At the risk of sounding like a bunch of Boy Scouts, don't head off to college unprepared. You've got gadgets to buy, a dorm room to fill and a new life to live, but you can't do any of it without the right gear. What kind of laptop do you need? Are you going to get a bike? And how are you going to carry everything to and from class? Our Back to School Guide has the info you need to hit campus in style this year.
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Just a few years ago, it was possible to get through college without owning a computer. Not so anymore. Your computer is the central hub of your education, but it's not the only piece of gadgetry you'll need. We put together a quick list of devices that are must-haves for any student in the digital age. With this setup, you'll be able to create, record, enjoy and backup all the digital media your heart desires. And yes, you'll be able to write your term papers, too.
- Macbook Air (for mobility)
When it comes to mobility, nothing beats the Macbook Air. Yeah, I said nothing. Not a netbook, not the iPad, not a Samsung Galaxy Tablet. Nothing. That's not to say you won't have to make sacrifices. The hard drive? It's only 64GB. The screen? Only 11 inches. That's how mobility goes, though. Pair up the Macbook Air with Apple's iCould or a Spotify account and you won't have to worry about local music storage. Or, kick it old school with an external hard drive.
When you're carrying around a bag full of books and your laptop only adds an additional 2.5 pounds of weight, you'll be glad you went for mobility.
- HP Pavilion dv7t (for performance)
HP was kind enough to send me a Pavilion dv7t a couple weeks back and I was surprised just how much I liked the machine. I've never been an advocate of power computing on a laptop, mostly because I have so much fun building and upgrading a machine. For some, though, that mobile power is a necessity, and I'd be lying if I said the dv7t can't keep up. It has all the power of a modern gaming machine in a relatively small frame. The dv7t is customizable for just about anything you would need. Pack in an Intel i7, add on an SSD hard drive for added performance, drop in an ATI Radeon HD 6770 with 2GB of RAM and top it off with 16GB of RAM and it will be able to handle any task.
As with the Macbook Air, you are going to make some sacrifices. The dv7t is a big machine, weighing in at nearly 7 pounds. With that weight comes the power to handle serious video editing, rendering, and gaming, though, so it might be worth it. The screen is also big enough for watching a movie in your dorm. Did I mention it can play Blu-Ray discs at 1080p? No? It can do that, too.
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For a lot of students, life begins and ends at the laptop, but if you want to feel as comfortable in a dorm room as you do at home, you'll want to add some extra tech to your fall shopping list.
Hard drive technology hasn't just advanced in physical size and storage capacity, it's grown with the rest of the industry. The Seagate GoFlex Satellite is proof of that change, offering wireless storage with the added benefit of battery power. This drive can store up to 500GB of data and stream wirelessly for up to 5 hours on battery power with a 25-hour standby time. Better still, the Seagate GoFlex Sattelite can connect to iOS devices via Seagate's own application and Windows and Android devices through a web browser.
Living in a dorm requires that you strike a balance between space and sound quality. It's a compromise, but one that's made much easier with products like the Antec Rockus 3D. Though it's only a a 2.1 channel system, the Antec Rockus pumps out the sound of a much larger rig in what feels like full three-dimensional sound. The effect is achieved by Antec's 3D soundscience technology, which analyzes incoming stereo sound and places that sound into a 3D field for the listener. It's a fantastic listening experience for gamers, music and film lovers alike. If you know how to shop, the Rocks 3D can be had for under $150.
Bowers & Wilkins made a name for itself in home audio, catering to the world's most serious audiophiles through top-notch design and engineering. It's easy to understand why the audio world was so excited when B&W announced the P5 headphones last November. Well, they're finally available, and according to just about everybody out there, they rock and rock hard.
The P5 features an in-line remote and mic, leather-wrapped earpads and detachable cables. That mic allows the headset to pick up calls from your mobile phone so you don't miss anything as you dubstep your way to class. The one drawback to the P5s is the price ($300) but if you're serious about quality sound, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend that money.
This mights seem like a strange category to add, but sound recording tech is now good enough to reproduce the day's lecture in perfect detail. It's a great way to store the knowledge bombs your professors are dropping and alleviates the need for tedious notetaking. It also allows you to zone out or drift off just in case you were up late the night before, you know, studying. That's what you were doing, right? Studying?
The Samson Zoom H1 is one of those beautiful tech devices that just keeps on giving. Not only does it record true stereo by utilizing two onboard mics, it provides a level of sound depth and control that could lull you right back to sleep, just like the first time you heard that lecture. Honestly, though, the Zoom H1 is insanely versatile. It can even be mounted on to a DSLR's flash mount with a handy little accessory clip for high quality sound with your DSLR's video. If you need something even more robust - maybe you're headed to journalism school – check out Samson's Zoom H2n.
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