Dorm Tech Check List
With college kids heading back to school, you'll want to make sure they have these tech essentials for the dorm room.
1. Computer monitor/TV
A large computer monitor may seem like a luxury item, but the added screen real estate makes work time more productive. Plus, models like this 21.5-inch ASUS VE228H 21.5-Inch Monitor ($169.99) can double as a TV. It has HDMI, DVI-D and VGA ports for hooking up to almost any laptop.
2. Mouse and Keyboard
Yes, you can use your laptop’s touchpad and keyboard, but for writing term papers and day to day computing a mouse and keyboard are a necessity. I like the Logitech Wireless Wave Combo Mk550 ($59.99) with a keyboard and laser mouse. The keyboard’s wave design and mouse’s contoured shape keep your hands in a comfortable, ergonomically correct position. Plus, the wireless transmitter/receiver is small enough that it can always be left plugged into your laptop, even on the go.
3. Surge protector
Not only should kids have a surge protector to prevent power surges from damaging their gear, the extra outlets come in extremely handy. The Belkin Pivot-Plug Surge ($20.88) has rotating outlets, so each of the eight outlets can be used with a variety of plug sizes, despite its compact design.
4. Electric toothbrush
Oral hygiene may not top college kids list of priorities, so they should be armed with a model that has a better chance of being used correctly. Go for a model with a head that rotates and oscillates, or a sonic model like the rechargeable Philips HX5351 Sonicare ($39.97).
5. Charging station
Cell phone, camera, Bluetooth headset, music player—there are bound to be multiple mobile devices that need charging in the dorm. The OXO Good Grips Multicharger ($32.56) has a built-in powerstrip and ample room to stash the cords inside. I especially like the bi-directional outlets, which are great for accommodating a variety of plugs.
6. iPod dock/alarm clock
The task of waking a college student in time to make it to class should be left in the hands of a device that remains plugged into a wall next to the bed, otherwise known as an alarm clock. Make sure it can double as a decent sound system, as well, like the iHome iA100 ($183.44). The iA100 works with iPads, iPhones and iPods, thanks to a cleverly designed top dock connection, plus Bluetooth or an auxiliary input jack for non-Apple devices. The built-in alarm has with exceptional flexibility (two separate alarms, which can be specified for weekdays or weekends, with gradually rising volume, etc.), and can be controlled from the dock or via a free app on your docked device.
7. Computer back-up solution
Computer crashes always seem to happen just when you're finishing up that paper that is due first thing the next day. Don’t leave anything to chance. Opt for a portable hard drive, like the Western Digital My Passport Essential SE 1 TB ($99.99), or a cloud-based storage service, like Dropbox, which you can use to sync files between all of your devices and access your files from anywhere. Dropbox is free for the first 2 GB of storage (enough space to store every paper your child will write during all four years of college) and $10 per month for up to 50 GB.