Student tech survival guide 2021: Laptops, headphones and study apps
Off to university for the first time?
Feeling a bit befuddled about what tech you might need to support your studies?
We’re here to lighten the load with our student technology survival guide.
From smart alarm clocks that will wake you up for 9am lectures to powerful speakers to get those freshers parties started, here’s what should be going on your student wish list.
… yawn. A lot. Getting out of bed won’t be easy after that fifth pint of snakebite and black.
Or, if your parents are reading this over your shoulder, after that late-night lecture positioning 15th-century political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli as the architect of the 21st-century neoliberal state (thank us later).
The Coulax Wake Up Light (£53.63, onbuy.com) riffs off SAD therapy lamps, hacking your brain with changing light levels that simulate sunrise to bring you into your new world naturally — ready for that 9am lecture.
Up all night texting your latest campus crush (or your mum)? Intelli’s ScoutPro (£239.22, intelli.co) is a prolific and premium portable powerbank capable of charging five devices all at once, featuring the latest wireless charging tech for iPhone 12 devices, a magnetic strip for smartwatches and a bevy of USB ports.
And, hey, why not juice on the go? The STM Myth 18L Backpack (£66.43, amazon.co.uk) can easily carry all your gear and gubbins, and includes a laptop compartment that suspends your device to protect against scrapes and japes.
Urgh! Where are the keys? Don’t stress. The Chipolo One Ocean Edition (£22, chipolo.net) is an eco-friendly loud sound item-finder made from recycled ocean plastics. Paired with an iPhone, the Chipolo app will track down that vital elusive item.
Likewise, debuting brand Nothing’s Ear 1 Buds (£99, nothing.tech) deliver premium ANC sound at a fraction of the cost of uber brands, as well as bringing 34 hours of listening time and an accompanying app featuring a handy finding feature for when that one pesky earbud goes AWOL under the bed.
Covid has altered the typical day in the life of a student, with remote learning, in some form, here to stay. Sleek and smart, the Creative Chat USB (£44.99, uk.creative.com) is a dedicated headset for online presentations, prioritising voice pick-up over background noises and unmuting the mic as you speak so you can navigate those tricky online seminars with aplomb.
Facebook’s virtual collaboration app, Horizon Workroom (currently in beta, oculus.com), is a virtual meeting space where up to 50 fellow students can hold study groups in virtual reality.
It’s free to download on Oculus Quest 2 and you don’t all have to wear a VR headset — you can also dial into a virtual room from your computer by video call just like a real conference room.
Meanwhile, access to online academic resources is very much the future of study. Perlego (from £8 a month, 14-day free trial, perlego.com) is a remote digital library, forgoing bulky physical books and lending students easy access to reading list textbooks via a monthly subscription. Participating undergrads get unlimited access to more than 650,000 textbooks across 950 topics, which they can read offline anywhere, anytime: on a smartphone, tablet or computer.
You can’t beat pen and paper, though. The Moleskine Smart Writing Set (from £25.99, moleskin.com) is a luxury notebook that bridges the gap between elegant tradition and technology-driven convenience.
Scribble on the pages of the paper tablet and convert handwritten notes into digital text to be edited, transcribed, and shared via email with friends.
Or go for Asus’s Chromebook Flip CX5 (£649, ao.com), a laptop that doubles as a tablet and makes the switch from focus to fun a flip away. Powered by Google, with Google Docs, cloud gaming app Stadia and Google Play all pre-installed, simply pop in your email address and you’re good to go. Lightweight design and garaged stylus make this ideal for last-minute cramming on the bus.
On the flipside, the Lenovo IdeaPad 1 11.6in (£159, ao.com) includes a Microsoft 365 Personal 12-month subscription and 1TB cloud storage. Bank balance-friendly, the one-time pay-out will cover you for the whole academic year.
Take the party beyond the communal kitchen with Russell Hobbs Portable Mini Cooler (£44.99, russellhobbs.com). Packing 6 x 330ml cans, it’s also foldable with a carry handle and a car adapter.
Likewise, the JBL Charge 5 speaker (£159, very.co.uk) boasts 20 hours of playtime, a waterproof casing, and wireless connection for two smartphones allowing for dual DJs. It’s also got a powerbank to keep devices charged.
The Instax Mini 40 Instant Camera (£89, johnlewis.com) also features a selfie mode for taking close-up shots while automatic exposure helps create perfect pictures 24/7.
Finally, gamers go big with the BenQ X1300i gaming projector (£1,249, benq.eu) offering a 4LED blast of light and 120fps support.
Platforms for student connections
One of the UK’s leading digital mental health platforms has introduced an online platform solely for students. A space to connect with others and share experiences, there’s also a team who can provide early a response to any mental health needs.
Umii is a simple friend matcher. Entering its first full academic year in operation, it lets students create a personalised profile that is only shared with other verified student profiles on their campus, ensuring a safe app community.
Ayda helps freshers connect with university societies from their phone. After a brief questionnaire on interests the app reveals information, such as vouchers and job opportunities, specific to that student. It’s partnered with 13 universities.
Launched this summer, this video-only dating app has a filter mode that allows students to target students exclusively. Boasting profiles made up of video clips and dispensing with swiping, Qemistry is speed-dating meets TikTok.
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