5 top gadgets to get you through college
You're going to college - so which gadgets do you need to survive? Technology Editor Adrian Weckler looks at five options for students who want to make life easier on campus
Microsoft Surface Go
€750 including keyboard from Microsoft Ireland store
For a student looking for a laptop, a good option is Microsoft's Surface Go 8GB. Even though it looks a bit like a tablet, it's an ultra-portable laptop because it uses touchscreen Windows. The model I'm recommending is the upper-end device, priced at €750 with the keyboard cover, or €620 without the keyboard cover. There is a lower-end version which costs €459 (€589 including keyboard), but don't get it because it's underpowered (half the Ram, half the storage). The Surface Go is simple and elegant, with a very effective (and variable) kickstand. The 10-inch screen is very impressive for a device in this price range. You can also charge it via a normal USB-C cable, the kind you charge an Android phone with. A 'bundle' version of this is available for €757 if you also want a year's Microsoft Office 365.
Samsung Galaxy A50
€360 up-front or from free on contract
If you're looking for a large, well-powered smartphone with plenty of storage, decent cameras and an above-average battery life for a student-friendly price of under €400, this is a good option. The phone's big 6.4-inch screen is very impressive, while 128GB is a generous amount of internal storage for a smartphone at this price point (it's the same as you'll get for the Galaxy S10+ or other €1,000 phones such as Huawei's P30 Pro). You won't be running out of space for things like photos any time soon. One clothes-friendly facet is its weight - this is one of the lightest smartphones of its size I've ever encountered. Lastly, the A50 has a super-wide angle (8-megapixel, f2.2) camera lens and a third 5-megapixel camera used 'for depth'.
Juku Airlume 10,000mAh
€69 from CompuB
A powerbank is something that everyone should have on them, especially those going about their daily business with a tablet or small laptop as an education or productivity tool. There are a gazillion to choose from, but you should get one with a minimum reserve of 10,000mAh, especially if you want to use it to top-up more than a phone. This Irish-designed model has extra features. Able to charge a regular smartphone three times over from scratch, it has two 'regular' USB charging ports and one USB-C slot. It can also charge a phone wirelessly thanks to its Qi connection. It also recharges itself very quickly and holds 90pc of its charge after a month.
Jabra Elite 85H
If there's one thing that can help focused productivity in a noisy, busy or bustling environment, it's noise-cancelling headphones. This goes as much for a bedroom in a busy student building as it does for a library with people chatting at the desk next to you. There are several models to choose from and they generally start at around €80. If you can stretch, I'd advise premium models. Sony (XM3) and Microsoft (Surface headphones) are both excellent, as is Jabra's Elite 85H. The headphones are comfortable, have great audio and do an excellent job of blocking outside din thanks to their active noise-cancelling tech.
Anker Soundcore Wakey
If you're in digs and want a small speaker with the latest features, Anker's Soundcore Wakey is pretty cool. Styled as a bedside clock speaker, this has Bluetooth to connect to your phone's audio as well as FM radio (10 presets). It has two 5-watt speakers for decent sound quality, enough for a small room, one part of a room or a kitchen in an apartment. But its crowning feature is that it charges your phone wirelessly simply by plonking your handset on top of it (assuming you have a relatively new phone that can charge this way) using the Qi standard. No more hunting around to see which flatmate has stolen the charging cable.