It’s that time of the year! You’ve now left behind the comforts of your own home and moved into the dorms at school, for the first time and at a new place for many. These dorms are sometimes old fashioned, quite small, and more often than not, you’ll have a roommate to deal with it. Nevertheless, this is what is going to be your home for the next few months at least, if not longer, and it’s a great idea to add your own personal touch to this new experience.
To help you out, we’ve rounded up some of the very useful gadgets and miscellaneous items you can get your hands on to make your dorm life that much better. Here’s Android Authority’s “pimp your dorm” 2015 edition!
LG 34-Inch monitor
Everybody gets a desk when renting a dorm, as it’s essential to getting all sorts of work done. It is usually the first thing that any visitor’s eyes lock onto when entering, and what could be a better way to catch someone’s eye, than with the beautiful LG 34-inch Ultra Wide monitor. Granted, this monitor may be a bit of an overkill, and depending on the type of room you stay in, too big, but based on what your chosen course of study is, or if you’re just really into gaming, this wide screen monitor could be very beneficial for you.
The monitor features an IPS panel with a 2560 x 1080 resolution, and a 21:9 aspect ratio. It is a beautiful display, and can get quite bright too. All the extra screen real estate can help a lot with multi-tasking, with the ability to put apps or programs side by a side. It’s wide screen nature also makes running programs with lots of small pop ups and windows appear less cluttered and organized. For example, programs like Photoshop, Illustrator, or video editing tools like Final Cut feel a lot cleaner when the pop up menus and windows don’t clutter your work space.
It has a nice clear stand that looks very sleek, and allows you place the monitor at an angle. There is also a very intuitive menu button that acts as a lever, which makes browsing through the various settings fast and easy. A big selling point of this monitor is gaming as well, with its game mode allowing for a perfect picture with no latency, which isn’t always the case with other televisions or monitors and their respective game modes.
The LG 34-inch Ultra Wide monitor is certainly on the pricier side of things with its price point around the $450 mark, but it’s definitely an eye catcher, and depending on the type of work you’ll be doing, could really be worth the money.
Anker 5-port USB charger
Unfortunately, there are a lot of dorms that come with only one or two free wall outlets to cover your power needs, and in this technology age, you will definitely need more to charge your laptop, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, and anything else you may have. This issue is alleviated somewhat with the Anker 5-port USB charger, that, as the name suggests, can charge up to 5 devices simultaneously.
The device features a compact and simple design, and the best part is of course, that you will need to sacrifice only one wall outlet to cover the charging needs of any devices that use a USB cable to charge. This particular version doesn’t come with Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 support, but if you do need charge multiple devices, the Anker 5-port USB charger is your best bet. This device is currently priced at just $19.99 on Amazon.
Quirky Pivot power strip
Another way to get the most out of your limited wall outlets is with the Quirky Pivot flexible surge protector. The lack of wall outlets means that you’re definitely going to need a power strip of some sort, and the this device is a perfect buy, not only because of the 6 additional plug points you get, but also because it is flexible. You can bend this power strip into circular, semi-circular, and zig zag shapes, allowing you to fit it around furniture, such as desk legs, which is really handy in the tight spaces of a dorm room.
The ability to adjust the shape means that large power bricks won’t take up an extra space and render the outlets around it unusable, as is often seen on a regular power strip. There is a lot of cool tech mentioned in this list, but the Quirky Pivot power strip is probably the most practical, and the most important. This device is also available in various color options, including white, black, teal, green, dark green, and pink, and is priced starting at $12.50.
Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 portable bluetooth speaker
You will likely need something to play some music, and for your dorm room, the Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 portable bluetooth speaker is absolutely perfect. It is quite compact with its dimensions of 4.3 x 7.4 inches, and won’t look out of place on your desk, but is still able to offer great sound quality. With two high frequency drivers, a woofer, and two passive radiators on either side, this speaker creates a nice, crisp, and clear sound, with great bass. While it can get pretty loud, it’s not going to be loud enough to make your neighbors upset, which is obviously a plus in a dorm environment.
The speaker comes with three different modes, including Normal, Roar, and TerraBass. Roar mode will boost the overall loudness of the speaker to create a wider sound. TerraBass will make up for the loss of bass during low volume playback, and that is typically the mode that I use the most. You can connect this speaker to your phone, tablet, or laptop wirelessly with Bluetooth or NFC, or with a wired connection by using USB or Aux-In. You can even store your songs in a microSD card and play them directly out of the speaker. It is also capable of recording what it is playing on it, but I’m not sure how useful this feature this.
The Sound Blaster Roar 2 comes with a 6,000mAh battery which allows for fantastic battery life. It managed to stay on for longer than 7 hours with non-stop music playing, so battery life is certainly not going to be a concern with this speaker. The Creative Sound Blaster Roar 2 portable bluetooth speaker is currently available for $169.99 on Amazon.
Arlo Smart Home security cameras
Quite a lot of items on this list are pretty expensive, and along with all the other electronics you may own, a little bit of security may not be a bad idea. Of course, this is something your roommate, if you have one, has to be comfortable with, and not every university dorm will allow this either. As long as everything is okay though, a good device to have in place is the Arlo Smart Home security camera system.
Depending on the variant you buy, you can get 2 very small wireless security cameras, with the video stream viewable on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, in real time. The system is extremely easy to set up, with it coming with a bridge that plugs into your ethernet line, which is available in most dorms. Download the Arlo app from the Google Play Store, and you’re good to go. It’s easy to share access to the feed as well, by simply adding additional parties.
These cameras are wide angled, so you can almost view the entire dorm room with just one of the cameras. You get a nice clear HD live stream from your cameras, and they are even capable of night vision. These cameras do take batteries, and you can set how clear you’d like the picture to be, but keep in mind the negative impact on battery life the higher the quality you want. You can set the cameras to record manually, or decide on a scheduled time, and easily play back recordings later. There is 1GB of cloud storage available for free, and more is available with the purchase of a plan. One mode you can set is motion activation, so if your camera catches some movement, and you will immediately get a notification on your phone to see what is going on. One downside is that there is no audio recording, but that shouldn’t be much a problem.
On the back is a soft magnetic indentation that works perfectly with the included wall mounts. They are extremely strong, so they won’t be going anywhere. If you have a lot of expensive tech in your room, these Arlo Security Cameras is what you will need for some peace of mind. A single camera kit will set you back $199.99, and a two camera kit is priced at $349.99.
Sumo bean bag
College can be a bit stressful, and if you are looking for something to just lie down on and relax, one of the most comfortable things we have tried is the Sumo Gamer bean bag. Sumo is a company that probably makes the best bean bag chairs out there right now. You get a cover, and instead of the cover being filled directly, you’ll instead receive vacuum sealed stuffing with little foam balls inside. After pulling it apart, all you have to do is put it in the covering and zip it up.
The bean bag can certainly take a beating, but the material is very strong and managed to hold beautifully. What’s great about having an easily removable stuffing is that if the cover stains, you can simply put it in the wash. Sumo also has a huge customizable lineup of these bean bags. The Sumo Gamer is pretty huge, with dimensions of 48 x 48 x 30 inches, which could be too big for your dorm room, but there are a lot of choices to pick from. The Sumo bean bags are very comfortable, but they look very nice, and go perfectly with dorms for relaxing, doing homework, watching tv, gaming, or even to take a nap.
Philips Hue lights and light strips
If you are looking to totally change the look and feel of the room, we recommend using hue lights and hue light strips from Philips. These LED lights can change the entire mood and ambience of your dorm in a beautiful way. The light strips can be bent, shaped, or even cut into shape or size you’d like. They have an adhesive tape on the back, and can stick to nearly anything, and the tape won’t leave any damage if you plan to remove them at a later date. The best way to use these strips is to put them behind something, so you don’t actually see the lights, but instead, only the soft glow that will flow through the room around you. Putting them behind your desk is a great idea, as it creates a beautiful backdrop behind the monitor.
The great thing about hue lights is you can change their color to any color you may want, by simply sliding the light number around. You can make them dim, flash, and even pulse, which is all possible with the Hue Bridge, which is very easy to set up. Just connect it to a power source, and plug it into your ethernet line. Push the button on the bridge to sync, and you’re good to go. Unfortunately, there’s no way to just purchase the bridge by itself, with it being part of a starter kit, priced at $200. The kit also includes 3 Hue light bulbs. The bulbs fit into any standard light fitting, and can also be controlled with the same Hue app. The Hue app allows for a lot of customization, including setting the lights to pulse as an alarm, or do crazy sequences to set the mood at a party.
InnoGear Aromatherapy diffuser and humidifier
Stepping into your dorm room for the first time, you may notice a weird smell in the air that you simply can’t get rid of. There’s no way to know how many different people have stayed in the room you are now occupying, which does leave an impression, and since candles are usually a fire hazard, a scent diffuser is what may do the trick.
The InnoGear diffuser releases a lovely fragrance through a light mist, by burning oil scents that you can buy at many different places. At the same time, the diffuser also acts as a humidifier to prevent dry, stuffy air and cold germs infecting your dorm. The device comes with two settings, with a setting to release some fragrance mist for every 30 seconds, or a continuous mist. The InnoGear diffuser can also light up in a variety of different colors, and even slowly cycle through, to add to the relaxing atmosphere you’ve created.
Oregon Scientific Aroma diffuser
Another type of diffuser you can use is the Oregon Scientific Aroma diffuser and Sound Therapy clock. This works similarly to the device above, but has a few more bells and whistles, including a digital LCD clock on the front. It does have different sound modes that play relaxing sounds, like ocean waves or birds chirping, but that isn’t something you may find very useful. One cool feature with this device is its alarm mode, where you can set it to release a fragrance at a certain time, which, coupled with the Hue Lights, can make for a wonderful wake up routine.
ZTE SPro 2 portable projector
One device that will impress your friends is the ZTE SPro 2 portable projector. Since most dorm rooms are quite small, there isn’t much room for a TV table, and even also in situations where hanging or mounting objects on the wall isn’t allowed, a small portable projector will prove to be very handy. The device features a 5-inch touchscreen, runs Android 4.4 Kitkat, and projects a beautiful image, which is fantastic for when inviting friends over for a movie night, or for giving presentations at school. The ZTE SPro 2 also comes with a data connectivity option, with the device and data plans available from AT&T and Verizon Wireless.
Marpac DOHM Sound Machine
Finally, at the end of the day, when it’s time to get some shut eye, the Marpac DOHM Natural White Noise Machine is a life saver. This device totally drains out the obnoxious sounds from outside, and the noise it creates is a 100% natural. There are a lot of sleep machines out there that have digital sounds, but that can prove to be even more distracting. On this device, there are no speakers to be found, with it producing a soothing rushing air sound, kind of how a fan would sound. You can change the sounds ever so slightly by rotating the sides and top, creating a softer, more muffled sound, or a higher, louder sound. At the end of the day, you can be confident that you will fall asleep right away.
What do you think of our list? Any other gadgets or items you feel are must-haves for making the most out of your dorm experience? Let us know about them in the comments!