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10 techy ways to cut the costs of college

Here are ten simple techy ways to help you save money whilst at college or university.

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Topic: Hardware
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1 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Data is a major factor in buying a new smartphone. You'll use plenty of it, and it's better to get a smartphone which consolidates your email, social network and instant messaging.

BlackBerry devices have data compression, so you can still access the same old content but for much less bandwidth and therefore at a lower cost. In short, BlackBerrys are ideal for students and high-end data users, but they are not for everyone.

If you are to buy an iPhone, ensure that you are getting a decent data plan which will allow you to potentially use more data than you would do so on a BlackBerry.

You shouldn't really use any more than 500MB of data in a month, but be careful anyway. If your mobile contract is up soon, or you are using pay-as-you-go, check with your mobile network and see how much data you use on average per month. This will allow you to bump up the data allowance if need be.

And be sure to get a combo-device - so a phone that has a decent camera, a music player, and most of all, a good battery life!

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2 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

E-books can be on the whole vastly cheaper than buying books from Amazon, and often if you check Amazon's pages, e-books are on offer anyway.

But people are under the impression that for e-books, you must get a Kindle device. Sure, if you buying a load of them and studying above anything else, a Kindle can be most useful. But it is not entirely necessary. Kindle software is available for most smartphones and the PC, so you can download them as and when you wish onto the platform you want.

Also, they are stored in the cloud so you can download copies onto multiple machines and smartphones so they are on demand whenever you want them - except when the cloud is broken, that is.

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3 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

But then again, if you do prefer to have a book in your hand, you can find second-hand books at very low costs on Amazon too. 

If you use Google Books and whack in the ISBN number, you can often find a cheap second-hand retailer in the side menu. You can do the same on Amazon, or even use Wikipedia Book Search to manually search with ISBN numbers which will kick back a list of results.

In some cases, you can rip out chapters that you need from Google Books without needing to buy them. Most of the time, pages will be missing, but it is certainly worth a shot. 

Always be sure to check the "new", "used" and "collectable" links on Amazon, and do not automatically be drawn to one. A book is a book, and if you want a cheap and shabby copy of the latest edition, that's better than buying an expensive one in a better condition. As long as it's readable, it shouldn't matter too much.

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To read more on this, head over to the iGeneration blog.

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4 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Often there are no bandwidth restrictions on your university connection, so it might be worth downloading large files, such as on-demand content on campus rather than at home. 

If your home connection has restrictions or bandwidth caps, especially in shared housing it will mount up very quickly, even if you only stream media off YouTube or other on-demand content sites.

Plus, university bandwidth is in the vast majority of cases, completely free to use and at no further expense to you.

But remember not to download torrents and to use HTTP downloads like Rapidshare and Mediafire, because torrents can be traced back to you - and your university could disable your IT account. 

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To read more on this, head over to the iGeneration blog.

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5 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

If you are in town or away from university, it might be best choosing your destination for coffee and lunch based on the availability of free Wi-Fi

Whilst a lot of coffee shops and restaurants keep Wi-Fi free, many only allow patrons to use it. Regardless, you will often find it a lot cheaper to buy a simple cup of coffee at $2 and use the free wireless internet, instead of spending $5 each time to use pay-per-use Wi-Fi.

Plus, if you get the opportunity, enabling Wi-Fi on your mobile device will mean you do not churn up your data plan from your network.

And anyway, why else would you go into a McDonalds? For the food? Yeah, not this vegetarian.

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To read more on this, head over to the iGeneration blog.

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6 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Pay-as-you-go computing may not have taken off, but it is still a viable consumer choice available to mobile users. 

Whilst it may be difficult to rent a laptop for a year, it could be far cheaper overall to rent software provided by your academic department or school to use over the year, instead of buying it flat out.

Also, remember your student discount. In some cases, you can slash the price of Windows and Office by over 50% and even more. If you have a student card or email address, this can be used to prove you are a student at an eligible institution and cut the price of expensive software and hardware.

If you take advantage of free software, it doesn't usually take much work to convert it to a fully working product.

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To read more on this, head over to the iGeneration blog.

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7 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

There are tons of reasons why netbooks are just as good, if not better than the conventional laptop, tablet or desktop computer. The batteries last ages, they are surprisingly tough, they do not lack functionality and in short, they are cheaper.

Plus, if you decide on a netbook with no operating system installed - of course you could go with Windows, but why? If you try out a Linux variant, such as Ubuntu, this further lowers the cost, and you can still run Windows applications using programs like WINE.

And if you don't have a massive hard drive or storage capacity on your netbook - as a lot of netbooks are slimmed down in size, have you considered cloud computing?

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To read more on this, head over to the iGeneration blog.

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8 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Cloud storage outsources the storage that you have locally on your hard drive and uploads it to the Internet - so not only can you download it whenever you want and synchronise your work back and forth, but also access it from anywhere.

With many services, you can have gigabytes of data at your disposal for free. The services which are open on a number of platforms, from Windows to Mac and Linux, but also smartphones are best, and those which synchronise your work back and forth from the cloud.

Personally, I would try Dropbox, but be aware of the restrictions and intrusions by US law.

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To read more on this, head over to the iGeneration blog.

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9 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

On-demand television is long becoming the way to access television when you want it in the format that you want it in. On-demand is on the most part free, so you can stream and download for a set period afterwards. 

Plus, for those in the UK and elsewhere where a TV licence is needed to watch live broadcasts, you can ditch the TV licence altogether if you stick to on-demand only. In most cases, you do not need a licence to watch on-demand television. So as long as something has been broadcast at least fifteen minutes before you watch it, it should be fine.

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To read more on this, head over to the iGeneration blog.

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10 of 10 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

Printing costs on campus can be expensive - 5p a sheet, or 10c, depending on the kind of content you are printing out. Over time this becomes a huge expense, and there must be a better way of doing it.

Forget inkjet printers, because the cartridges will wear down far too quickly. I propose an investment in a black and white (monochrome) laser printer. The paper will be churned up faster than the ink cartridges, I promise you that.

A simple inkjet printer plus a few cartridges will be more expensive overall than a black and white laser printer which will take you over a year to get through.

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To read more on this, head over to the iGeneration blog.

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