Back to school: Must-have college gadgets

For those starting college soon, what gadgets should you think about taking with you - especially if you have some extra money to burn?
By Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
1 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

A virtual keyboard

The Cube Laser Virtual Keyboard shows us a glimpse of how our future keyboards has evolved -- from hardware to touchscreen -- and now projection. 

The keyboard has a full QWERTY layout which is projected across any flat surface, together with a "mouse mode" which lets you use your finger when typing. It is connected wirelessly to most laptops and many mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad, and charges via USB. At the moment, the rechargeable battery is able to last for 150 minutes.

Price: $161.99

Via: Think Geek

2 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

LG Pocket Photo PD221 Mini Mobile Printer for Android

People often rely on their smartphones to take pictures -- especially if more sophisticated DSLR kits are out of reach. If you happen to be an Instagram-happy student, you might want to do more than upload your snaps to Facebook -- and this is where LG's mini mobile printer comes in.

If you have an Android-based smartphone, connect the printer via Bluetooth or USB to edit, upload and print your images. 

Price: $120.99

Via: Amazon

3 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

WD My Passport 1TB portable external hard drive

An external hard drive is a sensible way to make sure that if your computer fails, you won't lose that essay you've (apparently) been working on for months, or the dissertation which is due tomorrow.

While there are many on the market, I particularly like WD's My Passport drives. Available in models with 320GB to 1.5TBs' worth of space, the drives can be password protected, are portable due to their small and compact designs, and can be set to automatically back up software. 

Price: $69.99

Via: Amazon

4 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

iPod alarm clock

If you've had a particularly heavy night out, annoying beeping or your smartphone might not cut it when its time to wake up. Instead, hook up your iPod to this alarm clock to play your favorite song in the morning. (Or, if you have trouble getting up like me, Drowning Pool's "Let the bodies hit the floor" never fails). 

The clock has the usual Snooze function, timer, and is mains powered. Keep in mind that due to voltage differences, the latest versions of the iPod Nano and Classic are not compatible. 

Price: £32.49 ($49)

Via: Iwantoneofthose

5 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

UE Boom

A decent speaker system should be in every student's arsenal, and the UE Boom is an expensive but cool-looking choice.

The 360-degree speaker has dual performance drivers to pump out clear, vibrant sound, and passive radiators make low-frequency bass a joy to listen to (I love them, but my neighbors often aren't too happy). The casing is water and stain resistant, and the rechargeable battery keeps the speakers going for up to 15 hours. To switch songs, you can pair the speaker through a wireless or Bluetooth connection to a mobile device or PC. 

Price: $199.99

Via: Ultimate Ears

6 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Apple MacBook Pro/Air

Often seen in lecture halls, if you can afford the steep price tag, an Apple MacBook Pro or MacBook Air would be a great choice to surf the web, complete your essays or to stream media. 

The MacBook pro, a little bulkier than its cousin the MacBook Air, is suitable for more heavy duty tasks. Coming in 13-inch or 15-inch designs -- with Retina Display if you wish -- you can customize the laptop depending on which processor you want, how much memory, and what storage solutions tickle your fancy. 

The MacBook Air is a lighter, more portable laptop, and comes in 11 or 13-inch variants with the same specification options.

If you buy a Mac for school, you are entitled to a $100 gift card for purchases in Apple's App Store. 

Price: $999 - $2799

Via: Apple

7 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Student survival packages

From a corkscrew to cutlery, an extension lead or a kettle, there are a number of student essentials that you need to take with you -- and something is usually forgotten in the process. 

One company, Loft, has created survival packages filled with everything a student may need. A bumper pack or separate kitchen, electrical, bed & bathroom and 'survival emergency' packages can be purchased for students in the United States. 

Price: $45 - $125

Via: Studentsurvivalkit.com

8 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Sony Playstation 4

Why not Microsoft's new XBox offering you ask? Simply, the Playstation 4 is due for launch earlier, on the 30th of September, while the XBox One is slated for November -- with a higher price tag of $499. Either way, you need something to while away the time you're meant to be studying, right? 

Price: $399.99

Via: Best Buy

9 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

When you're first away from home, you might be homesick -- and your family might want to see you from time to time. 

Skype is a popular application used to make free video calls to other users, so why not invest in a decent webcam to use with it? Going beyond standard PC webcams, Logitech's webcam lets you make full HD 720p/1080p video calls.

Price: £89.99 ($138)

Via: Logitech

10 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Nvidia's Project Shield

Unveiled at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Nvidia's "Project Shield" promised to be a console-quality Android gaming device with great sound, Wi-Fi streaming and access to Google Play. 

Powered by a quad-core Tegra 4 processor, Shield offers between five and 10 hours of gameplay, a 5-inch retinal-quality multi-touch display and instant access to thousands of games and apps.

It is currently only available in the U.S. and Canada.

Price: $299

Via: Nvidia

11 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Livescribe Echo smartpen

If a dictaphone isn't enough, perhaps a smartpen will do the trick. 

Livescribe's Echo smartpen can automatically record everything you hear, say and write, and links the audio file to your notes, as long as you use Livescribe's paper. If you tap your scribbles, then the pen can automatically replay the audio footage for you. 

In addition, these files can then be sent to destinations including Facebook, Evernote, OneNote and your mobile device. 

Price: $119.95

Via: Livescribe

12 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Google Chromecast

An immediate hit with consumers, Google's Chromecast dongle is a great gadget for students to own.

The dongle is a dirt-cheap way to stream media to your TV from a number of devices. Chromecast is cross-platform, and so is compatible with iOS, Android, Windows and Mac. Once plugged in, you have to install the Chromecast application before streaming PC and mobile content including Google Play/TV, YouTube, Netflix and potentially services like Pandora in the future. 

Price: $35

Via: Amazon




Price: $35

Via: Amazon



13 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Hex Academy messenger bag

The Hex Academy messenger bag is a slim, water-resistant bag to carry around your 15-inch laptops and general items you need to take with you to lectures. What makes this bag a little different is the PadPort, a storage slot for your iPad which lets you use the device on-the-go with no fuss. 

Price: $79.95

Via: Hex

14 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Apple iPad/ iPad Mini

If you want something more lightweight than a laptop, then Apple's iPad or smaller iPad Mini are popular choices.

Available in Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi/LTE versions with up to 128GB storage on the iPad and 64GB storage on the iPad Mini, these tablets are lightweight and come with good processor power; a Dual-core A5 chip for the iPad Mini, and a more powerful A6X chip inside the iPad. 

Price: iPad Mini: $329 - $659, iPad: $499 - $929

Via: Apple 

15 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Nexus 7 Android tablet

If an iPad doesn't tickle your fancy, perhaps the new Nexus 7 tablet will.

Available to order in the United States for launch on August 28, the new version of the Asus Nexus 7 tablet has  1920 x 1200 resolution screen with an 178-degree viewing angle, a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, wireless charging and dual-band Wi-Fi. The tablet runs on Android 4.3, Jelly Bean.

You can buy the tablet in 16GB ($229) and 32GB ($269) Wi-Fi models. An LTE model is soon to become available for $349.

Price: $229 - $349

Via: ZDNet/ Google

16 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Sony noise cancelling headphones

Especially useful if you're on the move or have to share a room with a dormmate, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones is a fun product to own. 

Sony has a range of noise cancelling headphones including the MDR-1RNC set. Compatible with mobile devices including the iPod, iPad and iPhone, the earphones also have an inline remote and microphone. 

Price: $499.99

Via: Sony


17 of 17 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Shark speakers

Although expensive, the Spinnaker Bluetooth Speaker System doesn't just look good, but come equipped to blast out high-quality sound.

Each speaker tower has three separate drivers: a 10W tweeter, a 10W 2-3/4" midrange speaker, and a 25W 4" downward-firing subwoofer. The speakers can be paired via Bluetooth to a laptop or mobile device to select your songs wirelessly. 

Price: $279.99

Via: Think Geek


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