1. Document Scanner – If you’re regularly trying to scan documents on your multifunction printer it is time for an upgrade to a document scanner. I recommend the ScanSnap line of products, my favorite being the flagship ScanSnap ix500. (Full disclosure, ScanSnap sponsors my podcast.) If cost is a serious consideration or if your scanning needs are modest, the mid-level S1300i is a nice compromise of power and portability.
2. External Hard Drive – You’ll want an external hard drive for local backups. Having a local backup means you can quickly recover your data and get back to work. If you’re using Apple’s Time Machine I recommend a drive that is at least double the size of your internal drive. You should also consider “clone” backups. You can find more information about backup strategies in this post.
3. CD/DVD Burner – If you’re working in a business you’ll probably still have clients bring you files on disc and may need to burn files to share with others. For home use, it’s still nice to have at least one CD/DVD drive for installing programs or playing movies. You could buy Apple’s solution, but for a fraction of the price, you can also get a drive that will allow you to view and burn Blu-Ray discs as well.
4. USB 3.0 Hub – Computers rarely have enough USB ports to connect all your devices at once. If you’re buying a hub today you might as well buy one that has USB 3.0 speeds as well as a couple of charging ports so you can keep devices like iPhones and iPads charged.
5. USB Switch – I work at a desk where I primarily use my Mac, but occasionally have to switch over to use a PC for certain projects. I use this small USB switch so I can share the same Keyboard and Mouse on both computers.
6. Keychain Flash Drive – I’ve found that I’ve accumulated dozens of flash drives over the years but never seemed to have one when I needed it. That changed as soon as I bought a tiny but rugged USB flash drive that I keep on my keychain. I hardly notice it’s there but always have it handy. I format my flash drive as ExFat so it will work with a Mac or PC. Just remember if you store any files on the flash drive to keep them encrypted in case someone picks up your keys.
7. Battery Backup – Every computer I own is plugged into a battery backup device. These battery backups are more expensive than traditional surge protectors, but they will power select electronics for several minutes in the event of a power failure and in some cases will automatically and safely shut down your computer in the event of an extended power failure. In the event of a momentary brown out or flicker they keep you working without interruption and without data loss.
8. Laptop Stand – Ergonomics are important. If you use a laptop, you may want to consider a riser for use as a secondary monitor or with an external mouse and keyboard for more comfort. My current favorite is the inexpensive Griffin Elevator laptop stand. Similarly, if you’re working with a desktop and you want to make sure your monitor is at the right height to keep you from bending your neck at awkward angles you can pickup an inexpensive monitor stand to raise your monitor to the proper height.
9. iPhone Dock – When working at my desk for hours at a time it’s nice to have a dedicated place to put my iPhone. It’s even better if that place will charge (and possibly sync) my iPhone. I picked up the EverDock by Fuz. I chose the EverDock because it was designed to support many different types of smartphones and tablets by integrating your own charging cable and adapters. This means when apple releases a new phone design or a connector the Dock won’t become obsolete. It also uses micro-suction cups at the bottom to securely, but not permanently, attach to any flat surface. I keep one on my desk at home and at the office.
10. Apple TV – My office put a TV and an Apple TV in our conference room a few years ago and it was a great investment. If you’re buying for your home entertainment set, you’ll want the latest 4th generation Apple TV. However, for office use, consider an older model. Today you can buy a third generation Apple TV for only $69 (generally less from the refurbished store). AirPlay is a killer feature for wireless presentations with clients. One side benefit, an Apple TV with access to a Netflix subscription is great when children show up unexpectedly at the office.