Pimp Your Dorm Room: Everything Else Edition

So far I’ve taken you through the paces for creating a great work area and a kick-ass entertainment center. Today is the final installment of Pimp Your Dorm Room, the one where I cover all the extra devices that don’t necessarily have a specific home in your room but will make your college life that much more enjoyable. This is Pimp Your Dorm Room: Everything Else Edition.

iPhone 4.You probably knew I would start out here, and for good reason. Your phone will likely always be on you, and it needs to keep up with your newly active lifestyle. You’ll have more work than ever, probably more fun than ever, and it’s one of the rare times in your life that you’ll be meeting hundreds and thousands of people your own age. Having a phone that can help manage your hectic lifestyle will save you loads of time and plenty of headaches.

As you also might have expected, I’m going to recommend the iPhone. The new iPhone 4 is simply the best phone on the market for handling college’s educational and social demands. Right out of the box you’ll have an intuitive contact management system, full email functionality, a calendar that can sync up with your Google account, a way to record quick voice memos, and an iPod. You’ll also have access to Google Maps, which will be hugely helpful for learning your new hometown. None of these things are really different from other smartphones, but for undergraduate use, they are some of the easiest to use.

What makes the iPhone a great pick over other phones is the App Store. The iPhone dev community is still the fastest growing in the world, and the App Store is constantly adding new distractions. Whether you need educational tools or Facebook, games for some downtime or access to services like Yelp!, the iPhone has the best selection for applications to choose from.

Did I mention you also get a camera with HD video capability? Remember, the best camera is the one you always have with you. When it’s built into your phone, how could you not? The iPhone 4 takes great pictures with the new autofocus/auto exposure and you can edit and upload video to YouTube on the fly. You’ll truly appreciate capturing video on your phone when you get footage of your friends launching various fruits across the quad from a balloon launcher or filling the campuses main arch to the top with snow. I’m not saying I’ve done these things, just positing that it might be fun.

nullAs much as I stress getting an iPhone, you’ll probably still want a camera for serious picture taking. The iPhone has no flash, and frankly, a lot of you won’t end up with an iPhone. Get yourself something slim and portable, something you won’t forget when you’re road tripping to visit friends or just making trouble on campus.

For average day to day shooting, get yourself a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1. The camera is small and well-built with enough features to take great pictures. It’s a 10-megapixel compact with decent lens capable of taking 640×480 video at 30fps. The ZS1 starts quickly, so you’re taking pictures just 2.5 seconds after firing it up. Average shot-to-shot time is also excellent for the class, meaning you won’t miss the moment you want to capture most. Amazonhas the ZS1 for just under $219.

Deluxe Mini Fridge-Warmer.Ah, the staple of any dorm room. You will want a minifridge. Whether it’s beverages you need to chill or pizza you’ve pilfered from the cafeteria to get you through a late night study session, something has to preserve your perishables, and it won’t be the smell coming from your hamper.

Check out the Deluxe Mini Fridge-Warmer from ThinkGeek. It can both cool and warm, which is adjustable via digital thermostat, from 44 degrees to 140 degrees. Perfect for the pizza/beverage-of-choice crowd, no? The fridge has a see-through door so you know when it’s time to restock and there’s an On/Off switch for easy defrosting during breaks. Best of all, the fridge comes in under $100.

Alarm Clock
Sonic Boom Alarm Clock.Several of the gadgets I’ve listed in our Pimp Your Dorm Room guides could technically double as alarm clocks, but sometimes those devices just can’t get the job done. There are few worse feelings than staying up late to study or finish a paper, only to wake up well after that class is over. Avoid the scrambling, the sprinting across campus, the nauseating amount of ass-kissing to make up for your blunder, and get yourself a decent alarm clock.

I recommend the Sonic Boom Alarm Clock with Bed Shaker, again, from ThinkGeek. This puppy cranks out 113-decibel alarms, which even the dead can’t sleep through. If for some reason you don’t waken with bleeding ears, the accompanying bed shaker is bound to rouse you. Slip the little piece under your mattress and just when your alarm shocks you out of that restful slumber, your bed will nearly dump you as well. You can pretty much forget about hitting the snooze button. Why would you want to do that to yourself twice in one morning? The Sonic Boom will run you a pair of Jacksons.

That does it for our this edition of Pimp Your Dorm Room and the Pimp Your Dorm Room guide series. Be sure to check out how to Pimp Your Desk and Pimp Your Entertainment if you missed those. To all of you budding college freshmen, I wish you good luck. The next four years (five or more for some of you) will be some of the best of your life. Enjoy them, and if you’ve taken anything from these guides, enjoy them in style.


Pimp Your Dorm Room: Desk Edition

As a budding college student, you’re going to spend massive amounts of time at your desk. I know, I know, we’re not supposed to talk about that. I’m supposed to tell you about all the parties, the booze, the great friends you’ll make, the beautiful women you’ll meet. Between all that, though, is the very real fact that either you or your parents are paying big sums of money for you to get an education. So why not get one in style?

This edition of Pimp Your Dorm Room focuses on that haven of study (and perhaps the occasional video game), to help you create a space where you can get in, get your work done, and get on to the other parts of college there are to enjoy.

Apple's new Macbook ProThis one word is probably the single most important word for your studies over the next four years. You need a laptop. Forget the desktop gaming days, or maybe you can have both, but at the very least you should invest in a good laptop. I would highly recommend the new Macbook Pro.

Since lowering prices, Apple has made the Macbook Pro an affordable, entry-level machine that has enough power to last you a few years. The 13-inch model starts at $1199, but you can knock that down $100 with an education discount and even nab yourself a free iPod Touch. The operating system is robust, and OS X viruses are still few enough that you shouldn’t see too many problems in the near future. If this is your first Mac, you can even take a free course at a nearby Apple store to help you get acclimated. Simple features like the backlit keyboard and automatic screen dimming will come in particularly handy when your roommate wants to sleep and you need to get some things done.

Option: Microsoft Office – Office is still the standard on most campuses, and the software with which most people are familiar for word processing, spreadsheet work, and creating presentations. Wait until you’re on campus, though, before buying. MS runs some pretty nice deals on certain campuses that could save you hundreds.

able planet's NC1000CH noise-canceling headphones.Here’s an item I would again recommend for those times your roommate might be sleeping or someone’s hosting a loud party (one you’ll hopefully be a part of when you finish your work) and you need to finish a paper. Noise-canceling headphones are a godsend, allowing you to focus on your work without interruption and without annoying anyone else.

We just ran a review on the able planet Clear Harmony NC1000CH headphones, which sport some of the best noise reduction (18dB!) in the industry. Granted, they aren’t as high profile as something like a Bose Quiet Comfort, but they’re easily as good, better if you run out of batteries. Tiger Direct has them for $249.99. Trust me, they’re worth every penny. The NC1000CH comes with a case so you can store your phones safely while you’re away. Read the rest of this entry »