WORK: Gift ideas for the office (or home office)

By , Network World |  Hardware, monitors, USB drives

Newer Technology NuGreen Flexible Neck LED Desk Lamp

$70

If you're looking for a desk lamp that doesn't need to run off a hotter light bulb, check out the NuGreen desk lamp from Newer Technology. The lamp uses 50 LEDs that produce a "cool white light" to illuminate a desk area. You can touch both the lamp and the bulbs and not burn your fingers - the lamp is also mercury free (some of the newer energy efficient light bulbs contain mercury).

NewTech says the lights, which only use 3.6 watts of power, can provide up to 45,000 hours of use, about 22x longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. The unit also has a flexible neck, allowing you to place the light in exactly the location you want, whether that's near a pad of paper, or higher up to produce a larger light area for your desk. The light turns on and off via a touch pad at the base of the lamp, and the aluminum design is very stylish.

If you work in an area where you can reduce (or turn off) the light from overhead fluorescent lamps, this light can provide enough lighting and not hurt your eyes as much (if your eyes tend to get tired from fluorescent lighting).

- Keith Shaw

Epson Expression Home XP-400 all-in-one printer

$100

Every year, printers get smaller, cheaper and better. This Epson multi-function device offers printing, scanning and copying features for less than $100. Billed as a "small-in-one," the Epson XP-400 has a more sturdy and well-built feel than some of the smaller entry-level printers.

One feature that we really enjoyed was wireless printing. If your home computer area is like ours, it's a jumble of cords, wires, charging devices, SD cards and power strips. Being able to eliminate that annoying cord that runs from the printer to a USB slot is a relatively small thing; but it's much appreciated. In terms of quality, you aren't going to be able to scan in photos of grandma and print out anything resembling the original photograph, or take a picture that you like from your digital camera and print out an 8x10 copy for framing. But for everyday printing of Word documents, school reports, etc., the XP-400 is easily up to the task. In our testing, we weren't hit with a paper jam even once, and would recommend this printer for home use.

- Neal Weinberg

Epson Expression Premium XP-800 all-in-one printer

$280

The Epson Expression Premium XP-800 is an all-in-one color, wireless printer/copier/fax that features a 2-inch by 3.5-inch LCD control screen, a top loader for copying, and internal paper trays for standard 8.5-inch by 11-inch sheets and smaller -- 4x6 or 5x7 -- photo paper.

The desktop machine is compact at 13-by-15-by-8 inches, but when you print a 6-inch tray emerges from the front of the machine (along the 15-inch dimension) to catch the printed page, and while that comes out automatically it doesn't retract by itself, meaning the device will take up more space on your desk. It is very convenient, however, to have the two internal paper trays so you don't have to reload the printer if you suddenly want to print some photos.

The fit and finish are what we have come to expect in printers these days, but the shiny black plastic on this particular unit makes it seem a bit more cheap than others in the category.

Set up was a breeze right out of the box, including the wireless connection. We were printing wirelessly in minutes. And in terms of the all important aspect of operation, the XP-800 didn't disappoint. It spits out black and white and color copies in about 10 seconds (20 if you are using the top feeder), and photos took anywhere from 2.5 minutes to 7 minutes (we have no idea what would account for the difference, unless it was traffic on our home wireless LAN).

Print quality was excellent on black and white and color copies, and photos were crisp and color rendition very good. The printer has ink cartridges for cyan, yellow, magenta and photo black, and an oversized regular black cartridge.

The printer supports two-sided printing, copying and scanning, and also doubles as a fax machine, but we didn't test the latter.

If you're looking for a home printer that offers pretty much everything you'll need, The XP-800 will fit the bill.

- John Dix

Brother Business Smart InkJet (MFC-J4510DW) all-in-one printer

$200

Well, the name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But the Brother MFC-J4510DW, a multi-function/all-in-one printer, does an admirable job performing the tasks it was built to do. For a printer, it's actually pretty stylish, too.

Out of the box, most people will be immediately drawn to the unit's large color touch screen (3.7-inches), which is used to navigate menus and set everything up. It's a nice addition to the printer, but I was even more impressed with the fact I never had to plug the printer into anything to set it up. You plug it in, turn it on, connect it to your wireless network, and you're good to go!

Print quality was good, and can be toggled from your computer depending on what you're looking to achieve. Other features include printing at 35 pages per minute of black; 27 pages per minute of color, the ability to print 11-by-17-inch pages, mobile device printing (support for AirPrint, Google Cloud Print, Cortado Workplace and Wi-Fi Direct, as well as Brother's own iPrint&Scan app) and the ability to top load your paper in landscape orientation.

Overall this was a great printer to use, and highly recommended if you are in the market for a new printer.

- Dan Hunt


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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