If there’s one thing students will agree on universally, it’s how cash strapped they all are. Students are perennially looking for the cheapest alternative to get the job done. Sure, quality matters, but sometimes price matters even more, and for those times there’s nothing quite like finding the perfect jugaad. In this article we’ll give you our list of 10 must have budget gadgets every student must have.
Laptop lock cable
You got yourself a shiny new laptop and you couldn’t be happier. You are by yourself in the library busily hammering away that submission which is due the next day. Suddenly nature calls, as it always does, when you least expect it. You say to yourself you won’t be long and pop out to do your business. When you return *gasp* your laptop’s gone! Now you could’ve asked someone to keep an eye on it while you are away and while it might’ve worked when you are in the library, but certainly not in your canteen or common room. For these very situations it’s best to get one of these Kensington lock cables. The one we have suggested here is slightly longer than most of the listings out there. While the specs list it at 1 meter some of the user reviews say it’s longer – because, you know, length matters!
Buy it here (Rs. 340)
Cheap HDMI streamer
Access to screens isn’t very difficult these days. In fact, many hostel roommates might even chip in for a 32-inch TV. Though you could always connect your laptop directly to the TV, but it tends to get cumbersome in the long run. A simpler solution is to get one of these Smart TV dongles or HDMI streamers. The one featured here – EZCast 2 – can even access folder structures on an HDD that’s connected to your network and play files off it! You can use your laptop to trigger any file you can access. You can even stream YouTube videos from your phone. Quite a nifty thing to have around for those short (or long) study breaks. Plus, it’s certainly cheaper than a Chromecast!
Buy it from here (Rs. 1,626)
Dedicated voice recorder
You can’t always rely on the benevolence of the resident first bench note-taker. Bribing him or her can be pretty expensive. Besides, some lectures are really so good, or so confusing, that you need to listen to them again. Why not use a phone? You certainly wouldn’t want to leave your phone in the front row, unattended, while you sit somewhere else. Plus, there’s no way your phone can give you 15 hrs of recording time. This voice recorder can, and it’s even camouflaged to look like an ordinary pen drive. You can just place it somewhere close to your professor and then snooze away... err... we mean listen intently without worrying about taking notes... This M Supervision VM-22 4 GB Voice Recorder is small and light, and you just plug it into your computer, and then copy the audio files off it, like you would from a pen drive.
Buy it from here (rs. 750)
Laptop Bag / case
With Laptop bags either you can invest in something like a Samsonite or American Tourister and have it last really long, or you can go in for cheaper alternatives that you can keep changing about once a year. The advantage of the latter approach is that you seem to have a new bag every now and then, plus it doesn’t hurt your pocket to shell our big bucks in one shot and then have to live off scraps from others. ThisHP Laptop bag should be large enough to fit a 15-inch laptop (Rs. 480)
If you already have a shoulder bag and are just looking for a sleeve you should consider the AmazonBasics 13.3-Inch Laptop Sleeve
Buy it here (Rs. 799)
Whether you want some background music for your study time or you want to listen to that audio book you just downloaded on your phone; a Bluetooth speaker is an invaluable enhancement to the tiny speakers on your phone. The Logitech X100 is a value for money purchase and will give far better quality and durability than other no-name brands. With 5 hours battery life, it’s more than enough. Besides, the aux-in can let you enhance your laptop output as well if your laptop speakers aren’t loud enough. (Rs.2,995)
All in one cables
With USB Type-C and Lightning ports becoming increasingly ubiquitous, these all-in-one cables might start to seem like remnants of a bygone era. Though we shouldn’t be ringing their death-knell just yet. With so many of our legacy gadgets like Handicams still running on mini USB (not even micro) such cables are quite useful to have around. (Rs. 159)
If you think having the Nokia and Sony proprietary pins is a bit much, consider this other Envy 2 in 1 USB/Data Cable. It has a Micro / Lightning adapter for iOS and Android phones. Buy it here for Rs.299.
USB hub / charger
If you are living in a dorm or shared hostel room chances are there will likely be a daily fight over who gets to charge their phone (and other gadgets) from the one lone charging point. Leave all those squabbles behind and go for this 6 port hub from Portronics. It distributes 8 Amps among 6 ports, which isn’t all that great for quick-charge but it’s good enough. (Rs. 719)
If you can convince your buddies to chip in, then go for the superior Aukey Quick Charge 2.0 5 Port charger for Rs. 1,877. It features a Qualcomm certified Quick Charge port and 4 Ai Power Smart Charging USB Ports which deliver up to 2.4A even when all ports are used simultaneously.
There can never be too many pendrives. Especially if you have quite a few friends who keep borrowing them for ‘movies’. So the next time you need another one and don’t find any lying around, don’t go for an impulse buy. Get one pendrive that you will never share with anyone and guard it with your life. And from our experience we haven’t ever had a SanDisk Cruzer Blade fail on us ever. It’s pretty reliable and for Rs. 265 for 16GB it’s a pretty value for money purchase.
Even if you don’t travel around much this travel adapter is a handy device to have around. If you decide to have someone get you a gadget from abroad, dealing with those godforsaken flat pins is a pain. If you are starting a school year abroad this is something you definitely need, at least initially. Buy: (Rs. 165).
Though remember this is a clunky product. You’ll probably have to prop it up with supports because the pins won’t have enough of contact / friction to keep the adapter in place when you put in some heavy plugs. If you have a bit of money to spare go for the more expensive Targus APK01AP-52 World Power Travel Adapter which is available for Rs. 990.
Violating your hostel warden’s lights out orders? Want to be prepared for power cuts? Having an outdoor camping trip? Just want to light up your keyboard for a little incognito surfing? Did your hostel electricity give up on you right when you had to work on that project that is due tomorrow? No point in waiting for the light to shine upon you. We recommend going for this USB powered lights that are both easy to maintain and power. With the abundance of USB ports and growing use of powerbanks, these USB lights won’t ever have a dearth of power sources. And they fit into your pocket!
Read more: Geek's gadget wishlist on a budget
This article was first published in July 2016 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit's articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit's previous issues here.