The 2019 fall semester is fast approaching and that means it’s time to start thinking about the dorm room essentials you’ll need to make your college living quarters feel more like home. Aside from the usual list of bedding and plastic organizers that can make dorm life easier, adding smart home tech to your dorm room can make your space more functional (and helpful when you’re cramming for finals).
Don’t have the energy to turn the lights off after a long day of studying? Not sure what time class starts? Is it going to rain during your commute through campus? Just ask a smart speaker like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to help you out.
Roughly 120 million homes have smart speakers, so why not dorm rooms? Smart dorm rooms are growing in popularity, so there’s no time like the present to turn your on-campus living space into a fully-automated dormitory. In fact, Saint Louis University installed Amazon Echo Dot devices in more than 2,300 dorm rooms at the start of the 2018 school year.
All you need is a reliable WiFi connection and you’ll be good to go. So, as you pick your classes and prep for back to school, don’t forget to add these 10 smart home essentials to your dorm room. Of course, don’t forget to check your school's residence guidelines if you're not sure what smart home products are allowed in your dorm room.
1. A smart speaker that keeps your schedule
One of the first pieces of equipment to buy when assembling your smart dorm room is a smart speaker. Why? Well, you’re going to need one to help control your compatible smart devices. We tested the best Amazon Echo speakers and the Amazon Echo Dot is our choice for the best value (making it a great choice for college students on a budget). As Amazon's most popular smart speaker, the Echo Dot is fully loaded with standard Alexa features to answer all of your questions. Alexa can set timers, manage your calendar, help you with your homework, and play soothing sounds when you’re ready to relax at the end of a busy day. The only drawback is the low-quality audio playback. However, the Echo Dot is outfitted with an AUX input and Bluetooth connectivity so you can hook it up to a larger existing speaker.
2. A smart plug that can turn off your coffee maker from anywhere
Smart plugs are one of the most efficient ways to quickly convert your "dumb” dorm room into a smart one. There are a lot of smart plugs out there, but the Eufy Smart Plug Mini, is the best smart plug for the value that we tested. What makes it so great? For starters, it works with both Android and iOS devices and easily integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant. Additionally, the Eufy Smart Plug Mini provided a strong and reliable connection and can be controlled remotely. Read: If you forgot to turn off your desk lamp or coffee maker before rushing off to class, just open the accompanying app to take care of business.
3. A robot vacuum to clean the dorm before Mom and Dad come to visit
Between a full load of classes, endless study sessions, and a calendar of continuous social obligations, you probably won’t want to spend your downtime cleaning your dorm room. But, you’ll want to make at least a little bit of an effort to keep your space clean—especially if you have a roommate or have family coming to visit.
The Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C is the best smart vacuum for your money. The robot vacuum works with Alexa, delivers great suction, and has a slim design for those hard-to-reach spaces. Oh, and it's pretty quiet, too, so you won't be distracted when you’re buried in books.
4. A WiFi-connected pressure cooker so you can cook without a kitchen
Depending on your setup, your dorm room may or may not come with a full-sized kitchen. Either way, you can cook from class with the help of the WiFi-enabled Instant Pot. The handy gadget is compatible with Alexa and can also be controlled via the Instant Pot app, so you can check in on the cooking process from afar.
If you're tight on space, then you'll appreciate that the WiFi Instant Pot functions as eight kitchen appliances in one. It can be used as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and more. You can even make cakes and yogurt in the Instant Pot.
5. A voice-activated streaming stick so you can watch Netflix, Hulu, Prime, and more
Need a study break? You can catch up on your favorite shows with the Roku Streaming Stick+. We tested the best media streaming devices and found that the Roku Streaming Stick+ offers the best bang for your buck. The voice-activated controller works over WiFi, offers full 4K and high-definition resolution, and it’s compatible with Alexa.
6. An indoor smart security camera to keep a watchful eye on your belongings
Need to keep an eye on your dorm when you're away during the day or over spring break? Logitech Circle 2 is the best indoor smart security camera you can get right now. It's easy to set up and comes with free 24-hour cloud storage. Another perk? The well-designed app creates a Daily Brief slideshow at the end of each day so you can view a summary of the day’s top moments. This smart camera works with Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit.
7. An Alexa-enabled microwave to heat up your favorite snacks during a study break
When you’re in the zone cramming for finals, you’ll be happy to have this Alexa-enabled smart microwave to keep your belly full. With an Amazon Echo smart speaker or app, you can say things like, "Alexa, microwave popcorn," or "Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee,” or you can just use the “Ask Alexa” button on the front of the appliance. The 0.7-cubic-foot Amazon Basics Microwave, which connects via WiFi, is compact enough that it won’t take up too much space in your tiny dorm room, either.
8. A smart alarm clock that plays your favorite songs to wake you up
Waking up can be hard to do after an all-nighter, but it can be a little easier with the help of a smart alarm clock. With over 10,000 reviews, the Echo Spot has earned a 4.5-star customer rating. One of the most useful features is the customizable clock that can help you rise and shine without hitting snooze. The default screen displays an analog clock, as well as weather information, the latest headlines, calendar events, and more. You can personalize the background display on Echo Spot using your own photos and even set music to wake you up.
The device also displays other useful information to give you insights at a glance and can be used to make video calls. Oh, and the Echo Spot won't take up much real estate on your nightstand, either.
9. A smart printer that will print your homework so you don’t have to leave your dorm
Tired of waiting on your documents at the on-campus print lab? You can save time by printing directly in your dorm room using the HP Tango X Smart Home Printer. Using voice-activation technology, you can say things like, "Alexa, ask my printer to print my shopping list," or "OK Google, ask HP printer to print my calendar." Aside from Alexa and Google Assistant, the smart printer can also be controlled with Microsoft Cortana and the HP Smart app (available for iOS and Android devices).
You can also print from anywhere, so if you forgot to print out that 10-page paper, tap Print on your phone as you run back to your dorm, and it will be hot off the press when you walk in.
10. A portable smart doorbell video camera so you know who’s coming to visit
A doorbell for your dorm? You betcha. The Ring Door View Cam is a small smart video doorbell that’s ideal for dorm rooms and apartments, but a peephole is required to use this device. This Ring doorbell comes with 1080p HD video that lets you see, hear, and speak to anyone who is at the door from any location, like the lab or classroom. It also works with Alexa to send you notifications when someone rings the doorbell or motion is detected.
If you’re concerned about safety in the dorm, being able to see and talk to the person at the door without opening it is a huge relief.
From off-white cinderblock walls to the basic, low-profile carpeting, dorm rooms are usually pretty bare-bones in terms of what they offer. However, you can give your dormitory a serious tech upgrade with these smart home products that will help make life a little easier as you transition into the school year. Just don’t forget to say, “Alexa, call home” to check in with your family every now and then.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.