As a college student, you’ve got limited space, money, and time. You want great sound out of your $250 laptop and hate using your trackpad. We have put together a guide to finding the perfect computer accessories for your needs.
We’re talking about computer mice (mouses?) that you use to wield your cursor as you venture the deepest places of YouTube. If you have a laptop and are not a fan of trackpads, the best solution is a mouse. There are three types on the market right now, which are mice with a cable connected to them that you plug into a USB port, wireless mice that use a USB dongle to connect to the computer, and wireless Bluetooth mice that use the Bluetooth capability of your computer to connect. In our experience, Bluetooth mice can be a bit unreliable, however, if USB ports are like gold to you, then saving one by using a Bluetooth mouse might be a good idea. A wired mouse is really only a good idea if you need precise, unmatched precision. If you are a graphic design student or prefer top-notch precision for gaming, this might be a good idea. The USB dongle wireless mouse pulls together the best parts of the other two for a pretty great compromise. The reliability is there, along with the portability.
You might say, “Why do I need a keyboard? My laptop has one built in!” To that we say, your laptop has a mouse built in too, but that doesn’t mean ether product is as effective as it could be. Therefore, an external keyboard may be a great idea to pick up. You may need an external keyboard if you tend to do a lot of presentations. If your computer sits by the projector and you like to stand at the podium, a keyboard to control your computer from across the common area would definitely be beneficial. Maybe you’re notorious for cooking and Netflix binge-watching and you just started getting into The Office. You can set the $15 wireless keyboard on the counter and keep your laptop out of harms way, potentially avoiding spilling a half a cup of vegetable oil on your brand new college computer. How about the added benefit of more keys, like if your laptop doesn’t have a 10-key and you punch a lot of numbers? What about programmable macros? If you are one of those people above, it may be worth the few extra bucks.
Just because you drop $200+ on a better webcam doesn’t necessarily mean that your folks will see you any better on Skype. Internet speed plays into that, as well as some other factors like lighting. You can probably get away with a 720p webcam and shouldn’t spend over $40 total. Buy from a brand name you know and make sure that you install the right drivers for it. Most of the time, you can get those from the manufactures website, just make sure that the website you are on is legitimate. If you have a Mac, chances are that you have a built-in webcam already that will suffice.
These can be a great addition to a computer if you have a roommate that you’d rather not annoy. Headphones come in two different flavors: over ear headphones and earbuds. Typically, over ear headphones with better sound quality can be found at a lower price point than earbuds with the same quality. When you pay for earbuds, you’re also paying for the convenience of not having giant circles wrapping around your ears. Most people spend less than $20 on headphones, but trust us, if you try some good headphones, you’ll never go back. We suggest a budget of $80 for headphones. With $80, you should be able to get a good pair of over ears for listening to music in your room, a solid pair of earbuds, and a pair of running/fitness earbuds for the gym.
You might need a microphone if the one on your webcam is really bad or if you are into gaming. Other reasons might include that you want better recording quality, or that you need a standalone microphone for a project. Out the many different options, it can be hard to find the best microphone for your situation. Your starting price point should be $35 for a decent standalone microphone.
If you are really into playing games, a headset might work out better for you than a microphone and a set of earbuds. Headsets can be really awesome or a big let down if you don’t know what to look for. The thing that sets them apart form headphones (where the main focus is sound) is how comfortable they should be. You should be able to wear a headset for long hours and not have “pinched head syndrome.” The prices for headsets are all over the place. I suggest reading reviews above anything else. Sometimes you will find a small company that makes a great product but doesn’t have a lot of exposure yet. Be cautious, but don’t be afraid to venture outside of name brands here.
If you have a laptop, you should consider an extra power cord. You can use one to stay plugged in on your desk, and keep another in your computer bag. Sometimes a cable can fail at the worst time, having a backup never hurts. Same thing with device cables. Keep extras on hand, because there’s nothing like wanting to make a call and having a dead battery. Do some research to find the most reliable brands for the best price.
Make sure you browse Amazon and even eBay for the products you want to buy. 9 time out of 10, you will find they are cheaper online than you what you get from the manufacturer or local vendor.
Brought to you by Softech:
Providing computers and technical services to the Prescott area since 1996. We are your one-stop for technology help. We help you setup a new computer, repair a broken phone, or help you learn how to use your tablet!