The dorm gadgets you don’t want to forget when heading back to school

As students get ready to head back to the classroom, many are also preparing to head off to the dorms – or possibly enter the dorms for the first time. And sure, you’ll have your computer and your smartphone, but there are plenty of other gadgets that every university and college student should seriously consider purchasing before heading off to school.

[ Check out more Back-to-School tips in our Tech Guide ]

Here are our suggestions for what you need to bring along when you’re going to be living in residence:

Hot pot

While I never lived in residence myself, a quick survey of my former dorm-dwelling friends pinned this as the top must-have item for dormitory living. Most dorms ban hot plates, making this item a great replacement that won’t force you out into the shared kitchen every time you want to make Kraft Dinner. It can boil water like an electric kettle, but being able to cook food directly in the hot pot makes it incredibly useful and versatile. Pictured above is a 32 oz. model from Proctor Silex, with a non-stick interior so your KD noodles won’t live inside forever.

Power bar with surge protector

There often isn’t an abundance of outlets in dorm rooms, and depending on the age of your building, power outages and surges may lead to big trouble for your electronics. Protect your devices by investing in a surge protector, along with a power bar that will give you a few more plugs to use in your room. You’ll want to invest in one that will actually protect your stuff (so don’t go hunting around at the dollar store), meaning you may have to pay a bit more for it. Belkin is a reputable company that offers a variety of protectors to suit your needs, ranging in size, price, features and number of plugs.

White noise machine

Even if you need to sleep before the big exam, that doesn’t mean your fellow residence-dwellers will be staying quiet and hitting the sack early. To help block out unwanted noise and get some relaxing sleep, have a look for a white noise machine, like the one pictured here from Hammacher Schlemmer. Instead of listening to drunken exploits of your neighbours, you can drown out some of that with soothing ocean noises, or sounds of bamboo chimes.

Wireless router

This one can be a little tricky, since many dorms have banned students from installing personal wireless routers. If you’re one of the lucky ones, however, this little device will let you create your own personal, private wireless network. Check your school’s policy, and if you’re cleared to bring one along, consider the AirPort Extreme Base Station from Apple, or the Linksys E1200 Monitor Wi-Fi Wireless Router N300, an entry-level router with easy setup that will get you connected in your dorm without breaking the bank.

Smart TV

(Image from Panasonic)
(Image from Panasonic)

Trying to wrestle the TV away from your neighbours in the common area can get tiresome. If you find the right TV, you may soon discover people would rather watch what you’re playing in your room. The right Smart TV will let you not only connect to services like Netflix, but you can also stream content from your computer and mobile devices, or even Skype chat with family at home. Don’t go too big, as a giant TV likely won’t fit well in your dorm space. Check out this LG 32” Smart LED TV, or the Panasonic 32” SMART VIERA TV (pictured above). Both have full 1080P HD, and connect you (with a wireless or Ethernet connection) to apps and a variety of online services, no computer required.

[ Related: Laptop vs. tablet: which is better to take with you to school? ]

Before running out and purchasing anything, however, review the rules of your particular residence and find out what you can have, what you can’t, and what you’ll really need. For the best idea of what you want to get, speak to a student who stays in residence during your orientation.

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