Sunday 4 December 2016

Five student gadgets to help you through college

Published 17/08/2015 | 06:00

Marshall Major II, €150
Marshall Major II, €150
Techlink Recharge 12,000, €100
Wemo Insight Switch, €60
Microsoft Surface 3, €610
Drop, €100

What's the smart way to navigating student life? Our technology editor looks at five must-have gadgets that will make campus life smoother

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1. Marshall Major II

Students are conscious of labels and Beats - which used to be the brand du jour - is a bit raffish these days. The cool kids seem to be gravitating toward Marshalls. Aside from the rock pedigree and the association with guitars and power amps, the company's on-ear headphones have come down a lot in price and are decent quality. Its latest low-end leather cans are very comfortable and give high quality audio, partially because they eschew sound-degrading wireless technology. The earpieces now fold inwards, meaning that they're easy to pack or store in a bag. And the connecting cable even includes an inline control to accept a call when connected to a smartphone.

Price:  €150

2. Wemo Insight Switch

Want to turn your student digs into a smart home on the cheap? This is where Wemo's Insight Switch comes in. The Wemo switch basically connects whatever is plugged into it to your phone (via a free Wemo app). So whether it's a lamp or a TV or whatever, it becomes controllable no matter where you are. It is also programmable: you can 'set' it (again, via the app) to switch whatever it is connected to on or off at a certain time. There's even an advanced customisation facility called IFTT ('If This, Then That') that allows you to perform under certain conditions. For example, you can ask it to keep track of when the sun goes down (by checking online) and to switch itself on when this happens. Or you might even want to activate the kettle two minutes before the half-time break in a football match to save time.

Price:  €60

3. Techlink Recharge 12,000

Using a phone or a tablet in the library or canteen brings up one practical problem: power. Techlink's Recharge 12,000 has a 12,000mAh battery, enough to recharge four full-sized smartphones or two tablets. It comes with an iPhone/iPad Lightning charging lead and an Android-compatible Micro USB charging lead. Both of these can be used at the same time, thanks to dual charging ports on the device. And it even allows different charging speeds from the unit, which is around the same size as a Samsung S6 phone (though three times as thick). It is cleverly designed. too, with a flap that opens to let you stand your phone or tablet upright (to watch a movie, for example) while it's charging.

Price: €100

4. Microsoft Surface 3

There are umpteen laptop choices open to students. But the Surface 3 is one of the smartest options. The 11-inch hybrid laptop-tablet has one of the best screens on the market, meaning it's excellent for movies and TV on Netflix when you're not studying. It runs 'full' Windows, meaning you can operate any software on it that a full-size laptop would be capable of. It's really light, too, and has a decent battery life. The main compromise is engine power: it makes do with an Intel Atom chip rather than the faster Core i5 or i7 processors under the hood of more expensive laptops. Its economy drive also means that it charges using an Android-friendly microUSB connector. While this means it takes longer to charge, it also makes it more flexible.

Price: €610 (€765 including cover keyboard)

5. Drop

Many students get a shock when they discover that they now have to cook for themselves. This Irish-made, Irish-designed smart kitchen scales is an idiot-proof gadget that lets you select a recipe and guides through the process with an iPad. It works by letting you identify what you're using and then telling you whether you're putting in too much or too little. There are also plenty of free recipes in there with more being added consistently.

Price: €100

Irish Independent

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