Cheap But Good: Affordable Tech For A Broke Student


After going through the motions of paying off the 2018–2019 academic year, it’s hard to believe you’re going to spend yet more money on the fall semester. But that’s exactly what you’re going to do when you need new tech to support your time on campus. Gone are the days when you could show up to class with just a pen and a piece of paper. Now, you’re expected to have the latest gadgets to type up assignments, access digital journals, and send that perfect gif to the group chat. 

If you expect to keep up this year without dipping too much into your student loans, you’ll need to follow this guide to good yet affordable tech. It lists some of the latest gear that will help you perform your best on campus.

The heavy-hitter: your new laptop

When it comes to laptops, you can easily drop as much as your fall tuition on a high-performing workstation. Luckily, the average student doesn’t need such a formidable computer. As long as it supports Microsoft Suite and the Internet, any laptop could get you through your undergraduate. 

With this in mind, Acer’s Chromebook 514 is a great compromise between performance and price. Starting at just $349, the Chromebook is a fraction of the cost of the typical MacBook or Dell, yet it comes with some impressive specs. Acer lists this as a premium Chromebook, so it feels like you’re getting more than just budget laptop that will break in a year. 

A supporting accessory: the live-in printer

A future where you send every assignment and essay as an attachment in an email is near. Unfortunately, that time has not yet come. During your undergraduate, you’ll still be expected to print out your reports. You can make this task easier on yourself by investing in an HP OfficeJet 4650. This Bluetooth-friendly printer is easy to connect to, and it comes with an ink subscription service, so you never run out of ink in the final hour. 

Your next campus handset: The OnePlus 6

In a world of iPhone Xs and Pixel 3 XLs, it can be hard to strike a balance between performance driven expectations and your student budget. It’s rare that a handset delivers top of the line specs in an affordable package, so you’re lucky to be searching for a new phone the year OnePlus attempts the impossible.

According to all accounts, the budget manufacturer has succeeded with its latest flagship, the OnePlus 6. It’s a capable little phone with some surprising perks, despite being roughly half the cost of other high-end handsets. To get the full low-down on the OnePlus 6, check in with TechRadar’s extensive review. You’ll realize the benefits of the OnePlus 6 more than make up for the concessions they had to make to deliver a cheaper price point.

A fly wardrobe for your new phone: OnePlus 6 wraps

But, like any other phone made out of glass and aluminum, it’s bound to slip out of your hands. If you’re lucky, it will only come away with a few unsightly gouges from its descent, but these marks will be another thing to worry over in addition to the constant presence of fingerprints on its glass backing. More likely, it will shatter on impact, meaning you’re stuck replacing your relatively new phone before its time. 

To avoid either scenario, you should invest in a set of OnePlus 6 skins or wraps. You get to choose what they look like. The list of OnePlus 6 wraps includes black camo, red dragon skin, and marble, but there are plenty more options to curate a unique look. Whatever design you choose, it comes in 100% authentic, true-textured 3M vinyl when you check out dbrand for options. This material is naturally scratch-free and water- and grime-resistant. More importantly, its added grip will keep the phone from slipping from your hands.

A necessary backup: a portable hard drive

As good of a deal as the Chromebook and OnePlus are, they aren’t infallible. If your roommate steps on your laptop or you drop your phone in the toilet, these gadgets are toast. To save yourself an absolute meltdown, you should backup every note, assignment, and picture onto a portable hard drive. Trust us, the added cost of this item is worth avoiding the permanent loss of your final thesis. 

If you’re looking for both power and speed, the G-Technology 1TB G-Drive is your best bet. It comes with one terabyte of storage space, and you can fill it up quickly by relying on its 7,2000 RPMs transfer abilities. The slim G-Drive is also an easy accessory to slip into your backpack. In fact, it’s probably a lot lighter than your average textbook. 

“What’s a textbook?” is something your children might ask when they go to college. Until then, your academic experience is going to be a strange mix of old-fashioned analogue supplies and innovative, digital tools. Luckily, you don’t have to use up all your student loans on the latest gadgets to get you through undergrad. With the right help and the right tech, you can suit up for the fall semester without busting your budget.