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Amid the continuing global spread of novel coronavirus and its resulting disease COVID-19, more companies are encouraging — and in some cases requiring — employees to work from home. As someone who's been doing it for more than 15 years, I've assembled a modest, effective and surprisingly affordable home workstation that's also fairly easy to set up and break down. (I usually work at the family dining room table and clear everything out before everyone else comes home for dinner.)
In addition to a full-size keyboard and mouse, an external monitor is a fundamental component for any self-respecting home work setup. If your work involves looking at two or more documents simultaneously, referring to multiple browser windows or scrolling through spreadsheets, you're going to get a lot more done gazing at a decent-size LCD than squinting at your 13-inch (or even 15-inch) laptop display.
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A few caveats. Not every monitor has an integrated height-adjustable stand. Frankly, those are sometimes more trouble than they're worth — and eye-level height can be easily achieved with a monitor stand or thick book. Also, though all of the monitors listed below can be connected via HDMI, most are also VGA-compatible and a few support USB-C. But not every laptop has those connections built in. If you're working on a MacBook Air, for example, you'll need to buy an adapter to connect via HDMI. So, make sure you know how you'll connect everything before buying.
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I've surveyed the CNET staff. We haven't tested all of these head-to-head, but we've used them. And these are some of our favorite monitors for working from home.
27-inch HP Pavilion 27xw LED monitor
This isn't a new monitor — I've been using mine for about five years — but it's stood the test of time. For $200, you get an attractive 27-inch monitor with Full HD resolution (1,920×1,080 pixels), all of the brightness that comes with LED backlighting and a super slim bezel. There are two HDMI inputs, and even a VGA input if you're keeping things old-school.
27-inch ViewSonic VX2776-SMHD
You don't have to spend a lot to get a decent display. We haven't tested this particular model — but ViewSonic generally makes good monitors and the Amazon customer feedback (for what it's worth) is overwhelmingly positive. It also has a nice range of features, all of the connections you're likely to need and solid specs for the price.
27-inch BenQ EX2780Q
If you are willing to shell out, we're fans of this great general-purpose monitor that doubles as a solid display for gaming. It simulates optimized HDR brightness curves so you can get better-than-average results in Windows without paying for real HDR, supports 144Hz and also has a feature that helps improve visibility for people with impaired color vision. And it has the best built-in-speakers of any monitor we've tested recently — or maybe ever. One minor downside: Although this $500 monitor tilts, it is not height-adjustable.
34-inch LG 34UC89G-B
A 34-inch monitor will be overkill for many home setups — but if we had room for it, we'd get this one. If you're accustomed to working on two monitors at the office, this single display will simulate (or perhaps even improve on) the experience. It was a $1,000 monitor when it debuted in 2017, but has now come down to around $500. If you're looking to maximize your screen real estate while working from home, this is your jam. Read our LG 34UC89G review.
15.6-inch Lepow portable monitor
There are a number of reasons to consider the Lepow USB-C monitor. It's a good option if you're working on a laptop without a VGA or HDMI output, like the port-impoverished MacBook Air. It's handy if you have limited space. And weighing less than 2 pounds, it's light enough to come along when you need to move your setup. The Lepow connects to your laptop via USB — so you don't need a VGA or HDMI port. And there's no need for an external power supply, so you can use it even when there's no socket nearby.