Heading off to college for the first time and not sure what gadgets you’ll need? Sending your child to school and want them to succeed? This list has the essential gadgets you need, with no unnecessary extras, and picks out the best in each category.
After a year of interning with zBoost, I head back to college for the last time. Only one more year of school and I will be a real adult! Ah scary! Now you can benefit from the years of college under my belt, and take note of which gadgets you need to ace classes.
Obviously you are going to need a laptop. There are school computers you can use, but are you really going to walk all the way to the library to take your 5 minute homework quiz that’s due at midnight? Your laptop will become your baby and go with you everywhere; to class for notes, home for Netflix and uhh homework. So now the question is: do you save money and go with a nice Windows laptop or get fancy with a Macbook Pro? I am in no way a diehard Apple fanatic but I truly love my Macbook Pro. It turned 5 years old this month and is still going strong. Never having to worry about viruses, along with all the features Mac includes, makes the Apple Macbook Pro the recommendation for me. Long-term this is the best bang for your buck.
Now you are probably saying to yourself, what about tablets? They are much more portable than laptops, and have acceptable typing when you have an attachable keyboard. My experience though is that few students use tablets in class. Trying to keep up with the teacher talking, following a link the teacher gives, all while having the PowerPoint of the day open, is just too much for it. Not to mention trying to get an online quiz to work on it is a nightmare. I can see using a tablet as supplemental to your laptop but not as your main computer.
An external hard-drive is your backup in case of unexpected laptop calamity. Which trust me, right when you are about to turn in your final paper, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Store every single file you have on your computer safely and easily with an external backup. I personally use Passport, a competitively priced backup, which has never failed me. At $70 for a whole terabyte worth of storage, as well as that ease of mind, makes it an easy purchase.
Want to become a focused and studying machine? I have a simple solution to make that happen: headphones. Whether you are booking it to class or pulling an all-nighter; headphones will keep you going. You are going to need some theme music for your long walk to the other side of campus or some classical study music in the library. Headphones let you focus and block out all the distractions. I have been through more than a few different pairs and recommend this sleek pair of noise-isolating headphones by Symphonized. Their sound quality is excellent, small size lets you easily throw them in that side pocket of your backpack, and for the price of $25 you won’t cry when you inevitably forget them in a classroom.
I would add a smartphone to this list but most college students already own one and I am not getting into that Apple vs. Droid debate. I would definitely list it as a necessity though. Checking bus times, listening to music, last minute looking where the final is being held. They prove their worth over and over for the busy college student.
While not actually a gadget, another college essential I add to this list is a Spotify account. Spotify gives you access to a massive music library wherever you are as well as makes it easy to share that perfect party playlist , I mean study playlist, with your friends. Unlike Pandora, you can pick specific songs to stream and make playlists that sync on all your devices. Studying hard, falling asleep, new indie folk artists. They’ve got pre-made playlists for all of your moods. Spotify has changed the music finding and sharing game so don’t miss out. At $4.99 a month for students, which is half off of the regular price, Spotify is well worth the money.
We covered how important smartphones are to college students, but what good are they if you can’t get any signal? Many dorm buildings have poor cell phone signal due to being older buildings or from trying to fit so many students inside. My little four story hall wasn’t even one of the high rises and still got horrible signal. zBoost solves your signal problems with a window mounted signal amplifier. It works by taking the little amount of signal you do receive and amplifying it in your area. If you have signal problems look into picking up a zBoost CONNECT.
Printers are somewhat the bane of my existence. With all of the knowledge and technology available to us, why are printers always breaking and messing up? And don’t even get me started on low ink and paper jams. I personally choose a simpler option by printing all of my materials at the library. Most universities have cheap or free student printing. While having a printer at home is convenient for printing out a few notes, I would not bank on that final research paper, worth 25% of your grade, actually printing that day. Regardless I will still make an educated recommendation with an all-in-one HP printer.
To wrap up this list of tech necessities, some additional things you might also need are a Microsoft Office software package (make sure you get those student discounts), flash drives and an extra laptop charger.
Hope this tech list imparted some knowledge and good luck on starting your college career!