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Heading off to school on a budget and want to know how to make a smart dorm for under $100 $50 $25? Alright, you frugal college-bound genius, we are here to give you not 10, not 20, but 35 cool college tech products for 2019.
Safeguard That Mac ‘n CheeseBack in the day, roughly a quarter-century ago (yikes), I spent my college freshman year at a little school called Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, NH (now Franklin Pierce University). I spent a year living on campus there before transferring over to Northeastern U in Boston.
There was no such thing as a smart plug or smart light, and Alexa wasn’t even a twinkle in Jeff Bezos’ eye.
Man, if only I had an Alexa as a study buddy and to help keep me organized in school. And a security camera to catch my roomies in the act of raiding my mac ‘n cheese supply!
Crazy thing is, this year BOTH of my sons will be attending college (at Bunker Hill and Umass Lowell respectively). So I thought who better than Christopher and Casey to help me come up with some great budget ideas for college dorms and apartments.
In this post, we’ll give you a big chart of 35 great smart home products for your college dorm or apartment for under $100 / $50 / $25 – AND we’ll give you our recommendations for the 15 best tech products overall for college dorms and apartments.
Smart Dorm Under $100 $50 $25: 35 Top Tech Picks
Here are the 35 best smart college dorm tech products for under $100 $50 and $25 that we could find.
This table is updated nightly with the latest pricing from Amazon. Click the SEE IT button to get the up-to-the-minute price on Amazon.
What Is a Smart Dorm Anyways?
Smart homes use the latest home automation technology and Wi-Fi-enabled devices to simplify everyday tasks or improve security. A smart dorm or apartment is essentially the same as a smart home, but with devices geared toward the lifestyle of a typical college student.
Students do not need Wi-Fi-controlled heating or automated yard watering systems. With the smaller scale and temporary status, a smart dorm should include devices that make it easier to deal with a hectic college schedule.
In a survey published by McGraw Hill last year, over 60% of students felt that digital learning technology has improved their grades, with a fifth saying it “significantly” improved their grades.
And in a 2017 survey, the research found that 98% of students said that digital learning technology helps them learn new concepts. Here is the Slideshare from that study.
With the latest smart home tech for dorms, students can simplify their routines. You can use voice commands to control appliances or other devices, take notes or read class material on a tablet, or keep an eye on the dorm during class.
Since budget is a paramount concern for many students, most of our picks work without a hub, which is essentially a router for connecting all of your smart electronics. You simply need a way to interact with the devices, such as a smartphone, tablet, or Alexa-enabled voice assistant.
We’ll include our picks for each of these below.
Our Top 15 Picks Overall
And now, here are our top 15 picks ranked in reverse order with our absolute favorite at the end.
No. 15 – Echo Dot Smart Speaker
Thanks to its low entry point, the Echo Dot should fit any student’s budget. It acts as a hub for controlling the various interconnected smart devices using voice commands. Using Alexa, you can also set reminders and alarms, ask questions, or just listen to music.
👓Related: Check out our review of the Echo Dot 3rd Gen here: Amazon Echo Dot 3rd Generation vs 2nd Gen
No. 14 – Logitech Harmony Remote
When you cannot use voice commands, the Logitech Harmony Remote becomes handy. It is a universal remote for controlling smart devices and currently works with over 270,000 devices. After setting it up, you can use the smartphone app to swipe or tap control all the devices in the dorm using Alexa or Google Assistant.
No 13 – Amazon Fire TV Tablet
The latest Fire tablet features Alexa hands-free voice commands, front and rear cameras, and up to 10 hours of battery life. Download your course materials to the tablet to avoid lugging around heavy books or install apps to increase productivity. You can even use the tablet to take notes or stream your favorite TV shows in your downtime.
Erin Lawrence from TechGadgetsCanada.com gives a nice overview of the benefits of the Fire HD 8 tablet below.
No. 12 – Amazon Smart Plug
Smart plugs allow you to remotely turn electronics and appliances on or off. With the Amazon Smart Plug, you get to issue Alexa voice commands to control any outlet. You can even set up routines and schedules to automate lights, fans, and other devices.
No. 11 – Smart Wi-Fi Surge Protector
With all the electronics that you add to your dorm room, you may need more than just one smart outlet. The Smart WIFI Sugar Protector includes three power plugs, a power button, and two USB ports. It also includes wireless voice control via Alexa, without the need for a smart hub.
No. 10 – LUMIMAN Smart WIFI Light Bulb
While you cannot hard-wire smart light fixtures into the dorm’s AC electrical lines, you can add smart light bulbs to the fixtures. The Smart WIFI Light Bulb features RGB color-changing LED lights. Control the lights from any Echo device using Alexa voice commands or via a free app on your smartphone or tablet.
No. 9 – Wyze Cam 1080p HD Smart Home Camera
With the Wyze Cam 1080p HD Smart Home Camera, you can keep an eye on the dorm room from any location, including the classroom. Thanks to the built-in motion detector, you get instant notifications when the camera detects a person in the room. As with many of these devices, it works with Alexa voice commands.
Thanks to Smart Home Solver for this helpful video review.
Now you will have video proof when your roomies steal your mac ‘n cheese!
👓Related: Check out our review of more budget cameras here: Wyze vs Blink, Ring, Netvue vs Ezviz: 11 Best Budget Wifi Cams!
No. 8 – HP DeskJet 2655 All-in-One Compact Printer
Students still need to print papers occasionally. The HP DeskJet printer includes wireless connectivity and remote features. Print from your smartphone or tablet, even when you are not in the dorm room. It also works with Amazon Dash to make it easier to order replacement ink cartridges.
No. 7 – 1MII B06 Plus Bluetooth Receiver
The B06 Plus Bluetooth Receiver connects to any speaker system with audio inputs, allowing you to play music using your phone, tablet, or computer. After connecting your device to the Bluetooth receiver, you can also control it via Alexa commands. When plugged into an outlet, it also wakes on command and reconnects with the previously paired device.
No. 6 – TP-Link AC1750 Smart WIFI Router
Using the free Wi-Fi in the dorm may allow others to access your devices. The TP-Link Smart WIFI Router allows you to set up your own WIFI network for connecting the smart appliances. It also works with Alexa and supports VPN servers, providing more options for controlling smart gadgets.
No. 5 – iLONDA L88 WIFI Automatic Aquarium Fish Tank Feeder
Got fish? In most dorms, fish are the only pets you can keep. The iLONDA L88 WIFI Fish Tank Feeder automatically feeds your fish. Adjust the amount of food and set timers from your smartphone or tablet. It also supports Alexa skills to allow voice commands. To install the feeder, you simply clip it to the side of the tank.
No. 4 – Ekrist Portable Charger
To keep your tablet charged without rushing back to the dorm, use the Ekrist Portable Charger. It provides the capacity needed to charge tablets at least twice or phones at least six times before needing to recharge the power bank. It also includes two USB ports for charging two devices at the same time.
No. 3 – Rocketbook Everlast Reusable Smart Notebook
The Rocketbook Everlast Reusable Smart Notebook includes 36 pages that you never need to replace. After the ink dries, you take a photo with a smartphone and upload it to any cloud storage solution. You then wipe the pages clean with a damp cloth. Take notes during class without wasting paper or relying on a tablet.
Reed from Smart Home Solver Provides a nice review of the Rocketbook Everlast here
No. 2 – AmazonBasics Microwave
Dorms rarely have kitchens or even a sink, making a microwave an essential item. As it works with Alexa, you can control it remotely with voice commands. Start, stop, or set control appliance while studying without getting up from the desk.
Digital Trends gives the AmazonBasics microwave high marks in their video review.
No. 1 – Amazon Echo Show 5
The Echo Show includes all of the Alexa features of the Echo Dot, but adds a 5.5-inch HD display. Listen to music, watch TV, view your notes, check your schedule, or control your smart devices. You can also use the device to check the weather and traffic before walking or biking to class. Oh, and it makes for one super cool alarm clock so you won’t be late for class.
PCMag recently gave the Echo Show 5 its ‘Excellent’ rating. You can see their review of the Echo Show 5 here.
👓Related: Check out our full review of the Echo Show here: Amazon Echo Show 5 vs Echo Show 2nd Gen
If you enjoyed this post, you might also like some of our other posts about Amazon Echo devices and Alexa. Here are a few of the most recent.
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About the Author
Tim Brennan, Technical Writer & Blogger
Tim Brennan [a.k.a. "Tec Timmy"] is a senior technical writer with over 20 years of experience writing for companies and organizations in and around Greater Boston, including GE and MIT. In addition to actively writing for this smart home blog, Tim is also a regular contributor over at UniversalRemoteReviews.com. Tim holds a BA in Journalism from Northeastern University. Brennan is a father to two sons, an active blogger, a Star Wars nut, and loves a good taco🌮. There is a strong chance he is developing a crush on Amazon Alexa. You can learn more about Tim here.