As summer draws to an end, students all over the country are preparing to go to university. When considering what to pack, you should be thinking about which gadgets will help make studying for your course as straightforward as possible.
There was a time when all you needed was a pen and paper, and although these items still have a place, no-one hands in hand-written essays anymore, so high-tech devices are required. Get ready for the new term with these 11 essential gadgets.
If you can only get one item on this list, then a laptop is the most important. Having a portable computer means you can write essays, do research and catch up with family wherever you are. There is a great choice of affordable options on the market, but go for something with a decent keyboard so that typing up essays doesn’t become a chore.
Budget: Acer ES1-531 with 15.6″ screen, Intel Celeron N3050 Dual Core processor and 4GB of RAM. If you want an excellent laptop at well under £300 then you won’t go too far wrong with this one. Blowout: Apple MacBook Pro 13.3-inch – the basic model sports an Intel Dual Core i5 2.7GHz processor and 128GB of flash storage. Ultra thin, it retails for just under £1,000, so it’s definitely not cheap, but it’s the laptop that most students dream of. MacBooks also have a longer shelf-life than other laptops though, so it could be considered an investment. If buying one remember to use the generous student discount that Apple offers.
2. External mouse
Using the tracker pad on laptops isn’t great for your wrists. A USB wireless mouse means no annoying cords and no pain after a long study session.
Keeping in touch with friends and family from home is important, and the easiest way to do this is by giving them a call. These days mobile phones do so much more than this: they can remind you when essays are due or what time your lecture is, allow you to check your emails and have GPS capabilities.
There’s no point upgrading your phone for university, but have a look at what tariff you are on, because your needs might be different at university.
Textbooks are not the lightest thing to carry around all day, but an e-reader can come anywhere with you. Although it might be tempting to get the latest readers, which can also play movies and music, the more-affordable ones, like the Amazon Kindle (£59) will prevent you from getting distracted because they can only be used for reading.
Buying books digitally can be cheaper too, and some of the classics are even available for free. So you’re saving your back and money. E-readers also have a facility to search for specific text, great for reference books.
5. Laptop lock
A laptop lock means peace of mind, whether you are popping for a coffee whilst in the library or when leaving the computer in your room in halls of residence. The clever device plugs into your laptop and can be attached to a desk leg. You’ll need the combination to unlock it, making it difficult for anyone to run off with your prized possession. Laptop locks start at only a couple of pounds.
6. External Hard Drive
Having an external hard drive means that you never lose your completed essay or project the moment before you are due to hand it in. It allows you to make copies of your work and store them on a device that isn’t your main computer. That way, if your laptop is playing up, or worse still, crashes to its death, you will still be able to access all the files you need.
Seagate have an excellent value for money expansion drive that costs under £50. It has 1 TB of space, fast uploading speeds and connects via USB.
7. USB stick
A smaller version of the hard-drive, these are particularly useful for transferring a few files from one computer to another. Useful if you need a copy of your friend’s notes from a missed lecture or want to have a back-up of your essay.
You can pick these up cheaply in most shops, even supermarkets, starting at around £5.
Many people still find it easier to read hard copies than online and lecturers tend to prefer printed essays when marking. To avoid a last-minute rush to the library, consider purchasing a printer.
The Epson WorkForce WF-2010W Single-Function Printer is only £49.99, but most importantly the print cartridges for this compact, wireless printer cost around £5, saving you money in the long run.
Music is a big part of the university experience, and having a quality set of portable speakers means that you can have a party anywhere, from the park to the common room.
10. Noise-cancelling headphones
It can be hard to get peace and quiet these days, even in the library. To make sure that your study sessions don’t get disturbed, bring a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Check the headphones you currently use as most of these will be noise-cancelling already.
11. Games console
You shouldn’t bring your games console to university to avoid being sociable, but as a way to get to know people. Many of them also double up as a DVD or blue ray player, so should really be considered as two gadgets in one.