Now that I am on the road for a few years (OK… it where two so far xD) I have put together a very interesting “Digital Nomad Setup”. When I built my little fortress in a co-working space or a remote working area, people often ask questions about it. This is what my mobile ergonomic workstation looks like:
I’m just calling it “Signature Setup” now and will make a small update every year (or if there are significant changes).
Mobile, Ergonomic Workstation
The Signature Setup is a combination of portable hardware products that make an ideal workplace for digital workers. It is ergonomic and powerful, yet small and light enough for a small bag.
An ‘ergonomic workstation to go’, so to speak, with a second screen!
The special features are the two Nextstands, which rise the screens to an ergonomic height and the second monitor, which you rarely find in a portable setup.
These are the parts used:
- Huawei Matebook X Pro
- Asus ZenScreen MB16AC
- NexStand (x2)
- Logitech MX Master 2S
- Lighthouse1917 dotted Notebook
- Flash Wolf BW-FYE4 Bluetooth Headset
But now a little bit in detail:
Digital Nomad Hardware Signature Setup 2019
Asus ZenScreen MB16AC
The Asus ZenScreen is a fantastic part for people who have to work while traveling. It’s extremely light and flat, and it only needs a single (!) cable to connect and power it.
So there is no power supply, which makes the whole setup very small and light, although we’re talking about a 2 monitor setup here!
The cover of the monitor can be converted to a stand, and I have managed with a somewhat strange folding technique to bring it at eye level within the Nexstand . And this is really a productivity blast!
However, I hope to replace it with a higher quality successor soon, because the 1920 x 1080 FullHD resolution on 15″ seems a bit pixilated and the maximum brightness (especially compared to the incredible Huawei Matebook X screen) is not really convincing.
- ✔️ Lightweight and flat to transport, despite 15 inches
- ✔️ No power supply necessary
- ✔️ One cable only (USB-C)
- ✔️ Fits on Nexstand
- ?? 1080 resolution only
- ?? Not particularly bright
To be honest: When I first saw these things, I had a bit of an negative attitude: “This looks like shit” – “Then you need an extra keyboard”, etc…
But there must be something behind it because many of the people I’ve seen as “experienced digital nomads” use these things.
Because from an ergonomic point of view, looking down on a screen on the table is just bad – and almost everyone who only works on notebooks knows about the occasional itching the back and neck that can grow to a nasty pain that makes working almost impossible.
So the Nexstand has been my constant companion for a long time (even if I don’t always use it), and the fact that you can even get the ZenScreen (even if it’s a bit wobbly) on it is very nice.
Huawei Matebook X Pro
Sure, if you’re into OSX you’ll probably find a MacBook here, but I’m more into Windows 10 and the Matebook X is just an incredibly cool notebook.
What Huawei accomplished to build into such a tiny form factor (smaller than a 13″ MacBook Pro) is incredible. The screen is a 14″ (!!!) touchscreen with a resolution of 3000 x 2000, extreme maximum brightness of 400 Nits and the smallest bezels I know in the notebook sector.
In addition, even in the “small” version with Intel Core i5 you get an additional graphics card next to the built-in Intel GPU. The NVIDIA GeForce MX150 may struggle with triple-A titles, but it is sufficient enough for medium demanding games, helps with tasks like rendering and machine learning and I can also practice flying my FPV racing drones with simulators while being on the road.
The keyboard is also an absolute killer: In my opinion, only the Lenovo Thinkpads have a better keyboard, the Apple Butterflies can’t keep up in any way with this tactile feeling.
- ✔️ Ultra-Slim & light despite 14″ + GPU
- ✔️ Extremely sharp & bright 14″ Touchscreen
- ✔️ Dedicated NVIDIA MX150 Graphics Card
- ✔️ very useful connection selection
- ✔️ Battery life
- ✔️ Price / Performance
- ?? Webcam positioning
- ?? no SD slot
Due to the really sexy thin edges, the webcam (spectacularly positioned with a folding mechanism between the F-keys) has been moved into the keyboard. Unfortunately, this is a rather stupid position for a webcam and you can’t change the angle of the cam.
If I do video conferences, I usually add a descent Logitech C920 HD Pro webcam to my pack.
The choice of ports is also fantastic: If you have to reduce the quantity, then like this! There are only 4, but these are exactly the ones you need:
- USB-C with Thunderbolt (for the Asus screen)
- USB-C (for Charging)
- Audio jack
- USB-A (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)
Yes, USB-C is the future, but at the moment everyone still has a USB-A device somewhere, and with the Matebook the annoying dongle game is no longer necessary. By the way: The Matebook X Pro still comes with a dongle (including HDMI), but I never had to take it with me due to the successful port selection. The only thing I miss is an SD or Micro-SD slot.
Microsoft Designer Keyboard
OK, the keyboard for the Microsoft Designer Bluetooth Desktop is not really intended for transport. This is especially noticeable by the non-existing on/off switch. But the writing feeling is ingenious and with the extremely small edges and the flat construction, it is kind of easy to transport.
And as I said, the keystroke is ?. As an alternative, portable mechanical keyboards are there for real writing professionals.
Logitech MX Master 2S
As for the mouse, I have to say that the Logitech MX Master 2S is close to perfection. Quick switch between different devices: Check. Battery: lasts forever. Infinite scroll wheel: Once you’ve tried it, you can never go without it again! And most important – Ergonomics: Killer!
Lighthouse1917 dotted Notebook
I just can’t make it without analog. And a few years ago the Lechtturn 1917 in the Dotted-version replaced my good old Moleskine.
Blitzwolf BW-FYE4 Bluetooth Headset
Incredible sound and even more incredible price – more information about my True-Wireless headphone secret deal can be found here.
Let’s let the pictures speak for themselves:
This is just pretty portable – what we can see here an ergonomic desktop with two screens! (I forgot two USB-C cables and the really small power supply of the Matebook in the picture – sorry!)
It’s also nice that you only need two cables and no dongle or adapter, even if you want to quickly connect a stick or a cam.
I spent about 1600 Euro for the setup, but of course, the Matebook X Pro is the lion’s share.
Tip: Especially looking for the screen and the keyboard you should check out Amazon Warehouse Deals (these are the returns of Amazon – you can find them at the “used” section of an article) – This screen is often returned because of compatibility reasons and so you can find it at a bargain.