Small, smart home devices can easily upgrade your dorm room when you head back to school. Take, for example, the $35 Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker.
The Echo Dot, which is powered by the Alexa voice-activated digital assistant, does everything the full-size Echo does for half the price: Control other smart home devices like light bulbs, set timers, answer the random questions that keep you up at night. It also includes an aux-out jack for quick, direct connections with external audio setups.
Not into the Amazon smart speakers? Google Assistant now has nearly as many capabilities as Alexa, making the $35 Google Nest Mini a great alternative to the Echo Dot. The Nest Mini is small, affordable, and responds intuitively to your commands.
The $99 Apple HomePod Mini smart speaker is a good pick if you're Team Siri. Plus, it has excellent sound quality for its size. It's loud enough to fill any dorm room with bass, mids and treble.
When it comes to smart bulbs, the Philips Hue LED Starter Kit has been one of our top picks for years. These smart LED bulbs offer full compatibility with Alexa and Google Assistant. For $80, you get a pack of four bulbs and the Hue Bridge to make it all work together.
If you want to dazzle your guests, add some color to your dorm or apartment. This $33 color-changing LED works with Apple HomeKit and puts out plenty of light for those long study sessions. As far as color-changing bulbs go, you can't go wrong with the Lifx Mini.
If you don't want to eat every meal in the dreaded dining hall, a microwave is a must-have item for your dorm room. This GE Smart Countertop Microwave makes it easier than ever to heat up your favorite frozen foods. When you're about to heat something up, just scan the barcode with an app on your phone, which will send appropriate cooking times and power levels to your microwave. Plus, the microwave works with the Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated digital assistant.
There are a lot of smart plugs out there, but we're fans of the Eufy Smart Plug Mini. Like other smart plugs, it lets you turn whatever's plugged into it on and off from your phone. This model is a smart, affordable space-saver with a solid mix of in-app features that works with both Alexa and the Google Assistant.
Whether you prefer coffee or tea, you'll likely end up consuming tons of caffeine in college. While $180 is a lot to spend on a coffee mug, when you're nodding off in class, you might wish for the Ember Travel Mug. It precisely controls its beverage temperature to keep your coffee or tea hot for hours on end.