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Smart home tech can make life easier, but dorm life has its own challenges. If you’re moving into a dorm this year, here’s the smart home tech you can bring with you.
Setting up smart home tech isn’t as easy as it is in a house you own or even an apartment you rent. You don’t have control of your network and sometimes you might not be able to connect some devices to it at all. There’s also not always a lot of space, so we’re going to skip some of the bigger gadgets. With that in mind, here are our recommendations for the smart home tech you can still use in your dorm.
The simplest smart home tech is also some of the most useful. An Echo Dot costs a mere $50 (or $30, if you catch it on one of Amazon’s many, many sales). At roughly the size of a hockey puck, you can tuck it just about anywhere and use it effectively. You can also connect it to a set of speakers to play music at a higher quality, though if you’re crunched for cash or space, the Dot can still play music on its own. It just won’t sound quite as good.
If you can spare the extra cash, we also recommend the Echo Spot ($130). It costs quite a bit more than a Dot, but it can be used as a small alarm clock, which is one fewer gadget that you have to find space for.
Like the Echo Dot, you can use a Google Home Mini ($50, but often on sale for as low as $30) to set timers and alarms, and play music. You can connect it to external speakers to get better quality, but the built-in speaker is probably fine for casual listening. Whether you get this or an Echo Dot is largely up to your personal preference, but if you’re using Google Calendar to manage your classes or work schedule, the Google Home Mini might get more of your attention.
Most Philips Hue smart lights require a central hub that controls them, however there is one small exception: this dimmer kit with a wireless remote, for $35. Without a hub, the included remote pairs directly with the light itself, allowing you to turn it on and off or adjust the brightness. You can pair the switch with up to 10 bulbs (which should be more than sufficient for a dorm room or small apartment).
You can mount the magnetic plate on the wall using adhesive stickers and place the remote in it as a wall switch, but you can also take it off the wall to use as a remote. You won’t be able to control the lights with voice commands unless you have a hub (which requires connecting it to a network, which you might not be able to do), but it’s easier than getting up to adjust the lights.
Smart plugs let you turn any device connected to a power outlet on and off without touching it. Many of them require a hub, but this smart plug from Eufy for $21 works without a hub at all. You can connect to it directly with your phone and turn the plug on and off, set a schedule, or track how much power it’s using. For controlling lamps, TVs, or other gadgets in your dorm, this might be an easier and cheaper solution than buying into a dedicated smart system with a hub.
First off, be sure to check with both your dorm’s rules about camera usage, as well as any roommates who might get caught on the camera before setting this one up. If you have a reason to need a security system, though—say you want to make sure all your expensive gadgets don’t get stolen—then the Wyze Camera ($20) is perfect for you. As we mentioned in our review, you can record locally to an SD card even if there’s no internet connection. You’ll need a Wi-Fi network to set it up in the first place, but as long as you can find even a friend’s house to set the camera up at, it will keep recording in a continuous loop to an SD card once you remove it from Wi-Fi.
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