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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Ten great gadgets for college dorms, a new list for 2011

Last year I put together a wildly popular list of great gadgets you can use in a college dorm or on campus. It's that time of year again, and many recent high school graduates are getting ready to make the leap to independence and dormitory (or apartment) living. So here's another list with some fresh gadget's I've found. You'll find everything here from a small Bluetooth speaker and projector to a solar backpack to a fire blanket. And the included video gives you short demos on all the items on the list. Check it out!

1. The Soundmatters foxl V2 Bluetooth speaker is very small but packs a huge amount of sound. Most dorm rooms are pretty small and large entertainment systems aren't very practical. With this speaker you can play some tunes on your smartphone, computer or tablet through Bluetooth and get big sound in a very small package. The quality and volume will amaze you. It's also great for watching movies.

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2. The AAXA Pico 1 Jr. Projector 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 slideshows right off the card. Connect it to your smartphone and fire it up with Netflix to have movie night in the dorm. Sweet! (Additional cables must be purchased separately to connect to some devices.)

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3. If you're looking for a compact desk for times when you want to surf the net, read a book or watch a movie, check out the EZPort Foldable Laptop Desk from dormco.com. It's super portable and 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. Nice gadget!

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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, 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 will draim through a hole in the bottom. Then take it back to your room and you're ready for the next shower.

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5. Dorm rooms are notorious for not having enough storage space, so why not use the space under your bed? These Adjustable Bed Risers can raise your bed to various heights so you can slide some boxes or storage containers underneath and tidy up your room. They come in a set and are available at dormco.com and Walmart.com. Some dorms may not allow their use, so check before you buy.

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6. These solar-powered backpacks from Neon Green are great for keeping all your 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 piggy-back solar panel to attach it.

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7. To keep valuables safe in your dorm room, check out the Go Vault College Dorm Safe from dormco.com. 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 with the bolt cutters the cable could easily be cut, but it certainly will slow down any would-be thief.

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8. You can make some tasty meals with the Nostalgia EQM-200 Electric Quesadilla Maker. Just get some tortillas and add some meat, cheese or vegetables and in a few minutes you'll have a perfect, piping hot quesadilla. Our son received one of these as a gift and he loves it! You can even make peanut butter and jelly quesadillas. It comes with a recipe book to get you started. Some dorms don't allow cooking appliances like this (especially if you don't have a kitchen) so check with your school before buying.

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9. Fire safety in your dorm is really important, especially if you plan to cook. This Dorm Fire Blanket from dormco.com is made of 1000-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. Easy to carry from your dorm room to the kitchen too.

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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 mom's home cooking. The Ultimate Cooking with 4 Ingredients cookbook has dozens of recipes that require four ingredients or less and they taste great. Our son has learned to make some awesome meatloaf and a fabulous walnut pie with this book. Another great cookbook is 101 Things to Do with Mac and Cheese. Does that really need an explantion? What college kid wouldn't love something like that?

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[Last modified: Sunday, July 10, 2011 9:31am]

    

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