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Have a kid headed to college? Here’s the tech they’ll need

College students face the dilemma of having some basic gadget requirements, but also having very limited space

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The new Apple AirPods are demonstrated during an event to announce new products on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in San Francisco.

The new Apple AirPods are demonstrated during an event to announce new products on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in San Francisco. The earbuds can be a nice gadget for the new college student to use.

Marcio Jose Sanchez, Associated Press

Certain weekends in the month of August can see a flurry of boxing, unboxing and getting settled into student apartments for many college kids. Since I have twins that age, I have done my fair share helping them get settled in tiny spaces. Parents just need to figure out what students really need and what may not be a necessity, but can help small dorm rooms be more comfortable and convenient. 

Beyond the need for a laptop and some other basics like power strips and long charging cords, there are a few tech items to check out before move-in day arrives.

Noise-canceling earbuds

These are a must for those times roommates are too noisy when students are trying to study. For iPhone users who want all the bells and whistles, the Apple AirPods Pro are the way to go. Siri activates with just voice, even asking if you’d like to answer a call. They have nearly perfect noise cancellation abilities and charge quickly when placed in their case. But the price is high, coming in at $249. 

For a less expensive, yet very impressive option, try Anker’s Soundcore Life P3 earbuds. These cost $79.99 and come in five colors. They also have noise-canceling capability and adjust which sounds to block out depending on whether users are outdoors, inside or driving. Like the AirPods, these earbuds come with various sizes of ear tips to find the right fit and both have one of my favorite features, the ability to tap a button on the app to find a lost earbud.

Bluetooth speaker

Students need to unwind and sometimes that includes time at the pool or a good old-fashioned party. Music is often a key ingredient to these gatherings and another great affordable option comes from Anker with the Soundcore Flare 2 Bluetooth speaker. This $69 portable speaker is completely waterproof, delivers all the bass you’d ever want and has different light modes depending on your mood. The Party Time mode has rainbow lights that pulse to the beat of the music and when it’s time to chill, pick a color for the Cool Breath mode to see gentle waves of color. It will play 12 hours of music on a charge and can link with more than 100 other Flare 2 Bluetooth speakers for a synchronized light show.

Tech at their fingertips

Since most student apartments are very small, some even lack a bedside table where they can charge all their gadgets. A spendy yet stylish solution would be this $269 Pottery Barn Tech Smart Avalon Faux headboard. The twin-sized headboard has two USB ports and two three-prong outlets imbedded in its side. And it’s light enough that you can mount it with 3M Velcro strips so students don’t get fined for putting holes in the wall. 

For a much cheaper solution, buy a power strip and a bedside caddy for $8. The web has tons of options for these pocket organizers that hang down from any bed by sliding a flap right under a mattress. They have plenty of cubbies for tablets, phones and anything else that needs to charge overnight.

Router

You can use a router to tap into the apartment building’s internet. The Google Nest Wifi is a great option for $169 because it’s easy to set up, has super fast speeds and doubles as a smart speaker. It’s sleek, comes in fun colors and looks ceramic so a student wouldn’t mind it setting out somewhere to get maximum connectivity. This is also a great investment because when they do move into a larger place, they can simply add Nest Wifi points to expand coverage.

As I get ready to move my daughter into her new college digs this weekend, I will make sure she has creature comforts like a foam topper for the mattress and some fairy lights to brighten up her space. But these tech-centric items can also have a big difference when it comes to making a drab student apartment feel a little bit more like home.