Dorm life isn’t glamorous. Rooms with concrete walls, twin-size beds, and bland furnishings leave a lot to be desired, especially if your school’s housing office has strict rules about painting, hanging photos, and building temporary lofts in your space. The same goes for your college apartment — if you’re only there for a few semesters, you likely don’t have much leeway to upgrade.
You can, of course, customize your bedding and personalize your desk, but there are also a number of high-tech, low-impact gadgets to make dorm room or apartment living easier and more fun.
And the best part? They’re all portable, so you can take them with you from year to year! Here are six to get you started.
1. Sonos One Smart Speaker
Get the best sound for your study (wink wink) music with a Sonos One speaker. Sonos consistently gets high marks for its high-quality audio and seamless integration with nearly every streaming music service, which makes it a great tool for hosting your friends. Plus, the Sonos One comes with built-in Alexa functionality, which means you can add skills, control other smart devices, and change your music with voice commands. The speaker isn’t cheap, so if you’re on a tight budget, try the Amazon Echo Dot instead.
2. Philips Hue Lightbulbs
Smart bulbs are a simple upgrade that brings both convenience and comfort to an otherwise sterile space. The Philips Hue starter kit comes with two bulbs that fit directly into your dorm room lamps and can shine in 16 million — seriously — colors. Set up routines that fade in to wake you up and fade out to remind you to stop studying already and go to sleep. Philips integrates with Alexa and other smart assistants, so you’ll never have to flip a light switch again.
3. WeMo Mini Smart Plug
How many times have you rushed out the door for class or a social event and forgotten to turn off your coffee maker or curling iron? The WeMo Mini Smart Plug fits right into your dorm room outlets and lets you turn connected devices on and off from your smartphone. You can also sync the plug with your voice assistant and If This, Then That (IFTTT) routines for easy dorm room automation.
4. Eufy BoostIQ Robovac
No one likes vacuuming, but dust bunnies building up under your bed isn’t much fun either. Set the Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S to run while you’re out and come home to a clean room. This robot can fit under furniture and navigate around a room no matter how many obstacles you put in its way. While it isn’t the smartest vacuum on the market, the RoboVac is relatively quiet and will get the job done at a reasonable price.
5. Roku Streaming Stick+
Who needs a cable package when you can stream anything and everything with a Roku Streaming Stick? This handy little 4K device plugs into your TV and connects to Netflix, HBO, Hulu — the list goes on. The great thing about Roku is that it isn’t involved in ongoing content turf wars, which means you can get more apps and seamlessly use more services than on other devices that like to promote their own shows (ahem, Amazon).
6. Nespresso Essenza Mini
Coffee lovers rejoice: The Nespresso Essenza Mini brings espresso right to your dorm room. The machine fits on top of your mini fridge, which means you can roll out of bed and have your drink ready in minutes. While most espresso machines run at several hundred (or several thousand) dollars, the budget-friendly Essenza comes in at just $125. No more burnt or bitter coffee or bleary-eyed trips to your campus cafe.