Tech round-up for December 9: Tech gift ideas for the home office, Note 7s are going to be bricked

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This week, a look at some technology gift ideas for those who work at home. But first, an update on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

Samsung will brick remaining Galaxy Note 7 smartphones next week

In a statement, Samsung Canada has indicated that starting next week, it will be limiting the ability of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones to charge and to make Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections. By December 15, they will be unable to connect to any mobile network in Canada.

The company says that 90% of the Note 7s that were sold in Canada have already been returned.

Tech gift ideas to kit out that home office

Technology has revolutionized offices and made it possible for more people to work from home. Here are some new products that can turn any remote office into a productivity zone.

Apple MacBook Pro

The fanciest thing about the new MacBook Pro from Apple is the Touch Bar, a multi-touch OLED strip across the top of the keyboard that replaces the function keys. While it might seem like it’s just a gimmick, the contextual controls – insert, delete, and spell check buttons when you’re in a word processing program, for example – really do make a difference when it comes to productivity. The new laptop is also the thinnest, lightest, most powerful laptop Apple has ever created, with a brighter and more efficient display. It’s available in 13-inch and 15-inch models. (starting at $1,899)

HP DeskJet printer

Many of us are finding we need printers less and less these days. But when you need a printer, you really need one. The HP DeskJet 3758 is great to have on hand because it’s got a small footprint, so it won’t take up much space, and it’s wireless, so you can have it stashed out of the way. Despite the size, it can do everything you need a printer to do, including print documents and photos and copy and scan documents. ($90)

Varidesk Pro Plus 36

The standing desk trend came about as a result of research indicating that the amount of sitting we do is harmful to our health (that’s where the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” came from). But you don’t have to spend thousands on something new because Varidesk transforms your existing desk into a standing one. The top surface is big enough for two 24-inch monitors while a lower tier provides space for a keyboard and mouse. Available in black or white, you can move from sitting to standing in seconds, clicking into the position that is ideal for your height. ($590; varidesk.com)

Leef iBridge3

These days, our smartphones have plenty of storage space on them. Until they don’t. The iBridge3 connects to your iPhone or iPad and adds between 16 and 128 GB of storage space for those photos and videos you’re taking while on holiday. You can even configure the iBridge3 to work with your Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud accounts. Leef also has a microSD Reader for iPhones and iPads ($70) that makes it easy to transfer files from other devices. ($80 to $230)

OWC USB and Thunderbolt 2 docks

One of the ways that laptops can constantly become thinner and lighter is by removing the ports that you’d normally connect peripherals to. At the same time, we’ve got more things we want to plug into our machines: external disk drives, mobile devices, and multiple monitors. That’s where these docks come in. The USB-C Dock from OWC adds 10 ports to your system including two USB-C connections and ports for secondary monitors, including those that display in 4K resolution. The Thunderbolt 2 Dock, meanwhile, has a total of 12 ports to expand the possibilities of your Mac: two Thunderbolt 2 ports, multiple display connections, one FireWire 800, one gigabit ethernet, and five USB 3.0 ports. (US$149 and US$218)

Archer C3150 router

The beauty of MU-MIMO technology is that it can take one Internet connection and make it available to a number of different devices at the same time. The “MU” stands for “multi-user” and routers, like the Archer C3150, are different from the previous generation of routers that could only send out one Wi-Fi signal at a time. The Archer also ensures that it is using the signal band that is best for the device it’s communicating with. It’s easy to set up and has built-in parental controls, too. ($288)

Whoosh screen wipes

These wipes come from a Toronto company and are designed to clean the many screens in your life. From smartphones and tablets to laptop screens and computer monitors, these wipes will not only remove fingerprints but disinfect at the same time. The company also creates screen cleaning solution and anti-microbial cloths. (products starting at $15)

Star Wars Force Band

Anyone who works from home knows how lonely it can get. That’s why so many of them got a Sphere BB-8 droid for Christmas last year. This year, you can get them a Force Band, which provides wearers with the power to control a BB-8 with a wave of the hand. Before you know it, you’ll be able to send BB-8 to fetch coffee. ($100, $250 with a BB-8)

Philips goLite Blu energy light

Coffee and chocolate are good pick-me-ups to get over those afternoon slumps, but you can also use the goLite Blu to energize with a dose of light that simulates bright daylight. It’s got a rechargeable battery so you can use it wherever you need it. And while the light is bright it is also diffuse so you don’t have to worry about eyes aching from the glare. The LED light is UV-free, too. ($200)

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