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The best dorm gadgets of 2018

You’ve got the textbooks and the class schedule. Now it’s time to think about important stuff, like what you’ll actually need in that dorm or college apartment. This is no easy task. Fortunately, today’s tech offers excellent dorm solutions that can transform even the most mundane sleeping space into a sharp, functional, and awesome-looking room.

So in between buying enough snacks (you’ll never have enough, by the way) and picking out the right bed sheets, take a look at these incredible gadgets. These products are just right for a dorm area, whether you want to save some time, study smarter, stay tidy, or just show off a little.

Amazon Echo ($100)

A Bluetooth speaker fits well in any dorm, with their ability to link up to mobile devices and play tunes from a variety of sources (plus take calls from your parents), all with the durability to survive dorm accidents. But the Amazon Echo, with the help of voice assistant Alexa, goes far beyond the typical Bluetooth speaker.

Alexa can answer questions, create lists, set alarms, do minor calculations, and keep you updated on important events with simple voice commands. If you have any smart devices nearby, chances are good Alexa will be able to control them, too (more on this later). Basically, an Echo is your own personal assistant to help you navigate through dorm life. She’ll definitely be able to help you with that homework question that’s stumping you.

For a more budget-friendly (but not as good sounding) Alexa speaker, you can also consider the Echo Dot, which is half price at $50.

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TaoTronics Metal LED Desk Lamp ($65)

TaoTronics Metal LED Desk Lamp

A good desk lamp is a necessity for late night work and study sessions. This TaoTronics lamp is simply the best desk lamp around. It doesn’t get in the way, has a tough metal frame, and offers you a choice between five different colors and six different brightness levels. Just try to find another desk lamp that does all that. The lap also has a softer nightlight mode, a timer to turn off in an hour if you “forget,” and minimalistic touch controls. Power is delivered via a USB charging port.

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Studio 3B USB Bed Lifts ($37)

Studio 3B USB Bed Lifts

Bed lifts help hoist your dorm bed off the floor, which is often more comfortable and gives you extra storage space under the bed. However, these particular bed lifts are something special. One lift contains two 110V power outlets and two USB 5-volt outlets for charging any devices that you may keep near the bed. All you need is an outlet that’s around six feet away to plug the charge lift in. It’s a perfect solution if your bed just doesn’t have any handy nearby outlets.

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Instant Pot 6-quart ($100)

Instant Pot 6-quart

An Instant Pot is a hungry young adult’s best friend: It can act as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute mini-oven, yogurt maker, steamer, and general soup warmer. You can cook an unbelievable number of meals inside just by following basic instructions, dumping a lot of ingredients inside, and turning it on. It’s especially ideal for college students who want a fix-it-and-forget-it meal that resembles something you might get from home. The 6-quart option is especially flexible, but there are smaller and larger versions as you prefer.

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TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug ($22)

TP-Link Kasa Smart Plug

A smart plug can plug into a traditional wall outlet, allowing you to then plug in another device – a lamp or any type of appliance that you regularly use – and connect it to your Wi-Fi network for easy control. You can then use the app to set schedules for turning the device on or off. You can also link the device to voice assistant: In this case the Kasa smart plug works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, and its one of the most affordable versions on the market, perfect for high-tech college living.

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Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven ($50)

Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven

This rotating oven is exactly what it seems. You put food on the platter, set your heat level and timer, and two heating elements—one on the top and one on the bottom—will heat up your foot in short order. Obviously it’s perfect for pizzas, but the oven is also an ideal solution that will bake and heat foods far better than a microwave. Think about the possibility for burritos, toasted cheese sandwiches, or just a plate of baked snacks for you and your friends. Please, just remember to keep it clean and resist the urge to use it as a turntable.

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Choetech Wireless Charger ($13)

Choetech Wireless Charger

When it’s super late or you have zero time to waste, plugging in your phone in can seem like a chore (yeah, we know, first world problems). A wireless charging pad solves that problem: You just set your phone down, and it will charge on contact. As long as the phone makes it to the pad, you don’t even need to be that accurate. This Choetech model is particularly affordable and works with iPhone models and Samsung Galaxy models, as well as many other Qi protocol compatible devices. Set it up beside your bed, and you will be very grateful you have one.

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Rocketbook Everlast Smart Notebook ($60)

Rocketbook Everlast Smart Notebook

Ideal for artists, designers, and anyone who likes to think with their hands or take notes the old-fashioned way (which does improve your memory), this smart notebook has 32 pages you can write on with the accompanying ink pen (available in sets with multiple colors). However, the secret is that those pages can be immediately transferred as digital files to Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, Slack, iCloud, or just plain old email. This allows you to keep your notes, sketches and ideas on your computer even when you don’t feel like using it—and of course, makes sharing or turning in those pages a breeze.

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Raniaco LED Desk Lamp Clip ($22)

Raniaco Desk Lamp Clip

This is a rechargeable USB clip lamp. It’s designed to be used at the desk or for reading in the dark, but has many more applications in the dorm room. Set it up at your bed for a personal night light if you have to work late and don’t want to disturb a roommate. Hook it to your mirror if you need some extra illumination for your morning routine. Have a closet space that’s a little too dark? Snap the light onto a closet shelf and your problem is solved. You’ll definitely find a way to use this light as a problem solver.

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Cord Buddy Glow Charger Cord Holder ($36)

Cord Buddy Glow Charger Cord Holder

Not everything in the world can be wireless, and those cables can quickly make a tangled mess if you aren’t careful. The Cord Buddy takes all the work out of cable organization by storing and dispensing cords as you need them. It also has a simple motion sensor that will turn on a night light so you can quickly find a cord even when it’s dark (you can easily disable this feature by taking out the batteries).

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Joy Mangano My Little Steamer ($37)

Joy Mangano My Little Steamer

There’s not really room in the average dorm for a full ironing board, and even if there was, not many people would have the time and patience to use it. But this little steamer is an acceptable alternative. It’s designed to blast hot steam at your fabrics so you can quickly stretch out the wrinkles and get your clothes into acceptable condition. It’s compact, easy to store, and takes only a minute or so to heat up. If you have fabric that needs some ironing and are worried about their future condition, this steamer will set your mind at ease. Just don’t shoot hot steam in your face by accident.

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Vintar Toilet Light ($18)

Vintar Toilet Light

Yes, the toilet light is exactly what it sounds like. This is an infrared motion detector that you hook to the side of a toilet so that it can sense when a person is close (it’s also totally waterproof, of course). When you draw near the toilet to do your business, the light turns on and helps you navigate correctly.

Let’s face it, we all have to pee in the dark sometimes—often half asleep—and a toilet light is just what we need in these times. The light has five different dimmer options to control brightness, and 16 LED colors to pick from, so don’t worry about the light clashing with your excellent toilet style.


Roku Express ($30)

Roku Express 2017
Roku Express (2017)

If you are a TV junkie, you need an easy and affordable way to access your favorite shows in your dorm. The Roku Express is one of the most effective options, giving you access to Roku’s vast library of streaming shows and movies (streaming fees may apply to some channels, but many are free) with just a simple plug-in device that will work on nearly any TV with a USB port. You also get access to the mobile app for app viewing if you prefer this option. Of course, there are other streaming sticks you can consider, like Amazon’s Fire Stick or Chromecast, but Roku’s option is one of the most affordable.

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Abco Tech Bluetooth Shower Speaker with Suction Cup ($32)

Abco Tech Bluetooth Shower Speaker with Suction Cup

Put this speaker in your shower kit and pop it onto the wall when you head to the showers. Presto! Handy waterproof music whenever you want with a 15-hour battery life. It can even act as a speakerphone if you really, really need to take a call in the shower (no judgment). These friendly speakers come in a variety of colors, but all have the same design. A Bluetooth connection to a nearby device is required.

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