TechRadar Work From Home Awards 2021: the best apps and gadgets for home

TechRadar Work from Home Awards logo
(Image credit: Future)

This past year has made working from home the new normal, and many of us are now either working from home permanently, or adapting to a hybrid model of working where we spend some days working from home, and other days working from the office.

This has meant that getting the best technology to help you work from home has never been more important, and the TechRadar Work From Home Awards have been created to celebrate the very best in home working gadgets and apps.

Our team of experts have been carefully testing and evaluating all of the entries, and we're now pleased to announce the winners of the TechRadar Work From Home Awards 2021 below:

Workstation Essentials

Einova by Eggtronic

(Image credit: Eggtronic / Future)

Einova by Eggtronic Power Bar

"The Power Bar is very simple to use and convenient as a way to charge all your Apple devices in one place, though it would be even more useful for when office workers are travelling than working at home."

Cat Ellis, Fitness and Wellbeing Editor

The Apple MFi-certified, multi-device wireless Power Bar from Einova is exactly what your home office has been waiting for – especially if your desk has become a cable graveyard and you’re looking to declutter. 

It's an all-in-one power bank that charges up to four devices simultaneously with Apple MFi, USB-IF certification and 53W total output. You can charge your iPhone, AirPods and an Apple Watch thanks to the three wireless charging spots — two 7.5W high-speed Qi Apple Fast Wireless Charging spots plus one 5W magnetic wireless charging spot designed for your Apple Watch. 

Each 7.5W Qi spot has its own dedicated LED light, which activates when the spot is charging a device. Radically simple design with versatility and portability: the Power Bar makes staying on top of your digital life a breeze while working from home and on the go.

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LG Gram 17

(Image credit: LG / Future)

LG Gram 17

"The LG Gram 17 is a fantastic laptop that's brilliantly designed, with a thin and light body that's easily portable. Other laptops can feel outdated and bulky compared to this."

Matt Hanson, Senior Computing Editor

Unveiled at CES 2021 and launched to the UK public in February, the LG Gram series of laptops have won numerous awards this year thanks to industry-leading portability and performance, including a TechRadar Recommends award, with 10 awards in total and counting. 

The LG gram is available in three sizes (14-inch, 16-inch and 17-inch) with the new models continuing the brand’s legacy of go-anywhere computing convenience as ultra-light and ultra-portable laptops. 

Boasting exceptional and nimble performance and long battery life, the laptops feature stylish new designs for a premium, sophisticated look whilst meeting the heaviest demands of our data-rich, 24/7 connected world. The 2021 LG Gram range feature 16:10 screens, designed for maximising work efficiency. 

The keyboard and touchpad have also been enlarged for faster, easier typing without compromising the portability of these compact devices – features include extra big and flat keycaps for seamless typing to reduce typos, and enhanced key pitch stroke from 1.5mm to 1.65mm helping to relive fatigue in your hands. 

An all-in-one power button allows users to power their gram and login at once, for extra ease of use and speed. Thunderbolt 4 lets you enjoy dual 4K and single 8K display connection to only one Thunderbolt port with stability, scalability and security. 

Providing a big-screen experience without sacrificing portability, the flagship LG Gram 17 boasts a large 17-inch screen while only weighing 1.35kg (2.98lbs), allowing consumers to enjoy better productivity while travelling. Thanks to LG’s ultra-narrow bezels and a hidden hinge design, the laptops achieve an impressive screen-to-body ratio (STBR) of 90%.

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LG UltraFine IPS monitor 32UN880-B

(Image credit: LG / Future)

LG UltraFine IPS monitor 32UN880-B

"Nice size, beautiful screen, easy to manoeuvre - fits the bill for remote workers."

Joel Khalili, TechRadar Pro Staff Writer

The LG UltraFine 32UN880-B monitor is the perfect companion for work productivity. As an LG UltraFine display, all the details are mastered with unparalleled detail and powerful performance on offer for users looking to view their content in luminous display, perfect for those specialising in content creation, or photo or video editing.

This monitor comes with P3 (the standard of colour gamut) support with 500 nits, offering sustained high brightness in any ambient lighting conditions, helping users to demonstrate their ideas powerfully.

The higher resolution means more than just a better-quality image - with DCI-P3 and HDR10, the LG UltraFine Ergo provides peerlessly sharp and vibrant displays to allow users to appreciate their work down to the smallest detail.

The 31.5-inch 4K IPS display delivers a comfortable viewing experience by reducing colour shift from different vantage points.

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Samsung Smart Monitor

(Image credit: Samsung / Future)

Samsung Smart Monitor

"This monitor offers a really interesting design with built-in Office support and apps. It's great to see Samsung include features to help reduce eyestrain as well."

Matt Hanson, Senior Computing Editor

The Samsung Smart Monitor launched in November 2020 as the world’s first do-it-all screen, designed for users who are working, learning and staying entertained while at home. 

Whilst Samsung’s Smart Monitor incorporates powerful mobile and PC connectivity, as well as remote home office and learning features, it also provides users with Samsung's Smart Hub for when the work is done. 

Similar to Samsung’s built-in Smart TV platform, Smart Hub allows the display to be used as a complete entertainment hub so that consumers can stream their favourite content, including Netflix, HBO and YouTube, via the monitor’s app store. 

For home office and learning, the display operates Microsoft Office 365 applications without a PC connection thanks to embedded Wi-Fi, allowing users to view, edit and save documents in the cloud directly from the monitor. 

Remote Access also allows users to wirelessly and remotely access files from a PC or view content from a laptop whether it is situated elsewhere in the house or at the office. The USB Type-C port allows for data, display and power — up to 65W — with just a single connection, keeping the area around the monitor clean and beautiful.

The Samsung Smart Monitor provides numerous connectivity options for both PCs and smartphones. Users can connect their personal mobile devices with just a simple tap using Tap View,1 App Casting or Apple AirPlay 2. 

For a complete desktop experience using a mobile device, users can also connect to the monitor with Samsung DeX. 

The Samsung Smart Monitor also features technology designed to make viewing more comfortable. Adaptive Picture optimises picture quality for any viewing environment by automatically adjusting brightness and colour temperature in response to room conditions. This ensures the most comfortable viewing experience in any environment, reducing eye strain even after extended use. The monitor also features a special eye-saver mode to reduce blue light.

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BT Unbreakable WiFi

(Image credit: BT / Future)

BT Hybrid Connect / Unbreakable WiFi

"Incredibly simple to set up, and works exactly as advertised – your broadband cuts out and after a short wait, a seamless 4G signal kicks in, ensuring no drop in service. No doubt incredibly handy when you have meetings all day. The high monthly price is perhaps its only drawback."

Samuel Roberts, Entertainment Editor

BT’s Hybrid Connect is the UK’s first unbreakable home broadband backed up by EE, the UK’s best mobile network, redefining broadband reliability in a time where a strong and fast connection is more important than ever. 

BT’s Hybrid Connect works to reinforce the always-on promise, working with your Smart Hub 2. If your broadband ever goes down, it automatically connects you to EE’s 4G network, without you needing to lift a finger or lose focus during important workstation tasks. 

So, even if there’s a fault with your fibre broadband connection (e.g., due to a damaged phone line, a fault at the cabinet or poor weather), it can keep all your workstation devices connected to the internet.

When the broadband connection is restored, it will automatically defer back to the fixed connection, minimising any interruption to internet use. 

Hybrid Connect offers a truly unbreakable connection, perfect for uninterrupted video calls and endless streaming and works alongside BT Complete WiFi, so whether connected to a broadband network of the EE network, customers will continue to receive a signal at their workstations, even in those hard-to-reach places in the home. 

With BT’s Hybrid Connect, customers have the reassurance of an always-on connection, meaning that they never need to worry about dropping off important work calls, missing out on virtual university lectures, not being able to send or receive emails or being unable to progress with their to-do lists ever again because of a lost internet connection. 

Productivity remains high and unwanted Wi-Fi related distractions are gone. And it’s not all work and no play. When the working day is over and it’s time to wind down, the device continues to power your home entertainment needs, delivering the best possible streaming and gaming experience to your workstation thanks to an uninterrupted and unbreakable connection. 

Working straight out of the box, not only is Hybrid Connect always-on, it’s also perfect when switching to BT, providing instant connectivity for new customers, while they wait for their fixed line broadband to be activated.

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Epos H3 Headset

(Image credit: Epos / TechRadar)

Epos H3 headset

"You don't want your home office to be cluttered with multiple headsets, and the Epos H3 does it all - gaming, video conferencing, and music. It's comfortable enough for all-day use, and sound quality is consistently impressive."

Cat Ellis, Fitness and Wellbeing Editor

Despite being aimed at gamers, the Epos H3 headset is also an excellent choice for people looking to keep in contact with colleagues while working from home.

The Epos H3 closed acoustic headset delivers an immersive game audio experience with multi-platform plug and play ease of use. A microphone with a flexible lift-to-mute boom arm delivers clear audio in meetings and during games. 

A stainless steel slider in the headband with length indicators provides easy adjustment and hinged ear cups angle to fit any face shape for long wearing comfort.

The length indicators and click stops on the slider allow the user to easily find and remember their most comfortable fit. The new design also features hinged ear cups that angle to fit any face shape.

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OWC Envoy Pro FX

(Image credit: OWC / Future)

OWC Envoy Pro FX

"Feels like a premium product in the hand, and the machined metal shell is easy on the eye. Strong read/write speeds and compatible with most devices (Thunderbolt/USB-A), helps it stand out in this crowded market."

Joel Khalili, TechRadar Pro Staff Writer

The first portable SSDs on the market were one small step in mobile storage advancement, often with limited capacity, speeds, and reliability. 

However, the Envoy Pro FX (available from Amazon or Macsales) is one giant leap. This portable SSD provides out-of-this-world performance and is the first of its kind universal Thunderbolt drive to work via USB-C and USB-A. 

This lets you plug it into yesterday’s and today’s Thunderbolt and USB-equipped Macs and PCs. However, it's also impressively future-proof, allowing you to plug it into tomorrow’s Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 machines. 

You can even plug it into iPad Pro, Chromebook, and Surface devices, and you'll never have to worry about your external drive interface or compatibility.

Communication Drivers

iris Flow Headphones

(Image credit: Iris / Future)

Iris Flow Headphones

"Nice design, and very good sound quality, as well as being quite comfortable to wear. Headphones are very useful for working from home, and this is a nice set."

Matt Hanson, Senior Computing Editor

Iris Flow sets a new standard for personal audio, as these are the first headphones to feature IRIS technology that dramatically improves sound quality while simultaneously activating your brain, to help you Find Your Flow. 

Iris’ 25 years of research and development into the experience of audio have led to creating a solution to poor sound quality, enabling the world to now ‘listen well’. 

Its patented technology makes the brain more actively participate in the act of listening, which when used in an at home working environment, increases levels of engagement and focus, and facilitates effective communication. 

The Iris Flow headphones are a game-changer in work-from-home technology, transforming digital audio listening and communication into a truly immersive experience. 

Featuring impressive features such as 37-hours of battery life, best in market 40mm Beryllium drivers and Qualcomm cVc technology with dual microphones for optimised phone calls, Iris has engineered a headphone without compromise. 

But what differentiates the Iris Flow Headphones from any other is the technology within. At the heart of the product is a patented algorithm that reintroduces the spatial components of sound normally lost in any digital format, including music streaming, YouTube, or video conference calls. 

This spatial component of sound is how we have evolved to hear. It’s what makes us feel the emotion of sound at a live concert and allows us to connect with colleagues, friends and loved ones when we are deep in conversation in a live environment. 

For the first time ever, we can now experience that emotive, live sound experience when listening through digital channels, and it’s this scientifically-proven feature that truly stands these headphones apart and allows us to work more effectively at home. 

Other features include: USB-C charging, 3.5mm connector, sound isolating foam padding with rich protein leather, patented acoustic chamber, ergonomic aluminium chassis and a frequency response of 5Hz-25,000Hz.

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AfterShokz OpenComm

(Image credit: AfterShokz / Future)

AfterShokz OpenComm

"Aftershokz has made a name for itself in bone conduction headphones for sports, and the OpenComm puts that knowledge to good use in the home office, allowing you to hear what's going on in the rest of the house during calls - a smart choice."

Cat Ellis, Fitness and Wellbeing Editor

Released in November 2020, OpenComm is the first bone conduction stereo Bluetooth headset from AfterShokz and is designed specifically for efficient communication in the workplace, whether the user’s office is a desk at home, a job site, or a driving cabin. 

This headset leverages AfterShokz’s award-winning and proprietary open-ear design reimagined for a different kind of consumer: the work from home professional.

Patented bone conduction technology delivers premium sound while leaving ears open, helping users stay connected to and aware of their surroundings. By eliminating the physical in-ear sound barrier that has always been present with traditional headsets, professionals can more easily collaborate with their peers, hear their children and deliveries at the door, and remain actively engaged within their workflow or work duties wherever work is being done. 

Features like an adjustable noise-cancelling boom microphone and 16 hours of talk time and a 5-minute Quick Charge that provides two hours of talk time ensure clear communication. 

Additionally, a lightweight titanium wraparound frame and open-ear design make OpenComm ideal for comfortable, all-day wear. OpenComm also features a multifunction button for accessible controls and NFC Pairing (Near Field Communication), which provides those with NFC-compatible devices with an easy way to connect their headsets. 

Extra benefits of the headset include an IP55 water-resistant rating and Bluetooth 5.0. This means that users can take a conference call or participate in a webinar while working from their home office, the kitchen, or even while on a neighbourhood walk with ease. 

However, the most unique feature of the OpenComm headset is undoubtedly the patented 7th generation bone conduction technology, with the adjustable DSP noise-cancelling boom microphone coming in at a close second. 

The signature open-ear design and patented bone conduction technology deliver unrivalled situational awareness, while PremiumPitch 2.0+ Stereo Sound provides high-quality audio. 

The adjustable boom mic helps to eliminate background noise for clear communication in loud environments, making it the perfect productivity partner for working from home or working while on the go. These design elements and features allow OpenComm to stand out in the headset industry as an option that pairs comfort with communication in a way the market hasn’t seen before.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5G

(Image credit: Samsung / Future)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 5G

"This is one of the best foldable phones you can buy, and delivers a great tablet-phone experience for home workers who want to take notes during meetings - though it's seriously, seriously expensive."

Cat Ellis, Fitness and Wellbeing Editor

Navigating through working from home life can be challenging, so maintaining connections and keeping in touch with both colleagues and loved ones is vital, whilst also staying productive and keepin