One of the most exciting parts about going off to college is setting up your room. You’ve picked out your color scheme and set the perfect cozy vibe. What comes next? Adding top tech to your space can be the ultimate transformation and make your dorm feel more like your smart home away from home.
From speakers to printers with plenty of stuff in between, we’ve rounded up tech accessories and gadgets that will elevate your living space. These picks aren’t bulky and store easily in your room since you’re likely sharing space. You and your new friends and roommate will be able to enjoy your favorite shows, wake up and make it to those early morning classes all while staying connected with friends from home.
A smart speaker offers loads of function and fun in your dorm room. You can use it to control your TV, play music, get the latest news and even weather updates. We’ve found speakers that don’t take up too much space so you’re getting the most out of your dorm room.
Echo Dot (4th Generation) ($34.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
This small orblike speaker does it all without taking up too much space in your room. You’ll get the full power of Alexa and a pretty powerful speaker, and you can choose from three different colors to coordinate with your dorm aesthetic. The fourth-gen Echo is even our top pick for best smart speaker.
Nest Mini ($34.99; bestbuy.com)
If you’re looking for a smart speaker that will take up the least amount of surface space, the Nest Mini is an excellent choice. We checked it out in our testing for best smart speakers of 2021, and while it doesn’t have the clearest sound at loud volumes, direct access to the Google Assistant Is still super useful.
Apple HomePod Mini ($99.99; bestbuy.com)
In our testing, we found that the HomePod Mini delivered strong sound and Siri was handy for all sorts of requests. It’s available in Space Gray and white to coordinate with the rest of your decor.
Sonos One ($199; sonos.com)
For just under $200, we found the Sonos One packed the best sound. You can choose between Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa for voice control and use either to its full potential. It’s on the higher end of price points, but the high-quality sound and versatility make it worth it.
Adding color to your room is easy with a smart lightbulb that offers adjustable colors and brightness. If you’re adding light to your room with standing lamps, they fit in seamlessly and for the most part can be controlled by both smartphone apps and voice control through Alexa or the Google Assistant.
Wyze WLPA19C Smart Bulb ($15.36; amazon.com)
Our pick for best smart bulb, the Wyze smart bulb can transform your dorm in seconds. You can choose from your standard warm and cool light tones and then transition to bright hues like pinks, blues and purples. You can control everything through a smartphone app, and it’s a great option for a standing lamp.
LE Smart Lightbulb ($14.44, originally $19.99; amazon.com)
These bulbs come in a pack of two and can be controlled via a smartphone app or with your voice control through Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. You get loads of color choices from your daylight tones to a plethora of colorful hues.
C by GE ($23.99, originally $48.99; amazon.com)
The C by GE smart bulbs are more expensive than our other picks, but having used their app we think they’re worth the price. With an intuitive app, you can create fun and cool scenes in your small space. Additionally, you can set scenes, set timers and change light hues easily. The bulbs are also compatible with Alexa or Google Assistant for added ease of use.
Daybetter Smart LED Lights ($16.99, originally $22.99; amazon.com)
If you’re looking to light up your room with the fun, bright LED striplights that went TikTok viral, these are your best bet. These lights can sync with your music and offer control through a smartphone app. The 25-foot option is great for a small space like a dorm room.
Of course you’ll want to hang up photos of your friends from home and of you with your newfound college pals. A mini photo printer is a great purchase (or back-to-school gift) to print fun and trendy sized images to hang on bulletin boards, desks and walls. They also tuck away easily in a drawer so you’re not sacrificing too much space.
Canon Ivy Mini Photo Printer ($99.99; bestbuy.com)
A pocket-size printer, this model from Canon prints 2-inch-by-3-inch photos that will look cute and fun on your desk or dorm wall. It connects to an app for Android or iOS so you can print new pictures throughout the semester.
Kodak Step Wireless Mobile Photo Mini Printer ($59.99, originally $69.99; amazon.com)
This wireless and rechargeable printer also prints 2-inch-by-3-inch photos and the companion app for Android or iOS allows you to edit and add fun frames to your images before printing them. It connects to your device via Bluetooth.
Canon Selphy CP1300 Wireless Compact Photo Printer ($129.99; bestbuy.com)
The Canon Compact Photo Printer isn’t just limited to one size — it can print sizes like 2.1-inch-by-2.1-inch Instagram prints or full 4-inch-by-6-inch prints. This pick separates itself from the rest with a 3.2-inch LCD screen to control the device, and it prints from your devices via Wi-Fi.
A smart photo frame can help you stay in touch with friends and family near or far. These handy gadgets give you the option to display all your favorite photos in one place, and you can send and receive photos directly to the frame. We think they’re a sweet and sentimental addition to your dorm decor.
Echo Show 5 ($54.99, originally $84.99; amazon.com)
A small but great option for a digital photo frame, the Echo Show 5 offers a 5.5-inch screen to display your photos through the Amazon Photos app. It also comes with full Alexa capability, so you’re getting a bang for your buck. We don’t recommend it as a top smart speaker, but it’s a great small photo frame for your desk or nightstand. And if you want something a little larger, the Echo Show 8 is a great option at $99.99.
Google Nest Hub (2nd Generation) ($99.98; walmart.com)
Acting as a smart speaker and digital frame, the Google Nest Hub offers a 7-inch display, so it’s a great size for your desk or nightstand. The display is a touch screen for easy control. In our testing we found the interface pretty easy to navigate, and the speaker gets the job done.
Pix-Star 10-Inch Digital Picture Frame ($154.99; amazon.com)
This Wi-Fi-enabled 10-inch smart frame is a great pick if you want to be able to have friends and family share photos directly to the frame. Through the Pix-Star app for Android or iOS you’re able to send and receive photos directly to the frame. It’s a great way to stay connected and updated. You can also access photos from your favorite social media sites through the frame.
Aluratek 8-Inch Digital Photo Frame ($93.94, originally $109.99; amazon.com)
Aluratek’s digital photo frame comes with a built-in clock, calendar, alarm and weather app so you can stay connected beyond your photos. It features a touch screen LCD interface, and you can send and add photos using the smartphone app, Facebook or Twitter messaging and email.
Nixplay 10.1-Inch Smart Digital Picture Frame ($149.99, originally $179.99; amazon.com)
The Nixplay frame is super easy to use and the smartphone app is pretty intuitive. It’s available with different frame finishes (like silver or wood grain), though those come at different price points. Better yet, you and loved ones are able to easily share photos to the frame, which connects via Wi-Fi.
TVs & streaming sticks
While you’ll be spending lots of time studying, you’ll also want to be set up in the best way to wind down. Stay connected to all your favorite TV shows using a streaming stick. They’re a great way to access digital content to host movie nights and binge-watch new shows with your roommate. We’ve also listed some of our top budget TV picks so you can be fully set up.
Google Chromecast With Google TV ($49.99; target.com)
This was our best budget pick for streaming sticks this year. The Google Assistant is built in and it’s running Google TV. This TV platform delivers a super-personalized streaming experience. You can cast content directly to it right from your phone. It’s small and comes in three different colors to go with your dorm color scheme.
Fire TV Stick 4K ($37.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
The Fire TV Stick 4K offers high-quality streaming at a pretty affordable price point. You can control the device using Alexa voice control and you’ll have access to all your favorite streaming services. It pops into your TV’s HDMI port and is pretty inconspicuous.
Roku Streaming Stick+ ($39.99, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
We tested the Roku Streaming Stick+ in search of the best streaming stick of 2021 and found it to be a great entry-level and affordable streaming stick. It offers a simple-to-use basic remote, and we like the built-in volume controls. It connects to your TV’s HDMI port and can be controlled via Alexa or the Google Assistant.
Vizio V-Series 43-Inch Class 4K HDR Smart TV ($339.99; target.com)
A slightly larger version of our pick for best budget TV in 2021, this Vizio V-Series offers great picture quality and is definitely a good size for your dorm room. It also offers Vizio’s Smartcast interface, which is solid, but we think it’s best paired with a streaming stick. You could easily connect a Fire TV Stick, Chromecast or Roku Streaming Stick+ to this TV. It can be controlled with your voice through Amazon Alexa, and you can cast from your devices using AirPlay or Chromecast.
Toshiba 43-Inch Class LED Full HD Smart FireTV ($309.99; bestbuy.com)
Another budget option we tested, this Toshiba option has a FireTV ecosystem that gives you access to lots of streaming services without an external device. Alexa voice control is also easy to set up and works through the included remote. It offers Full HD viewing experience, and in our testing we found the screen quality to be pretty good, but we were more impressed with the Vizio V-Series.
More smart gadgets
Jall Wooden Alarm Clock ($22.99; amazon.com)
The Jall Wooden Alarm Clock looks great and is super affordable, plus it’s our top pick for an alarm clock. It does more than just give you the time, as it features a dimmable display that can also show temperature and humidity levels. The alarm itself wasn’t too jarring either, which makes it perfect for living with roommates who don’t have classes as early as you might.
Philips Wake-Up Light ($99.99, originally $169.99; walmart.com)
If you’re an early riser, a sunrise light can make waking up a breeze. This was our top choice sunrise alarm clock. The light slowly brightens to mimic a sunrise and wakes you up gently. It even offers nature sounds to help you fall asleep and wake up. The Philips Wake-Up Light is super easy to control using the built-in screen.
iHome Reflect Pro ($169.99; amazon.com)
Perfect for getting ready, this smart vanity lamp doubles as a speaker so you can jam out while prepping for the day or a night out. The 10-inch-by-13-inch mirror is a great size and can be stored in a closet easily while also sitting pretty on a desk. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth and also has a USB-A port in the back for charging capabilities.
Sunset Lamp ($23.99; amazon.com)
This popular TikTok lamp is sure to set your dorm room apart. It’s a compact light that mimics the movement of a sunset and casts a warm amber glow on your wall. We think it’s great for winding down at the end of the night. You can rotate the lamp to cast on your side of the room or cover the whole space.
Base Station ($149.95; nomadgoods.com)
You don’t want your desk or nightstand to be cluttered with wires, and this sleek leather charger offers a charging spot for your phone, AirPods and Apple Watch. We like the ability to charge three devices at once and think it’s a perfect back-to-school pick.
3-in-1 Wireless Stand for MagSafe Charger ($89.95; zagg.com)
This pick from Mophie reduces wire clutter, but you’ll need to provide your own MagSafe charger ($33.93, originally $39; amazon.com) and Apple Watch charger ($24.99, originally $29; amazon.com) since it acts as a stand for your devices with just one Qi-enabled charging spot. We like that this stand offers a vertical spot for your phone so you can stay connected even while working.