Telecommuters, work at home employees or Homepreneurs need technology to work from home. Some are obvious: a computer, email, and Internet access. Others, including accounting software packages, scanners, and firewalls are not. Recently, Homepreneurs listed dozens of work at home and telecommuting opportunities: the postings are here, here, and here.
To work from home, software and hardware, and an Internet connection are needed. We’ll examine each over the next few posts, provide a cost range, and websites with reviews.
– Desktop or laptop computer. A laptop is preferred for mobility: one can take a laptop to a customer, trade show, conference or a local coffee house. Some good brands include: Tosbiba, Sony, Dell, Lenovo, Apple, and Asus. Look at PcMag for reviews, comparisons, and recommendations.
Expect to pay between $500 (low-end Dell) to $2000 + (Apple MacBook pro). Prices vary based on size of LCD panel (monitor), processor speed, memory (RAM), and other features. Adding an extended warranty will add additional costs. Most new laptops will have a one or two-year manufacturer warranty. Considering extending to a third year, if available. Budget for a new computer every three years due to the rapid rate of technological change.
– USB External backup drive
My rule of thumb as a technical consultant: if you can’t afford to lose the data, BACK IT UP. External hard drives are not expensive, expect to pay between $100 and $250 for 500 or 1000 GB of storage. Losing your data? Horribly expensive. Compare prices and features at Tiger Direct.
– Printers, scanners, fax
Most home offices will definitely want a printer, some may want a printer and fax machine too. Your best bet is to purchase an All-in-One device that performs all functions and copying too. HP has an affordable option – $200 – listed on their website. These devices also connect via USB and are easy to set up and configure.
– Wireless router
A wireless router will allow you to roam your house while keeping a network connection. Further, some wireless routers have connections for printers, scanners, and other peripheral devices. This ideal arrangement connects all major devices and keeps the office neat and tidy. Prices range from Linksys $60 to $180 (Apple and Netgear). Compares features and prices at ConsumerSearch.
Home wireless networks can be a challenge to set up. See the diagram below for a typical home network setup:
– The broadband modem is provided by the Internet service provider: DSL, cable, satellite, dial-up, or T1.
– The wireless router is something you purchase and detailed above.
– Computer 3 is a hard wired desktop computer, computers 1 and 2 connected via wireless.
– The printers are connected either via wired connection or wireless. Examine the specifications of the printer to determine if wireless printing is supported.
As mentioned, prices range considerably with features provided, geographic location, and purchase at retail stores vs. the Internet. Research the websites mentioned and use the Internet to find the best deals. Remember that cheap is not always better, but deals can be found on top-tier products.
Tomorrow we’ll examine more hardware devices – tablets and smart phones – that a home business owner or telecommuter might need.
By Dion D Shaw
Dion D Shaw is the founder and owner of Homepreneurs
Homepreneurs. New Day. New Opportunity.
Homepreneurs does not endorse nor have any relationships with any of the services listed. Homepreneurs receives no compensation or consideration for its suggestions. Homepreneurs strongly urges all interested parties to conduct research and accepts no responsibility for any losses incurred.
© Homepreneurs 2011