Student tech: The best tools to help you make the most of university | technology sector

TThe end of summer is here and with it the beginning of a new semester at the university. The learning landscape certainly looks much brighter than it has been in the past couple of years, but the need to have the right equipment is just as great, with many universities offering a mixture of in-person and online learning.

From laptops and phones to headphones and note-taking tools, here’s a guide to some techniques that will help get the most out of your student experience at a time of stressful finances.

Laptops and Tablets

Most work ends with a laptop, so having the right one makes student life a little easier.

Portability and screen size are major trade-offs. The larger the screen, the easier it is to work on it, but the greater the pressure between lectures. I’d recommend a 13-14″ screen as a happy medium, but if you’re going to connect the screen frequently, a smaller one might be best. Make sure your screen resolution is at least 1080p.

Look for 11th generation or newer Intel i5 or i7 processors, at least 8GB of RAM, and 128GB or more SSD storage.

Don’t be drawn to the cheaper price or greater storage of a laptop with a traditional magnetic hard drive because it will be slow.

Does your laptop have a big enough screen? Photo: I love photos / Alami

All in all, you can get a powerful Windows 11 laptop for £500-600. Know that at this price you’ll be sacrificing your typing experience, mouse, screen, speaker quality, webcam, and possibly battery life as well. Of the laptops usually offered for £550 or so, the Acer Aspire 5And the HP Pavilion 14 And the Dell Inspiron 14 Worth looking at with the right specs.

But my choice of a mobile device under £600 would be mid range Surface Laptop Go 2 About £566 with a student discount.

If you have a bigger budget and want a screen, keyboard, trackpad, speakers and better performance, my pick for a laptop under £1,000 is the huge choice. Apple M1 MacBook Air At £898 with a student discount, it features 16 hours of variable battery life, so you never need to carry your own charger. If you need Windows, a file Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 At £849 with a student discount that is also very good.

smart phones

The good news is that great smartphones can be bought for as little as £500.

Recently released Google Pixel 6a It’s the best budget phone of the year, costing £360 with a student discount. It outperforms many phones, double its price, with superior performance, a great camera and great software, including the excellent Google Recorder auto-copy app.

Google Pixel 6a
The Google Pixel 6a costs £360 with a student discount. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Instead, the iPhone SE 2022 at around £419 is equally good value if you’re within the Apple ecosystem. It looks old but has high performance and will last up to seven years with software updates, while most other software will last about five years.


If you can expand on it, a tablet can also be a very useful addition to your armory, providing a benefit for learning and entertainment.

An apple Basic IPADIt, for example, costs £319, or less with a student discount, and has a good 10.2-inch screen, which can be used for taking notes with the Apple Pencil (£85) or as a second portable monitor for your Mac when a second screen is needed on the go. There are plenty of educational and productivity apps available for it, as well as a keyboard case if you want to use it as a small alternative to a laptop. With all the video or music streaming services available, it makes a great portable TV as well.

Amazon takes into account the budget Fire Tablets Costing from £60 it offers entertainment options but is not so good for productivity. Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 From £219 it is more useful but lacks stylus support and many of the productivity and education apps available for the iPad.


Focusing in the bustle of a busy library, café, or student house can be difficult without a good set of noise-blocking headphones.

Wireless earbuds are great for listening on the go. Nothing authorized 1 It has noise cancellation, good sound, long battery life and has a funky transparent design that is comfortable to wear. It works with Android or iPhone devices, as well as laptops, and costs around £89.

None 1 earbuds in the case
None 1 earbuds in case. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

An apple AirPods 3 Good too, but they don’t block out the noise, relying instead on drowning out it. They are excellent for calls and can be had for around £180; Just watch out for fakes.

If focus is your priority, you can’t beat a great selection of over-ear noise-canceling headphones. My best choices are older ones Sony WH-1000XM4, which is still excellent at blocking out most noise and great sound. It plugs into your laptop and phone at the same time, folds up nicely for travel and is very sturdy. Shop around and you’ll often find them for under £250.

Note taking apps

Keeping your digital notes, lectures, and ideas organized and easily accessible on the go can be challenging but fortunately there are many tools that can help you.

I have long been a fan of Evernote As a cross-platform tool for gathering notes, photos, audios and practically anything else in one cloud-syncable place, with apps for almost any device. It’s free for up to two devices, such as a phone and a laptop, with 60MB of monthly uploads, which will be suitable for individual text and photo notes. Evernote Personal costs £5.99 per month, or Students get 40-50% off Annual subscription.

Microsoft one note It is an excellent alternative, with similar features and applications on most devices. It’s free to use but notes are stored in OneDrive, which comes free with a 5GB Microsoft account. More OneDrive storage costs £1.99 per month 100GB of space, or can be purchased with a Microsoft 365 account starting at £59.99, which includes 1TB of storage plus the Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook apps.

An apple Notes It’s also very good, especially for handwritten notes on an iPad, but it’s not cross-platform and can’t handle many file attachments or advanced features. It’s free to use on iPhones, iPads, Macs and in the browser but uses 5GB of free iCloud storage, with 50GB of storage costing 79p a month.