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Tech Checklist for College

A computer store manager at New York University provides five key tips for students.

by Dana Wollman on June 27, 2008

/uploadedImages/Multimedia_Assets/Images/2008/Mobile_Life/Back-To-School-Checklist_sh.jpg1. Check Your Wireless Carrier’s Coverage Map

Before you sign up for your school’s landline service, see if you can use your mobile as your primary phone. Rinaldo Mathews, assistant manager at NYU’s Computer Store, says a landline is rarely necessary. Then again, if your school is in a rural area, your coverage might be unacceptably spotty—or nonexistent.

2. Upgrade Your Warranty

Spring for at least three years’ protection so that your notebook will last through college. If you expect to dart around campus with your laptop in tow, also invest in accidental damage protection. For example, Dell and HP charge $379 to $398 and $369 to $459, respectively, for three years of this service.

3. Flash Drives / Portable Hard Drives

If all you need to take with you are Word documents and a limited number of photos and videos, save yourself some cash—and space in your bag—by opting for a USB flash drive. You can pick up an /uploadedImages/Multimedia_Assets/Images/2008/Mobile_Life/Back-To-School-Checklist_sh.jpg8GB flash drive for less than $70. If you’re a film or photography student, or if you just like to carry lots of video, pictures, and music, opt for a portable hard drive to store your large files. A 250GB drive costs about $180.

4. Lock it Down

Make sure your notebook doesn’t walk away in the middle of your next dorm room party. Mathews suggests picking up a security lock because students often forget to lock their doors, giving thieves free reign of your stuff. We recommend the Kensington MicroSaver Notebook Lock, which costs $45.

5. Keep a Printer Handy

You’ll need a printer in your room to avoid long lines at the computer lab (because everyone in your class has to print the same term paper). Look for a compact all-in-/uploadedImages/Multimedia_Assets/Images/2008/Mobile_Life/Back-To-School-Checklist_sh.jpgone that prints, copies, and scans. Since most cost less than $100, there’s little reason to opt for a single-function model. We love the HP Photosmart C4480 ($99.99) because it’s sleek, lightweight, and delivers excellent print quality.

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