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The best dormitory essentials for college students

A new college year is coming, which means it’s time for a new batch of freshmen to live on their own for the first time. If you fall into this group, it’s a good idea to stock up on a few essentials to make your dorm room feel more like a (tiny) second home. We’ve rounded up some dorm-friendly items that we can safely recommend; this is Engadget, so expect a bunch of tech gear, but we’ve also got some non-gadgets that will hopefully make student life a little less stressful, even if just a little bit.

Photo by Will Lipman for Engadget

I was boycotting smart speakers until a few months ago. After getting echo point, I now use Alexa to set alarms, play focus music, remind me of things, and keep an eye on the weather—all of which are very helpful when going back to school. Sure, your phone does most of the work, but anything that helps you reach for your phone less is a productivity booster in itself. Additionally, the Dot is compatible with all major music services, and the sound quality is surprisingly good for its size. There’s enough energy here to entertain the dorms and get the most out of your studies. — Amy Skorheim, buying advice reporter

Amazon $50

Lynn Spa

Comfort is key in dorm life, which is why we recommend extra-large reading pillows, such as This one is from Linenspa. It can help change your seating position so you’re not stuck on a desk chair, and it’s definitely more comfortable than stacking pillows against the wall. This pillow is filled with shredded memory foam so it doesn’t put too much pressure on your back, and it also has a soft velvet cover. This posture support makes it perfect for reading, playing games, or watching TV. As a bonus, there’s a handle on the top for easy portability. —Nicole Lee, former business writer

Amazon $34

South 12

If you prefer to hide in a corner of your dorm room and watch a show on your tablet, hover bar duo It makes viewing much more comfortable. This is one of our favorites iPad accessories, But it applies to any object within that relative size range. You can use it as a weighted stand or swap out the base for a clip and secure it to any bar or table edge. In other words, it turns your desk or bed into a mini home theater (just add earplugs when roommates are around). The arms are also adjustable so you can get the right viewing angle, but I’m impressed with how securely it holds the tablet once you get it in place. It’s not a terribly complex add-on, but it’s more comfortable than trying to hold up the screen to watch through multiple episodes. — as

Amazon $42

Photo by Will Lipman for Engadget

A good pair of noise-canceling headphones can help you get some peace and quiet anytime you need to work or want to escape the din of your roommates. you No need to spend a lot of money To find a quality pair, here are a few things to do: Anker Soundcore Space A40 Offers effective active noise cancellation, 8 to 10 hours of battery life per charge, transparency mode, IPX4 water resistance, and solid sound quality for less than $100 (and often even less than $80 when on sale). If you don’t like the sound of its bass default, you can also customize the profile via a helpful companion app. Please note these are earplugs; if you prefer Over-ear type pairing, try Anker Soundcore Life Q30. —Jeff Dunn, senior buying advice reporter

Amazon $59


Dorms may limit the number and types of kitchen appliances you can have, but a simple electric kettle like this one will do just fine in most cases. Zwilling electric kettle boil water Astonishingly fast And there are no exposed heating elements, which some housing codes don’t allow. It looks cute, too, and in our experiments, it boiled 16 ounces of water in two minutes. Sure, it’ll help you make tea or coffee, but it’s also worth it so you can stock up Instant cup food Oatmeal in the morning, Cup Noodles at midnight, and cravings in between. – as

Amazon $96

Photo by Will Lipman for Engadget

Because when their phone speakers won’t play, UE Wonderboom 3 Make dorm parties and casual meetings on the quad better with powerful sound. This small barrel speaker is compact enough to fit in a backpack, and thanks to its built-in top loop, it can be attached to the outside of your bag using a carabiner clip. We found that the Wonderboom 3 produced the loudest sound of all Portable Bluetooth speaker We tested it across its size range, and the latest model has improved battery life and wireless range. There’s no app, but it can be paired with other UE speakers for stereo sound. Its IP67 rating and drop-proof design should be enough to protect it if it accidentally falls off a table or takes a little bump. — Valentina Palladino, associate editor, Buying Tips

Amazon $63

Photo by Will Lipman for Engadget

Nanoleaf Modular smart lamp Let you add personality and Give half of your room functional lighting. The 90-degree “Smarter” kit comes with four wires connected at right angles, so you can make several different designs (such as squares and Xs). The set is scalable, with millions of colors available for each bar, and the ability to display two shades simultaneously. Lines works with Alexa, HomeKit, Google Home, IFTTT and other smart home platforms so you can set themes, create routines and control lights with your voice. But the best news for dorm-dwellers might be the included mounting tape, which won’t punch holes in your walls and irritate your RA. – as

Amazon $100


Use a lap desk when you’re too lazy to sit at a real desk, e.g. LapGear Designer Makes working in bed or on the couch more comfortable. The Designer has soft padding, is lightweight, has an easy-to-clean top, and is large enough to hold a 15-inch laptop. A stopper on the bottom helps keep things from sliding out when you’re sitting at an angle, and there’s also a slot for holding your phone and a handle for carrying the whole thing. — JD.com

Amazon $30

Haoken bag

this Hulken is a large rolling tote that makes it easier to transport large loads of clothing or groceries to and from your dorm room. It’s not cheap, but it’s durable and has some handy straps and handles to make it easier to lift up stairs and roll around campus. Hulken says it can hold a total of 66 pounds. big version Capable of holding four or five grocery bags and a Chinese version Able to transport two or three. It also folds up when you’re not using it, so it doesn’t take up much space in a narrow room. — JD.com

Hulken Bag sells for $115

Photo by Will Lipman for Engadget

Many dormitories do not have air conditioning, so having a fan powerful enough to keep you cool in late summer is crucial. this Vornado 630 It should get the job done, as it moves air powerfully around the room, but takes up very little space on a tabletop or larger windowsill. It doesn’t swing, but you can tilt its head vertically, and it circulates air in a way that allows a breeze to flow across much of the room. A simple dial lets you switch between three speed settings, while the sturdy plastic frame is easy to clean and stays relatively quiet when on. If you are moving into a particularly large dormitory Vornado 660 is a stronger alternative. — JD.com

$70 at Kohl’s

Balu life

College life can be stressful, and sometimes we all need a hug. If you want that feeling without the “other person” part, a good weighted blanket can be a soothing alternative. There are lots of great blankets out there, and they work best depending on how you sleep, but Baloo weighted blanket is a good question to consider. It’s available in casual, full/large, or extra-large sizes, and weights range from 12 to 25 pounds. Each piece is filled with pockets of glass microbeads that compress lightly without feeling too hot, and they all have slim, smooth coverings for a sharp look and are machine washable. Of course, this isn’t a panacea for sleep problems and anxiety, but if you want to try a heavier blanket, this one should be especially easy to keep comfortable. — JD.com

Baloo Living $179+

CGE Czech Game Edition

Playing casual board games is a great way to socialize at a party without making small talk. A very popular one is called code name, a party game that pits two teams of spies against each other. Each “Spy Master” must ask their teammates to guess the hidden word (these words are drawn on a grid) using only a one-word clue and a number. For example, if you want your team to guess the words “costume,” “web,” and “spider,” you could say “Peter, 3” to indicate that there are three clues on the board that match that word. There are also some clues that you have to dodge, which makes the game a little difficult. This game is easy to explain and encourages communication, which helps break the ice. – Netherlands

Amazon $20

big potato

If you want a more relaxing game, we recommend Herd mentality. It can accommodate 4 to 20 players, making it perfect for parties. In it, you simply take turns flipping through a question and try to write what you think others will answer. For example, if the question is “What’s the best way to boil an egg?” and you write “scramble,” and it turns out that most other players answer that too, you’ll get points. But be careful not to give weird answers, as you’ll get the dreaded pink cow and risk losing the game – unless you can somehow trick others into getting it. – Netherlands

Amazon $25



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