New HP and Sonos devices elevate home office workstations

Every six months or so, I re-evaluate my home office workstation setup for improvements and improvements. Granted, my specific requirements tend to be higher than what the average home office worker needs. I host a video podcast every week and need to access both my MacBook Pro and Dell minitower simultaneously and conveniently.

While I spend most of my daily time using my MacBook Pro for video editing, blogging, presentation development, and other productive work, I use the Dell minitower because of its Nvidia video card and fantastic Broadcast app on the market. are the only current solution. correcting eye gaze during a video podcast.

From my perspective, eye contact is a must-have skill that enhances my professionalism. A comparable solution doesn’t exist in the macOS world, though Apple may address it at its WWDC event in early June. But for now I have to use a Windows based system with a suitable Nvidia graphics card.

However, switching screen inputs back and forth between these two systems using the manual physical buttons on the back of my existing 38-inch monitor is a significant pain point. This inconvenience is compounded by the need to use a second keyboard and mouse to run Windows, which creates a lot of clutter in my office.

Enter HP with its new E45c G5 DQHD curved monitor that I received about a week ago. After just a week of use, it’s hard to overstate the positive impact this oversized screen has on my overall work productivity.

The HP E45c is too wide

One screen is really enough for power users of productivity. A single ultraline monitor may be all you need to meet your requirements, but more home users need regular access to multiple PCs, whether it’s a home and company-supplied laptop or, as in my case, both a Mac and Windows computer.

HP’s latest flagship display, the E45c G5 DQHD curved monitor, features a massive 45-inch dual QHD display. It consists of a single curved widescreen panel with a resolution of 5,120 x 1,440 pixels, essentially two 2,560 x 1,440 pixels screens combined. To use it, you’ll need a significant amount of desktop space, preferably in the corner of your home office.

The monitor acts like two 24-inch screens side-by-side, without the separation along the center or the bezels you’d get with a traditional dual-display setup. The size, shape and 32:9 aspect ratio of this monitor provide plenty of screen real estate that lends itself easily to truly useful multitasking.

The E45c’s 1500R curvature helps you immerse yourself more in your work, capturing more of your field of view. However, HP’s Super Display has other tricks up its sleeve beyond its width.

This is when the fun begins. While ultrawide displays are nothing new, few are designed to work with laptops, especially those that use Thunderbolt 4 or DisplayPort over USB-C.

The HP E45c is the first device of its size and resolution to support dual-screen input via a single USB-C connection. When plugged into a wall outlet, it also supplies power to the laptop via a USB connection, charging it while it’s running.

HPE45c G5 DQHD Curved Display Rear Ports

The HP E45c G5 DQHD Curved Monitor has two USB-C ports that distribute up to 65W of power to each of two computers, or 100W of power to one computer and 30W of power to a tablet or phone. (Photo by the author)

When I connected my MacBook Pro and Dell PC to the monitor’s respective USB-C and HDMI ports, I automatically displayed the system’s two desktops in a 24-inch side-by-side format (as shown above) without having to mess with it. buttons on the rear panel, as with other widescreen displays.

But it does more.

Device Bridge is homework

The HP E45c also features Device Bridge 2.0, an updated version of a feature previously only available on HP’s premium display range. Device Bridge is a variant of KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) functionality, although I’ve never seen it implemented so easily and seamlessly.

Clearly, HP is showing off its software development and implementation capabilities. Using a single keyboard and mouse, I could operate the desktops of various computers displayed on the screen. I moved files and data between my MacBook Pro and Dell PC by dragging them side-by-side between the screens. Additionally, the update has a security feature that disables Device Bridge when necessary.

Using this feature, you can control two Windows computers, macOS systems, or one of each machine.

While I haven’t tried it for the ultimate workspace, HP claims you’ll even be able to daisy-chain another ultrawide monitor to emulate up to four displays on two screens.

The Sonos Era 100 speakers elevate your home workstation

To be fair, Sonos speakers were never really targeted at the PC market. When used with TVs or as part of an entertainment system, the company’s soundbars, subwoofer, and even the portable Roam sound quite as nice as the old Play series speakers.

However, the technology behind the Sonos speaker grill is its main selling point. Its multi-room functionality is the most practical way to hear everything, anywhere. It boasts connections to Alexa, Apple, Google, and just about any music streaming service worth mentioning.

Now, with the new Era 100, Sonos finally crushes the competition in terms of sound quality.

Sonos Era 100 speaker

The Sonos Era 100 is a single speaker that easily competes with anything but more expensive two-speaker systems thanks to its dual tweeters and more sophisticated room setup. (Photo by the author)

When used as a pair, the Era 100 is without a doubt the most incredible little all-in-one speaker I’ve ever heard.

I was concerned that its Bluetooth connection would create lag issues, but I never encountered any video/audio sync issues when streaming or editing videos for my podcasts, even if I didn’t have speakers connected directly to my MacBook Pro’s audio port.

The Era 100 speaker is available in black or white. You don’t need to take out your phone to perform basic tasks as it has a volume slider and a play/pause button. The speaker’s rubber floor is improved as it sticks to almost any surface and helps dampen acoustic vibrations.

A button on the back of the speaker next to the USB-C connector lets you manually turn off the built-in microphone if you don’t like voice assistants.

Easy setup is impressive

Setting up and pairing two Era 100s is pretty straightforward. Both speakers work together when paired, although only one needs to be physically connected to my MacBook Pro’s 3.5mm audio port with the Sonos USB-C to Audio Port Adapter, which costs $19 and is sold separately.

Easy setup just required pulling out my phone, installing the Sonos app, and registering the speaker to my account. The Sonos app lets you connect to your favorite streaming services, create multiple speaker groups, and specify where the Era 100 is located in your home.

I appreciate the simple integration with my streaming provider, voice assistant, Spotify and Alexa. The Era 100 replaced the aging Amazon Echo speaker in my nearby kitchen, and it picked up my commands better while being just as far away. The speaker also has excellent microphones for voice control.

Like the upgraded microphones, many of the Era 100’s best improvements are hidden from view. However, you’ll notice them as soon as you start playing music and taking video calls.

Sonos has increased the woofers by 25% for true stereo sound and added two corner tweeters. Earlier Sonos speakers of a similar size and shape could only play mono music.

The speaker includes a 47% faster processor, extending the time this speaker can receive software updates compared to previous versions.

Interestingly, Sonos claims it’s “overclocking” the processing in these speakers to better support potential performance increases in the future. While I’ve tested several models of Sonos speakers over the years without encountering any lag, it’s comforting to know that they have more room for improvement.

Closing thoughts

While the overall PC market continues to struggle with top-line unit growth that likely won’t slow for several quarters, if not a year, the peripherals category for large, widescreen displays and docking stations remains a bright spot.

Manufacturers are beginning to understand that workers have multi-system demands at home. While having multiple screens in the office may be rare, home users have limited desktop space in their home offices and prefer to avoid cable clutter.

At $1,099, the HP E45c G5 DQHD Curved Monitor is more affordable than you might think considering the typical cost of two premium 24-inch displays. This monitor’s awesome Device Bridge functionality avoids the need for a secondary keyboard and mouse input device that multitaskers would ditch.

The HP E45c’s abundance of integrated ports will provide docking station-like capability for all but the most advanced users. This monitor has changed the way I work at home and dramatically increased my productivity.

As for the Sonos Era 100 speakers, I didn’t expect how its excellent sound would enhance my overall work productivity experience. Especially during the typical video conference calls that I participate in for several hours a day, I found the Era 100 speakers to deliver surprisingly distinct and clear sound from each speaker throughout the call.

All these elements aside, the Sonos Era 100 is more than adequate for music and video streaming. The speaker has some features to adjust the output based on the acoustics of your room, as with most premium speakers on the market, and its clear and balanced sound makes it suitable for listening to a variety of music genres.

At $249 each or $498 for the pair, Sonos is targeting these speakers to compete with Apple’s new $299 HomePod announced in January. However, as mentioned above, they are much more convenient and functional for home office users.

Honestly, it’s hard to overstate the impact these new HP and Sonos accessories will have on your home productivity. Since hybrid work is likely to be with us for the foreseeable future, these products are modest investments that make working from home more productive, bearable, and enjoyable.

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