7 Tech Products to Help You Make It Through This School Year
When gearing up for your first year at college or university, it’s easy to go a little overboard with devices. I’ve seen back-to-school guides recommending everything from televisions to smart fridges, but unless you’re renting a whole wing of dorm rooms, you won’t be fitting any of those appliances in your new pad. If you’re looking to survive your first year away from home here’s a list of gadgets I wish I had when I started school.
Samsung Gear VR Headset
The Samsung Gear VR ($89 US) was made for dorm life! This delightful gadget would have made living with a roommate a whole lot easier when I was in university. Instead of being paired with a fellow night owl, the school’s algorithm decided that someone who enjoyed early bird dinners and a bedtime that could rival any grandparent would be my perfect match. After long lectures and hours spent at the library, all I wanted to do was curl up and watch my favourite shows in bed. This was always met with grumbles and moans about the light from my screen. I would have loved to lay back in my bunk bed and binge without the complaints of my cellmate. In case you find yourself tethered to a geriatric roommate, I suggest grabbing the Gear VR, it will be the perfect tool for a much-needed escape and of course a staple for your post-secondary success.
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Whether you are drowning out your roommate’s didgeridoo – it actually happened to me – or trying to find peace and quiet in a noisy library, a pair of noise cancelling headphones will help you maintain your sanity. I tried to make it through university with a couple of sets of earbuds and failed miserably. The Bose QC35 wireless headphones ($350 US) would have made the perfect addition to my dorm’s arsenal of tech. The QC35 features Acoustic Noise Cancelling Technology that continuously measures, compares, and reacts to outside noise – then cancels them out with the opposite signal. With 20 hours of battery life and a large cup of coffee, you’ll be able to make it through all of those all-nighters.
FitBit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch
Armed with a meal plan and an ice cream buffet, I learned the harrowing
truth about the Freshman Fifteen. For those of you who are immune to the calling of an all-you-can-eat buffet, I am in awe of your will power. If you need a little help keeping your health in check, why not try a fitness tracker? I’ve been a long-time fan of FitBit and have relied on my FitBit Blaze ($199 US) to keep me in line. This wearable isn’t just for the athletically inclined; it features guided breathing sessions to get you through exams and reminders to move when you’ve been trapped at the library all day. So don’t worry if you over-indulge, just make sure you get those 10,000 steps in!
When nature calls and you’ve got a prime spot in the library what do you do? Pack up your laptop and risk losing the seat by the only working outlet, or do you leave your computer and hope you make it back before someone swipes it? I found myself in this situation quite a few times, but I was lucky the only thing that went missing was a chocolate bar. If you’re not much of a gambler, a laptop lock will put your mind at ease. Most laptops feature a Kensington Security Slot (or K-Slot), which allows you to anchor a cable to your computer and secure it to a table. With the Kensington Combination Ultra Laptop Lock ($30 US) your prized possession won’t be walking off without you. For MacBooks, your best bet is a tethered cable from Tryten ($35 US). The singlepiece lock secures into an adapter that mounts on your device. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim
If you are going to learn one thing in university, it should be to backup your files! After
desperately pushing my PC tower through the snow in a shopping cart to the campus IT centre, I discovered the horrifying reality of data loss. To avoid a tearful trip of your very own you might want to invest in a portable storage drive. The Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim ($59 US) is small enough to tuck in your backpack and provides you with a terabyte of space. The drive is compatible with both PCs and Macs and comes in a choice of two stylish finishes (gold and platinum). It’s not worth the risk of losing your files, don’t leave home without an external hard drive. Believe me.
Unlike students today, my mobile was an archaic flip phone. There were no apps to speak of and if I wanted to listen to music I had to carry an additional device. Now I consider my smartphone an extension of my body and I would rather lose an arm than my iPhone. With folders full of apps, I depend on their ability to organize and connect me to the digital world. For a new student, a smartphone is the perfect tool to help guide them through their school year. To track assignments, projects, and classes the my Homework app will keep even the most disorganized student in line. If you have a passion for lists – like myself – Wunderlist is the app to help you organize and share your to-dos. Do you need help studying? Flashcards Deluxe allows you to create a digital deck to help you memorize just about anything. It turns out if you need help in school, there’s an app for that! All these apps are available on iOS and Android.
The Tile App
If you’re the kind of person who would lose your head if it wasn’t screwed on, then it’s time to grab a Tile or two. The Bluetooth tracker clips to everything from your keys to your passport. With a new elegant design and twice the Bluetooth range than the previous model, the Tile Style ($35 US) is the perfect balance of form and function. Using the app, the Tile will ring if nearby, or it can provide you with its last known location. The Tile not only keeps track of your everyday essentials, but also prevents you from losing your mind. These handy gizmos make for a great going away gift; I have been known to hand them out to many of my scatterbrained friends.
From VR headsets to fitness trackers, you can upgrade all the gadgets you want, but just remember that none of these devices will replace a good oldfashioned study session. You can’t use tech to cheat your way to good grades … well unless you’re a robot!
Samsung Gear VR Headset
Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise-Cancelling Headphones
FitBit Blaze Smart Fitness Watch
Kensington Combination Ultra Laptop Lock
Top: Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim. Bottom: The Tile App
myHomework app screenshot