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The best college gadgets are the ones that actually make your life easier.
Since it’s back-to-school season, the editors at In The Know decided to sort through the noise. So, we tested three TikTok-famous gadgets — a “laser keyboard,” a portable blender and a roll of “whiteboard wallpaper” — to see what’s really worth getting before class starts back.
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All of these gadgets are pretty affordable (less than $50), so the real challenge was: How well does this thing do what it says? To test it out, we put each gadget through a rigorous, totally (sort of) scientific challenge.
So which gadget reigned supreme? To find out, the video above or keep reading below.
What are the best college gadgets under $50? Here are our ratings
Below, you’ll see all three gadgets we tested, plus an overall score. We graded these devices on price and effectiveness, which we measured by how well each one completed our challenges.
Shop: AGS Wireless Laser Projection Bluetooth Virtual Keyboard, $45.99
This laser-projected keyboard can connect via Bluetooth to any device — from your phone to your laptop to your tablet. Then, in theory, you can use it to work “anywhere,” which, in college, is pretty essential.
To test this thing out, we tried it in five different locations: At a desk, on the couch, in bed, outside and while walking down the street. Ultimately, it only worked in two of those five situations, so we’ll give it a two out of five for effectiveness. Meanwhile, this was the most expensive gadget we tested, so we’ll give it a two out of five for the price as well.
Overall score: 4/10
This blender is small, sleek and portable — and it’s USB-chargeable, meaning you can keep the battery going without a problem. The best thing about this gadget is that you can load your smoothie ingredients in advance, then take it to class with you and blend a fresh smoothie when you want one.
To test this gadget, we had a smoothie time trial. To simulate the process of hauling this thing to class, we prepped a smoothie, hopped on a bike and rode down the street to a nearby park. Then, we put the blender to work and had our smoothie.
In total, it took just 13 minutes to do all of that, so we gave this gadget a five out of five for effectiveness. Meanwhile, we gave it a four out of five for price.
Overall score: 9/10
Shop: Kassa Large Whiteboard Wall Sticker Roll, $12.95
This supposedly “invisible” whiteboard wallpaper is supposed to blend into any surface. That means you could roll it out and stick it onto a desk, the wall, the floor or anywhere else — then, you can take notes or do homework on what looks like a clear surface.
To test this thing, we applied it to a desk and a wall to see how well it blends in. It worked well, but it didn’t necessarily blend — you could always tell there was something there. So, we gave this a three out of five for effectiveness to go along with our five out of five for the very cheap price.
Overall score: 8/10
Tallying up our scores, it looks like we have our winner. The portable blender is fast, convenient, lightweight and most importantly, affordable on a college budget. If you can only get one gadget this back-to-school season, this is our pick.
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If you liked this video, check out our video testing this viral “egg tube”-making gadget.
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