It’s that time of the year again when summer winds down and the back-to-school season begins. Soon, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and Target stores all over the country will be flooding with college goers as they hustle for the best deals in town, especially in technology.
With so many things to buy, however, students often find it hard to distinguish between what they need and what they want. The situation is made more intricate by the numerous “welcome to college” sales held by retailers, which tempt students and their parents to stock up on promotion items than other would-be essentials.
For collegians, therefore, it pays to have a well-drawn-out shopping list. The right tech will help you do research, draft assignments, keep organized, stay fit, and decompress after a long day on campus.
Are you going off to college soon? Here are five gadgets you just can’t overlook.
In today’s overly technological world, a decent college laptop is as vital to a student as a pen and paper. In addition to getting school work done faster and more efficiently, notebooks offer access to a vast pool of educational resources and useful information.
A college-friendly laptop will give you the convenience of taking your work with you and completing assignments anywhere and anytime. Keeping up with lectures will also be easier when you have the option of firing up the microphone and recording, rather than taking notes by hand. Moreover, professors usually make their digital notes available to students, and electronic textbooks are significantly cheaper than hard copies.
That said, although prices have considerably dropped in recent years, a laptop will probably be the most expensive item you buy. Thankfully, colleges have come up with new ways of making them more accessible to students. Some require that computers meet the minimum speed, power, storage, and connectivity specifications, while others partner with manufacturers to offer students exclusive deals for laptops that are specially configured for college.
Before buying, therefore, get in touch with your school and find out about any guidelines they may have.
2. FITNESS TRACKER
In college, it’s easy to get strung up with a tight schedule and not have time to keep fit. From long days of lectures to sleepless nights of research, you may lack the motivation for a skipping rope session or a casual evening jog.
A proper fitness tracker will keep you on track with your health by giving you a clear view of calories, heart rate, daily steps, distance covered, stairs climbed, and hours jogged. Most also come with calendar alerts, reminders, and email notifications and are therefore an excellent way to stay on top of your daily agenda.
Companies like Misfit and Fitbit have pleasant selections of trackers, which range from simple wristbands to sophisticated smartwatches. While the tracker you choose will depend on your needs and your budget, it’s best to pick one that’s subtle to go with any of your daily outfits, comfortable for all day and all night wearing, and waterproof so you wouldn’t have to take it off for a swim or a shower.
3. NOISE CANCELING WIRELESS HEADPHONES
You won’t always have access to your own space while on campus. A good pair of noise-canceling headphones will go a long way to making your life easier, be it by drowning ambient noise for quiet studying, listening to audiobooks and notes, or uplifting your spirit with some music. Going wireless will also help you to move around without the bother of clumsy wires hanging from your ears.
Some great brands to keep an eye on are Beats, Bose, Audio-Technica, and Sennheiser. Headphones vary widely in quality, and the average price for wireless, noise-canceling ones is $50 to $300. Regardless of your budget, ensure you pick the pair that sounds acceptably good, feels comfortable, and seems durable enough to last at least the first year.
4. EXTERNAL STORAGE
Having your essential data somewhere else besides your computer can be a lifesaver. A portable hard drive will help you keep a backup of your files and documents, which you can easily access when you accidentally knock a glass of water over your keyboard, or your roommate unintentionally infects your laptop with their malware-riddled flash disk.
A sizeable hard drive will also keep your computer fast and light, by reducing the slowdowns that come with having too many files onboard. And because many drives can be password protected, they can come in handy when you can’t keep your friends off your laptop.
If a hard drive is out of your budget and you won’t mind the limited storage, a 32GB flash disk may be worth your while. Alternatively, because your college will likely have wireless internet connection all over campus, you could consider signing up for a cloud storage service like Google Drive or OneDrive.
5. PORTABLE CHARGER
College students are always on the go, and so are their gadgets. Sure, you may form the habit of having everything charged before you set off for a class in the morning, but adhering to such a routine will not be easy. A portable charger will keep your devices charged at all times, so you don’t need to worry about power issues while in the middle of a study session. There is nothing more frustrating than the dreaded mac battery drain while in a lecture, and your brain is feeling too fuzzy to try and memorize every single fact. A pen and paper is always a handy backup, but they are nowhere near as useful as your laptop or smartphone.
The best charger is that which will work with a variety of gadgets, including your laptop, smartphone, tablet, and even your fitness tracker. It must also be light enough to ferry around in your backpack all day.
College is undoubtedly exciting, but without the right tools for the job, it could quickly morph into an unpleasant experience. Although your favorite retailer may have gadgets that seem more fun and more urgent, the devices above should be the first to go into your shopping cart.