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Buy It For Life: Our Office Gear That’s Stood the Test of Time

While the up front cost can be high, buying gadgets for life can save you a lot of hassle over the long run. These are real gadgets we’ve bought that have stood the test of time.

We often pay a lot of lip service to “buy it for life” devices that usually have a high price tag, but should be good enough to last for years, if not decades. Today, we’re taking a slightly different approach. We want to take a look back at the actual gadgets we’ve used for years that we know have stood the test of time. In some cases, you can still buy them, or at least an updated version. If you decide to pick these up, then you can rest pretty comfortably knowing that it’ll last.

Desk: IKEA Galant Bekant

The IKEA Galant desk has been around for a while, and it’s still just as stylish as it was when it first came out. You can adjust its height from 25⅝”- 33½” so it can suit your posture. It’s no convertible standing desk, but it will stand tall for decades. That’s not just our claim, that’s IKEA’s as well. The company offers a 10-year warranty, guaranteeing that it will hold up for the next decade. As long as you don’t destroy it. The entire Galant line has a host of durable office furniture that come with the same 10-year warranty, but the desk is the one we can personally vouch for.

Chair: Humanscale Freedom

You don’t always have to pay a fortune to buy for life, but in this case, it doesn’t hurt. The Humanscale Freedom topped our list of the best premium office chairs. It’s customizable for people from five feet tall all the way up to six-foot-four, and features arm rests that can be adjusted or even removed. Most importantly, to those who plan to keep it for a long time, it comes with a 15-year warranty, including a 5-year warranty covering the fabric portions like the arm pads and cushions. That’s not a bad warranty for something you could be using upwards of 8 hours a day most days out of the year.

Speakers: Logitech X 530

On a whim, I bought this set of desktop speakers for $80 back in 2004, eschewing the standard, junky $20 desktop speakers you could find everywhere at the time, and opted for the cumbersome (by today’s standard) desktop 5.1 system. It wasn’t high-end even in its time, but it was built better than most of the cheaper speaker systems available back then. Fortunately, audio input standards haven’t changed as dramatically as, say, video inputs over that same time frame, so using them with a modern desktop is just as easy—if not easier—than it was when I first got them. You can still find the exact model Logitech used to sell, though it comes at a huge markup. If you’re looking to buy here in the present day, though, you might want to consider the comparable modern-day equivalent with the Z506 surround system.

Keyboard: Unicomp/IBM Model M

You’ll know you’ve got a product that will last forever if, years after it first came out, they’re still making the dang things. That’s the case with the Model M keyboard, currently manufactured by Unicomp. If you used a computer in the 80s or 90s, though, you almost certainly used the variant manufactured by IBM. This keyboard’s big, clicky keys and durable design is so sturdy that they’re practically immortal. In fact, the only problem with the old Model M keyboards is their input connector, but since the new Unicomp models connect with USB, it’s unlikely you’ll ever even need an adapter to use it. They’re not exactly sexy by modern standards, especially if you still have an old, brown model laying around. However, when it comes to basic typing tasks, you can still pick up a model M today and know that you’ll never need to buy another keyboard for the rest of your days.

Microphone: Blue Yeti

The first thing you notice when you hold the Blue Yeti microphone in your hand is how magnificently hefty it is. At nearly three and a half pounds, the robust metal casing houses a microphone that sets the standard in prosumer recording for everyone from podcasters to Twitch streamers. At $130, it’s inexpensive enough that even if you just want a desktop microphone that will never die, it’s still within reach of most budgets.

Messenger Bag: Timbuk2 Proof

It’s ridiculously easy for even an expensive messenger bag to get torn to shreds with regular use. So, when one comes along that can last for years without showing its age, we tend to take notice. Multiple members of our staff have been impressed with the longevity of Timbuk2 messenger bags. The Proof, in particular, is a flexible option. With space for laptops up to 15″, the bag is made of sturdy cotton canvas, with leather binding and trim that doesn’t wear out quite as fast as other materials. You can buy it from Timbuk2 directly for $220, though you can find it for cheaper on Amazon for certain models. If the Proof is too pricey for you, the Commute model has also impressed our staff, but for a lot cheaper.

These are by no means the only or even the best buy-it-for-life items in their respective categories, but they’re prime, personal examples of why buying quality up front can be an investment that pays off for a lifetime. If you have your own examples of gadgets or devices that have lasted you over the years, share them in the comments below.


Eric Ravenscraft Eric Ravenscraft
Eric Ravenscraft has nearly a decade of writing experience in the technology industry. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, PCMag, The Daily Beast, Geek and Sundry, and The Inventory. Read Full Bio »