No piece of tech is strictly a “must-have” – I passed first year with a decrepit laptop and a phone that didn’t know what the internet was. Don’t do that to yourself because these tech ideas are snazzy, make your life easier, and look awesome. What’s not to like? (The price tag, I know, but that overdraft is interest-free…):
You’ll need a good one for 9am lectures regardless of the night before. Using your phone is simple, but not always the best for sleep. Lumie Bodyclocks simulate dawn light to wake you up naturally, and double up as a bedside lamp and radio. Allow your roommate to slumber on with your Lifemax Under Pillow Vibration alarm. 30 reps is how to shut the Dumbbell Alarm Clock up.
To feel better about all the hills you’ll be climbing (oh, just you wait), chart the health benefits. Fitbit’s wireless syncing products offer tracking of steps, distance, sleep and calls/texts. In June, its major competitor Jawbone released UP2 which boasts superior tracking of all fitness parameters. Skip straight to software with smartphone apps, many of which are free. Select your fitness goal in Nike+ Training Club (get toned, get focused) to follow realistic workout plans with video demos. Sworkit is similar, designed for people with busy schedules.
The indispensable accessory for quick-functioning email, checking Twitter in – ahem, between – lectures, and a host of apps you didn’t think you needed, but definitely do. (Forgotten timetable? Download iExeter). A good camera is a bonus, as you’re pretty much guaranteed to have your phone with you in those get-a-camera moments. You know what’s out there (iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, HTC) so check out the deals and just go for it. 100% a technology must-have.
Maybe the real must-have here; many an essay, lab report or lecture note are lost following a laptop’s demise. MyPassport is fast, encrypted, has 1TB of storage and a 5 year warranty. Cloud file backup starts free – 25GB with OneDrive beats Dropbox’s 2GB. GoogleDrive is perfect for a Chromebook. Prices rise for more space or security: Evernote Plus gives 1GB monthly and offline access.
Portable Bluetooth speakers allow you to take sound from bedroom to kitchen to social to party. Award-winning NudeAudio Super-M, a kickstarter baby, creates true 360 sound with 4 full range drivers. It’s sand, snow, bump and shower proof and can also handle calls. Creative MUVO Mini is known for its strong yet affordable bass. Splash out on UE BOOM’s immersive sound.
Whether you’re catered or not isn’t really a factor in whether you’ll want a toastie at 2.17am. Argos will give you that power for just £4.99. The legendary George Foreman goes further, and is used by friends to cook everything from fried eggs to chicken. Coffee makers, rice cookers and juicers all proliferate in Exeter, but they don’t make a meal quite as glorious as the Toastie.
For those of us who can’t afford Apple’s Macbook, a mini laptop is the next best thing for lectures and the library. Unidays’ discount brings the market-leading HP Stream 11 down to £159. It’s seriously fast, light and has got over its initial teething problems. Work, play and save £80 when you buy the laptop-to-tablet Acer Aspire Switch 10.1.
If, like me, you put all your important keys plus your unicard on one lanyard then lose it daily, attach one of these to your keychain. StickR TrackR uses an app to make the dongle beep if lost or about to get left behind. It can work backwards too, by making your phone ring even on silent. Tile is similar but has US shipping costs. A more basic Locator V3 set costs £9.95 on Amazon.
More useful and less stalkery than audio recorders – digi pens are the ultimate lecture lifesaver. Livescribe’s Echo syncs your pen movements with your lecturer’s voice so your notes are always complete. The Wi-Fi model is newer, cheaper, and does it all wirelessly with 500MB Evernote space, but requires a smartphone for the app and microphone. IrisNotes is a cheaper note capturer without audio. Check your lecturer is okay with being recorded first though.
In-ears suit exercise and urBEATS uphold the brand name with high quality sound, tangle-free cable and range of colours. On-ears are preferred for comfort and noise-cancelling: Sennheiser’s PX 100-ll feel light and can be folded up, saving space and improving durability. Many headphones (including these) have a built-in microphone made for scaring people into thinking you’re talking to yourself. Or, you know, Skype calls in DH1.
And the fun doesn’t stop there…
There’s loads of other products I could have listed here. If you really want a wireless internet booster, chip in with your flatmates. Getting a camera which is noticeably better than a good smartphone is expensive and not vital at all. I don’t see the point of smart watches, until they can do something better than my phone, not interested. As for laptops, there’s too much variety for me to tell you what you need, and in my opinion netbooks deliver everything that you will need as a student.
And that Nintendo DS you got for your 12th birthday? Bring it. You won’t regret it.