Almost every student that attends school these days has a computer system and it is generally a laptop thanks to their portability and capabilities. To get the most out of your computer and education, there are a number of accessories that are extremely useful. Today I’m going to cover some of the accessories that I think every student should consider getting. Of course it is possible to get through school without many of these products but they all add to the security, functionality or ease of use…
Let’s face it, students today are required to carry a huge amount of books, binders, papers, pens and their laptop at the same time. A backpack is the most practical and ergonomic way to carry all of these items around. The is a very affordable but well made backpack that can fit up to a 16-inch laptop in its padded compartment along with all the rest of one’s school supplies. The padding also applies to the back of the bag and the straps to make it very comfortable even if you might have an uneven load or an awkwardly shaped load. Some additional features to the many compartments is a pass through cable for headphones and a dedicated tablet slot for those that might have a tablet in addition to their laptop.
Laptop Messenger Bag
For those that don’t necessarily like the traditional backpack and prefer a messenger style bag, there are plenty of options out there that include padded laptop compartments. I really like the because it is available in a number of sizes depending upon the laptop you have and also a variety of colors. It features a briefcase style handle in addition to the strap which can make it useful to carry in a variety of situations. If you happen to travel frequently, it is also TSA-Frendly. There is also an iPad (or tablet) compatible compartment for those students that also carry one in addition to their laptop. It is constructed of durable nylon with wide straps that should survive years of use.
For those that don’t have a laptop specific bag but still need to carry around a laptop, a laptop sleeve is a very smart accessory. Most of the sleeves are designed to fit a specific laptop model and can come in a variety of materials and colors. Personally, I recommend a neoprene constructed sleeve. This materials is water resistant and very well padded which makes it great for any system that is going to be tossed into a bag with books, pens and other school supplies that can scratch or dent a laptop. Price can vary widely from as little as $10 up to $50.
Frankly, I find trackpads a pain to use, especially if you have to use the laptop for an extended period of time. A traditional mouse can be extremely useful as it can relieve wrist pain but also be more accurate than a trackpads. The is a very useful for anyone wanting an external pointing device. The mouse is a nice size and features a laser that works on just about any type of surface with extreme accuracy. The wireless dongle is very small such that it can be put into a USB port and essentially forgotten but there is a storage space within the mouse if you don’t want to leave the dongle in your laptop.
External Hard Drive
Laptops can end up having a limited amount of storage space which can make an external hard drive useful for storing large amounts of data. Of course the primary use that I advocate an external hard drive with for is for data backups. Data loss can be a huge blow to a student who then has to redo papers and research. Pretty much any USB 3.0 based hard drive can be used but it should be able to function fully through a single USB port from the laptop. I personally have used the with laptops for backups for years. They are available in a wide range of storage capacities but I like to have the most possible with 2TB which should provide more than enough. It also comes in a variety of colors if you want to match it to the color of your laptop.
With their very compact size, many laptops have speakers that are less than ideal when you want to take a break and really listen to some music or watch a movie. They often sound tinny thanks to the lack of bass and can often have limited volume. A set of powered external speakers can be extremely useful but I also like ones that can be used when you are away from a power outlet. The are very compact speakers that provide a very good amount of volume and sound for their size. They are amplified and use internal rechargeable batteries that are charged through any standard USB port. The only downside is that the cable that comes with them can be quite small but they can be used with any audio output that uses a standard 3.5mm audio jack.
There are times when you may want to listen to some music, watch a video or even chat with friends and family from your laptop computer but don’t necessarily want to disturb others around you. For these tasks, a computer headset with some nice closed ear speakers can be extremely useful. I personally like the . Sennheiser makes some great quality audio products and the long cord means you don’t have to be tied too close to your laptop. The inline volume and mic mute are also useful for quickly adjusting your headset without fiddling with the software controls on your computer. This set uses traditional 3.5mm audio in and microphone inputs so it might be necessary to get an adapter to convert it to a single 3.5mm audio jack for some laptops with a combined mini-jack port.
While a laptop is a complete system in itself and doesn’t need an external monitor, an external display can be helpful thanks to its larger screen that is easier to read and its typically higher resolution that gives it additional workspace. The best part is that many monitors feature HDMI cables so that they can be used with other video sources including TV tuners, cable boxes, digital streaming devices and video game consoles. The is a nice balance between size, cost and features making it an excellent choice. The 27-inch screen offers a 1920×1080 resolution with a colorful and bright IPS panel. It features HDMI as well as DisplayPort which makes it useful for those with Apple computing products. There are built-in speakers which can also be useful for those wanting to have it double as an entertainment center although they are not very powerful.
For other options in external monitors, check out my and LCD monitor lists in my Tech For Anyone store.
A laptop is a very expensive investment for any student and your won’t necessarily be carrying it around with you all the time. This is where a security cable can be extremely useful for locking up your laptop so it doesn’t walk away with another person. Pretty much every laptop on the market features a Kensington security slot on them. This allows for a cable lock to be attached to the laptop to secure it to a table, desktop, utility pipe or anything else heavy or immovable. The is a nice compact security cable and lock that uses a disk-syle lock to be more tamper proof and is extremely easy to use.