It’s that time of year when many high-school graduates are getting ready to make the leap to college-dorm (or apartment) living.
So here’s a list of great gadgets you can use in a dormitory room or an apartment (all prices from Amazon except where noted):
1. The Soundmatters foxL V2 Bluetooth speaker ($199) is very small but packs a huge amount of sound. Most dorm rooms are pretty small and large entertainment systems aren’t practical. With this speaker you can play some tunes on your smartphone, computer or tablet through Bluetooth. The quality will amaze you. It’s also great for watching movies.
2. The AAXA Pico 1 Jr. Projector ($107) can be used to project images as large as 50 inches on a wall. Connect it to your smartphone, handheld gaming device, tablet computer or laptop to watch movies or play games in your dorm. It also has a built-in SC card slot that cam be used to view slide shows right off the card. Connect it to your smartphone and fire it up with Netflix to have Movie Night in the dorm.
3. If you’re looking for a compact desk for times when you want to surf the Internet, read a book or watch a movie, check out the EZPort Foldable Laptop Desk from dormco.com ($29.99). It’s portable, light and has legs with adjustable height and angles to fit almost any situation. It’s great to use on the floor, on the couch or in bed and even has a built-in cup holder and small drawer. Folds flat for storage.
4. If you end up in a dorm that has one bathroom for everyone on your floor (yes, they still exist), you’ll need a Dorm Caddy Shower Tote ($3.99), or something similar. You can put all your shower stuff inside and carry it down to the bathroom, then hang it from the shower head while showering. When you’re done, rinse everything off right in the tote and the water drains through a hole in the bottom.
5. Dorm rooms are notorious for not having enough storage space, so why not use the space under your bed? Adjustable Bed Risers can raise your bed so you can slide some boxes or other storage containers underneath and tidy up your room. They come in a set and are available at dormco.com and Walmart.com ($15.88).
6. Solar-powered backpacks from Neon Green ($199 at ShopScratchTracks.com) are great for keeping electronics charged between classes. Plug in your laptop, smartphone or tablet, and use the sun’s energy to charge your stuff while studying in a courtyard or walking across campus. Complete backpacks with or without speakers (for an mp3 player) are available, and if you already have a backpack, you can get a piggyback solar panel to attach it.
7. To keep valuables safe in your dorm room, check out the Go Vault College Dorm Safe from dormco.com ($14.99). It’s a hardened, plastic box with a special cable that’s made to attach to something heavy in your room. Put your valuables inside, attach the cable and secure it with the included combination lock. It’s not a perfect solution because the cable could easily be cut with bolt cutters, but it certainly will slow down any would-be thief.
8. You can make some tasty meals with the Nostalgia EQM-200 Electric Quesadilla Maker ($20). Just get some tortillas and add some meat, cheese or vegetables and in a few minutes you’ll have a perfect, piping-hot quesadilla. You can even make peanut-butter-and-jelly quesadillas. Some dorms don’t allow cooking appliances like this (especially if you don’t have a kitchen), so check with your school before buying.
9. Fire safety in your dorm is really important, especially if you plan to cook. This Dorm Fire Blanket from dormco.com ($39.99) is made of 1,000-degree fireproof Kevlar material and it’s designed to smother small fires before they become big fires. It’s easier to use than a fire extinguisher and requires no special training. Just pull it out of the pouch, throw it over the fire and you’re done.
10. Cookbooks aren’t really gadgets, but they can come in handy when you’re just getting started on your own and will be away from home cooking. “The Ultimate Cooking with 4 Ingredients”cookbook has dozens of recipes that require four ingredients or less and they taste great. Another great cookbook is “101 Things To Do With Mac Cheese.” Does that really need an explanation? (Both books available used on Amazon.)
(Jack Rowland writes the Gadget Guy blog at tampabay.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)