Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Last minute tech stuff for the fall 2011 ...

In August 2009 I wrote a blog about "last minute tech gadgets to bring to campus". I was just looking at this entry again. Although all of things that I mentioned are still good things to bring along, there are a few more considerations.

In 2009 I suggested that students bing:

1. A laptop bag or backpack
2. Laptop lock for your room
3. Portable storage
4. USB hub
5. Headphones for use in the labs or library
6. Subscribe to a music service like Pandora

I think most of these still hold true, but I would add a few notes.

1. The laptop bag is still a good idea, but most students seem to be going with a backpack or courier bag. There are now backpacks with extra padding to protect a laptop. I you plan on carrying your laptop all over campus, I would go with a 14" model. You save a pound or so and still get a nice workable image.

2. Laptop lock - still a must. Things can walk from a residence hall bedroom when you are visiting friends down the hall.

3. Portable storage - still a good thing, but prices have really dropped. You can buy a 32GB (huge) for less than $40. Note that we now use Microsoft Live@Edu for our email system, but it also provides about 25GB of storage in the "cloud". No worries about backups or losing your data. Remember backup your data from your laptop or flash drive. BTW, the email and storage are yours even after graduation!

4. USB Hub - I am not as hot on this anymore. Most laptops are coming with 4-5 USB ports in them now. You may need a hub, but this is doubtful. Spend the money on a good power strip a circuit breaker to protect your gadgets from power surges and lightening.

5. Headphones - Still a good idea, but you can reuse the earbuds from your iPod or other music device. You will need this in the library and labs for sure.

6. Music service - you can still use Pandora for 40 hours a month for free, but it only costs $36 for the entire year. You might also look at AOL radio or Yahoo radio. You cannot customize you playlist the way you can with Pandora, but free is good.

7. Personal Printer- I know everyone hates printing on their own printer when you can get free printing in campus labs and the library, but when you need that paper for an 8AM class a little desktop ink jet printer is a cheap investment and comes in handy.

8. Tablet or eReader - Still not seeing large numbers of these on campus. In most cases you read eBooks on your laptop or even your phone. Personally, I would not jump on this bandwagon just yet. Prices will come down and they are just another device to worry about. If you have plenty of cash or someone buys one for you as a gift, enjoy, but they are not work tools just yet.

9. Personal wireless access router - forget about it. You don't need it on campus and the network will detect it and shut you down. Save the $50. If you live off campus, go for it.

10. Personal video camera - about 30% of SU students report that they own one, but it's unclear whether the device is their phone or something like a Flip camera. If you like making videos you can get a great quality HD video camera for $100-$150. Flip is not made anymore, but Kodak, Sony and others make them.

I think that's it for this year. If you have some ideas of your own, feel free to send me a comment. Let the year begin.

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