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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tech Deal Hunting for On Campus Life

Tech stores are gearing up for Christmas with specials.  Here are a few ideas I gleaned from Zack Whittaker’s iGeneration column on ZDNet that can help you key in on which items will be most useful to spend your time checking out if you are living on campus.

What to Find Out: Check out consumer and site reviews about the popularity, reliability, support, compatibility and of course – price of any tech gadgets you plan on purchasing.

Where to do your Research:  Zack suggests Amazon  as a good benchmark when buying tech products. While I would add - Storefront You don’t need to buy from these retailers, but the product reviews, data and information are handy. Be sure to  check out both the good and bad reviews. The bad reviews may turn up compatibility problems you wouldn’t find elsewhere and can give you a balanced perspective when surrounded by sales hype.

Special Tcch consideration for Living on Campus

Zack notes: Not all tech (i.e. wireless) works in campus accommodation, and you’ll probably only have a couple of electrical plug sockets! Here are Zack’s suggestions for tech on campus:

  • Netbook: cheap,  tough,  will last all day on campus and perhaps more. Netbooks  are good enough for most of things you need. Plus, you can save a bundle by purchasing one without a Windows license and using free open source programs. There are Netbooks starting at $239.99!  at IF you want a great deal on a laptop check out NP Media (starting at $199 Note: Use caution when considering a “purchase with internet stick deal” I found out the hard way it’s no bargain!
  • Games console: Find out which system is the most popular amongst your corridor, block or on campus friendship group and go with that choice. Gaming is a big part of socialising now. Not only is it important to wind down and have down-time, the networks you establish can help later in business.
  • Digital voice recorder: Since some lecturers avoid distributing recordings of their lectures due to copyright and intellectual property, this gadget can be handy for review and completion of  your recorded lecture notes at the end, plus it puts you back exactly where you were when referring to it later.   However, male sure you actually write your notes up and commit them to memory, because come exams you’ll need to know the info and  a digital voice transcriber,while handy, takes away an important step in the learning process.
  • Wireless headphones: Give you freedom from a tangle of wires while jamming with your air guitar.  Headphones both block out the noise your your fellow flatmates will inevitably make, and  keep you from distracting them.(Unless you sing along very loudly.)

Have some extra cash?  Here are some cool “nice to haves”, but “not neededs” recommended by Zack.

  • E-reader: Don’t want to be stuck with a bunch of expensive paper weights?  See which books on your reading list can  be downloaded from in an e-reader format. (Note : I understand, some netbooks also support eBooks too) While you might  consider getting one with wireless network capabilities, remember the above caveat about wifi on campus. Zack does not recommend the iPad, but points out a net book can be the best of both worlds.
  • Digital camera: Zack suggests  a compact flash camera than a full DSLR. I agree (simply because I have no idea what a DSLR even means). Compact flash cameras are point-and-click. While I admire those with expertise in photography, the KISS method works great for most people.  A point and shoot camera is much cheaper (particularly important if they aren’t covered under home insurance policies). 
  • Pocket projector: While Zack notes: Imagine the cool pranks you could play with one of these at night on the library’s side wall. That’s a pricy bit of fun! (Over$400 at Tiger Direct)

A final caveat from Zack!  Don’t get a wireless router or anything that must have a wireless connection.  You may not be able to get a wireless signal in the halls and will have to rely on a single Ethernet port in your room. While you could buy a wireless device ,they are often securely restricted and don’t work from your study bedroom to prevent bandwidth abuse.

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