Whether you’re starting college or returning for another year, here’s our top 5 tech must-haves for the new academic year.
All around the world, new school years are about to get underway. Students of a variety of ages will be packing up their backpacks or moving into dorms, ready to face another year. Fortunately, many school supply lists have abandoned things like three-ring binders and replaced them with tablet computers, wifi-enabled devices, and other high-tech gear.
The days of hauling your giant “fat screen TV” and desktop computer into your dorm room might be behind us, but there are still tech gadgets–both essential and completely a luxury item–that will make your school year more productive and more fun. None of these mentions are product endorsements, though, but rather useful items from a crowded category. (In other words, pick your own brands and operating systems.)
1. Laptop and/or Tablet
Why the “and/or?” Because tablets and laptops obviously don’t work the same way, but higher end tablets are catching up fast. You could go with a convertible option that becomes both a laptop and a keyboard, but even that might not be powerful enough for your course of study. An architecture student, an economics major, and an English major are going to have very different software and hardware needs, so it’s good to plan for what kind of computing you’ll be doing–such as graphics heavy versus word processing–before buying.
Colleges and universities (and even a lot of public schools, to be honest) are going cloud-based. Google Drive is a popular favorite among students and teachers because it’s easy to use and can be logged in from any workstation. However, with the high rates of data breaches and hacking events that target educational institutions with ransomware, it’s a good idea to backup important projects and assignments to an external storage devices. Flash drives now offer an insane amount of storage for relatively low prices, but external tower hard drives aren’t as likely to end up covered in crumbs at the bottom of your backpack.
3. Wifi Hotspot
There’s a lot of gear you simply don’t need (looking at you, college dorm Roomba and industrial Keurig), so if you save a little money by downsizing your tech, you might be able to afford a serious luxury that could turn into a lifesaver. Investing in a portable wifi hotspot will not only let you work on homework from the beach, but can save you if the university experiences bandwidth problems. NOTE: Not getting to watch Hulu because the campus wifi is down is not technically an emergency, but depending on your data plan, your hotspot could help you out there, too.
4. Great Headphones
One thing you’ll learn about college life is that it can be very noisy. A great pair of noise-cancelling headphones can make all the difference when you’re trying to study but your roommate is arguing with her boyfriend…again. There are also campus rules about quiet hours and study spaces that require you to turn it down or plug it in at certain times or locations.
5. Backup battery
A lot happens when you’re in school, and having the right power source is important. A backup battery that can charge your devices–even your laptop, if you invest in the right one–will help you remain connected and efficient.
Of course, the dorm Roomba would be great, but when it comes to tech for school, less might be more. Start with the bare bones and invest in quality that will last you for the duration of your schooling, and consider the extended warranties or insurance plans if you’re worried about theft or damage.