Monday 14 October 2019

5 top gadgets to help 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 the student who wants to make life easier on campus

Microsoft Surface Go, €719 with keyboard cover from microsoft.ie
Microsoft Surface Go, €719 with keyboard cover from microsoft.ie
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

1. A cool, lightweight laptop

Microsoft Surface Go

Price €719 (including keyboard cover), from microsoft.ie

There are tonnes of budget and mid-priced laptops out there.

One intriguing new model is Microsoft's new ultra-light, portable touchscreen tablet-laptop hybrid, the Surface Go.

It's the same size (10in) and weight as an iPad but runs Windows, so you can use a cursor and a touchpad if you really like that format.

Motorola G6 Play, €190 from Argos
Motorola G6 Play, €190 from Argos

I'd avoid the basic model, as it's underpowered, with just 4GB of RAM and an inadequate 64GB of (slow) storage memory. But the higher-tier version, which costs €619, is really good.

You will definitely need the accessory keyboard with it, which costs an additional €100.

This isn't perfect for very power-hungry design or graphical programs, but is really good for most typical laptop use and fits perfectly into any bag. Battery life is around six hours.

2. The perfect rough-and-tumble college phone

Motorola G6 Play

Sony ZX770, €106 from Argos
Sony ZX770, €106 from Argos

Price €190, from Argos

Your college years may not be the best era to have invested in a €900 flagship iPhone or Samsung smartphone.

A combination of nights out and other adventures tend to conspire against a pristine, undamaged handset.

One perfect option is Motorola's new G6 Play.

E4 Electric Scooter, €439 from Gyrowheel.ie
E4 Electric Scooter, €439 from Gyrowheel.ie

It's a really decent big-screen (5.7in) smartphone with a fairly good (13-megapixel) camera and 32GB of storage memory.

But what really sets it apart for the student is an incredible battery life (4,000mAh, bigger than almost any other handset on the market).

The bonus is that it costs just €190 unlocked, meaning that even if something catastrophic does happen to it, you're not down the equivalent of a second-hand car in value.

The icing on the cake is that it has a 3.5mm headphone port, which is fast disappearing from other handsets.

3. Headphones to block out noise when studying

Sony ZX770

Trust Primo Powerbank 10000, €30 from Harvey Norman
Trust Primo Powerbank 10000, €30 from Harvey Norman

Price €106, from Argos

College campuses are loud. Even the libraries and study areas can be noisy.

A quiet space can be hard to find. One way of hacking this situation is to wear a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

The clever technology uses a microphone to measure the sound around you and then turn the specific audio frequencies back on one another, thus 'cancelling' out the noise to your ear.

It's an extremely effective trick. Happily, the price of decent wireless noise-cancelling headphones has come down appreciably in the last year or so.

Sony's ZX770 takes a lot of the technology from its premium models (such as the excellent MDR-1000X range), packing it into a more wallet-friendly proposal.

The rechargeable headphones have nice, soft leather for comfort, and surround your ear, meaning most of the external din is cut out even without the noise-cancelling feature turned on.

For playing audio, they work with just about any smartphone, tablet or laptop.

4. A Zippy student alternative to a bike

E4 Electric Scooter

Price €439, from gyrowheel.ie

Traffic can move at a crawl through university cities such as Dublin, Cork or Galway. So taking a bus may not always be that efficient.

One recently introduced alternative to a bike is an electric scooter.

Already popular with the likes of tech workers, the gadgets are charged up and can travel at around the same speed as a bike.

One basic model to look at is Gyrowheel's E4 model.

Taking around three hours to charge, this has a 15km range and can move along at up to 28km per hour thanks to its 250w motor.

It's only 10kg in weight, meaning you can easily bring it in and out of an apartment, and maybe even into lecture halls (but don't quote me on that).

One thing to note: Irish law requires that you have a driver's licence and insurance on these devices, so bear that in mind.

5. A portable charger for your gadgets

Trust Primo Powerbank 10000

Price €30, from Harvey Norman

The problem with relying on gadgets like phones, tablets and laptops is that they constantly run out of juice just when you least want them to.

One excellent, affordable solution is a powerbank.

Trust's Primo Powerbank is a small, rectangular gadget that is about the same size as your smartphone and which acts as an extra battery.

Just plug your normal charging cable from your phone into this gizmo and your phone (or tablet, or small laptop, or other gadget) will start recharging.

It can charge two devices (such as a phone and a tablet) at the same time and has enough capacity (10,000mAh) to recharge your phone two to three times over, or your tablet at least once over from scratch.

There are pricier models with twice the battery reserve (such as the Energizer Ultimate Power Bank, which is €69 from Argos), but they're almost twice as large, meaning more weight for your bag.

Irish Independent

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