When you arrive at University and get that first glimpse at your dorm room, it can be both equal parts exciting as it is very plain. Those undecorated walls, that lack of anything you actually want to use - a blank canvas for you to fill during your time at College. Of course, working out what you want to put in that space is almost as daunting as arriving at Uni in the first place - do you start with lights? A new TV? A new console? As almost unanimously College and University Alumni, we've all had the experience of not knowing what to put in our dorm rooms, and we've compiled a massive list so that you have the perfect place to start. There's everything here from the coolest smart lights to super useful smart revision aids.
If you were one of those unlucky enough not to get a desk in your dorm room, then we have you covered with the best dorm desks, and then the best office chairs on a budget to make sure there's something comfortable to sit on.
RGB for all
You know those cool, triangular light patterns a lot of streamers have on their walls? Those are Nanoleafs. Each light cell is a triangular addressable RGB LED plate that interconnects with other light cells to create lit shapes. They're homekit compatible too, so you can control them with Siri. You can permanently affix them to your wall, but in the case of a dorm room, you can pop them up with non-paint damaging sticky slips.
Sounds all around
The HomePod Mini is Apple's entry into the smart speaker market, and despite its diminutive size, it packs a big sonic wallop. You can get it in a load of colors, like Blue and Red, and you can command it with Siri. great for solo listening sessions as you study long into the night, or used as a party centerpiece when louder music is required.
The dorm-friendliest iPad
The iPad is perhaps one of the most useful things a student can grab - and the iPad mini is perfect for a small dorm room. You can take notes on it, watch movies in bed or out and about on it, and you can control all those fancy HomeKit devices you've got all over the room now with it too. Pick up an Apple Pencil and a nice little Bluetooth keyboard, and you've got the perfect student portable computer.
Loud and in charge
This speaker is BIG. Like, really big. When I got mine I don't think I really understood quite how big it would be. What does this bigness mean? That it's very, very loud. It's not the richest or bass heaviest sounding thing (it sounds very much 'ok'), but it is perfect to get a massive party going in the dorm kitchen. Link two together and you not only get stero sound, but it gets even louder. Nice.
Revision made simple
We love these things. They're essentially mini whiteboards that can be wiped clean after what you've written on them is scanned into the RocketBook app. In the app, your revision cards are stored for later so you can fill the physical cards anew. While there's little need for revision tools in the world of work, we use them for everything from jotting down some quick notes to quiz nights. For Uni use, they're fabulous for revision, homework,
and even the odd drinking game. They come with a pen in the box and a little cleaning cloth to wipe the cards once you're done.
For the video-call generation
Ever since 'you know what', more and more education and other work has moved online. Part of that is taking part in the dreaded video call - and if you're doing it everyday, then one stuck above your laptop screen isn't going to cut it. This Logitech HD webcam has good resolution, a solid mic, and it looks unobtrusive too. your video calls will have never looked, or sounded, better.
Safe and sound
No one likes being walked in on while they're in the middle of something, be they chilling out or 27 hours deep into an energy drink-fuelled paper writing session. A Smart Door lock like this one from August Home will do the trick nicely. It'll fit over most deadbolt door locks, and keep you safe while you're in, and your stuff secure when you're out.
Set the mood
We all need light - it's kinda hard to work without it! Smart lights bring a little something extra to the table, especially when you grab some Philips Hue bulbs. When they're connected to the Hue Hub, you can hook them up to HomeKit and control them with Siri. They're color-changing, and feature fading brightness levels so you can get the mood just right. Even better, they slip into standard light fittings, so you won't have to change any of your lamp stands or even ceiling fittings.
Wake up refreshed
Struggle with waking up for those morning lectures, or feel like your alarm clock is the world's most obnoxious noise in the morning? The Amazon Halo Rise uses light to gently wake you up with a light that echoes the feeling of sunlight, easing you out of slumber and getting you ready for a day of lectures and classes. It will also track your sleep and make sure you've got a healthy rhythm, so you get the most restful nights.
Not enough room for a nice, big TV? No problem, just grab one of these little beauties. It's a 1080p mini projector that's good up to a screen size of 120-inches, which is more than big enough for anyone. It's got native full HD output so it'll look great, and there's an HDMI port on the back so you can hook up any of your compatible devices. One of its coolest party tricks is WiFi compatibility, so you'll be able to send streams from your phone or MacBook. Turn any wall or even your ceiling into a screen with this one - movie nights will never be the same again!
Watch all the things
Of course, if you're looking for something to hook into the back of your mini projector, we'd go with an Apple TV 4K streamer. It's a heavy little box that's packed with some powerful components, so it'll be more than enough to send Netflix to your screen of choice, but it will also be beefy enough to play some of Apple Arcades' best games. Connect up your HomePod Mini for some excellent sound quality, and you'll have one of the best ways to watch the Foundation series in a small space this side of Mars.
Block the noise
Not everyone can afford Apple's AirPods Max - thankfully, the equally as impressive but $150 cheaper Sony WH1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones bring some cool features for less. You'll be able to block out almost all the outside noise in your dorm when you're working with the noise canceling, and the excellent sound quality will make all your music sound amazing. Bluetooth will connect them up to your iPhone, and the Sony app will let you change key features, such as transparency mode and ambient sound control. Taking the bus to college? The noise will never bother you again.
Big screen productivity
You'll be taking your laptop around to all your classes to take notes, but when you're home you'll want some extra screen real estate to write out all those papers and essays. 27-inches is the perfect mix between space-saving and extra screen, and the Dell S-series are some seriously good monitors. This one is 4K, so you'll be able to watch top-quality content, and get more on-screen when you're doing your work.
You won't have room for discs at college, but you should still grab a console. The Xbox Series S is a great low-cost current-gen option, which performs well in lower resolutions. It's also a disc-free console, so you can play games directly off the hard drive. In addition, make sure you get hold of an Xbox Live Game Pass Ultimate subscription - they're about $14.99 a month, and you'll get unfettered access to hundreds of Xbox games, some as they're released.
having a bedside table lamp can be really helpful - you can pop it on in the middle of the night to go find your main light switch, use it as a gentle light to read with in the waning hours of the day, or use it on a timer to help you wake up on a dark winters morning. This smart table lamp from Govee will connect with your iPhone and let you change the color through an app, or use siri to turn it on and off.
Keep that stuff safe
When you're lugging all your gear around, the last thing you need is for someone to get their greasy mitts into your bag and all over your stuff. This backpack has a hidden main compartment, so the only one thats getting in your bag is you. Keep that laptop and school work safe when you're out and about.
Your space may be small, but it will get dirty quick. All kinds of dirt and grime builds up over time, and you need something to make sure it stays cleand and tidy. This little robot vacuum friend scans your room with a Lidar sensor, making a map as it goes so it won't crash into anything. It'll make short work of a mucky dorm room, without you having to do anything. Just stick some goggly eyes onto it. Go on. You know you want to.
Power it up
It may not be the most glamarous product on the list, but it is one of the most useful. pretty much everything on this list requires plugging in, and its unlikely you;ll have that many outlets at your disposal in your dorm room. One of these power strips has all the outlets you could ever need, along with a mighty six USB sockets. You'll never be wanting for an outlet ever again.
If we could only get two…
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Or first pick would have to be the Sony WH-1000XM4. They are a stunning pair of headphones that will block out all the noise around you, and let you get on with your work without being disturbed. They're built like tanks and sound pretty good to boot. Keep that movie night private with these bad boys, or make bus and train journeys just that little bit more relaxing by blocking out the noise around you.
Our second must-have is the iPad Mini. It's perfect for watching TV in bed with its smaller screen and powerful little chip. It's also great for taking notes during lectures, so you'll have something always on you to get a little work done as well.
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As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.