Getting a new laptop or Chromebook is a no-brainer in the midst of back-to-school shopping. Other items for the school year’s return aren’t as clear. They may appear to be completely discretionary, something only the wealthy would consider purchasing.
If you find yourself constantly zigzagging around campus, however, you shouldn’t dismiss the importance of electronic gear. When you factor in a social life and a part-time job, you’ll need the correct equipment to retain your sanity.
Lululook’s laptop stand Lululook Rotating Folding Laptop Stand
In addition to making your work environment more comfortable, a laptop stand can help you make better use of your desk. If you frequently engage in lengthy study and homework sessions, you should position your laptop screen at a height that minimizes hunching or improper posture. It also makes using two monitors at once more comfortable. The good news is that laptop stands are reasonably priced, and you can even get a little one that fits easily in your bag. If you want to avoid a hefty charge from your body in the future, take it from an old person: taking care of yourself now is a good decision because your body adds up your discomfort over time.
Cluttered cable outlets can be a major bummer when you’re sharing a cramped bedroom with someone else. A Bluetooth keyboard that works with several devices is space-saving and allows you to switch between your computer, tablet, and phone with ease. The Logitech MX Keys Mini is a great portable solution because of its compact size and light weight. You aren’t going away, are you? When playing games or typing for extended periods of time, a heavier model with mechanical switches (like those from Keychron) is preferable.
You may study in peace even in a noisy house or dorm with the help of a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones. (There’s no point in arguing if everybody’s happy.) In-ear headphones typically have a shorter battery life than over-the-ear headphones, with the best models like the Bose QuietComfort 45 and Sony WH-1000XM5 getting between 20 and 30 hours runtime. Comparatively inexpensive alternatives, such as Anker’s Soundcore Space Q45, have comparable battery life and sound quality.
Meanwhile, ANC earphones are relatively portable, making them useful for frequent but shorter visits outside the house. There is a plethora of options available to you, the best of which include the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II, Sony WF-1000XM5, and Apple AirPods Pro.
Whether you need a second screen for your computer, a digital notepad to take notes in class, or a convenient way to read your textbooks, a dedicated tablet can serve many purposes. It’s a wonderful accessory for any computer, but especially a desktop PC. For such multitasking, the Apple iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S lines have long been the go-to devices, but if you want to focus more on notetaking with less eye strain, a device like the Onyx Boox Note Air 2 can help you out; it still runs Android but has an E-Ink screen.
When you bring friends over to hang together, they might want to show each other something cool on their phones or computers. If your TV has a built-in Chromecast, they can simply mirror their device’s display to the larger screen; if not, or if your computer monitor is the only screen in your home, you can easily connect a Chromecast dongle to a spare HDMI port. Instead of AirDropping a local video or letting someone use your computer to copy a file or load a link, this solution requires fewer steps.
While a Bluetooth speaker or the speakers on your laptop are adequate, you can do better. In contrast to Bluetooth speakers, the audio in a video, even one with rapid editing, will not be thrown off by delay. You’ll be able to turn up the volume without sacrificing quality. A excellent pair won’t cost you much or steal much room from your presumably already-crowded desk, either. Our top option for affordable speakers costs just $20 and has a tiny footprint, for example. (Of course, if you want to splurge, we also included some of the finest inexpensive computer speakers in our roundup.)
Losing your keys or other essential belongings while you’re out and about can be a terrifying experience. Not because someone stole them, but because you were so busy going from one place to another that you lost track of your belongings. Use a Bluetooth tracker, such as an Apple AirTag or Tile Pro, to keep tabs on your most important belongings. If you’re feeling too rushed or under too much pressure to remember your steps clearly, this will be a huge help.
These days, most data is stored on the cloud, but having a local backup might save the day even if it seems quaint. It is possible to delete a file without realizing it, either locally or in the cloud (or both, if the two locations are synced). You can utilize a cloud service designed for backup, but an external hard drive will save you money in the long run and will always be accessible, even if you lose internet connection. A 5 terabyte hard drive is still a good investment.
Due to unexpected school or work commitments or social opportunities, you may find yourself away from an outlet for longer than you had anticipated. Having even a small, pocketable power bank (like this 5000mAh lipstick style charger) can keep your phone alive while you’re out more than normal. Get one that can charge your device (like the Anker 511) and you’ll be set for any situation.
It can get old to constantly disconnect and reconnect your computer, streaming stick, game console(s), and other gadgets that are all connected to your TV or computer monitor. Furthermore, the number of available HDMI connectors is typically low to begin with, especially on cheaper screens. These issues can be avoided with the help of an HDMI switcher, as all signals are directed through it rather than directly to the display. A 1080p model is good if you have outdated equipment, but a 4K one is worth the extra money if you want to prepare for the future.
Spend just $30 on the SGEYR 5-port HDMI Switcher (infrared remote, auto-switching).
Comfortable input devices
Injuries caused by overuse are terrible. An ergonomic mouse can prevent a lot of pain if you spend a lot of time using a computer. While the Logitech Lift is a good option for folks with little hands, a simple wireless vertical mouse can be had for as little as $20. Other choices include an affordable Wacom tablet or a trackball mouse. The key is to take breaks frequently and, if possible, rotate between different types of mice. A basic split keyboard model can help you maintain a more natural position for your hands and wrists while typing.
An iPhone rests on a black phone stand.
Having a specific place for each item is especially helpful while living in confined quarters. Reducing visual clutter can also be accomplished by removing items from your desk. A phone stand is useful for both of these purposes, and it also makes it simple to check for new notifications without having to pick up your phone. You can maintain a full battery by using a stand that charges it as well.
In spite of the fact that printing documents is, in many ways, a thing of the past, there may still be times when you need to do so, and doing so may require a trip to the campus computer room. In addition, if you have a large print job, the cost per sheet at the school computer labs might mount up quickly. Having a printer on hand can prevent these sorts of problems from arising, and if you choose a portable or tiny model, it won’t take up much room, either. Yet even the most inexpensive printers are small enough to be hidden away in a cabinet or a closet.
From one bibliophile to another: don’t lug your entire library into the dorms. I’m guessing you do. As much as it’s been fun to spend the year surrounded by old favorites and new acquisitions, the pain of having to pack them all up and send them home at the end of the year is going to be excruciating. If you’ve never had to move regularly, books are their own specific agony. You won’t want to part with even one of them, despite the fact that they are cumbersome to transport when packed.
The best choice is to buy an electronic reading device. This way, you can rest your eyes from staring at LCD panels without worrying about where to put them. How does it compare to the feel of paper in your hands? The ability to carry hundreds of books on a gadget that fits easily in a pocket, however, is a fair trade-off. In addition, if you sign up for the Overdrive service at your local library, you can read as much as you want without spending a dime.