Behind the Screens: Rikka’s writing and podcasting workstation with custom Pokémon keyboard

a desktop computer sitting on top of a desk

Over the years, we’ve shared the workstations of where past and current writers spend our time during the day, and now we’re relaunching that Behind the Screens series. To kick things off, welcome to my recently-renovated workstation. Centered around a 14-inch MacBook Pro, my setup only gets more unique from there with custom Pokémon keyboards, podcasting gear, and some other oddities that make this a uniquely Rikka workstation.

Behind the Screens is a new weekly 9to5Toys series that takes you through our writers’ setups. Including everything from workstations to battlestations, on-the-go setups, home theaters, and gaming rigs, we take a look at all of the gear that gets daily use in our lives. Next up its Rikka Altland, the 9to5Toys Editor-in-Chief.

A closer look at Rikka’s workstation

When I’m not working from some quirky Brooklyn coffee shop or one of the many Internet cafes that have popped up thanks to the rise of E-Sports, my office is where all of the magic you see at 9to5Toys happens. Recently having made the move to Brooklyn from Manhattan, I had to reassemble my workstation for the second time in the past few months, so why not give it some love and refresh my gear, I thought to myself.

That brings us to the setup you can feast your eyes on below. Over the years I’ve always had a portable setup that converts into a more full-fledged workstation, and that same focus remains the same now into my sixth year of deals and LEGO coverage here at 9to5.

14-inch MacBook Pro and Gaming PC |

I’m going to get the most generic part of my setup out of the way first; it’ll come as no surprise to learn that I am rocking a Mac these days. And yet again, it’s one of Apple’s most recent portable machines, with the 14-inch MacBook Pro landing as the centerpiece of my workstation. Shocker, I know.

It has been widely adopted by much of the 9to5 staff across all of our sites, even winning awards as the best Apple release from its launch year back in 2021. But hey, give me some credit. I am at least running a highly-spec’d configuration to stand out a little bit more. The M1 Max chip has barely broken a sweat over the past year and a half, and the 64GB of RAM have ensured that even I have over 500 Safari tabs open, my machine doesn’t slow to a halt. Oh, and throw in the 1TB of storage just for good measure.

Apple’s 14-inch MacBook Pro has been such a handy machine since I picked it up in the fall of 2021, and really has continued to serve me well since. So well in fact, that I haven’t even been tempted by those shiny new M2 Pro/Max models. Maybe later this year the M3 editions will catch my eye, but for now I’ll be sticking with this build which really has been the best of both worlds. It isn’t too cumbersome to lug around when working away from home, but still has a near-perfect amount of screen real estate. I rarely find myself using the external monitor on my desk, with the 14-inch Liquid Retina Display really just carrying the visual side of my setup. All told, the MacBook Pro’s spot in my workstation really speaks for itself, as there’s a reason it’s such a popular machine in the first place.

Complementing my 14-inch Pro, my setup also makes some accommodations for a Windows machine, too. Just over a year ago I built my first PC, which I documented the whole experience on in a piece I lovingly have referred to as baby’s first computer build. The rig has served me well over the past 13 months and there largely hasn’t been any changes. I’ve upgraded the storage, amongst some other small mods, but it serves primarily these days as an Overwatch 2 machine. I’m a Mac user through and through, and even having a sick gaming rig isn’t enough to help me make the switch to Windows.

While you can check out the original PC Building Diary piece for a full breakdown of the specs, here’s a quick reminder of what I’m rocking:

Custom Ditto Keyboard and Macro Pad |

By far the most interesting aspect of my workstation is the peripherals I pair with my machines. A setup based around a 14-inch MacBook Pro is as standard as they come these days, and so I had to have some of my personality shine through a bit more. And no, the LEGO and anime figures scattered around my space certainly weren’t enough.

Courtesy of the extremely-talented keyboard crafter from Belgium, Qlavier worked with me to build a pair of custom accessories. I’m such a big fan of Pokémon, and if being a canon Elite 4 member in Scarlet and Violet wasn’t already enough, I had to sprinkle some of that Trainer energy into my setup.

Based around the creator’s Gooey Boy design, this custom Ditto keyboard rocks a 40% layout with a series of custom-tuned Pink Speed Switches. It’s so fun to type on and the switches really do make it a breeze to bang out posts day in and day out. I particularly wanted something that felt similar to my Macbook’s chiclet-style switches, and this really ended up fitting the bill. Outfitted with some gorgeous SA Dreameater key caps that carry on the Pokémon inspiration, the whole look of the keyboard really nails down the aesthetic that I’ve been going for with my rig.

I’m also rocking a macro pad in much of the same style as the larger accessory. This 9-key pad sports a series of key caps from the very talented BlueBomberFox who lets me rock some Pokémon cartridge vibes. This has been customized to work with my podcasting workflow in particular, with buttons that control recording, scrubbing through tracks, and just other things that make doing the 9to5Toys Daily podcast that much easier. It’s a highly-personalized setup, but one that I have grown to love over the past few months.

Oh, and throw in a Magic Trackpad 2 because of course you have to have one. It’s an Apple setup for crying out loud, and there isn’t a mouse on the market that is as convenient as the in-house accessory.

LG Ergo 34-inch UltraWide Monitor |

Back when I first picked up the LG Ergo 34-inch UltraWide Monitor two years ago, it was the focal point of my setup. Everyday after it landed on my desk, I put every pixel of its UltraWide design to work. But over the past couple of years, I have slowly moved more and more of my mission critical work over to my MacBook’s screen.

Now we’re at the point where the 34-inch display is delegated to much of the same task that my gaming PC is – playing Overwatch 2. Don’t get me wrong, I still use it during the work day as a place to throw some windows that I don’t need to have my eyes glued to, like all of the storefront pages of the gear in my setup that I’m weaving into this piece. I’d still wholeheartedly recommend it, though something like the new LG Ergo DualUp Monitor feels like a more fitting addition to my space. But for now, if it isn’t broken, no need to fix it.

Logitech Blue Sona Microphone and Lewitt Connect 6 |

A dedicated audio interface is a more recent addition to my setup, and an accessory that I picked up so I could review the recent Logitech Blue Sona Microphone last fall. Since that first hands-on look, I actually upgraded from a basic solution to something a bit more exciting. The Lewitt Connect 6 first won me over with its futuristic design that screamed Rikka vibes, but that also packs a punch on the software front. I’ll be taking a more dedicated look at this accessory in an upcoming review, but as a bit of a teaser, I have to say that I am impressed on all fronts by the latest from Lewitt.

Circling back to my microphone, I am still daily driving the Logitech Blue Sona. Much like the audio interface it pairs with, I am still not over just how slick the design is and have only continued to love the microphone more from its actual recording capabilities over the past six months. I fully broke down just why I adore the form and function of the recent release back when I reviewed it originally, but it still holds up as a near-perfect mix of clean vocal recording capabilities and a distinct look that draws eyes on Twitch streams and the like.

Opal C1 Webcam |

Back when I used to stream all of the time on Twitch and with 9to5’s own Jordan Swartzendruber, I relied on a far more complex webcam setup. Pairing a Sony A6400 camera with a 56mm Prime lens and Elgato Cam Link 4K, the combination was perfect for getting crisp shots with my background naturally blurred out. Though the rebuilding my setup, I decided to go for something a little bit more streamlined with the Opal C1 Camera. This handheld unit really does accomplish its goal of providing DSLR-like image quality thanks to its 7.8mm 4K sensor, and the companion software tweaks only make it a more flexible option.

Though I’ve recently been testing out Logitech’s new Brio 300 webcam, and have to say I am so impressed. But whether or not my setup leans harder in to being packed with Logitech gear remains to be seen for an upcoming review on the experience.


As for my desk, because I am sure I’ll get questions, the model isn’t important. You thought I’d get this far without mentioning it if it was a big deal? I’ve been rocking the same setup for the past five years and likely won’t be changing that anytime soon. It’s a hack-job combination of standing desk legs from Monoprice and a commercial-grade desk top that has served me well for the past half decade. Which really is all I have to say.

Accessories and other goodies |

Moving onto the accessory front, there are plenty of little gadgets that live on my desk to accompany the various trinkets around my space. Starting with the Twelve South gear, I might as well embrace being a bit of a stan for the Apple accessory company. Right now, I am rocking one of the company’s new Curve Flex stand. It’s a great option for upholding my MacBook Pro, and provides plenty of different viewing angles so that I can tweak things to my liking.

One thing that hasn’t really changed with my setup over the years is my Thunderbolt hub, with CalDigit’s oh-so popular TB3 dock still serving as a focal piece of my workstation. It has been a staple of my workstation for years now and works just as reliably as the day I got it. Even though I am rocking a Thunderbolt 4-enabled Mac, I haven’t found any issues relying on this hub to drive my display, Ethernet connection, and a saturation of other accessories.

There’s also a cheap USB switcher that allows me to swap some of my peripherals between the Mac and PC. It feels like such a rudimentary solution these days, but the hub does get the job done. You’ll also find an Elgato Stream Deck MK.2 that doesn’t see as much use as it did when I streamed every day. I had such a glowing review of the accessory back when I did a Tested with 9to5Toys piece on it exactly a year ago, but with the macro pad I talked about above, I have somewhat swapped over the functionality.

And if you thought I was done with the Twelve South gear, I also am rocking one of its HiRise 3 MagSafe chargers. This has lived on my desk since I reviewed it last fall, and still gets daily use. Though speaking of chargers, my setup also still relies on the Satechi Dock5 for taming my collection of power banks and earbuds.

Rounding out my setup is a little bit more of that e-girl flare with an anime-inspired mousepad. Launched back in the summer of 2022 as part of Intel’s limited-run Artist Series, the visual stylings of the artist Nemu have long captured my attention, and I was finally able to add some of that to my setup.

LEGO, Pokémon plus, and more..

There are so many other aspects of my setup that I’ll be sharing in a future installment of Behind the Screens. Namely my server rack which has been seeing some love over the past few months as I’ve overhauled my kit for a new space. Not to mention, after getting messages about it for ages, I’ll be taking a look at my LEGO collection.

Have any questions for Rikka on the gear in her workstation? Go give a shoutout to it over on Twitter or chime off in the comments below.

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