Where to buy and how to choose a monitor and other home office needs
In light of the escalating coronavirus pandemic, many Australians are opting to or being asked to work from home. If you need to set up a home office, here’s a quick guide on where to buy and how to choose the essentials like a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
Where to buy all the tech you need for your home office?
If you’ve walked into your usual electrical appliances retailer, such as JB Hi-Fi or Harvey Norman and found that monitors and other computer peripherals have flown off the shelves much like toilet paper, there are still several other highly rated retailers that you may not have heard of that can supply you with all your tech needs.
All the shops listed below have an online shop, so if you’re stuck at home you’ll be able to get your goods delivered to your door. They also have a minimum overall rating of 4.2 or higher, indicating good customer satisfaction and good product quality.
Choosing A Monitor
The most important setup of your home office is a good screen that suits your needs. As monitors range in price from about $100 to several thousand dollars, their capabilities and features vary accordingly as well. Our Monitors category page has several filters to help you narrow down your options, here’s a quick overview:
Generally, the bigger the screen the more expensive the monitor is. It’s best to choose the biggest screen possible within your budget and designated space at home. However, if you have a small office or desk, be careful not to choose a monitor that is too large as more distance is required between you and the monitor for your viewing experience to be comfortable.
Screen resolution is also an important aspect to consider when choosing a monitor, as your user experience is highly dependent on screen quality. Full HD (1920 x 1080) monitors are most common, however if you also want to use your monitor to watch movies or edit pictures and video content, a 2K or 4K monitor is recommended. If you intend to watch 4K content or simply prefer a higher quality screen resolution, choose at least a 2K (2560 x 1440) screen.
There are several different types of panel technologies used to make monitors and for most users the type doesn’t make much of a difference, but each offers its advantages and disadvantages. These are the main 3 you’ll see on the market:
TN (Twisted Nematic): These are the most common and cheapest to manufacture panel types. They offer great response times, but at the cost of poorer colour reproduction, viewing angels and contrast ratios.
VA (Vertical Alignment): These are considered mid-range panels with better colour reproduction and viewing angles than TN panels, but with slower response times. If gaming is a priority, this type of screen should be avoided.
IPS (In Plane Switching): These are the best overall in LCD panel technology with excellent image quality, colour accuracy and viewing angles. Response times are also only slightly lower than TN panels.
Refresh rate is a specification that concerns gamers the most, as a low refresh rate can result in noticeable lag whilst playing games. It’s much less noticeable to the human eye when watching movies (except for fast paced action scenes), so if you don’t intend to use your monitor for those purposes, any refresh rate will serve your needs perfectly well.
Monitors come with a range of features, such as built-in speakers, a swivel base (allowing you to turn the monitor left or right), a vertical mode and the flexibility to mount your monitor to the wall with a VESA mount if you want to. In additional to the traditional flat screen, there are also curved screens and ultra wide screens to suit everyone.
Most monitors come with a HDMI port and either at least a VGA/D-Sub or Display Port, in addition to 3.5mm audio jack ports, DVI-D and USB ports. If you have a preference, be sure to use the filter as the majority of monitors don’t come with all the ports listed unfortunately.
FreeSync and GSync are adaptive sync technologies that boost the refresh rate of a monitor, improving performance. These technologies are most important for gamers who need a fast refresh rate.
This is how long it takes for your monitor to shift from one colour to another. The time delay is not noticeable to most users who use a computer to surf the web and edit documents or photos. However for gaming, the difference can be noticeable, so the lower the response time the better. To compensate for this though, monitors with the fastest possible response time usually have reduced brightness or duller colours.
Choosing A Keyboard & Mouse
Choosing a keyboard and mouse is usually a simpler choice than choosing a monitor. A basic low-end mouse and keyboard will suit most people just fine, but for gamers, mice and keyboards with extra functions and buttons may improve user experience. Mice and keyboards are also often available in wireless and wired versions - for convenience and comfort a wireless connection is preferred by many, but for gaming a wired connection is better to avoid lag.