Gadgets are an ever-present temptation for most of us, but we reckon that right now, many of you could use a new toy to buck your spirits up a bit. These are weird, uncertain times, and while gadgets won't make everything better, they may make you happy, at least for a while.
That's why we've gathered together this little selection of great gadgets; none of them are essential, but any of them could easily improve things while you're working from home, as well as helping to keep you on an even keel mentally. Read on for six life-enhancing slices of tech.
01. Oculus Quest
A VR headset is an increasingly must-have piece of kit, but it's easy to be put off by the need for a reasonably powerful PC or Mac and the potential for cables everywhere. While the specs required for VR don't feel quite as exotic as they did when the Oculus Rift first launched, cables are still a big part of desktop-powered VR, and until recently there wasn't an option that worked wirelessly while delivering experiences of the same quality as wired VR systems.
However the Oculus Quest (opens in new tab) comes beautifully close. It's an all-in one VR system, so it doesn't need a computer driving the visuals and there's no need for cables, and it's a joy to use with a wonderfully sharp display. While it's targeted at gamers, there are some great creative apps available such as Tilt Brush, Gravity Sketch and SculptVR; if you fancy dipping a toe into the VR waters to escape the real world for a bit, this is the perfect entry point.
02. Airpods Pro
When you're working from home and trying to avoid distractions, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is a must. And while Apple's AirPods Pro don't quite match a pair of full-size cans when it comes to noise cancellation, the results you get from them are really quite remarkable, especially when you consider how lightly they fit in your ears.
They also deliver fantastic sound quality, with lovely deep bass and sharp higher frequencies, all managed by Apple's adaptive EQ, and as they're water and sweat resistant, they're good to take out for a walk or a run, even if the weather's looking questionable. And unlike standard AirPods, they're a lot less likely to fall out thanks to their silicone ear tips.
03. ReMarkable 2
There are plenty of tablets for drawing and note-taking, but if you love the old-school feel of pen and paper then you likely feel that they come up short. In which case, the ReMarkable (opens in new tab) could be just the thing you're looking for.
It's an E Ink tablet that's designed to feel like using a pen and paper; use it for note-taking and writing and it'll convert your written words into text, and it's also the perfect surface for sketching. Unlike other tablets it's not intended to be a replacement for a computer; there's no web browser, email or social media, just the ability to sync your notes and documents via wi-fi, and of course to load up with free ebooks. The standard ReMarkable is on sale now, but the thinner and more powerful ReMarkable 2 (opens in new tab) is available for pre-order and might be the better option.
04. UGREEN 6-In-1 USB C Hub
You can never have too many USB ports. No matter how many USB ports you have on your computer, there'll always come a time when you have to work out which accessory you need the least so that you can unplug it and charge your phone. It can be bad enough on a desktop computer; if you're on a laptop then you can find yourself in a constant state of port management.
Which is why a decent USB hub is an absolute must-have gadget. This slimline 6-in-1 model from UGREEN (opens in new tab) plugs into a USB-C port and gives you a 4K HDMI output, a USB-C charging port and two USB 3.0 ports, as well as SD and TF card readers. It doesn't mean you won't ever run out of ports, but you'll be able to plug a lot more into your computer than before.
05. Fitbit Charge 3
Let's face it, you're stuck at home right now and probably not getting enough exercise. And while you might well have an Apple Watch with all its built-in health apps, that's not an option for everyone, so a dedicated fitness tracker could be a really useful gadget to have right now.
For the best balance of build, features and price, it's hard to beat the Fitbit Charge 3 (opens in new tab). Available for just £89.99 from many stores at the moment, it's a slimline fitness tracker with a decent-sized display, and it's completely waterproof. It features automatic exercise recognition and it'll monitor your heart rate 24/7, let you know how many calories you're burning, track your sleep patterns and much more besides. If you don't want to be out of shape when we all get out of lockdown then this is a brilliant tool to help you stay on the right track.
06. Roomba 980
It's not easy being at home all the time, and it's all too easy to let things slide. Any help you can get in keeping things clean and tidy is a bonus, so maybe now's the time to get one of those robot vacuum cleaners you've always had half an eye on.
The Roomba 980 (opens in new tab) from iRobot works on all manner of floor types, it can cope with pet hair and large debris such as spilled cereal, and it'll navigate its own way around your home, happily going under furniture and around clutter. If it's running low on power it'll recharge and then resume where it left off, and you can even hook it up to an Alexa or similar. Bottom line: it gives you one less thing to worry about, and the sight of your brave little Roomba doing its thing never gets old.