Best gadgets for students 2020
From key finders to smart notepads, gadgets can be a real lifesaver for students at university. Read on to discover our top gadgets for students!
Here at Save the Student, we're all about making life easier for students. But our excellent advice (if we do say so ourselves) can only take you so far – sometimes you need to bite the bullet and have a gadget help you out.
Of course, most student budgets won't stretch to buying every gadget we've featured below, and some are by no means a necessary purchase. But if you've managed to save up a bit of cash, grabbing some of these bits of kit would represent a sound investment.
And to make sure we included the best of the best in this list, we even asked the members of our Facebook deals group what they consider to be the best gadgets for students, too. Join the group for more top tips and to get the hottest deals before anyone else!
12 best gadgets for university students
These are the very best gadgets for students:
Rocketbook Everlast smart reusable notebook
Price: about £30
Most students fall into one of two camps when it comes to taking notes at university – those who prefer to write them by hand and those who'd rather type them up.
Well, thanks to the Rocketbook, you can now do both simultaneously. All you need to do is write in the Rocketbook using the special pen provided and then scan it all using the Rocketbook app.
Your pages are then optimised and digitised, meaning you can search for specific words just like you would with typed text (assuming your handwriting isn't absolutely appalling, of course).
You can then send your notes to any and all of the most popular platforms, including Google Drive, Evernote and Dropbox.
Anti-theft laptop bag with USB port
Price: about £20
We know it's probably easier to just take your laptop to uni in a tote bag, but we'd say it's time to upgrade before your laptop suffers a career-ending injury.
This highly-rated laptop bag comes equipped with a USB charging port to keep your phone powered up on the go, as well as the option to lock the main compartment with a passcode for added security.
Throw in the fact that it's water-resistant, has anti-theft features and that it even comes with a free USB cable, all for £20, and it's a bit of a no-brainer!
Price: £69.99 – £79.99
Even if you're a die-hard fan of physical books, the pain of lugging university textbooks around every day might convert you.
Before you invest in a Kindle, make sure you're actually able to get the crucial books you need for your course in eBook format – most of the 'big name' textbooks will definitely be on there, but some obscure ones might not be (and remember that while you can sell old textbooks, you can't do the same with eBooks).
There are three models of Kindle, but having tested the most basic offering, we can say with some confidence that you won't need to splash out on the Paperwhite or Oasis to get everything you need.
The latest model of the basic Kindle now comes with Bluetooth and a front-lit screen and, as is the case with most e-readers, the battery can last for weeks on a single charge.
It's worth noting that, unlike most of the other gadgets on this list, the price range we've given here actually refers to the two different options available when you buy a Kindle: with and without "special offers".
"With special offers" sounds appealing, but in reality, it means your Kindle will display adverts in sleep mode. That said, it does cost £10 less than "without special offers", so the choice is yours!
External hard drive
Price: £40 – £50
Ok, so this one might not be the most exciting of gadgets, but it's super important to have a reliable backup of your work at university – especially when you get into your dissertation and several-thousand-word essays.
The last thing you want is for your laptop to break (or get stolen) and to lose all of your work as a result. An external hard drive like this one from Western Digital can store a backup copy of pretty much your entire laptop (up to 1 terabyte, which should be plenty).
If you're a gamer, you can also use this external hard drive to expand the capacity of your Xbox One or PlayStation 4 – useful if you're always having to uninstall games to play new ones!
Tribit Quiet Plus 72 noise-cancelling headphones
Price: about £60
Noise-cancelling headphones are an absolute godsend when you're trying to block out the noise of the flat party upstairs, or when you're trying to get in the zone at the library.
Tribit's QuietPlus 72 headphones are a great budget alternative and, having tried them ourselves, we can confirm they represent excellent value for money.
Although the noise-cancelling capabilities aren't quite up to the levels you'd find at the top end of the market, at 20% of the price, this isn't a surprise. And that's not to say they can't block noise out – they definitely do, and you'll notice just how well when you switch on the ANC (active noise-cancelling).
The headphones fit over your ear, which we found made them a lot more comfortable to wear for long periods when compared to some on-ear headphones (especially if you wear glasses!).
And, of course, they're also Bluetooth enabled, with a 3.5mm audio inlet also built-in in case you're out of battery or you're using a device without Bluetooth capabilities.
Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth speaker
Price: £30 – £40
Portable speakers are, without a doubt, up there with the very best gadgets for students.
The Tribit XSound Go is small and affordable but packs a hell of a punch. The battery lasts for up to 24 hours (we didn't charge ours after receiving it and it powered through a few weeks of use while cooking dinner!) and to top it all off, it's waterproof too.
Xiaomi Mi Band 4
Price: £25 – £30
If you're keen on staying fit and active at university, but you're less keen on forking out on an expensive gym membership, then a Xiaomi Mi Band 4 is a solid long-term investment.
FitBit is undoubtedly the biggest name in the fitness tracker game, but at less than half the price and with most of the same functionality, the Mi Band is the ideal budget option.
Like a FitBit, the Mi Band tracks your heart rate (including when you work out) to help you monitor changes and reach your goals.
It can also use your heart rate to track your sleep patterns, allowing you to see how much deep sleep you're actually getting. After all, deep sleep is the part that counts!
Laptop tray with fans
Price: about £20
Prefer to get your essays written while sat on the sofa (or in bed, we won't judge)? Then this cooling tray will be a serious help.
It holds laptops up to a width of 17 inches, and the inbuilt fans ensure that your laptop is never at risk of overheating – a genuine danger if you place it on top of your duvet.
Conveniently, the fans in the tray are significantly quieter than what's inside your laptop, so you're not just replacing one irritating noise with another.
There are also two USB slots on the back of the tray, meaning this gadget not only makes up for the slot it uses on your laptop to power itself, but it actually adds USB slots to your laptop – ideal if you're trying to charge your phone, use the tray and back stuff up to a memory stick!
Tile Mate key finder
Price: about £20
If you're the kind of person who's always losing stuff – particularly your phone or keys – then this little device could be a lifesaver.
Attach your Tile Mate keyring to your set of keys, and you can use the Tile Mate app to locate them if you happen to lose them. If they're in your room somewhere, but you just can't get your hands on them, you can use the app to make the Tile Mate ring.
As we discovered when we tested the Tile Pro (pictured above, which has an extended battery life and longer Bluetooth range), these things are loud. If your Tile is anywhere near you when you activate the sound, there's no chance of it being too quiet.
And best of all, if you've got your keys but can't find your phone, hitting the button on the Tile Mate keyring will make your phone ring – even when it's on silent. Genius.
Folding Bluetooth keyboard
Price: about £30
If you want to type up notes in your lectures but don't want to lug your laptop to and from uni every day, a folding Bluetooth keyboard could do just the trick.
This SANDSTORM model is super slim and lightweight (certainly a lot lighter than a laptop!) and can connect to your phone (Apple and Android) or your iPad/Windows/Android tablet.
Once you've typed your notes, simply transfer them across to your laptop when you get home – or, cut out the middle man and type straight into Google Docs (one of our top apps for students), which can be accessed from your computer too.
WiFi range extender
Price: £20 – £40
We've got some great student broadband deals on our site. But what use is super fast, super cheap broadband if it doesn't stretch across your whole house?
All too often, the routers supplied by broadband companies aren't quite up to the job. And if they are, the issue instead is that it has to be located right in the corner of the house – bad news for anyone whose bedroom is in the opposite corner.
We've used this WiFi range extender from NETGEAR and can confirm that it does a great job of boosting the WiFi signal around the house. It plugs straight into the wall, and although you might need to trial a couple of different locations before finding the optimum position, you should notice the difference straight away.
Oh, and just a heads up – this extender gives out two WiFi signals: one 2G and one 5G. We won't go into the science of it all (partly because we don't understand it), but make sure you connect your devices to 5G – it's a lot faster!
Portable phone charger
Price: about £15
Remember when phone batteries used to last a whole day? Yeah, us neither.
Because the thought of running out of battery scares us so much, and the very idea of using our phones less to preserve battery is frankly scandalous, a portable charger is up there as one of the most important gadgets for students.
This power bank from GOJI is exceptionally well-reviewed and, despite weighing just 248g, claims to hold enough power for three full charges (depending on the phone).
Want ALL of these gadgets but can't quite afford them? Sounds like you could do with some easy ways to make money quickly...