Whether you’re just starting out in your freshman year or are a seasoned veteran, when it comes to getting ready to go back to college or university, knowing what to pack and bring can be kind of a big deal.
While technology is by no means new on the checklist of what you’ll need to bring, the growth of connected devices and IoT has transformed the landscape surrounding the role technology can now play in making both life and studies more productive, less stressful, and ultimately, more useful.
Are you looking to put together the best smart devices for your dorm or college apartment? If so you’ve come to the right place.
Our guide to the best back to school smart tech devices will help you get to grips with the latest gear for helping you work and play smarter than ever.
“Alexa, what is the square root of…”
If you want to work smarter, not harder, then the absolutely essential thing to set up in your dorm room is a voice-activated smart virtual assistant.
Depending on your budget, there are a couple of choices that fit the bill here.
In our opinion though, if you’re looking for an affordable option that gets it all done out of the box, then consider the amazing Echo Dot from Amazon, a compact voice recognition controller that packs an incredible punch into its tiny frame.
Off the bat, Alexa (the inbuilt AI brain behind the curtain) is able to answer almost any question you throw her way, as well as providing voice-activated control over any number of connected smart devices synced up over your wireless network such as smart lighting, speaker systems, and heating controllers.
While these features are absolutely worth the cost alone, Alexa can also be tied to your Amazon Prime account to allow you to effortlessly place that resupply order when you’re running low on.. well, anything.
There are also a whole load of ‘skills’ that you can enable on your device, which once ‘learned’ be Alexa, allow you to do anything from getting sports and weather updates, to ordering pizza.
The Echo Dot can be paired up with a Bluetooth speaker (like the Bose SoundLink II below) for high-quality music and audio output, but if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution that covers both bases, consider upgrading to the Amazon Echo which offers exactly the same functionality as the Dot, while also including a high quality, 360 degree omni-directional speaker.
Alternatively, the most recent addition to the Alexa family comes in the form of the Amazon Show which introduces a screen and camera to the classic voice control configuration found in the other variants. The major advantage here is the ability to see what the other devices only allowed you to hear, providing the opportunity to make video calls, view results of search on-screen and watch video clips.
Whichever variation of the Alexa range you settle on, regular updates of the system by Amazon mean that you can be sure you’ll continually be getting more done with your virtual assistant at your side.
Whether you’re writing that all-night paper to hit your deadline, are entertaining friends for the evening, or are just kicking back after a tough day on campus, the lighting in your room can make all the difference.
With the advent of the smart bulb, gone are the days of needing to rely on that single, one-size-fits-all generic bulb or barely adequate desk lamp to do the job and hoping for the best.
Investing in a dedicated smart bulb or two can quite literally transform the way you think about light and can make everything from adjusting the brightness of your lighting to changing the color to set the mood, a piece of cake.
Smart lighting solutions such as the Philips Hue system, the TP-Link Smart LED (pictured) or the LIFX smart bulbs are game-changers when it comes to having effortless (and total) control over the light in your dorm or apartment.
Providing the ability to control the intensity of your lighting is a breeze with most modern smart bulbs with input from either a dedicated companion app on your phone, or even better, utilizing a voice control device to get it done hands-free (incredibly useful if you’re in the zone and need minimal distractions to your workflow).
Using both built-in scheduling functionality and through the integration of services such as IFTTT, smart lights allow you to take the intelligence of your connected bulbs a step further, allowing you to automate the lighting in your space via programs and external triggers.
Lecture at 8:00 am ? Lights automatically on at 7:00 am.
Raining outside? Lights change color.
Whatever your goals and requirements for lighting at school, an investment in a smart light bulb or two is definitely one to make before semester kicks off.
Protect your stuff
Automated security systems used to be the sole preserve of homeowners, leaving few options for students or renters, but the growth in smart and connected security devices, in tandem with falling prices has opened the market up to everyone.
There are a couple of ways to protect your possessions when you’re not around, but by far one of the best for keeping a watchful eye on your stuff is a connected smart camera.
Devices such as the Nest Cam Indoor camera are both discrete and modern solutions for securing your room and can be set up quickly with minimal disruption to whatever else you’ve got going on in your living space.
The best smart security cameras are able to automatically detect motion and sound, offer 24/7 live streaming, night vision recording and provide live updates directly to your phone so you’re able to monitor any developments in real time, as and when they happen, wherever you are.
Devices such as the Nest Indoor Camera also offer 2-way audio functionality so if your buddy decides to come in and borrow your Xbox controller while you’re heading off to class, you can intervene ahead of time!
If you’re starting school and want to rest easy when it comes to thinking (or not thinking) about the things you leave behind when you’re out and about, then a smart security camera can offer invaluable peace of mind that what’s yours, stays yours when you’re not around.
Be More Productive
Clock watching is never a good thing. That is of course unless we’re talking about smart watches, at which point it can be awesome.
The latest and greatest connected watches allow you to handle everything from scheduling and messaging through to device control and helping you keep in shape, all from the convenience of your wrist.
Wearable tech has come a long way in a short space of time and the evolution of the modern smartwatch is no exception to this trend. With many of the best smartwatches now almost indistinguishable from their less intelligent counterparts, it’s possible to achieve the perfect combination of form, function, and affordability.