10 essential gadgets for students

10 essential gadgets for students

Summary: I chose these from personal experience, but also from asking many friends from around the world who are involved in technology and study at the same time. Some gadgets come with a recommendation, whereas others don't; things like laptops and cell phones can't be selected for everybody, it'd be ridiculous for me to recommend something which may not apply suitably to you.


I chose these from personal experience, but also from asking many friends from around the world who are involved in technology and study at the same time. Some gadgets come with a recommendation, whereas others don't; things like laptops and cell phones can't be selected for everybody, it'd be ridiculous for me to recommend something which may not apply suitably to you. In no particular order (because I couldn't choose), I present the following.

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1. Alarm clock - "Clocky Rolling Alarm Clock" With alarm clocks, you get one chance only to hit the snooze button, and after that you're on your own. Clocky, developed by an MIT student, sits on your bedside table and waits to go off. When it does go off though, it spins and rolls off and starts running around your room until it's turned off, whilst emitting a loud alarm. This is something I really could have done with; many lectures missed through lack of motivation and enthusiasm to move out of my warm, comfortable, female inhabited cocoon of perpetual safety.

2. Laptop A laptop is essential. Not only do you get the wireless capabilities to allow you to sit around campus and work, but it's also a flexible device which can be taken with you, or taken home for the weekend in your bag. Most laptops nowadays have similar specifications to those of laptops desktops; my own laptop included which is faster than my 6 month old desktop. The message I'm trying to get across is the ability to work anywhere, which is quintessential as part of student life.

3. Music player Some device for storing and playing music, an absolute must. There will be times you'll have to spend late nights or early mornings in the library, tapping away or scribbling down notes, and the silence in those dusty halls, waiting for the spooks to crawl from under the woodwork. Having music to calmly ease you through a long night of studying or research will not only calm you, but enhance concentration. Whether it be an iPod, a phone with an MP3 player on, or even a $30 cheap pen drive with a headphones slot; having a music player is necessary to survive college and university.

4. Pen drive - Corsair Flash Voyager (4GB-32GB) The portable storage industry is worth billions, yet each device can cost as little as $10 for a 1GB pen drive. I'd recommend investing in a few of these, because pen drives can be notorious for being pinched, especially if you leave your stuff in a public place whilst you go for a pee or to grab a coffee. Having a few of these and backing up to a main disk lets you keep your entire project in your pocket, whilst portable applications and games can be held there too, as well as your entire iPod library if you have enough space.

5. Cell phone I don't know of anybody who doesn't have a mobile phone nowadays; even Greg the Mormon (a guy we know here in Canterbury) has one, much to his parents' disapproval. Having a cell phone lets you keep in touch with everybody, whether it's for a research project or even for organising your social life. Granted, Facebook seems to have taken over the social side of things, with their revolutionary platform, but you still can't beat a good old fashioned phone. For those who want to keep in touch with parents (not me to be honest), a phone is vital for those who get homesick.

6. Wifi detector - Kensington Wifi Finder Plus A personal favourite of mine; this handy little device picks up wireless signal, 802.11a/b/g and Bluetooth networks, allowing you to know where you can connect to your campus network. No more will you have to hold your laptop high above your head, running round like a headless chicken, whilst shouting, "DAMMIT, WHERE'S THIS BLOODY SIGNAL?!"; you can casually walk and check. With 5 mini-LED's showing you signal strength, you can't go wrong with this. Tried and tested, a personal recommendation.

7. Book scanner - Wizzcom InfoScan IS1000 Having a book scanner can save you so much money in photocopying costs over the course of a year. Open up a book, start scanning the text, it'll get stored in the flash memory on the device, where you can plug it into your computer and read again. A brilliant invention for note taking, research, or even copyright infringement if necessary. Those who wish the library would stay open for a few more hours, you'll need one of these.

8. Dictaphone Most university lecturers podcast their lectures nowadays, but for the occasion that they don't, pop the dictaphone on your desk and allow yourself to listen back to the lectures at a later date. Having the actual lecture on hand is vital for some for exam revision, and with advanced features in most dictaphones now, it only records when it hears something to record, saving battery life and memory space.

9. Noise cancelling headphones The times you will want to study will automatically be the same time someone wants to throw a party, be loud, be drunk and therefore loud, play music, the list could go on. Having noise cancelling headphones allows you to immerse yourself into a shut off world of your own, to think and study, procrastinate and research, allowing the events of the world to slowly slip by as you concentrate on your studies. Had I not had noise cancelling headphones, I would have murdered my flatmates at the time... seriously.

10. Scientific calculator - Casio FX85ES Scientific Calculator Another personal recommendation, this is the calculator that got me through my maths exams this year. A fantastic calculator which is university regulated; meaning it's a perfect choice for learning from and using in exams. With all the features that you'd expect, a clear layout, easy to use, and explanations of things as you go.

I thought about gaming, but the Xbox is off the table with me. I didn't include it because Xbox Live requires a high-end broadband connection, and whilst most universities offer them, many don't allow Xbox Live to run through them as they take up huge amounts of bandwidth. Buy a Nintendo Wii or something; at least it promotes exercise , something  most students ignore as they're necking down another pint.

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility, Telcos

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  • Impressive...

    A laptop with the same specs as a laptop! Wow!
    • Fixed: should read "same specs as desktops"

      David Grober
      • Whoooops

        Sorry!! I'll admit, I was rushing more than usual. Without any Internet, I nipped to see my friend down the road who has got the web sorted. I was battling against the clock until my laptop battery died, and naturally spell check didn't pick it up.

        I do proof read, but seeing something like that is difficult, in all honesty.

        Again, sorry, but thanks for pointing it out :-)
  • Only 2 are "essential"

    Out of the list of 10 only #1 is "essential" for students. If in college #10 is also needed, but the other 8 are nothing but luxuries and two are just plain useless.

    Laptop - Not a real need. A cheap desktop in their home/room will do the same trick. Worst case scenario they can use the computers at the school.

    Music player - Why in the world is this an "essential" item?? It provides no educational benefit ... Having some music to relax is OK, but not "essential".

    Pen drive - Again, not needed. Although it has a size advantage, you can buy 25 CD-RWs (ie: 17.5GB of storage) for the price of a 1GB flash drive.

    Cell phone - For centuries billions of college students survived without one. Why in the world is it "essential" to have one now??

    Wifi detector - Why is this useless tool essential?? Most don't work as claimed and unless the student is planning to "steal" wi-fi, what's the point??

    Book scanner - Why get an expensive book scanner, when a regular scanner will do the same trick?? Besides, you are supposed to buy the book, not steal it.

    Dictaphone - You have to joking. There isn't a single one in this planet that works right. You spend more time fixing what it generates than you would spent if you just type the words your self. This is a USELESS tool, not an "essential" one.

    Noise cancelling headphones - If you can't stand the sound, go to the library or somewhere more quiet. This one is definitely a luxury.
    • Sheesh

      Yes, water and food would be a much more appropriate list...
    • I've yet to visit a quiet college library

      Besides with all the traveling you'd have to do to keep going to the library, getting noise canceling headphones seems to be the cheaper alternative in the long run (wrt time and gas).
      Michael Kelly
      • Nice to have is not "essential"

        The key word is "essential". If you can live without it is not essential.
        • Here is the line of logic

          Studying is essential. Can't study effectively in a noisy environment, so finding a quiet environment is essential. Saving money is also essential (unless you're in a Brewster's Millions sort of situation). So the least expensive way to find a quiet environment would qualify for a list of essential gadgets.
          Michael Kelly
    • book scanner

      he's talking about using the scanner in the library, doofus! I agree that some of these arent necessities but this one would be tremendous.
      • Like I said ...

        Nice to have is not essential.

        It is nice to have a 60" plasma TV w/ a PS3, Wii and XBox, a bar, a personal chef and maid in the room.

        But is it essential??
        • RE: Like I said ...

          For Oxbridge students (our equivilent of Harvard and Yale), exactly what you said is a bare necessity.

          After that, there's a butler to wipe your arse for you, a brewery on 24-hour call and Her Majesty's request is on speed dial 5, two places before God himself.

          I'm sure you're aware... most of us here aren't a big fan of those at Oxbridge :-)
    • you

      beat me to it on this list

      in addition. the most essential items are

      the rest is really a waste of $$$
      • and

        calculator if you have classes that require it
  • Having kids in school...

    ...I looked at the Casio FX85ES calculator. For reasons known only to Casio, it appears to be available only in the UK.
    Henrik Moller
  • RE: 10 essential gadgets for students

    You missed this one, the Pulse Pen from Live Scribe: www.livescribe.com

    With this pen & special paper you can take notes in class AND record a synchronized audio file to the notes. Pointing to text on the page replays the audio at that point.
  • RE: 10 essential gadgets for students

    I agree that a laptop, iPod, pen drive, cell phone, dictaphone, and a scientific or financial calculator are essentials. Some will question the iPod but I need it for podcasts, contacts, and appointments. I wish I could afford an iPhone because I could then eliminate carrying both a cell phone and iPod. I buy cheap 1gb pen drives to share files with friends. It's easier than burning a CD.
    • There are other more affordable phones

      that can do those things you say you need an iPhone for. The only difference is they are not Apple products.

      I agree with your idea of buying cheap pen drives. The fact that they are so much more reusable than CDs is another advantage. I think this makes them cheaper in the long run. Plus better for the environment.
      Michael Kelly
  • Nice List one disturbing thing you said...

    "Granted, Facebook seems to have taken over the social side of things, with their revolutionary platform, but you still can?t beat a good old fashioned phone." Your right, but Facebook as a "social" environment is very scary future thought. "Facelessbook" would be the better term. But your right - and that is what is bothersome about that topic.
    • The thing only "social" about Facebook is the social lies

      Lets face the fact, MySpace, Facebook, etc. are nothing more than fabs.

      Most people who post on them, just do so to brag about their non-existent life. A person who really has a life, would not waste time posting and "blogging" about everything. They would be out living.
      • Good point...but you see all of this "social"

        items in the Tech News. It just blows me away - these are not social - it's hermits living in dark rooms pretending to have a life? May daughter has one, but in reality she would rather be out with her friends. The heavy users - well you can mentally picture the person and you would probably be correct... but it's worrisome to see so much hype being put into these things.