Think That a Grommet's Just a Grommet?
These snap-in desk accessories may seem like mere pieces of plastic at first glance, but when you look a little closer, you'll find that they come in a world of different sizes, shapes and materials, and can carry out a few functions that you wouldn't necessarily expect them to. Given all the choices out there, it's important to know all of your options before choosing a desk grommet to compliment your workspace.
Diameter: How many cables are you planning to run through the grommet?
In this respect, choosing a grommet isn't too far removed from shopping for a pair of jeans. Just as you'd want to find out if the waistband of a prospective pair of pants is the right size to fit around your midsection, it's important to make sure that a grommet's diameter can accommodate all of the cables you need to run through it.
To find out exactly what size grommet you'll need, loosely bundle all the cables you'll be working with in one hand, and then break out a ruler or tape measure. Measure across the cable bundle's widest point; this dimension is the minimum grommet diameter that will work for your particular application. However, cables always perform better with room to breathe, so always size up a little bit. Giving your cables a roomier space to pass through will prevent signal attenuation, make the cables easier to route in different directions on your desktop, and can even give you some leeway for future additions.
Function: Do you need to organize and route your cables, or do you just want to protect them?
The primary function of a desk grommet is to cover up the sharp edges on wood, metal, and glass desk cutouts, so that computer and phone wires can travel through them without being abraded or getting cut. If protection is the main reason why you're looking to purchase a grommet, then you can opt for pretty much any style that appeals to you, because they're all made to buffer sharp edges. On the other hand, if you'd like some help routing cables around your desktop once they've transitioned through it, your best bet would be to narrow your choices down to Flexible or SoftTop grommets.
Flexible grommets are covered in a soft, rubber-like, self-healing material that has been radially slit, or cut like a pie, to let cables come through it. Being that these slits are flexible and radiate outward in all directions, they let you decide which direction you want each cord to go in, and then gently grip onto the cables to keep them on the right track. Any unused routing slits lay flat and stay together for a neat appearance.
Much like Flexible Grommets, SoftTop grommets also use a cleverly perforated membrane-like top to route cables, but instead of simple pie-cut slits, this grommet features a unique, stylish cutout that will remind you of the Cingular logo (in a good way). The three curvy arms of this opening allow cords to be sent in any one of three directions, and add a little hip and modern detailing to otherwise blah work surfaces.
Style: What kind of look are you going for?
Is your workspace strictly utilitarian, or are you the type who likes to snazz up the office every chance you get? When it comes to choosing a grommet to fit your style, there are a couple of different elements to consider:
- Material: Basic black rubber and plastic grommets are all business, and just the right choice if you're looking for the simplest and least expensive options out there. There's nothing particularly eye-catching about them, but their neutral looks make them go with just about any workstation. As for durability, plastic and rubber grommets are tops, thanks to the fact that they're made of tough materials, and have no fancy finishes that will scratch or wear off.
- On the flip side, there's something to be said for the polish, sleekness and sophistication that metal grommets can lend to a desk. Whether you frequently welcome clients into your office and want to make the best impression, or just have an eye for all things shiny, metal grommets can go a long way toward increasing the wow factor of your work surface.
- Shape: Seeing as how it has no tight corners to snag onto cables and wires, the circle has emerged as the natural shape of choice for grommets' inner diameters. But did you know that grommets' outer frames can come in other shapes? For those who prefer something more angular than a circle, there are rectangular grommets available, but as far as elegance goes, nothing surpasses the oval-shaped Tango desk grommet.
Storage: Do you need extra help getting your desk organized?
It may be a priority to protect the cables that are making their way through your desktop, but do you know what else is important? Organization. If work surface space is at a premium and you want something a little smaller than a traditional desk caddy in which to stow pens, pencils and scissors, try a double-duty solution like our Office Storage Grommet, which combines a cable pass-though and office supply storage compartments into one compact 4" grommet.
Connectivity: Looking for a convenient place to dock an iPod® or plug into USB ports?
We all know that it's a hassle to crawl below your desk to plug into USB ports, and that there are times when you'd just rather not have to deal with an iPod® charger cord snaking its way across your workspace. Luckily, these are two cases in which specialty grommets can come to the rescue.
First, meet the Belkin USB Hub Grommet, which not only provides 4 ready-to-plug-into USB ports, but also has 2 side channels that allow non-USB cables to work their way through to your desktop. Cords stay neat and avoid abrasion, and your days of awkward bending are over.
And then there's the In-Desk iPod® Dock, also by Belkin. This totally modern grommet takes care of its primary cord-routing function with front and back cable openings, but also has the added bonus of serving as the Seat of Honor for your Apple iPod®. Whether you need to charge your MP3 player or just want to get down to work with a motivating playlist at your side, just settle your iPod® into the grommet dock, and you're in business – without any visible charger cords.