Returning for a new year at university, or stepping foot on campus for the first time? Wherever you are in your university career, this is the ultimate tech survival guide to get you setup for work and play.
Planning for university can feel like an exam in itself – there’s accommodation to sort, class reading, transport and more, and that’s before you even factor in the tech that you need to bring with you. Luckily for your sanity however, we are more than happy to help out on that front with our suggestions for the best tech to pick up ahead of your studies.
Of course, because of the inevitably tight budgets that follow student life, we’ve made sure to prioritise affordability and value above everything else, but if you are flush with cash then there are a few pricier tech items included as well.
The most important device in a student’s arsenal, and the one that shouldn’t be skimped on as you’ll no doubt want it to last you for the entirety of your degree. Your laptop will serve as your main workstation and, if you so choose, your entertainment device as well. With this in mind, the ideal laptop to go for right now is undoubtedly the latest MacBook Air M1.
With the M1 chip in tow, the MacBook Air can not only last for up to 11 hours under typical work conditions, but it’s also powerful enough to handle creative endeavours like video editing. It isn’t cheap however, with a starting price of £999 for the cheapest option.
If such a price is simply incompatible with your budget, then the Surface Laptop Go should be the next one on your list. Even though the display isn’t the best for watching film and TV, the laptop still packs enough power that it won’t feel like a downgrade where speed is concerned.
Alternatively, you could opt for the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 which is not only a lightweight and easily portable laptop, but once you fold the screen over the rotatable hinge, it can be used as a tablet for watching content on its bright HD screen.
Take it from me, tablets can be a great secondary device to have on hand, particularly as a lightweight alternative to your laptop for taking notes during a lecture or a late-night study sesh at the library. Plus, there’s the added benefit of using tablets as an entertainment hub or even a gaming device if titles from the App Store and Google Play Store are your cup of tea.
When it comes to tablets, however, the conversation will always be dominated by the iPad range. Again, much like with the MacBook Air M1, anyone with a sizeable budget will get on great with the recently redesigned iPad Air 4.
For most people however, the cheaper iPad 8 offers far better value for money, netting you access to the same great iPad experience but for a fraction of the price.
If a student doesn’t document every moment of their degree, did they even go to university? To that end, there’s very little point in looking for a smartphone that packs the latest and fastest chipsets. No, it’s the camera that’s the name of the game here, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better all-rounder than the Pixel 4a 5G.
As its name suggests, this Google phone will grant you access to 5G connectivity (if you’re on a 5G network plan), which can be very handy to have if the Wi-Fi ever goes down for an extended period of time, but the true gem here is the camera set-up. Packing one wide and one ultra-wide sensor, the 4a 5G can tackle almost any scene, and Google’s computational processing produces some of the best snaps available on any smartphone.
Even as that was being written, I could still hear the collective yell of Apple fans who wouldn’t dream of making the switch over to Android. To those folks I am more than happy to point them in the direction of Apple’s affordable phone, the iPhone SE 2020. Sure, its camera might not be as impressive as the Pixel’s, but having access to iOS at such a low price will always be a feature worth having.
Even though you’re there to study, you should pepper your tenure at university with some well-earned downtime to recuperate. For any bookworms out there, the Kindle Paperwhite can be a great investment. Not only is it easier on the eyes than a smartphone thanks to its e-paper screen, but it’s a lot more practical to have all your books in one space as opposed to countless physical copies with nowhere to put them.
If you’re a gamer in need of something to tide you over until you can return home to your favourite consoles, the Nintendo Switch Lite gives you the chance to still enjoy some triple-A titles but on a portable device. Throw in access to great online games like Overwatch, Rocket League and Minecraft, and you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied.
If you’ve got to look after yourself, then some gadgets to make life easier in the kitchen will help. Air fryers are a great addition to any kitchen, making it faster to cook food and, as they use very little oil, they’re a healthier alternative to frying or deep frying. The Tower 4.3L Manual Air Fryer is a great choice: it’s cheap and cooks well, whether you’re dealing with frozen food or fresh.
If you want help and advice on how to cook, then turn to the Amazon Echo Show 8 (2nd Generation). This smart display can give you cooking advice, with a huge database of recipes. And you can use it to get answers to questions, help with assignments and generally run your life.