If you're looking for cool gadgets for students, the $230 Amazon Echo Show might be one kids and parents can get on the same page about. Not only does it come with the Alexa voice assistant built in, but you can use it to instantly video chat with corresponding devices, say, back on your parents' countertop. Sure, you might want a little space from your parents at school, but a little extra face time could be a good way to get extra money for that fall-break getaway.
If the Show is a little too pricey, or the prospect of your parents dropping into video chat is tough to get past, the tried-and-true Echo Dot offers most of the same Alexa smarts for only $50. Sure, it doesn't come with a screen or great speakers, but connect it to a sound system, and your dorm will be perfect for some lit weekend parties.
If you're an Android user, the $130 Google Home could be a better match for your voice assistant needs. Not only will it help with your academic pursuits (logging calendar dates and answering study questions), but it can also help you with cooking meals for your roommates.
If you're concerned about keeping your possessions safe in a dorm room, consider a smart security system. Abode is one of the best on the market, and it scales well to meet the needs of dorms, suites or even off-campus houses.
For smaller-scale security, the Piper NV offers a ton of great features, including a camera, a siren, a microphone, a speaker and a Z-Wave hub, plus motion, sound, temperature, humidity and light sensors. You can arm the system from the app, and watch live and free recordings from the camera. Basically, it's an all-in-one security system for $240.
If you're less concerned with securing your room, and more with just monitoring the activity in it, the $300 Nest Cam IQ can track who is going in and out, identify them by their faces and notify you when they're hanging around.
Okay, so you don't care who's in your dorm or apartment -- you just want to keep them out? Try a smart lock. August's $200 HomeKit-enabled lock can retrofit most deadbolts with a pretty simple installation, and it adds remote control, activity alerts and Siri commands to your conventional lock.
If you're as concerned about your roommates as the people outside your dorm, then you might want to consider a drawer lock to keep your cash and/or stash secure. Smart Armor's $80 gadget will ship this August, according to the company, and it turns any old drawer into a smart lockbox.
If you're comfortable with everyone in your hall, security might be less of a concern than how to optimize your partying. Enter the Neato Botvac Connected. Not only will it keep your carpet clean enough to impress your parents on a surprise visit, but it's also a solid way to spice up drinking games like beer pong.
Most smart home gadgets are pricey, but if you're looking for affordable ways to add practical automation to your dorm, the new CNCT Intelliplug might be your best bet. It's one of the best smart plugs on the market, its design is unobtrusive and it only costs $20. It ships in August.
If you want to add style to your room, colored lighting is a great first step. The $200 Nanoleaf Aurora is a set of colored LED panels that you can program to run light patterns, display your school colors or just add an interesting focal point to the room's lighting.
If you want lighting that's a little more affordable, Lifx has some of the best color-changing bulbs on the market. You can get them for $40 each right now on the Lifx website, and even one can make your reading, gaming or just chilling setup way cooler.