What The Tech: Back To Campus Gadgets
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — College students will head off to college soon, some for the first time. You’ll find back-to-campus sales on items such as laptops, bed linens, and things to decorate a dorm room or apartment. There are a few tech gadgets that may not have come to mind but they’re things most any college student or anyone moving out on their own can use.
Standing desks became popular a few years ago when it finally dawned on people that sitting ina computer chair for hours at a time isn’t the most healthy way to work. Flexispot is a company that makes a number of desks that can go from a sitting position to standing in a few seconds. Flexispot desks have a very simple design that looks smart in any home, bedroom, office, or apartment. The desks use hydraulics to raise and lower the desktop by extending or shortening the legs. To control the Flexispot desk you use push buttons on a control panel that sits just under the lip of the desk. You can set your favorite positions to move it to one of two heights or, control the height manually. The Flexidspot desk can rise to 48-inches for standing or down to just 22-inches from the floor.
There’s also a USB port for charging a phone which comes in handy. Flexispot desks come in several colors and shapes.
I’ve never seen a room with enough electrical outlets, especially in older dorms and apartments. With phones, tablets, computers, TVs, and gaming systems, students will definitely need more outlets. Let’s face it though, standard power strips are ugly and look terrible on a desktop. There are new power strips available that look good and are highly functional. Anker makes an assortment of desktop power strips that look nothing like the power strips you’ve seen before. They have 3 standard electrical outlets, 2 standard USB ports, and a USB-C port.
Students mostly use laptops because they can go from class to class and back to the dorm or apartment. They can also be a real pain in the neck from looking down at the screen all day. There are laptop stands that pack up small enough for a backpack that, unfolded, will hold the laptop at eye level. It’s especially helpful for anyone doing many Zoom or video conferencing.
One note about the laptop stands, you’ll certainly want to get a Bluetooth keyboard to pair with the laptop. Otherwise, you’ll be reaching up to type. Bluetooth keyboards are available from several companies. Logitech wireless keyboards are capable of connecting to three devices over Bluetooth so it can be used for typing on smartphones and tablets.
Some professors still require work to be turned in on paper which will send most students to the campus library or to an office supply store to print out their work. A wireless printer may save the day for any late night/last-minute work. Wireless printers are not expensive. Get the smallest printer that you can find that also connects to WiFi so the student can print from anywhere using cloud storage.
For their desk, an Amazon Alexa device can be a handy tool but my choice would be a Google Nest Hub. They’re similar to the Alexa Echo Show but since it’s from Google, searching the internet is much better and more accurate. Students can set an alarm by saying “OK Google, wake me up at 6 AM”. They can also add important dates to their Google calendar and watch YouTube videos and even YouTube TV (subscription required). The sound quality on the Nest Hubs is better than on the Alexa devices in my opinion.
Parents who don’t want to send their students off to campus with a car might want to check out electric bikes. E-Bikes will be more popular on campuses this year for students who don’t want to worry about finding parking spaces on campus and getting stuck in traffic when going from one part of campus to another. I’ve tried the Bird E-Bike and am impressed. They have a throttle so you don’t have to peddle if you don’t want to. They’ll go up to 24 MPH and the battery lasts for miles. Charging the battery is easy. Just insert a key into the bike’s frame and the battery pops out so you can take it inside to plug into a standard wall outlet. Bird E-bikes have theft protection through its app. If the bike moves while you’re away, you’ll get a notification on your smartphone and an alarm will sound on the bike. You’ll also be able to track its location.
Note that some schools have banned electric scooters on campus so it’s best to check the school’s website to see if electric bikes are allowed.