This was originally meant to be my Back-to-School blog but I just procrastinated thanks to Nishat being Nishat (wooooo). But so many YouTube videos have been made on it, I might as well make one long list that’s actually useful. Because nothing is as exciting as back-to-school-in-december tech, and you know you’re ballin’ when you got affordable tech that’s cool and swaggy af.
(NOTE: I do have affiliate links but that in no way affects my love for these damn products and they don’t bump up the price either. Now scroll, young padawan!)
Here’s a Table of Contents because this is a loooong page.
- Messenger Bag
- Pencil Case
- Portable Keyboard
- Cocoon Organiser
[To save you time, I’ll just tell you that the product links next to header is clickable. Like the CaseCrown one after the ‘Messenger Bag’ intro. Now you don’t need to hunt it down!]
TECH + ESSENTIALS
Messenger Bag: CaseCrown Campus Messenger Bag
Okay this one is pretty on the pricey side but I really love the aesthetics of this bag so it’s worth it. It’s a compact, stylish bag that takes advantage of the space available with compartments, and a lot of them.
It has a front pocket to get to anything for quick access, this section is pretty spacy. Then there are two neat pockets on the sides to slide in a water bottle or an umbrella. Whip it open (it’s velcro, yay!) and you’ll see a small compartment underneath the flap so you can discreetly hide your PRECIOUSSS from plain sight like keys or phones.
Inside, you’ll find a dedicated spot for your laptop which is nicely padded with a little velcro tab to keep it in place. Then you have a whole area to store pens and other neat stuff as well as a main compartment to put books, your lunchbox or even your Fallout Monopoly board game.
The bag looks great, has lots of slots of bits and stuff. One thing I am worried about would be whether the bag is flexible or retains an awkward box-like shape. The strap looks nicely padded and adjustable so I don’t see anything that could go wrong. Either way, it is replaceable so any strap from Timbuk2 should do. Overall it’s a great package for what it is and I definitely recommend it, hence it appearing here magically.
Backpack: Case Logic DLBP-114
In all honesty, I can’t live with backpacks. The fear of having your valuables away from your sight as well as the weight dragging your back backwards whilst relentlessly slamming your butt (short people issues, shut up) is something I wish to avoid. But considering that my messenger hasn’t proved beneficial for my tiny shoulders, I’ve been on the hunt and I think that this is probably the best choice despite the weird model number.
The Case Logic DLBP-114 is nicely organised, with a laptop compartment and designated areas for the little things you don’t want bouncing around (keys, purse, phone etc) and it does a good job. You also have a front section for stationary or tech as well as 2 zipper side pockets which are quite weird. I mean it’s great for quick access and you could put your travel card in but could you fit a water bottle there too? It isn’t much of a deal breaker for me personally.
Even with all of the areas committed to housing certain things, there’s still a buttload of space to throw in tons of books and folders next to the laptop slot. There’s a lot of remaining areas to fit more things than you think, like the Tardis. It’s spacy, good-looking (though looks are subjective) and lightweight according to the 300+ Amazon review overflowing the pages. I think that for this price, it’s an absolute steal – during the release of this blog, the price was £27.69 at a deal but this may fluctuate, beware.
If I had to choose between the two bags mentioned, I would go for this one.
Alternative backpack: CaseCrown Campus Backpack
Yes, this is also made by CaseCrown but sports a similarly minimalist aesthetic like the Messenger. It’s got nice organisation and to get a more detailed look, watch TechMe0ut’s video where she shows what she has in this backpack. Female Techtubers are awesome.
Pencil-case: Neo Critz Folding Pencil Case
If you want to swagger around carrying the height of Japanese minimalism, have a look at this. This is an essential because it’s awesome. One moment, it’s a pencil-case; next second it’s a pen holder. Just with one swift fold. It has several different colours for several different uses so it could be a makeup bag or anything small you don’t want bouncing around in your bag.
It’s got 2 zippers so you don’t have to necessarily pull out the whole case and then grab your weapon of choice, you can access it from the top directly from your bag. Plus it can also store anything wide and thin. Neat huh?
Laptop: ASUS Vivobook E403SA
I have experience with laptops, but not on an expert level, more on the terms of them failing on me. However, this provides some really good features at a rather affordable price. The 14″ laptop offers a clean 1080p display with a quad-core CPU, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD. I just blurted the specs online, but what actually surprises me is the low noise you get with this thing.
Why you ask? Because it’s fanless. So fanless, in fact, they have a picture of a kitten sleeping next to it. And considering that kitten isn’t marking its territory on the screen whilst rapidly purring and smashing random keys, that’s impressive.
In terms of ports, you’re covered as it has a HDMI port, USB 3.0 port, USB Type-C port (didn’t expect that one, very new in the non-Mac laptop market), a 3.5mm headphone jack, SD card reader and a USB 2.0 port.
It’s rather light and thin with a charger that doesn’t consist of a chunky power brick, therefore not violating your bag rights. You can go search the specs up yourself because I’m not good at this stuff, though it works like a charm with the cheap price tag too.
Alternative: Dell XPS 13 or Macbook Air
If you are willing to splurge A LOT for a laptop, I recommend the Dell XPS 13 for the Windows user or the Macbook Air (don’t get a Pro or the original, they actually suck and aren’t worth a student’s time, unless you do media-related things). They’re reliable, small and run really well. It’s really best if you research for your own needs.
Mouse: Logitech M320
This is just a simple mouse for the righties that claims to last for two years. The colours available are blue, black, silver and red so feel free to spruce up your desk. Logitech also offers ambidextrous mice for you lefties out there (I’ll just nickname yous Ned Flanders) who want a good ol’ mouse for the PC, like the M535.
An eco-friendly smart notebook: Rocketbook Wave
This notebook is actually incredible. It’s a smart notebook which can be scanned through the app and rendered to create a pretty accurate digitalised copy of whatever you drew. There are icons located at the bottom that you can programme. So whenever you mark on a diamond or a tree, that can be instructed to send a copy to your email, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive and more. IT JUST DOES IT.
The best part is probably how environmentally friendly it is. When you’ve drawn, written and smeared til’ your pages run out, you can microwave it. This will rub off all traces of your imagination to leave you with a clean sheet. I’ve noticed that there are slight marks on pages where you’ve pressed hard on the book, but it isn’t bad overall.
The only downside is that you require Frixtion pens for the microwaving and scanning to work. Being an ink-lover, that would be hard for me to cope with. But don’t worry, these are found everywhere, have rub-able ink and is already supplied with the book itself.
And another let down would be the fact that the notebook is pretty large but that could easily be a plus for students. If you want a smaller one, gotta pay a lot more for the (ahem) ‘Executive’ version.
Or you could check out their Kickstarter for their new and improved notebook, the Rocketbook Everlast.
A rather stylish notebook alternative: Evernote Smart Notebook
I prefer this one over the Rocketbook mainly because it’s stylish, made by Moleskine and syncs to my Evernote. This one isn’t microwaveable but also has an app committing to saving your creations – Scannable. The pages feel good, looks good and you have stickers to categorise your work.
There are different types of paper and sizes available, like a squared, dotted or ruled paper protected by either a hardcover or not. There’s a pocket edition, large (basically A5) and extra-large – the business version. The only issue is trying to source these things, the huge amount of options are great but Evernote don’t actually provide a store for it so you might need to dig around Amazon.
What’s even better is that the thought of having a compact, physical smart notebook to carry anywhere around you feels satisfying. You get to digitalise your work without sacrificing the pen and paper feel. And may I say, that is an absolutely genius idea.
Incorporating vital digital aspects compensates for the lack of share-ability and ease of access whilst still maintaining practical analogue work. It’s a great leap in the market and innovations like this make it a helluva lot better. Plus it’s painful to mention, but some students just can’t whip out their laptops and open Evernote during such dire situations, especially those hipster kids.
Portable Keyboard: ESYNIC Foldable Keyboard
When you forgot your laptop to your lecture, do not fear for you can whip out your trusty old Nokia 3310 and this full-sized foldable keyboard and type, type, type. It comes with its own case that can double as a sturdy stand, and can be connected via Bluetooth to your phone, tablet or even a Smart TV.
I think it would be great for the travellers or students on the go. Or when you fall into that awkward incident where you’re writing a blog on your PC downstairs and visitors come, you can thankfully avoid human contact by typing to your heart’s content on your iPad upstairs.
It’s great for the price, but the Anker Slim keyboard is a good option too at a cheaper cost, but no foldable-ness there.
Stylus: Pencil by FiftyThree
This is a popular choice, and I see why. It’s Bluetooth enabled, with great pressure sensitivity and palm rejection. You can use it as both a pencil and rubber, and it’s cheaper and looks better than the Apple Pencil. Boom, eat your heart out Tim Cook. It is expensive for a stylus, but this is the best you’re getting and it is worth it.
Best organisational tool: Cocoon GRID-IT
This one is for anyone really. Interwoven elastic material firmly holds whatever you place underneath: tech, medicine, travel-related stuff or whatever! There are tons of sizes to float your boat and this saves so much space in your bag. I highly recommend picking one up, worth the buy.
RESOURCES + APPS:
To-Do List: ToDoist
I made a review on this and it’s hands-down the best productivity app due to the flexibility and freedom you get, as well as how it’s available for any platform, so syncing things up should be easy. And the clean UI remains consistent and easy to organise and navigate.
The Big Project: Trello
I also reviewed this too and it helped a ton when it came to organising ideas and planning things with a team. I haven’t used it to the extreme but I assure you that the minimalism and concept you’re getting here is reliable and very promising. I can sync anything on Evernote onto the card it is associated it and it’s certified Nishat-worthy (trademark pending)
A daily prioritiser: One Big Thing
DJ Blagh made yet another review on this guy, and I deem it Nishat-worthy too. It a basic app which is really simple and minimalist. This one is good for people who write down a buttload of tasks to get done and just need to filter all of that into their daily lifestyle. You don’t need to be a productivity guru to use this either, and everyday you start with a clean slate. New day, new jobs. This is great as it doesn’t stress you out for not completing any tasks, making One Big Thing a must.
A valuable resource to help you with your mess of a life: Thomas Franks
This man is a productivity nut and a legend when it came to acing my tests. I honestly can’t put to words how incredibly inspiring and helpful his stuff is. Everything this man says are words of wisdom and pure determination.
Here’s his YouTube and website, CollegeInfoGeek. He knows his stuff, believe me. Just look at his Impossible List. Everything I wanted to include here is already mentioned there, so that just saves me time and this can go up tomorrow.
(feeling that sense of accomplishment because this blog post is finally done)