Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life


Posted August 28, 2012 - By Matt Swider

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Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

College-bound students, you have enough stress on your hands right now, packing up your belongings and saying goodbye to family, hometown friends, and pets. One thing that you don’t have to say goodbye to, however, is your favorite cutting-edge technology, which is becoming increasingly important on modern campuses regardless of your major. To alleviate some of that decision-making anxiety, we put together a checklist of the best tech a student could ask for this semester.

Here are ten gadgets and gizmos that’ll set you on the right foot academically and make your college peers’ dorms seem inferior.

How James Bond Takes Notes

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

LiveScribe Echo
The LiveScribe Echo smartpen is the note-taking tool that I wish I had as a journalism student. Having to listen to speakers and quickly jot down exact quotes while maintaining consciousness of the next thing they were saying was a chore. Likewise, carrying around a clunky digital recorder was a hassle. Hours after the event (the first problem), I was searching an old-school Windows Media Player timeline back in my dorm not knowing where that perfect quote was in an hour-long discussion (the second problem). The LiveScribe Echo eliminates the complications of both methods. The smartpen records audio as you take normal ink-based notes on a normal-looking (though special) paper notebook. The genius is in the pen’s hidden IR camera and the notebook’s micro-dotted paper. You can go back, tap anywhere on the notebook and play back what was said at the moment you wrote it down. This works flawlessly in all sorts of situations on campus and can actually ease the amount of notes you take, as the audio can pick up the details for reviewing later on.
Price: $130

Headphones (aka How Not To Annoy Your New Roommate)

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

Astro Gaming A50 Headphones

Most computer labs don’t have speakers anymore thanks to that guy on every college campus who would blast his music for everyone’s “enjoyment.” That’s why headphones are essential. Just as in-demand are wireless headphones; listening to music streaming from your laptop while lying on your dorm bed is no fun when your roommate trips over the cord. MagSafe hasn’t made its way to headphones just yet. Until that happens, the Astro Gaming A50 Wireless Headset remains the premier choice for wireless audio fidelity. These KleerNet 5.8GHz, Dolby Digital 7.1 Surround Sound cans are priced at $299, but are top-of-the-line, work with all of your video game systems and come with a cool headphones stand.
Price: $299

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

Jabra HALO2 Bluetooth Stereo Headset
Jabra HALO2 Bluetooth Stereo Headset, meanwhile, offers a more compact wireless solution for students who are always on the move. These cool-looking, foldable headphones are only $80 and can connect to two different Bluetooth devices at once; switching between your laptop and answering a phone call works flawlessly. On top of that, they come with a 3.5mm connector so that once you get to a computer lab, you can plug into your school’s out-of-date, non-Bluetooth rig.
Price: $80

Productivity Player

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

SteelSeries Sensei Laser Gaming Mouse MLG Pro Grade Edition
Despite all of the touch-screen and trackpad wonders out there, the mouse is still the easiest, most productive way to move about a computer screen. That being said, going the entire academic year without having to buy a new mouse due to a worn out scroll wheel requires a little investment. Specifically $99 for the SteelSeries Sensei Laser Mouse that’s tagged with the gamer-cred boosting MLG logo. Yes, it has a cord, but the tradeoff is that it’s highly accurate. Bluetooth mice are beset by interference (from a Bluetooth keyboard or headset) and RF mice require that annoying dongle nobody wants. Whether or not you’re learning how to become a pro gamer, this solidly built mouse from SteelSeries has just the right amount of extra buttons without going over the top.
Price: $99

Gaming Between (And During) Classes

Mortal Kombat Vita Release Date Announced

PlayStation Vita
G4TV reported on some promising PlayStation Vita games at GamesCom 2012 in Germany, including Tearaway, Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation, Killzone Mercenary, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified. Couple those Vita exclusives with the new “Cross Buy” program and Sony may get its “Never Stop Playing” marketing wish -- PlayStation Vita is just small enough to fit behind a propped-up textbook.
Price: $250

Streaming From Home To College

Slingbox PRO HD
Can’t stand the channels your college receives? When I moved to college, I had to go from the luxury of using a Comcast HD DVR to the hassle of dealing with a no-name cable company that was just introducing digital boxes (not HD, mind you) and never heard of a D-V-R. On top of that, the channel selection was awful. I was lucky CNN wasn’t a premium. The Slingbox, which I previously mentioned as one of the best Netflix Alternatives, solves that problem by letting you stream your home’s cable box to Internet connected devices like a laptop, iPhone, iPad or Android. No matter where your college is located, you get your hometown channels and can control the DVR with full recording capabilities.
Slingbox PRO HD Price: $240
Sling Player App on iOS / Android: $29.99 each

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

Boxee Box
While the Slingbox streams your cable box signal from your parents house to your laptop at college and that’s pretty good, adding the Boxee Box to the equation does one better. It receives the signal from the Internet (doing the opposite of what the Slingbox does), allowing you to watch your DVR feed on an HDTV and free up your laptop. Best of all, the free Sling Player app on Boxee Box is just one of many. You’ll also find Netflix, Pandora, Spotify and the MLB app on this oddly-shaped, but powerful streaming device.
Price: $180

All Of Your Textbooks At A Fraction Of An Inch

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

The iPad
The third-generation iPad is powerful, has a beautiful Retina screen, and is great for super-sized mobile gaming. More importantly, it's educational benefits make a great excuse to go out and buy one. “Oh, this $500 iPad 3? It’s for school. I mean sometimes I use it for other stuff.” Sure. With an increasing number of textbooks available in app form and coursework being done online, the iPad is a game changer when it comes to academics. We won’t blame you, however, if you’re using it more for extracurricular activities.
Price: $499

Microsoft Surface
The Microsoft Surface release date isn’t until October 26, but rumor has it that this sleek-looking, Windows 8 RT-powered device will be cheaper than the iPad. Significantly cheaper, too. As in $199. Even though it doesn’t have a 3G or 4G option and it may or may not be for gamers, the Wi-Fi-only Surface sports a keyboard cover and kickstand that many feel the iPad is sorely missing. If you can hold off until the end of October, this may be the first “iPad killer” to live up to that overused nickname.
Price: Rumored to be $199

A New OS

Mountain Lion
Apple’s Mountain Lion upgrade brings gaming to the forefront with Game Center, cross-Apple-platform competition and Airplay Mirroring for Macs. In addition to these fun distractions, the OS is packed with productivity enhancements like Notification Center, Dictation, Reminders and iMessages. It’s all rolled into a neat, little $20 package in the App Store.
Price: $20

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

Windows 8
Microsoft made a bit of a rebound with Windows 7 and the beta for Windows 8 has gone smoothly for everyone but Valve’s Gabe Newell, Minecraft’s Notch and Blizzard’s Rob Pardo. For us, it’s hard to complain when Microsoft plans to sell the OS upgrade for just $39.99 even if you’re still using Windows XP. You can judge for yourself by trying out the free release preview, which doesn’t expire until January 2013, or hold off for two months until the final version of the operating system ships on October 26, the same launch date as the Surface.
Price: $40

Those Things You Always Forget

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler
Gillette introduced the Fusion Gamer a couple of years ago and our faces have never been cleaner -- well, except for that 30 days for the Movember charity. Now, exactly like everyone else developing a product in the video game industry, Gillette has introduced a sequel that’s bigger and better: the Fusion ProGlide Styler. It doesn’t carry the “gamer” tag anymore, but this 3-in-1 grooming tool will allow you to experiment with snap-on custom trimmers. And really, experimenting is what college is all about. Without it, you couldn’t look back at photos ten years later and say, “I can’t believe I looked like that!”
Price: $13

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

Energizer MAX Alkaline
Moving to college with your Xbox 360 controller, electric toothbrush, power razor and wireless keyboard and mouse means you’re going to go through a lot of batteries this semester. More than you anticipate. So, how many batteries were you prepared to pack? None. Hopefully now you’ll be reminded to go out and buy them at a discount instead of having to swing by the drug store and pay an unnecessary premium... You see, that’s how they get ya!
Price: $15 for 24 AAs

Something For Your Parents

Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life

Walking my mom and dad through what should be simple Internet tasks on the phone was probably more difficult than all of my classes combined. My long-distance tech support skills could have been put to better use had I known about a program like LogMeIn. In its most basic, free form, you get screen sharing and the ability to take over a host computer. Helping out your parents remotely is just one way to pay them back for their help in getting to where you are today -- and one way of avoiding drawn-out tech support phone calls.
Price: Free

Tags: Features, Tech
Back To School Tech Checklist -- What You Need To Survive College Life


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