If you’re a college-aged student, you probably already regard yourself as technologically savvy. After all, you’ve grown up with computers and the internet, and are comfortable with the idea of technology forming a significant part of your life. However, before you head off for college, make sure you’re familiar with these 5 technology tools.
1. Virtual Private Networks
As you doubtlessly know, there is an inherent risk in all online activities. Hackers can attack in a number of ways, including via malware, phishing, malicious apps and by taking advantage of insecure networks.
You may already have ensured that your devices have appropriate firewalls and antivirus software, and you may practice caution when it comes to downloading apps from unknown sources. However, given that educational institutions do not necessarily have the financial resources to invest in very secure computer systems, have you also considered how best to protect yourself from insecure networks?
The simplest solution may be never to connect to the internet when not on a trusted home network. Yet, this is not practical for most students and also ignores the risk that home networks are also sometimes vulnerable. An excellent solution involves the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
VPNs provide a double layer of protection. They do this by encrypting the data sent out by your device and passing it through the VPN server. VPNs are available as both free and paid-for services, and you can find out more with a little online research.
2. Portable Chargers and Power Banks
If you’re regularly out all day, you’ll know how annoying it is when your smartphone battery dies. However, as a college student, you might experience more than a mere annoyance if a laptop or tablet runs out of charge. For example, you might find yourself unable to download a crucial presentation or to finish off an essay that’s due in later that day.
Of course, you may regularly carry a charging cable but its use will depend on whether or not you have access to a power socket. A portable charger, or power bank, is a great alternative provided that you choose one with the right features.
You’ll want something that is small enough to fit in a pocket or bag and not heavy enough to weigh it down. However, you’ll need to balance size and weight considerations against the power bank’s capacity. As a general rule, smaller and lighter chargers have a higher capacity.
If you’re not anticipating being away from a power socket for more than a day, you can probably get away with a power bank of between 6,000 and 7,000mAh. In most circumstances, this is sufficient to provide up to three charges for a smartphone.
College libraries can be noisy places. If you anticipate spending much time studying away from the relative quiet of your own home, a good set of headphones can be invaluable.
‘In-ear’ headphones are small and convenient to carry around. They also usually provide excellent audio exclusion, meaning that others are less likely to complain that they can hear your music. However, earbuds worn inside the ear canal are not comfortable for everyone and some people also find that they do not stay in easily.
‘On-ear’ headphones are often more comfortable, thanks to their headband and the cups that sit on the ears. Unfortunately, this design makes them prone to noise leakage, which can lead to complaints from those around you.
‘Over-ear’ headphones have even larger cups than the ‘on-ear’ version. For many, this makes them even more comfortable to wear, while also offering very good noise isolation. The trade-off is that they are not small and easily portable.
Once you’ve chosen a style of headphone, you’ll need to decide whether you want a wired or wireless version. Most are wired but wireless versions that connect via Bluetooth are also available, although over-ear headphones make up the biggest selection. If you choose Bluetooth headphones of any type, make sure they offer sufficient battery life for your daily needs.
4. Tech to Reduce Your Household Bills
If you’re living away from home for the first time, finances may be on your mind. Fortunately, there are many ways to save money and plenty of good advice online to help you do so.
While you may not have a choice about whether or not to install a smart meter, you can consider buying an energy monitor. This will track your energy usage and tell you how much it is costing. You can also take very simple steps such as replacing electricity-guzzling halogen bulbs with more efficient LED versions.
When it comes to updating your tech, printers aren’t exactly up there with the latest smartphone. However, they’re an essential purchase for most students.
If you need to buy a printer, don’t automatically pick the cheapest. Check out:
- What ink a particular model takes, and how much replacement ink cartridges cost
- Whether or not the printer is multi-functional. For example, can it also scan and copy documents?
- Print speeds for those last minute essay crises
- Whether or not it is Wi-Fi enabled
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