A laptop is so often the lifeblood of office workers and students alike, but what about those other gadgets designed to boost productivity?
For those in the midst of work assignments on the lead up to Christmas and lengthy uni essays, we’ve compiled a list of essential gadgets designed to boost the experience — be it a pair of competent (and affordable!) noise-cancelling headphones, or a mobile app that’ll keep your personal finances in check.
We’ve been there before. We’ve pinched pennies and cut corners. We’ve slogged through countless lectures and meetings and lived to tell the tale, so take it from us: these nifty gadgets will serve you in good stead as you enter the home stretch of 2017 - ready for a new year.
Also, for all those parents out there, below you may find one or two — whisper it — stocking fillers here!
Amazon - £44.86
With so many Bluetooth speakers to choose from, it’s often difficult to locate the right one for you.
Are you an audiophile looking for the best sound quality while you work? Or perhaps you’re a casual music lover that simply wants a competent Bluetooth speaker to bring some life to student accommodation?
Either way, the Divoom AuraBox is a quirky and remarkably well-made device with its own LED display. Its neon face doubles as a clock between tracks, while the AuraBox is also capable of relaying social media notifications, messages and incoming calls. It may not be the greatest Bluetooth speaker when it comes to audio quality, but the Divoom AuraBox can really light up a student accommodation — literally and figuratively.
Google - £30.00
For students eight weeks deep, it's likely they are beginning to tire of daytime TV and recycled quiz shows,or maybe just to see work presentations on a big screen,
so what better way to broaden your digital horizons than with a Chromecast.
Google’s pocked-sized media player opens up a whole suite of content, and it’s all funneled through the HDMI port on your TV. Prices start at £30, and the fact that Chromecast is compatible with both iPhone and Android — not to mention a raft of tablets and computers — ensures this nifty gadget is pretty versatile.
Eager to watch Stranger Things on the big screen? Simply open up the Netflix app on your phone, select ‘Cast’ and boom, you’re straight back in Hawkins.
With Chromecast, your device is the remote, and with access to more than 200,000 TV shows, games, and movies, you’ll soon forget about muting episodes of Loose Women when you're working from home, or the halls.
Sennheiser - £169.99
Forget Beats By Dre and other high-end cans, a premium pair of noise-cancelling headphones doesn’t have to break the bank.
Take the Sennheiser HD 4.50 headset as an example. With its robust, wireless design and 19-hour battery life, the HD 4.50 is practically tailor-made for those long library sessions.
Because let’s face it, enclosing yourself in a musical bubble can considerably boost concentration levels by blocking out the noise around the office (it's a great way to show people you are busy too) or, by the same token, help you drift off into a blissful slumber, even as the upstairs flat parties into the early hours of the morning.
Currys - £49.99
It may be the most boring recommendation of the lot, but when deadline day inevitably rolls around, a functioning, well-stocked printer is the student equivalent of gold dust. Because for those in the midst of essay-heavy degrees, queuing up (and paying!) to print your work is one of the great irritants of student life, also if you need something printed in the office and the printer is showing you the dreaded 'LOW ON TONER' message, you can simply print at home.
The Canon MX495 is an all-in-one printer with WiFi support, and if students split the device’s £49.99 price tag between roommates, suddenly it won’t seem like such a pricey investment.
Not only that, but the MX495 supports both Apple AirPrint and Google Cloud Print, meaning you can print documents, emails, photos and PDF attachments from any WiFi enabled device.
Amazon - £29.99
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? That dreaded moment when you pull your phone out only to realise that it’s clinging on to two percent battery. It’s a 21st century nightmare, really, particularly when you’re far from home with no charger in sight. But that’s where the Zendure A2 comes in.
Available for £29.99, this is a compact and critically-acclaimed power bank capable of charging both Android and iOS devices. This is a durable, super-light battery, featuring pass-through charging, which is to say that you’ll be able to charge both the Zendure and your devices simultaneously.
Oh, and did we mention that the Zendure A2 has been crowned PC Advisor’s #1 power bank for three years on the trot?
Heated Travel Mug
Amazon - £14.39
Those 9am lectures or early morning commutes will always strike fear and trepidation into the hearts of students/office workers, but a small dose of caffeine mid-way through a three-hour presentation or journe ycertainly eases the pain. And that’s where the Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug comes in.
Priced at £15, the portable canister keeps your coffee warm for hours thanks to its vacuum-sealed, stainless steel design, and you’ll be pleased to know that this particular Travel Mug comes in a variety of different sizes — just in case you’re partial to an XL coffee in the mornings.
Mint, the Personal Finance App
This one is for the students - University is often championed as a defining transition into adulthood, and it’s small wonder why. However, of all the many life lessons that come hand-in-hand with a uni career, juggling bills and other ‘adult stuff’ is arguably the most daunting of the lot.
But don’t fret; Mint, the personal finance app, allows you to stay on top of your bills without so much as breaking a sweat. With Mint, you’ll be able to budget your student loan accordingly, track and pay bills, and maybe — just maybe — afford that big night out at the end of the month. By consolidating all of your bills in one place, Mint also serves up custom tips for saving money, which really comes in handy for a destitute student.
External Hard Drive
Amazon - £56.74
You can never have enough copies of your work. If there’s one piece of sage wisdom I can give, it’s this one. Backup your backups. Save as you go.
Export to Dropbox whenever you can and SAVE yourself the trouble of falling behind. Few things are as deflating as losing hours and hours of work — be it a work project or the crucial chapter of your dissertation — so owning an external hard drive can really go a long way to safe-guarding your digital files.
Prices range from £50 all the way up to £300 and more, but unless you’re dealing with massive files in excess of two terabytes (TBs), then a Seagate drive ought to do the trick. If it’s portable you’re after (read: no AC adapter), the Ultra Slim model is perhaps the perfect recommendation. It’ll expand your storage by a full terabyte (that’s 1024GB!), and Seagate also offers its own backup tool, not to mention 200GB of free OneDrive storage for two years. So you never have to worry about losing your work again.