrifices. In many cases, this includes the staple of the generalist New York executive, an office space. This makes working from home somewhat impractical -- hunching over a laptop or a tucked-away computer -- unless you are willing to eschew potential entertainment for, well, a workspace.

This isn't fun, and there is a way around it -- hence, I give you, my recommendations for the modern combination of digital entertainment center and practical office arrangement. Sound confusing? It isn't. But it requires a few set guidelines to make it practical in both cases.

1) Get The Right Structure
Your average visit to Ikea or Overstock can net you a good solid entertainment center. From that, you'll want to invest in a TV that's got HDMI -- and please, for your own sake, invest in a solid Samsung or other higher-end brand LCD (not Plasma) TV. While off-brands are well and good for watching TV and playing games, better brands have greater contrast and are less likely to have little niggling problems like banding (big lines across the screen) or make the whites/blacks of your presentation look vague and wishy-washy.

You'll also want to invest in a computer, naturally, with HDMI out. The best choice out there, for me, is the new Mac Mini -- HDMI-out, great OS, and support for most accessories (though, sadly, not one of my favourite headsets, which I'll discuss shortly. Alternatively, if you crave Windows, Stealth has a selection of excellent Mini-ATX (IE: small), or you can build a Shuttle PC of your own, like me.

Step 2: Control and Communications
I swear by the Logitech Wave 2.4GHZ Wireless Combos - while it's easy enough to scrimp and save on this, you don't want to waste your pennies on something that will A) fall apart or B) not be comfortable. These both will be, and will work balanced on a book, a coffee table, or a cat. If you really want something premium, though, get the Razer Mamba -- marketed as a gamer mouse, but simply one of the most comfortable, accurate and sensitive mice I've ever used. Alternatively, the new Mac Wireless Trackpad -- which I won't link to, because there's little point -- is rather pleasant, but mac-only.

Now comes the tricky part. On a mac, your best choice is the Plantronics CS50-USB, which has about a 200 foot range. However, the best thing you can possibly get - and my weapon of choice - is the Savi 430. This thing uses DECT, which is long and boring to talk about, but essentially involves great range, great call quality, and complete compatibility with Skype. The only problem is its lack of Mac support.

These are just suggestions, but the important thing to remember is that you always want 2.4GHZ or DECT wireless devices. Better range and battery life. That and less chance of interference.

3) Finishing Touches
So, you want your entertainment center/office to pop, but you have no space. I recommend a Soundbar -- room-filling, unobtrusive speakers that will make most things sound wonderful. I personally side with the Phillips Ambisound. You can connect most computers to most speakers with a simple RCA cable -- which costs next to nothing. Just get a good one, or your sound will sound crackly and dull.

With the right media center, you can also reliably not need, at least not immediately, any kind of console or DVD player, unless you need a Blu-ray player. If you simply must do that, you can pick one up for scant more than $120 these days, if you search Slickdeals hard enough.

Finally, and really, I mean this, get yourself a Logitech Harmony remote. While usually I wouldn't narrow down an entire industry to one product, literally every other universal remote I've tried just doesn't work quite as well as the Logitech ones. That, and they save all your settings in the cloud, baby.

So, I hope that you too will soon be able to enjoy the glories of the combined home entertainment system/office. It's simple, efficient and you can surf the web/chat to friends on a screen far, far too big to see some of the inane banter of the internet generation.

And one final note...
It's important to remember that, for most of this, you will need cabling. Monoprice, referenced earlier in the post, are probably the best cable manufacturer out there, in the event you are buying in bulk. Furthermore, Amazon's recently announced (and woefully under-marketed) AmazonBasics cabling is great for those of you out there (me included) who have Amazon Prime.

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