Essential Tech for the Dorm Room

By Tracey Dowdy

Hundreds of years ago when I went to a small private college, text messaging meant passing notes and spell check meant looking the word up in a massive Merriam-Webster Dictionary. There was ONE microwave in my dorm, and I shared ONE, wall-mounted, extremely long-corded rotary phone with my two roommates. Ah, the good old days…said no-one ever.

Though it wasn’t that long ago <cough, cough> things have changed for the so-much-better. But more than just having the world in the palm of our hands through our smart phones and the ability to straight up publish a book from our desks, the little things like kettles, file folders, and extension cords have made dorm life exponentially better. Here are some of my favorites.

When you think single-serve coffee makers, your first thought may be a Keurig. However, Black & Decker’s Brew and Go may be an even better option for students. It takes up less space, brews fresh coffee in minutes via pods or coffee grounds and comes with a built-in filter and a 15oz. travel mug. Plus, at under $20, it’s less expensive than a Keurig. (Best price: $14.69 – Target)

Remember life before power strips with surge protectors? Those were dark days, my friends, dark days indeed. The Monster – Core Power 800 USB 8-Outlet Surge Protector offers 6 side-by-side outlets with an additional two outlets offset for larger plugs. There’s also two USB ports so you can skip the adapter and plug directly into the power strip. Bonus: the first reviewer on Best Buy’s web site says, “I spilled a whole cup of water on this thing and it still works!” Pretty sure that’s not an intended use but it’s good to know nonetheless. (Best price: $39.99 – Best Buy)

The Jackery Bar Pocket-sized 6000mAh Ultra Compact Portable Charger is under $20, charges an iPhone three times or an iPad mini once on a single power cycle. It’s lightweight, pulls double duty as an LED flashlight, and comes with a 24-month product warranty and 24/7 customer service. (Best price: $16.99 – Walmart)

Go one better and get a solar powered external battery pack, like Soluser’s Portable Dual USB Solar Battery Charger. According to the specs, it can charge an iPhone 5S 4.7 times – that’s oddly specific – an iPhone7 3.8 times, and a Galaxy S6 2.8 times on a single power cycle. You can use the included USB cord to charge from an outlet or place the device in the sun for a solar charge. Compatible with all iPhones, iPads and Android devices, it also features dual USB ports to allow two devices to be charged at once. (Best price: $22.99 -Amazon)

Cloud storage is great but there are times secure access isn’t possible. In the meantime, drop all those files, documents and photos on a SanDisk – Cruzer Glide 128GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive. With 128GB of space, it’s probably got more space than your dorm room. It has SanDisk SecureAccess password protection and it’s hard to beat the price. (Best price: $22.99 – Best Buy)

If you’re an Apple user, the SanDisk iXpand is a USB 3.0 flash drive that comes with a built-in Apple Lightning connector that works with most standard cases. It offers 32GB of storage, and the 128-bit encryption ensures that data stays safe. Plus, when you download the free app by SanDisk, you can sync photos and videos from your mobile device and, even better, users can play music and common video formats on their iPhone or iPad directly from the iXpand. (Best price: $29.99 – Office Depot)

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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