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10 bits of tech the back-to-school student should avoid

As the countdown to the academic season starts about now, the race to get the best deals and offers at your local tech stores is on. You'll need to start working out what you didn't have before which could have made your life a lot easier at university, and what to get now to make up for past purchasing mistakes.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor on

As the countdown to the academic season starts about now, the race to get the best deals and offers at your local tech stores is on. You'll need to start working out what you didn't have before which could have made your life a lot easier at university, and what to get now to make up for past purchasing mistakes.

However, the temptation to walk in and point randomly whilst saying, "that'll do" may well work in buying presents for your significant other, but this will not work when buying technology.

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I've selected these because I have experience in living in halls of residence and know what would work and what simply wouldn't. I'm also taking into account pointlessness, power consumed (such as the usual lack of power points and limited electricity supply halls have) as well as general frivolity.

To see 10 bits of tech you will need for college, head on over here.

There is a gallery of top 10 bits of tech not to buy here.

1. iPod's

The choice will no doubt be a controversial one but it is one with a point. I don't buy into the Zune adverts which claim it costs $30k to fill up an iPod, but if you are using iTunes to download movies and songs, it will amount to quite a lot. Taking into account you probably won't be able to afford food at the best of times, downloading content which soon adds up will cripple you financially. A subscription based service is recommended where you can download as much as you like for a set price.

Plus, consider the Mac vs. PC debate. The vast majority of students will have (or get) a laptop for college. iTunes doesn't work very well on Windows, regardless of what Steve Jobs comes out with. Be different and get something new. If you really want an iPod, then go for it, but be it on your own head.

2. Multiple monitors

There's a simple reason to this. As most students get laptops, having an extra monitor just wouldn't look or feel right. But if you had a desktop computer, you'd need two graphics cards or two of the same port on one very powerful graphics card: the latter being a more likely option. The fact of the matter is that you won't have the space in your room to viably sustain two or more monitors.

3. A Windows Home Server

Having a Windows Home Server isn't bad for when you are in a house-share. You can all chip in to buy it and have a massive range of videos, music and storage spread between you. However, when it is just you using it, it becomes a bit pointless. A home server is for sharing, a server is for a single purpose storage machine.

4. Digital pen

When they first came out, they appeared to be brilliant. But over time as other technologies evolved, it was clear to me and everyone else for that matter, that the gadget that once was just isn't that good. You can use some as ordinary pens, but to get the handwriting transformed into text, you often need digital paper which over time will end up costing quite a lot.

5. Amazon Kindle

I've mentioned the Kindle once or twice before, and I am not a big fan. You splash out on a good few hundred dollars and thereon in you have to keep chipping away at the bank balance to "top it up" with e-books. Again, over time, you will realise that you have spent what you would have done already on tuition fees but on books you either don't really need or never wanted in the first place.

6. A massive television

For many students they will be disappointed to find a lack of plug sockets but most importantly, a TV aerial socket. Some will be lucky and will get one pre-installed in their rooms, but you don't want to take the chance of there not being one. It isn't uncommon for universities to offer an IPTV equivalent.

7. An online backup solution

The web has clearly singled out Norton and Symantec as "crap" when it comes to anti-virus solutions or online backup subscriptions. Well they would be right. I wouldn't trust any online backup service, let alone Symantec, to hold onto my details, software, documents and media. Personally I would recommend a dedicated backup drive, separate of your computer, because then it never leaves your side and you don't churn up the network with your excessive bandwidth hogging.

8. Portable DVD player

Two very important things to factor in here. The batteries will last for no more than two hours (that is, if they don't explode on your lap whilst using it), which means watching a lengthy movie will be made impossible. But also, where would you use it? There's no point in getting one if you have a laptop, and many students I found last year had made this exact mistake and lost out as a result.

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9. A wireless keyboard and mouse

When living in a prison-cell like room in a halls of residence, you will soon find the temptation to drift away from work and browse the web, view some videos, play games or go out drinking. Having a wireless keyboard and mouse may make your desktop space cleaner with a lack of wires but the appeal of sitting in bed and tapping away will draw many away from important work.

Separating work time and play time is important and with such a small thing such as a wired keyboard and mouse will make this distinction much easier.

10. A wireless router

Finally, when getting to your room you may find there is only one patch point to the outside world. University networks often have back-end infrastructure in place to stop wireless routers or more than one device accessible to the network. This is more so to prevent the flooding of the network and is ultimately for the good of the students around the campus. Plugging in a wireless router into your room's patch point will usually fail, regardless of the abundance of settings you play with.

What will you be avoiding for your back-to-school ventures? Leave a comment.

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