My Home Office Setup

As a tech, music, and gaming enthusiast, I spend a lot of time researching the best gear for my home office. This is my current setup.

My daily companion is an iPhone 11 Pro Max. I was an iPhone early adopter, so I’ve been down the Apple rabbit hole for awhile, benefiting from the integration across devices and services (iMessage, Airdrop, Siri, etc.). That said, I’m not exclusive to it in all my tech choices.

Work provides me with a Pixel 3, which honestly stays plugged into my nightstand much of the time. It comes in handy on rare occasions when my iPhone is broken or goes missing. And it’s nice integrating with Google Home, but I mostly use it for work-related 2-factor authentication and as a reference point for Android features, if at all.

My job provides me with a 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro, my main product management workhorse. Most of that time is spent writing docs, spreadsheets, and slides in G Suite, reading / posting on our internal social network, chatting with colleagues, or installing VR software. It’s hooked up to an Anker thunderbolt docking station where I connect all my peripherals.

Work also provides an MSI GS65 Stealth for PCVR-oriented tasks. In my off-time, my main use has been playing PC games (lately, Final Fantasy XIV), experimenting with VR and web development.

I also still use my old Mid-2012 Retina MacBook Pro for music production, but it’s on its last legs after 8 years of use. I tried replacing it with a Surface Book 2 last year when I was doing indie game development, but it’s neither VR-capable (hence the MSI) nor able to run Logic Pro, so it’s going unused at the moment.

My 2020 12.9-inch iPad Pro is quickly becoming my preferred daily device for consumption and increasingly productivity. The Magic Keyboard transforms it entirely from “a bigger iPhone” into a capable personal computer that’s more portable around the home and usable than a laptop. Meanwhile, it retains a good deal of laptop-like productivity potential, especially with the 13" screen providing plenty of real estate for split-screen multitasking.

I work on the Oculus team at Facebook, so I use a Quest 2 for VR. VR is growing into a viable platform for immersive entertainment, but I’m even more excited for it to become a general-purpose computing platform. So I use it a lot, not just for playing immersive games and watching 360 degree video, but increasingly for things like browsing the web, talking to friends, and even coding.

Aside from PC and VR, I also keep a Nintendo Switch on my desk for gaming during off-time (lately, Hades). It’s fascinating that I’m much more likely to play at my desk because it’s within arm’s reach at the end of the day, compared to the PS4 on my living room TV. Atomic Habits talks about the value of making habits easy to access, and this has been a good way to ensure that I fit some unproductive play into my day.

When we went into quarantine, work provided me with a Portal for video calling. My job is to get people to agree on the right product to build, so a ton of that collaboration takes place on Portal. 99% of my usage is for video calling, and it does a good job fulfilling that need with a solid, smart-zooming, wide-angle camera (much better than the MacBook’s) and great sound quality. I never use its other apps, except for the photo frame which passively reminds me of when we could travel and hug each other.

I recently updated to the 48-inch LG CX and can confirm, the “2020’s greatest TV” hype is real. It lets me easily setup double- or triple-screen tiled configurations on MacOS (by way of the incredible Magnet app) and Windows. But what really sets it apart from an ultrawide is its incredible performance as a 4K OLED TV for entertainment, which I can kick back and enjoy at the end of the day.

I also kept my previous 42.5-inch LG 43UD79-B for music production. It worked well as a 4K desktop monitor but started flickering for some unexplained reason after a couple years, maybe due to newer laptops pushing it to its limit. It works fine as a display for my old MacBook but looks like it’s been discontinued by LG.

I’ve been on a keyboard kick lately, searching for the perfect keyboard not just for my daily work but also to enable productivity in VR. I’m using the Logitech MX Keys on my main desk for work and play. It checks all the boxes for me: solidly built, wireless, charges over USB-C, supports Mac and PC key layouts, and (maybe the most underrated feature) supports pairing up to three devices, which lets me connect to my Mac, my PC, and even my Quest with a single button press.

I’m also using a Logitech K780 on my music desk. It has many of the same benefits as the MX Keys although its design isn’t quite as premium. But it gets the job done.

I use the Logitech MX Master 3 on my main desk, and it’s a solid workhorse for daily productivity and light gaming. Again, it just checks all the right boxes: great feel, wireless, USB-C, has a switchable scroll setting between coarse and free-spinning modes, and multi-device pairing, which again allows me to switch between Mac, PC, and Quest seamlessly. Paired with my MX Keys, these feel like the working professional’s keyboard and mouse combo to beat in 2020.

I’ve owned a Yamaha P-70 electric piano since I graduated from college, and it’s served me well for 15 years (since replaced by the P-45 at this point). It has 88 fully weighted keys and a minimal but sufficient mix of sounds across grand piano, electric piano (I use these two 99% of the time), organ, strings, harpsichord, and vibraphone. The vast majority of the time, it does the job of being there when I spontaneously want to play. It’s also hooked up to my music setup to use as a MIDI controller. I always dream of investing in the more serious workstations or stage pianos, but this is just fine for my hobbyist needs.

On my main desk, I also have a Komplete Kontrol S61. Honestly, these should probably swap places because this is a much better keyboard for production than the P-70, but this fits on my main desk so here we are. 99% of the time, I have this hooked up to my work MacBook running Logic Pro in the background throughout the day so I can spontaneously noodle around (great for meetings when on mute).

Back when I dipped my toes into DJing, I got a pair of Yamaha HS8s that I’ve been using as my main speakers ever since. I’m as far from an audiophile as possible but can hear how full-bodied they are across the entire sound spectrum. It’s hard to put into words, and there’s probably some placebo effect at play, but I love the way they sound.

I own a handful of headphones for different reasons, which I’ll quickly list here:

  • HyperX Cloud II for gaming. These were actually custom-branded around Riot Games as a holiday gift when I worked there.
  • Sony WH1000XM3 for gaming and general use, especially great for travel (gradually replacing the HyperX).
  • AKG K240 Studio for music, especially for late-night jamming and recording without waking the neighbors. Open-ear headphones are a lot less fatiguing over many hours.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x for music, especially DJing and mixing. Closed-ear headphones are much better for isolated listening and tuning out the environment.

I’m a Focusrite Scarlett loyalist, owning an 18i8 on my main desk (from when I tried to start a cover band) and a 2i4 on my music desk. They’re both great, providing a means of sending audio out through my speakers and functioning as a MIDI interface for my keyboard. Admittedly, they’re both probably overkill for my needs at home.

I’m sitting in the Herman Miller x Logitech Embody gaming chair, and it’s great, but the price tag is a little ridiculous. I love the sleek black look, a nice reclining range (though it could recline further), and solid back support given how much time I’m spending at the desk. But the price tag makes me prone to look for minor criticism points like the lack of a headrest.

I also use my old piano bench at my music desk, which is good for short jam sessions. If I’m working there for longer periods, then I slide my Embody over. As a bonus, the bench also works well as an ottoman at my main desk when I’m playing games or watching video.

The newest addition to my setup has been an Uplift v2 motorized standing desk. The journey here has been an odyssey, and it’s actually still going as I wait for Uplift to replace a part, making the standing desk unable to lower to a sitting height(!). But, given all the time I’m spending at my desk, being able to stand is a huge benefit for my health, and I’m really looking forward to using it over the coming years.

Finally, part of my hesitation to invest in a standing desk was that it would mean parting with my black glass Ikea Galant, which has been at the center of my home office for 10 years. So I decided to keep it and turn it into a dedicated music workstation. The line has since been discontinued, but I intend to keep it around as long as I can.

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Ron Forbes

Virtual reality product manager 🥽 and Airbnb host 🏘 sharing thoughts on building tech products, leading teams, growing businesses, and living productively 💭