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 LED-backed LCD monitor ($169.99 on Amazon.com) 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 ($79.99 on Logitech.com), 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 ($44 on Belkin.com) 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 on Amazon.com).
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 Multicharger ($39.99 on Oxo.com) has a built-in power strip and ample room to stash the cords inside. I especially like the bidirectional 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 ($199 on iHomeAudio.com).
The iA100 works with iPods, iPhones and iPads, 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 1TB ($109.99 on WesternDigital.com), 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.
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