One of the challenges every student faces as he or she heads back to school is drawing the line between what they want and what they need when it comes the latest technology. That's particularly important for students heading off to college. Outfitting your dorm room so that it's an effective space for work can help you zero in on your studies. Throwing in a few goodies to help you unwind when the need arises -- and the time allows -- can help you keep your sanity intact. And, of course, having the most tricked-out dorm room on your floor never hurts.
Doing double duty
Since space is at a premium in most dorm rooms, finding gear that can pull double duty can be a cause for celebration. One example is the Vizio VM230XVT Razor, a 1080p 23-inch HDTV. The high resolution for this screen-size class makes the VM230XVT a standout among LCD TVs that can do double duty as a large computer monitor. Its excellent image quality -- enhanced by an LED backlight -- surpasses most computer monitors when it comes to watching movies and videos. Finally, the "razor" thin profile (less than an inch thick sans stand) is sure to draw some jealous glances. You can read more about the Vizio VM230XVT in our report on LCD TVs.
Making a sound decision
While not as critical as, say, a desk, few dorm rooms are really complete without some way to rock the house with some tunes. Sure, laptops and TVs have their own built-in speakers, but those rarely cut it if you actually care about what things sound like.
Our report on computer speakers covers the gamut when it comes to ways to make digital music sound its very best. Though they aren't cheap, the Bowers & Wilkins MM-1 speakers are unsurpassed in their ability to make beautiful music -- just be aware that you'll also quickly find out just how bad substandard audio files can sound as well. If you want raw power for games and videos, the THX-certified Logitech Z-5500 belongs on your short list. And the Harman Kardon SoundSticks II are moderately priced, sound great and look cool too.
Of course, blasting out tunes or video sound tracks might not always sit so well with your roommate a few feet away -- or dorm mate down the hall. For quiet listening, you'll want to gear up with some good quality headphones or earphones. Reviews point to the Grado SR60i as a terrific value in high-quality headphones. If cost is a concern, you'll be hard pressed to find a better sub-$20 set of headphones than the Koss KSC75. If you prefer eaphones or earbuds, the Etymotic ER-6i sound great without breaking the bank.
It does compute
The biggest decision most students face is finding the right computer. Laptops vs. netbooks; cheap laptops vs. high-powered laptops for number crunching or top-gun gaming; Apple vs. PC; and more are just some of what needs to be considered. Finally, where does a tablet computer like the Apple iPad fit into the picture -- or does it at all? Keep your eyes peeled as we'll be delving deeper into those questions in the not-too-distant future.