Review – MER Holiday Gift Guide 2022 – Productivity Essentials

Good tools are what make our work lives run more smoothly, and we routinely rely on web cams, docks, and soundbars. We looked at a variety of products and found two sets of solutions we think will please most folks and their budgets. From Poly (formerly Plantronics), a line of superb webcams and accessories, and fromCyberAcoustics, affordable webcams, docks, and soundbars. Finally, we look at the new Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 tablet, and mophie – GaN chargers and accessories.


Poly Sync 20+ Professional Webcam

For years, one of the most trusted names in productivity solutions has been Plantronics. We’ve reviewed their excellent line of Bluetooth products, the Voyager series, so we are familiar with their design approach which has not intrinsically changed as the company’s name changed to Poly. This season we looked at the Poly Sync 20+ Professional Webcam, Poly Studio P5 kit with Sync 20, and the Poly Studio P5 kit with wireless headset. All the products were absolutely no hassle at all, which is perfect. The first step is to install the Poly Lens application on your computer, which installed without a hitch on our 14-inch M1 MacBook Pro, and an older MacBook Pro Retina. It’s important to us that it ran fine on old hardware, since so many offices aren’t equipped with the latest Apple Silicon. We heard from colleagues that the app also ran fine on their Windows machines. The app allows you to set focus, tone, white point, contrast, and more. You can save your preferences for easy recall. The focal length is longer than the camera in our MacBook Pros, so we did a bit of experimentation with the best position. The camera has a nice little hinge design, that hangs from either your monitor or display.

Another improvement over the stock audio is provided by the microphone, which gave effective noise reduction for better clarity. The Studio Kits all had the webcam in common, with different audio options. The Poly Studio P5 Kit with Sync 20+ Professional Webcam is a great option. It includes the webcam and an excellent speakerphone all in an easy-to-travel case. available with either speakerphone or headset options. The Poly Studio P5 with the Voyager 4220 UC, combines the webcam with a wireless stereo headset. Once again, it’s a versatile plug-and-play solution. All three products – the Sync 20+ Professional Webcam and or the two Poly Studio P5 Kits – come highly recommended.

For more information on the Poly Sync 20+ Professional Webcam & Kits visit:


CyberAcoustics Essentials

CyberAcoustics has long been known for their line of high-quality yet affordable products. In fact my first serious exposure to them was in the academic bookstore space, where they have a large and devoted following. Their recent products are designed to meet the needs of office workers who desire high quality but are on limited budgets.

We were delighted to sample their new CA Essential Wireless Headset. As the company describes it, “This professional Bluetooth headset has both active and environmental noise cancelation, so you are going to hear clearly and be heard clearly by anyone you are talking with.”

They also state that “It sits on your ears and is incredibly soft and comfortable with a padded headband.” We can confirm this description, as we found them very comfortable and easy to use, and worked perfectly with Zoom on the Mac platform.

We are always on the lookout for affordable speakerphones, and the CA-2890BT Speaker Bar/Speakerphone, fits the bill. According to the company,This multi-purpose speaker is a great budget speakerphone, It gets surprisingly loud for its small footprint and its built-in clip allows it to be attached to most monitors, for a clutter-free workspace. It can also be used as a stand-alone unit. The CA-2890BT offers both USB (A or C via an included adapter) and Bluetooth 5.0.” And the price point is less than $30!

We found their CA Essential WC 3000 Zoom Certified webcam to be a great unit. It has high resolution, dual Omni-Directional microphones, and a wide field of view – another bargain at under $60.

Docking stations are important to anyone with a laptop who wishes additional connection ports. Their new CA Essential Laptop Docking Station DS-1000 is a versatile, compact solution to organize your workspace, power your laptop, and connect all your peripherals with a single USB-C cable. It’s compatible with laptops that have USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports. It also supports simultaneous dual HDMI monitor displays up to 4K. There are four USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports on the back; one USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 and one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port on the front; one RJ-45 gigabit Ethernet port; and an integrated security K-Slot (lock cable not included).

The other feature we liked is that the included power supply has enough juice to charge your laptop. When connected to your laptop with the USB-C cable, the CA Essential Laptop Docking Station charges your laptop via 90-watt power delivery. The included 130-watt dual voltage power adapter provides enough power for the docking station and power for your laptop. Thunderbolt is not supported, as it’s limited to USB Type-C, but that might not be an issue if you aren’t using Thunderbolt peripherals. At under $190, it’s competitive with other docks costing far more. We have relied on CyberAcoustics’ products for many years, and recommend their latest crop of products for the holiday season.

For more information on CyberAcoustics visit:


Lenovo Tab P11 Pro (2nd Generation)

We’ve long admired Lenovo products, and after spending time with the new Lenovo Tab P11 Pro Gen 2 TB tablet, which comes with an easy-to-attach keyboard, integrated case, and pen, we felt that this was a superior tablet. It’s not just the specs or hardware, which it is quite stellar, but that it all fits together so well, and seamlessly at that. If you are comparing Apples to Android, this has a lot going for it. The display is gorgeous, evenly lit, and with smooth color transitions.

It’s equipped with an 11.2” 2.5K (2560 x 1536) OLED display and four JBL speakers optimized for Dolby Atmos allowing you to stream shows and music in high fidelity. We were a bit skeptical about how Atmos would translate to a small tablet with only four speakers, as most Atmos systems have a 5.1 or 7.1 system along with additional Atmos speakers aimed at the ceiling. But, with the magic of some heavy-duty audio lifting courtesy some serious digital signal processing, it sounds surprisingly convincing.

It’s powered by a MediaTek Kompanio 1300T processor and an 8000 mAh battery, and we found the battery life long enough for a series of flights. One thing to be aware of is that there is no headphone jack, so either a Type-C adapter or Bluetooth is the order of the day. It has a sleek, beautifully finished aluminum unibody design with a dual-tone finish to create a clean, contemporary design. At just 6.8mm (0.27”) thin and weighing 480g (1.06 lbs.), it’s light enough for any use you can invent for it. We enjoyed the keyboard and kickstand, and the keyboard had a nice touch, compared to many that come standard with other tablets.

Is this a suitable product for gamers? We think so. The specs show a 120Hz refresh rate and 360Hz touch sample rate. In our tests, we were impressed with the smooth, crisp transitions and frame rate, thus it’s a nice system for gaming. According to the company, “It is both HDR10 and Dolby Vision certified. Dolby Vision technology decodes the full 12-bit PQ signal from the video and intelligently maps that content to the capabilities of the display to produce the best picture.” Overall, we used it for hours with very little eye strain, so we found Lenovo’s published specs to be trustworthy.

The P11 Pro’s OS is Android 12, and the cameras are seriously good. The front selfie/webcam camera is 8MP Fixed focus + ToF (Time of Flight) Sensor, while the rear camera is 13MP AF + 5MP Wide Fixed Focal length. We played with it and found the image quality first rate. We always thought it interesting that most attention to camera quality is aimed at cell phones, when tablets can be a powerful tool for photography, given their ability to edit on the larger screen. All in all, it’s a great tablet, and with a guarantee of three years of updates, it should have adequate shelf life. We think the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro (2nd Generation) is a great choice for the tablet lover in your life.

For more information on the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro (2nd Generation) visit:



mophie – Chargers and Accessories

The hottest three letters in chargers, power supplies, and adapters are GaN, which stands for Gallium Arsenide.

GaN or Gallium Nitride chargers are about three times as efficient as silicon-based chargers in converting power to electricity, and they're much smaller and more portable too, enabling them to charge your phones ten times faster than a regular charger, meaning you can take them with you anywhere and still get more. For a bit more history, “Gallium’s existence was predicted in 1871 by Dmitri Mendeleev and discovered only a few years later in Paris in 1875 by Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who named it after the Latin Gallia (Gaul) for his home country of France. In its pure form, gallium nitride has a melting point of only 30 °C (86 °F) so will melt in a person’s hand at normal human body temperature.” So, GaN looks a bit like mercury in your hand.

What’s wonderful about it, is that it spawned an entirely new generation of power supplies, ranging from ultra-high fidelity audio components, to wonderfully compact and powerful chargers that can fit in your hand. With the advent of Type-C ports on computers, the high current needed for a quick charge can be the size of a small, old school phone charger. Over the years, mophie has combined superior industrial design, with Apple like fit, finish, and functionality. Now under the ZAGG umbrella, the mophie line, has always a had a class-act feel to it.

We had a chance to look at some recent mophie GaN wall adapters, the speedport 30W, 67W, 120W, and the mophie powerstation pro, and the mophie snap+multi-device travel charger.

The speedport 30W has a single Type-C port, and is a 30W GaN fast wall charger. The speedport 67W has dual Type-C ports, and is a 67W GaN fast wall charger. Stepping up to the speedport 120W, which we think will be a popular choice give its four Type-C ports, and detachable power cord for flexible location use. One of our favorites is the powerstation pro, which packs a 20,000 mAh battery, for up to 45 watts of power. We were able to easily charge our M1 14-inch MacBook Pro from dead with it, and at the same time charge a phone from dead, without really denting the unit. It has a nice elegant fabric finish, so won’t detract from your fancy couture fashion sense.

The mophie snap+multi-device travel charger is a very cool power kit for the traveller on the go. It’s a portable, MagSafe compatible, wireless charging hub for Qi-enabled devices. Housed in an elegant fabric folio, it unwraps to reveal three magnets, it delivers 7.5 watts to iOS devices, while Android devices receive up to 15 watts. It has a nifty AirPod area, it has a pair of USB-A and USB-C ports, so even non-MagSafe compatible devices can be charged. It ships with a 30 watt, and a Type-C to Type-C cable. So, it’s a complete solution for a variety of needs, in one very elegant package. The mophie line of GaN wall chargers, batteries, and kits come highly recommended.

For more information on the mophie line of chargers and batteries visit:


Harris Fogel and Nancy Burlan, Posted 12/7/2022