— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
Studying from home? I’m right there with you. As a grad student, I’m one of the many people who unexpectedly went from in-person to virtual classes in the face of COVID-19. This is a big adjustment for those of us who usually like to work from libraries and cafes—but the good news is, pretty much any home can turn into a productive workspace with just a few adjustments.
Maybe you’re where I was a few months ago, stacking cardboard boxes to make a structurally questionable standing desk, or blasting white noise through raggedy earbuds to drown out your roommate watching The Circle. Luckily, HP is here to help. HP is one of our favorite sources for computers, software, and tech accessories, and they’re making both working and studying from home that much smoother.
1. An affordable monitor to give your productivity a boost
Depending on what studying at home looks like for you, a monitor might be unnecessary—or it might be a lifesaver. As someone who also works from home, I’ve relied on my external monitor for a long time, but I’ve been surprised by how helpful it is to have the extra screen space when I’m working on big research projects, or even just taking notes on a particularly dense reading. If you’re working through data, referencing a digital source, or dealing with any kind of tech program in your studies, a decent monitor can prevent a less-than-decent headache.
HP makes our very favorite affordable monitors, winning both for performance and value. Reviewers have commented in the past two weeks about how easy it was to order, deliver, and receive this laptop for their at-home work setup. If you’re interested in learning more about buying a monitor online, we have a whole guide talking you through just that.
2. An antivirus plan to protect both you and your tech
Now is just about the worst possible time to get your computer stuck on an incriminating popup. With so much of everyday life moving online, we need to be able to rely on our machines to be there when we need them. We’re all trying to avoid public spaces as much as possible, so spending hours in a repair shop is not ideal.
McAfee was my virus protection of choice all through undergrad, and it did not let me down (I did once essentially break a date’s laptop in my determination to watch Big Trouble In Little China, but hey, maybe he should’ve been using McAfee). HP user Rustym is also a fan, writing, “Bought it 2 weeks ago and it was sent by email right away. Fast service. Not only will I recommend this product to a friend but I will buy again. Great low price was the decision to buy.”
Want to check out your options before you commit? Take a look at our picks for the best antivirus software on the market right now.
3. Our favorite Chromebook for under $200
Chromebooks are a hit with users looking for a flexible, user-friendly interface at a practically unbeatable price point. These might not be the best bet if you’re a comp sci or digital arts student who needs extra computing power, but if you’re a G Suite user who doesn’t need a lot of specialized software to get your work done, a Chromebook could be your perfect fit. We’re here to talk you through whether a Chromebook is right for you, or if an affordable Windows laptop might be a better choice.
If you’re like me, and most of your schoolwork falls under the general header “reading and writing,” check out HP’s Chromebook 11. It’s our favorite affordable laptop on the market thanks to its reliable performance and solid build. Once you’ve been won over by Chromebooks, be sure to up your productivity by looking through our guide to the best Chromebook apps that’ll help you get to work.
4. An all-around reliable laptop for everyday use
If you’re a bit more of a traditionalist, HP also offers some great and affordable options for Windows laptops. The 15z laptop doesn’t just offer balanced performance and an attractive build—it’s also customizable, so you can get the exact processing power you need.
Reviewer Amj441 writes that the 15z “boots in seconds and lasts me hours between charges,” and features a nice, non-reflective screen that makes it easier to work in sunny areas. “If you are looking for a budget laptop that can handle decently at everything, I would recommend this laptop, especially if you are interested in more balanced performance than fancy features.”
5. Our pick for best value wireless mouse
As everyday life becomes more and more digital, our wrists are the first warriors to fall. You can do yourself a favor by grabbing a wireless mouse, making it easier to work online without letting your entire body slump over your laptop like a bridge collapsing into the sea. This wireless mouse from HP is one of our favorites from 2020, and its ability to connect to up to five devices makes it ultra convenient for at-home use. On top of that, its battery life lasts up to two and a half years, so you’ll get a lot of use out of it before worrying about those AAs.
We found that the x4000 was comfortable to use, and performed well on most surfaces (the exception was glass—get a mousepad!). Buyer JoeHPK appreciates the ability to connect to multiple devices, and likes how responsive the mouse feels, but also mentions that its size might not be everyone’s cup of tea. “If portability is a concern,” Joe advises, “go for something smaller.”
6. A laptop to take you from schoolwork to entertainment
If looking at some of HP’s more affordable laptop options leaves you wanting more, you might be interested in one of our favorite laptops for students—the versatile gaming laptop, the Omen 15. It’s definitely a pricier option, but if beautiful graphics are important to you, the splurge is worth it.
We love the Omen 15’s gorgeous display, which is one of the best we’ve ever found for a laptop of this kind. It’s also unusually subtle for a gaming laptop, meaning it doesn’t scream “I’d rather be playing Red Dead Redemption” while you’re taking notes. In our tests we did notice that, like most gaming laptops, this one is fairly heavy, so you might not want to lug it around in a backpack all day.
Reviewers like DFDino appreciate the sleek design and the beautiful color display. DFDino writes that the “backlit keyboard is nice—I can set it white and it looks like a normal laptop. Metal case and screen are quite understated too.” Buyer DJScrew echoes this, saying that “the look and feel (aluminum finish) I am quite satisfied with, a mix of sturdiness and sleekness. I use this computer for school, but also play Apex Legends, COD Warzone and Forza Horizons 4 and those games run perfectly on my Omen, temps peak at 56 degrees Celsius and (51 with my cooling pad). I am satisfied with this purchase. I am an HP fan for this one.”
Subtlety not really your thing? If you want a more dedicated gaming laptop, we’ve got a guide for that.
7. Some of the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market for serious studying
Maybe you’re one of the lucky, lucky souls who lives alone in a beautiful apartment, with a gorgeous dedicated office to study in, and no distractions anywhere. For the rest of us, there are noise-cancelling headphones. If you’re like me and live with several roommates who are also working and studying from home, noise-cancelling headphones are practically a must-have. Like many audiophiles before us, we are huge fans of these wireless Bose headphones, which are some of the best we’ve ever tested. They’re comfortable, great-sounding, and have a long battery life. Most importantly of all, their noise cancellation really works, so you can finally get some work done.
Not surprisingly, the active noise cancelling is a huge win for Bose fans like Christina ML, who says, “I bought these for work not only because of the noise-cancelling feature, but also because I have to wear these all day to review animation, and they are so comfortable. I use them with a cord for my work computer but wireless for my cell phone. They work great!” Reviewer Blissful Bee adds, “They fit great, they’re easy to set up, and the sound quality is amazing. The wireless feature is a chocolate-covered cherry on the cake.”
While these are definitely among our favorite headphones, there’s no denying they’re pricey, even when they’re on sale. For more great value options, we’ve got a full round up of 2020’s best headphones, covering all price points.
8. A printer that will be there when you need it
A printer is another one of those items that will really help out some students, and be totally unnecessary to others. If you have issues with eye strain, or trouble concentrating on a screen—well, first of all, I feel you. Second of all, being able to print an occasional paper might be a real relief.
We’ve been pleasantly surprised by HP’s printers, and happy to see that the 2655 is both one of their most beloved and most affordable. Reviewer EdCa205373 writes that “the HP 2655 is a nice little printer with excellent print quality, a nice small size, and decent scanning and coping abilities all in a fairly inexpensive printer. It is great for someone who does not print much, but if there is a chance you might need to print a lot on a certain occasion, you might want to think about keeping an extra cartridge or two on hand.” Other reviewers say that the printer does the job for a good price, but warn that HP’s Instant Ink replacement program isn’t always the best investment, so think carefully before signing up for that service.
Interested in a printer that works with Alexa? HP has an option for that, too.
9. A USB dock to turn your laptop into a full work station
It’s all very well to treat yourself to a new monitor, keyboard, external hard drive, and nice headphones—but if you ever want the opportunity to use this tech any way but wirelessly, you’ll need to make sure your computer can actually support it. As students, many of us are used to carrying around laptops, but when you’re studying from home, your needs change. With a USB dock, you can turn your lightweight laptop into the center of a full work station, complete with whatever accessories you need.
This docking station lets you connect to an HDMI monitor, a microphone and speakers, an Ethernet cable, and up to four USB connections. User Kraxmel reports, “I needed a dock for my new HP Spectre x360 that would allow me to connect an external keyboard, mouse, and two monitors. I tried another brand and, while it worked, required software to be installed and caused some intermittent freezing/stuttering. I decided to give this dock a try and it works perfectly without the need for additional software with no freezing or stuttering. What’s also great about it is it works with my work (HP) laptop as well, so I’m able to swap out laptops as the need arises.”
10. A calculator with a following from realtors and business professionals
I’ve definitely spent way too long relying on digital calculators. Now, eye strain and Zoom fatigue truly setting in, I’m reverting back to a physical calculator—and I couldn’t be happier about it. This affordable calculator is popular with students studying math and business, along with professionals in accounting and real estate. Reviewers love how sturdy this calculator is, mentioning that its many functions have worked reliably for years and years.
Speaking on the user experience, reviewer Alxizh writes that the “keys have a nice tactile click. Came with a rubber/plastic pouch for storage (that came creased, but hoping it’ll smooth out). Cheaper than in local stores. Free shipping took a week (5 business days).”
11. A WiFi extender to promote roommate harmony
There is no single product that has changed my household more than my wireless extender. Before investing in an extender, the internet in my bedroom was really slow and unreliable—not great for hours of virtual class. My WiFi extender completely fixed the problem, which means I’m no longer fighting my roommates for use of the living room while we all take video calls simultaneously.
Reviewers say this device does what it’s supposed to, taking care of issues with WiFi range. It’s a small thing, but take it from me—it can seriously improve your experience or working, studying, and relaxing at home.
12. A mouse pad, so your cool new mouse is actually usable
You might get away with using a new mouse without a mousepad, but there are still ample reasons why this small investment pays off. A mousepad serves a lot of purposes: it protects your mouse from lint and grit, it protects the surface of your desk from wear and tear, it helps the mouse track respond more accurately, and (most important to me), it’s comfortable.
HP offers a variety of mousepads, but you really can’t go wrong with this basic one for just over $10. Reviewers mention that it’s nice and large, but you can trim it to size without damaging it. Great Gram 75 says “My mouse slides smoothly across them, and I really like the fact that I was able to cut off a small portion of one of the pads so that they fit my tray perfectly!”
13. A couple of power strips to make sure your wires don’t get crossed
Just like a USB dock, a power strip is just something you need if you want to connect multiple devices to your work station. Along with solving basic connectivity issues, these power strips help keep things tidy by making sure all your various wires end up plugged into the same tuck-away-able dock.
At two to a pack, these power strips are a great deal. It’s worth noting, though, that they’re only two feet long—that might be all you need to provide more power, but if your desk is across the room from your only outlet, you might want to think about an extension cord instead.
14. An external hard drive so you can avoid every student’s worst nightmare
Losing all your work is one of the worst nightmares you can have as a student, right up there with forgetting to drop a class or going to an exam naked. I’ve actually lived through losing my schoolwork—my laptop broke halfway through the semester, and I hadn’t saved anything (I will be accepting condolences and Edible Arrangements to my home address). As you might imagine, that was a massive learning moment for me, and now I’m borderline obsessive about saving my work. Owning an external hard drive has made that easy.
This high speed hard drive has three terabytes of storage—enough room for pretty much anything. Buyer NJA500 uses it to store files from three computers, and says it’s “easy to set up; easy to use, great peace of mind! Now I’m ready for a computer failure and know I will not lose anything’.”
15. A better webcam to make those lengthy Zoom lectures a little more flattering
I am getting pretty sick of how I look in my laptop’s built in webcam. While it’s certainly not a necessity, one way to improve the experience of endless video calls is to invest in a decent webcam that will actually do justice to your beautiful face.
That being said, there are also plenty of reasons to be cautious about how many cameras you integrate into your life. If you have privacy concerns, we’ve got you covered with more information on preventing webcam surveillance.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed.com: 15 amazing things from HP to help you study at home