Posted May 27, 2015 by

Dorm Room Essentials: The Best Gadgets for College Freshmen

Teens: Student carries stuff for dorm room

Teens: Student carries stuff for dorm room. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

College students have more conveniences available to them today than at any other time in history. Of course, that doesn’t mean college has gotten any easier, and all of the options can make back-to-school shopping overwhelming when you’re living on a budget. You want to make sure you choose items that will actually help you, but you don’t want to go overboard and equip yourself like Batman. Below is a review of eight essential gadgets that can give you an advantage this semester.

1. The CTX Laser Projection Virtual Keyboard

Smartphones and tablets have become a staple of college life much like laptops did a decade or so ago. They are great for reading and researching on the fly, and colleges are developing all kinds of apps to help students. Unfortunately, typing on these devices has always been a chore, but that is no more: Behold, the CTX Laser Projection Virtual Keyboard. This little device syncs with Apple, Android and other mobile devices to project a holographic keyboard onto a flat surface. The holograph can detect motion and allows you to input text and move though slides with the arrow keys. It sounds like science fiction, but the Virtual Keyboard is very real and will finally make writing papers and taking notes on your tablet possible.

2. The Livescribe 3 Smartpen

The perfect companion for the Virtual Keyboard is a smartpen, and the Livescribe 3 is the best on the market. These writing utensils are equipped with a tiny infrared camera that records everything you write or draw, so if you prefer to do your note taking by hand, you can jot down lecture notes and then sync your smartpen with an Android of iOS device to organize your files with apps like Evernote. Congratulations: You’ve eliminated the need for carrying around a heavy binder. The Livescribe is also great for artists and creative writers who get suddenly inspired while on the go.

3. Tile

If you live in a dorm or apartment requiring a key fob, you’re probably going to lose your fob at some point, and it’s going to cost a fortune to replace. Tile is basically a tracking device that syncs with your smartphone designed to help you keep up with important items. The small, square device can be easily tethered onto a key chain. When you activate the Tile App on your phone, Tile projects a signal across a 50 foot radius. If in range, Tile will sync with your device and tell you if you’re getting hot or cold as you walk around searching for your keys.

4. The Kensington 64068F MicroSaver Notebook Lock and Security Cable

Since you’re probably going to be lugging around a laptop worth hundreds of dollars, you want to make sure it doesn’t get swiped in the library while you take a potty break. The Kensington MicroSaver Notebook Lock and Security Cable practically anchors electronic devices to the wall. The only way to unlock the device is with a physical key. The six-foot cable is made of steel and connects with notebooks, desktops, flat panel monitors, printers and other devices. These are also a great idea if you have to leave important electronics in your dorm room for long periods of time.

5. Audio-Technica Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Noise-blocking headphones are a must if you’re living in tight quarters with someone else. It used to be impossible to study while someone was playing Xbox in the same room, but the Audio-Techa Headphones blocks out 85 percent of ambient noise so you can stay focused while your roommate goofs around.

6. Alcohoot

Going to parties and having a good time is a big part of the college experience, but in all seriousness, drinking and driving is dangerous, illegal and it could cost you in many ways. Alcohoot is a breathalyzer that attaches to your mobile device, and it can tell you if your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit. If you drink, Alcohoot helps you do it responsibly and make sure your designated driver is capable of driving.

7. The Kindle Voyage

If you’re an English major, you probably already have an e-reader, but if you don’t, carrying those thousand-page Norton anthologies on your back is hazardous to your health and your wallet. Through the Kindle market, you can purchase old literature for just pennies and carry an entire library in your pocket. With an Amazon Prime Membership, you can even rent digital books. Considering the astronomical costs of hard copy textbooks, an investment in an e-reader such as the Kindle Voyage will quickly pay for itself.

8. WD My Passport Ultra External Hard Drive

One of the downsides of everything going digital is that knocking over a glass of water onto your laptop can destroy literally everything you’ve worked for in college, not to mention all your music, movies and games. An external hard drive like the My Passport Ultra can help prevent the inevitable panic you’ll face when your laptop mysteriously stops working. The device connects wirelessly to your computer and can be set to automatically backup your files on a regular schedule so you don’t even have to think about it.

All of these items are easy to find through online retailers like Amazon and Walmart or directly from their manufacturers. A simple Google search of any of the products’ names will give you competitive prices and where to find them. Now that you’re properly equipped, all you need to succeed this semester is the will to study.

About the Author: Emma is a writer living in Boston and gathered the information used in this article from TheStore.com. Say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2

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