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Essential tech for university… and what you can probably live without

What gadgets do you really need at university?

When you’re packing for university, it may be tempting to pack all your gadgets to use whilst you’re away. But after a few weeks you may find many of them are just laying around, unused and cluttering up your flat. So we’ve made a list of what we think you need, what can be helpful, and what you can live without.


A smartphone: be it checking your emails, chatting with your friends or procrastinating in lectures, your smartphone is the most useful (and most distracting) device you could bring to university. There are so many uses for one that this entire article could be dedicated to them; but beware its ability to distract you. A decent pair of headphones is also recommended, especially if you’ll be travelling on the tube a lot, and make sure you download the QMUL app for your timetable, library reminders and more.

A laptop: with so many module resources being available on QMplus, a laptop is a must for your assignments and research. Something small and light is recommended especially if you plan to bring it to lectures with you, however make sure you also use a cloud storage service or an external hard drive to back up your work, just in case something goes wrong.

Nice to have

A TV or a monitor: being able to hook up your laptop to a TV or a monitor can be nice, provided you’re willing to sacrifice the desk space for it. You’ll also need a TV license if you bring along a TV, even if you don’t use it, so don’t let that charge catch you off-guard.

A tablet: with the ease of access to digital reading material, be it lecture notes or e-textbooks, a tablet can be a great gadget to have. Their bigger screen makes them far better for reading than your phone, but they’re also smaller and more portable than a standard laptop. And as a bonus, they’re great for watching movies in bed.

A Bluetooth speaker: instead of bringing along a dedicated stereo, a Bluetooth speaker is perfect if you want something slightly louder than your laptop. They’re also just handy to take along on a picnic or a journey; but be careful not to turn it up too loud and annoy your flatmates.

Maybe you can live without…

A gaming PC or console: you might think it’s a great idea to bring along your new games console to make friends with your flatmates as you’re settling in, but you might also want to consider the effect it may have on your studies. Whilst gaming until 4AM is great fun, is missing that 10AM lecture for the 5th week in a row really worth it? If you’re worried that you’ll never go to lectures if you bring it along, it may be best to leave it at home until the holidays.

A printer or scanner: QMUL has dozens of printers available on all campuses, offering high quality, full colour printing at competitive prices, many of which work as a scanner as well. This means you don’t have to worry about running out of ink for that last-minute assignment, or spending hours troubleshooting why your printer inevitably isn’t working in the first place. Unless you’re desperate for one, it can be much easier to simply use those provided.

Smart devices: be it a voice assistant or a Wi-Fi connected kettle, smart devices can cause many problems when on campus. Some of them will not connect properly to the university network, whereas others will try to pair up with the one two floors below you. Add in the opportunity for your flatmates to set alarms for you whenever they’re in earshot, and your smart device might just seem like anything but.

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