Thursday, April 15, 2010

Transform Your Dorm with 6 Innovative Gadgets  

The following is a contributing piece by Mike Tennant (see his note at the bottom.) Although UNH doesn't allow some of these items in dorm rooms, my roommate and I have had a coffee maker all year without any trouble. Just be sure to keep them out of site to avoid "fire violations." Personally, I have found the best way to pimp out your dorm room is to have ice. No, not jewelry, actual ice. All you need is a mini fridge with a small freeze compartment. If you can't find an ice tray small enough, simply cut the bottom of a 2-liter soda bottle and fill that with water and it will make 5 perfect ice cubes and a little more from in between the divots. Let's face it, if you can have ice in your mixed drinks in a dorm, you're living the high life. All you need now is a warm sunny day, some vodka and lemonade.
Dorm life can feel like prison sometimes for college students. Look at the facts:
Your room in some cases is little more than a concrete block with a small window if you’re lucky.
Many students are required to live in a dorm for at least part of their college experience.
Typically these students start counting down the days until they can live elsewhere.
Simply put, most students are  just happy to survive the experience.
There is hope, however. The only problem is that sometimes it can mean a lot of work.

It's hard to imagine that anyone can live in some of the small dorms featured at college campuses across the country, let alone turn it into something enjoyable. But those of us unlucky enough to experience it know it can be done. While difficult, someday you may even consider it a home away from home - but you're going to need some help.
The gadgets and appliances listed below may not be able to help you with your midterms, but they'll certainly make the rest of your college experience more enjoyable.

3-In-One Multi-Functional Breakfast Maker

While useful, the old school coffee makers that were the roast of the town just years ago don't cut it anymore compared to some of these newer appliances.  Coffee is great, and obviously a collegiate necessity, but what if you could also make eggs, toast and maybe even pancakes at the same time - all on the same appliance? Like, say a combination coffee maker, toaster oven, griddle and steam tray. You're not just rolling out of bed and into a pot of coffee anymore, you're serving full-out breakfast with all the trimmings. Best of all it won't take up too much room in your dorm - and may actually save you some space by combining appliances. These fine machines are also quite the crowd pleaser when you have company overnight.

Mobile Alarm Clock

Now waking up in time to enjoy your new breakfast machine is a whole other story. Luckily, there are now  mobile alarm clocks that can provide just enough of a hassle to make sure you get up and stay up. No, "mobile" doesn't mean you can easily take the alarm clock with you when you leave. It's actually much more annoying. This alarm clock on wheels will run away from you beeping with laughter as you frantically try to buy just five more minutes in the morning. At the very least, it'll make for an entertaining morning (for bystanders that is). The fact that it actually works isn't too shabby either.

George Foreman Grill

New and exciting? Not exactly. Useful and perfectly sized for a dorm room? Absolutely! Perhaps the most creative cooking device in dorm room history, the Foreman Grill has become a dorm room staple due to its small size and intense cooking power. From your basic grilled cheese to carefully seared crab cakes, and even dessert apparently, this little electric grill packs quite the punch and has truly revolutionized the dorm-cooked meal. The Foreman Grill has become such the dorm room mainstay that Pepperdine University hosted a  cooking challenge based on creative use of the grill: “The Next Grilleration: George Foreman’s College Grill-Off.

3D Blu-Ray Player

Since studios seem to be releasing every blockbuster movie now in digital 3D, you may as well take advantage of in for your dorm room movie nights. These days everyone has a DVD player in their dorm room, so it's obviously time to take things a step farther. Yes, you're also going to need a new 3D-enabled television as well as some specially designed 3D glasses, but it's a small price to pay to amaze your friends and establish your room as the coolest theater on campus.

Portable Air Conditioner

What's the point of all this cooking and entertaining in your dorm room if you can't be comfortable? That's where a portable air conditioner comes in. Dorm rooms can get pretty hot, especially with all these electronics humming away. Unfortunately, most dorms do not have central air, and a window unit is either not allowed or just not a feasible given your available space. Luckily, something smaller like a Sharp or  Soleus portable air conditioner doesn't require permanent installation or take up much space. Venting is also simple and does not require as much space as a window unit. Above all, portable air conditioners are easy to move from room to room so it can go wherever the party is.

Digital Beverage Dispenser

What dorm room would be complete without a fully automatic beverage dispenser? Mixing cocktails and pouring drinks by hand is so last semester. The next best thing to hiring your own bartender for the evening is a Digital Beverage Dispenser. Seemingly designed with the social (and maybe lazy) college student in mind, your electronic bartender is more than happy to serve up a variety of fine beverages at the push of a button. It'll even pull new and creative recipes right from the Internet just in case you get a little bored always ordering the usual.

Mike Tennant is a freelance writer who covers technology and lifestyle topics. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Mike currently works with Air Conditioner Home as a content developer to help consumers make the right decision when looking for the  best portable air conditioner.

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