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Life at college (or university) can be pretty hectic. In amongst the endless textbooks you need to read, the thousands of words you need to write and the infinite alcoholic beverages you will likely consume, finding some spare time to yourself can be a tricky task. Indeed, anything that can make academic life a little easier is not worth turning your nose up at.
Luckily, with this in mind, we’ve decided to help you out. We’ve scoured the web to find the best gadgets for students, from the latest electronic tech to the simplest rudimentary concepts. The result is a fine array of devices and accoutrements that would complement even the most sophisticated dormitory.
So, if you’re heading away for school anytime soon, don’t even think about packing without these 25 essential gems!
1. HeimVision Wake-Up Light
If you’re not a morning person, your alarm clock sounding off at 7am is probably not your favourite part of the day. But there’s a solution. HeimVision’s wake-up light makes your early wake-ups much smoother by creating a sunrise effect, with a red-tinted light gradually growing into white light.
You can also combine this with white noise or radio to wake you up, while it even doubles as a bedside lamp and night light!
2. Mpow Noise-Cancelling Headphones
As well as built-in WiFi, college dormitories also contain a lot of noise – great when you’re feeling sociable but not when an essay deadline is just days away. Block out such distractions with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones and immerse yourself in your work.
3. Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 Camera
There are a lot of picture-perfect moments at university, and the best way to capture them is with an instant film camera! You don’t even have to worry about the settings; just point and click! Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 9 camera is the most popular choice, and for a good reason: it produces high-quality polaroid photos in just a few minutes, which you can safekeep for many years to come.
4. TOPHOME Earbud Organiser
That feeling of dread when you reach into your pocket to find that your earphones are a tangled mess is universal. But there is an easy solution to this modern predicament: the TOPHOME earbud cord organiser.
5. Rocketbook Smart Notebook
The debate between typing and hand-writing notes has raged across lecture halls for some time now, but with a smart notebook, you get the best of both worlds. As you write, the ink bonds to the specialised, reusable pages, which can then be easily uploaded to any major cloud-based program such as Google Drive, Dropbox or Evernote. As well as being environmentally friendly, it’s a far more efficient way to organise your notes.
6. SKYGRAND Smartwatch
From telling the time to monitoring sleep and checking heart rate and tracking activity levels, smartwatches are the techy descendants of traditional wristwatches. With SKYGRAND’s smartwatch, you can even check SMS messages and see calls, and even set reminders for things like impending deadlines, upcoming exams and rescheduled lectures!
7. ONXE USB Fan
Chances are your dorm room or student apartment isn’t fitted with an air-conditioning system, something that might only occur to you on a hot summer’s day when there’s no escaping the heat! Enter ONXE’s USB fan, and you’ll never be short of a cool breeze again. What makes it even cooler (pun intended) is that it also features a real-time clock display.
8. HP ENVY 5055 Portable Printer
Sure, there are printers in the library but when the entire student body is hitting deadlines at the same time, access might be tricky. Avoid the chaos and print from the comfort of your own dorm or, alternatively, pop out for a coffee and print from your phone.
HP’s ENVY 5055 has wireless and cloud-based compatibility, so you can get hard copies of your projects wherever you are. You can even connect it to an Alexa device, while its slender frame means it won’t take up much room, either – perfect for when moving day comes!
9. MATEIN Laptop Backpack
With tech becoming a more integral part of everything we use, even rucksacks are not immune. MATEIN’s slim travel laptop backpack is a shining example of this, with a built-in USB charger allowing you to keep your phone or device juiced up on the move. There is also an anti-theft pocket in the back, as well as a spacious packing compartment for textbooks and lunch boxes.
10. August Smart Lock Pro
Student housing is quite often a target for burglars, and some extra safety measures like August’s smart lock will put your mind at ease. You can open, lock and monitor your door all from your phone, as well as control keyless access. Plus, you can use voice commands by connecting your smart lock to Alexa!
11. Anker Wireless Ergonomic Mouse
As a student, you’ll spend most of your waking hours on a computer, and this can put a lot of strain on your wrist. That’s where Anker’s wireless ergonomic mouse comes in, as it encourages a neutral wrist and arm position and provides a smoother and more precise tracking to its user.
12. Amazon Fire TV Stick
Binge-watching just got so much easier. With Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, you can stream your favourite TV shows wherever you go. You can even store other apps and games on it and connect it to Alexa for easier navigation.
13. AdirChef Grab N’ Go Personal Coffee Maker
If you’re the kind of person who can’t function without their daily dose of caffeine, then this one’s for you. AdirChef’s personal coffee maker is a dream come true for many college students. Not only is it practical but it’s also eco-friendly as it’s fitted with a permanent filter that will save you money and help you cut waste. But that’s not all: it also comes with a travel mug – handy for your early morning lectures!
14. Anker PowerCore Portable Charger
Even with a backpack that can charge your iPad, it’s always handy to have a high-performance backup if you have more than one device or the bag gets damaged. The Anker PowerCore 10000 can charge all kinds of devices at rapid speed and includes almost three-and-a-half iPhone 6 and two-and-a-half Galaxy S6 charges within its small and slender frame.
15. Sistema Microwave Rice Cooker
Microwaveable meals aren’t exactly a primary example of a healthy diet… or are they? With Sistema’s BPA-free and dishwasher-safe microwaveable rice cooker, though, they sure are! Just pop in some rice or couscous, and let the microwave do its magic. You can even steam vegetables and get your five a day!
16. Kitchen Gizmo Snap N Strain Strainer
On the subject of food, this handy contraption can aid in the consumption of that other great main of the student diet: pasta. The silicone colander adjusts to fit on any size pot or bowl.
17. Amazlab LED Photo Clip String Lights
If you’re living away from home for the first time, it’s understandable that you’ll want to make your dorm room a little more homely. These LED photo clip lights are perfect for displaying your memories, as well as creating a little mood ambience at the same time.
18. Jelly Comb Foldable Keyboard
It’s a fact of life that, sometimes, you might get caught short. I am, of course, talking about not having your laptop to hand. In such instances, you might think that it’s impossible to get any work done, but you would be wrong: with a foldable keyboard (compatible with all major devices), you can type away on your phone or tablet before conveniently packing everything away again into your trouser pocket. Very efficient.
19. Hamilton Beach Sandwich Maker
This is where things start to get really interesting. Students might not be renowned for their gourmet cooking skills, but needs often must. After a night of partying, the only way you’re likely to survive that 9 am philosophy lecture is with a hearty breakfast – this inexpensive and practical sandwich maker offers the ideal solution.
20. Belkin 12-Outlet Surge Protector
With all this electrical equipment sitting around, you don’t want to risk blowing a fuse in your ever-growing Jenga tower of plug sockets. Luckily, Belkin is the gold standard in safety-first surge protectors. With 12 sockets, including rotating outlets for easier access, and over 4,000 joules of energy, you won’t be short of options; it even comes in 6-foot, 8-foot and wall-mounted varieties.
21. Jadaol Cat 6 Ethernet Cable
Most college dormitories have WiFi built in, often with upwards of 100+ students sharing the same bandwidth – fine if you’re working or just casually browsing the web. But as soon as you try to stream video, the demand on the network will cause problems; not ideal when you’re trying to catch up with Stranger Things.
The solution? Switch to an Ethernet cable instead for a significantly stronger connection. The Cat 6 Ethernet cable by Jadaol gives you 50m of cable to play with as well as a pack of cable clips to keep your wires orderly.
22. Toshiba Canvio Basics Portable Hard Drive
Probably the only thing worse than writing a 3,000-word essay is losing it to a spontaneous tech malfunction; therefore, backing up your work regularly is a wise idea. The Toshiba Canvio Basics has 1TB, 2TB and 500GB varieties (handy if your course contains a lot of media projects), as well as offers the ability to store your entire library of movies, photos and music on one small device.
23. TubShroom Drain Protector
If you or your roommates have long hair, then this little gadget might be the best investment you can make. TubShroom’s award-winning drain protector is compatible with any standard tub drain and will save you from expensive plumber bills.
24. Cards Against Humanity: College Pack
Although not technically a gadget per se, Cards Against Humanity is still the ultimate way to make new friends (and possibly offend them at the same time). This special college edition is only likely to heighten the fun (or the tension).
25. Kindle Paperwhite
Having the ability to load all your required course reading onto one small, sleek and very attractive device won’t just save you the physical pain of lugging 700-page textbooks around. Oh, no – it will also spare you the mental anguish of missing out on the last copy of The History of Nouns as you smugly download the digital version. Investing in a Kindle will often save you money on the price of books, too, with downloadable editions usually much cheaper.
Studying isn’t easy – far from it, in fact. But you can make your life a lot easier with this impressive array of gadgetry, allowing you to focus on more pressing concerns.
Are you currently in college? Is there anything else you would recommend? Let us know in the comments below.
This article is an updated version of an earlier version originally published on 30 January 2018, and contains revisions by Melina Theodorou.