What the Tech? Dorm room essentials
These next gadgets have become not so much creature comforts, but necessities for dorm life.
Twenty or thirty years ago, when the parents of this year's college freshmen were going off to campus, the essentials they needed to take with them were towels, sheets and maybe a microwave or mini-fridge. Today, it's quite a different story.
As dorm rooms become more and more like home, students are paying close attention to the technology they either need or want with them. These next gadgets have become not so much creature comforts, but necessities for dorm life: Bluetooth speakers. Most students will listen to music from their smartphone through earbuds or earphones, but sometimes you'll want to fill the room with music. Bluetooth speakers come in all shapes and sizes. The smaller ones may be good for a small space but for students who like to take their music outside or to loud parties, they'll need a bluetooth speaker with some solid bass.
The Braven BRV-HD is the best bluetooth speaker I've ever heard. It's got great bass but solid highs as well. Listening to some of today's biggest pop hits with pounding bass sounds great on this speaker. It's a big one and rugged with a rubber covering over the sides and top. It runs about 28 hours on a single charge and can fill up the room at a large party or outside. This one is often out of stock at Amazon.
Dorm rooms and halls can, and often are, very loud. Trying to find a moment of personal time can be difficult, that's why I recommend a nice pair of noise canceling headphones.
The Bose QuietComfort bluetooth headphones are my choice. They can connect to a phone or TV or game system, any device that has bluetooth built-in. Since they're bluetooth the student won't have any wires to worry about between their phone and the headphones. Noise canceling is very good; I've used them countless times on airplanes and never hear the roar of the engine or the person next to me. They're on the expensive side thought at $349.
If your student has a smart TV they probably won't need a streaming device but if it's a regular TV I can guarantee they'll want a streaming media player. The Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast are my choice of these devices that connect to the TV and will stream Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, HBO and many other channels. The Chromecast works by streaming what is on your phone to the TV while the Fire Stick doesn't need a computer or phone.
If they are taking a TV to campus, it's also a good idea to get an HD antenna. These are very inexpensive and will pick up local channels for the major networks and local news.
Maybe the most important gadget for a dorm room is a wifi router. Colleges now provide students access to the school's wifi network but it is often slow; maybe too slow to stream Netflix or play video games online. Some colleges and universities provide an Ethernet connection directly to the school's network. If the school allows for it, grab a wifi router and connect it the ethernet. Just set a unique password and connect all of your internet enabled devices. Your personal wifi network will be faster and more secure since no one else can access it (unless you share the password).
A word of caution though, check with the school to find out if it's permitted. Some universities have strict guidelines on student owned networks.
A small router is all you'll need for a small space like a dorm room.