Making a dorm room feel like home can be difficult. Your space is limited, especially if you share it with a roommate. Between the demands of classes and extracurriculars, you'll want accommodations that are smart enough to enhance your lifestyle without interrupting your routine.
We've gathered the best smart devices for your back-to-school needs, all of which are easy to set up and then pack up at the end of the term (and won't break your budget.) Some are mobile, too, and designed to keep up with your on-the-go schedule.
The $8 Wi-Fi-operated Wyze Bulb might be the best budget smart-light bulb available, making it perfect for a temporary dorm room. You can control single or grouped bulbs via the Wyze app, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It's almost effortless to set up, which you'll appreciate amid the college move-in chaos. Wyze Bulbs are also an excellent alternative to those awful overhead fluorescents.
Read our full review of the Wyze Bulb.
Wyze Security Cam
Another affordable device in the Wyze ecosystem is the Wyze Security Cam. Your dorm holds plenty of your valuables, and with you or your roommates sometimes forgetting to lock the door, you'll want to introduce a simple security measure to your smart setup. For $25, you'll have a camera that works with Alexa and Google Assistant, plus two weeks of free cloud storage. For an additional $20, you can get the Wyze Sense Kit, which adds motion and door/window sensors to your camera.
Bring your bland dorm walls to life with Nanoleaf’s stunning, customizable Canvas lights. While not cheap at $200, these colorful tiles will make your room an instant hangout hub, attracting new friends to your dorm room like moths to a flame. You can use touch controls to adjust Nanoleaf Canvas, but you can also control the panels using Alexa, Google Assistant, HomeKit and IFTTT. We recommend using the low-cost, Command-brand hanging strips for wall-safe adhesion.
Read our full review of Nanoleaf Canvas.
Lenovo Smart Clock
Waking up for an 8 a.m. class after "studying" until 2 a.m. is a daunting feat. Make it easier with this Lenovo Smart Clock. This intuitive device lets you set an alarm via voice or touch screen, and offers suggestions based on events listed on your calendar. When your alarm goes off, it starts very quietly and slowly gets louder. Once you're up, the display will show you the weather and notifications so you're prepared for the day ahead. We're a big fan of the nap timer, which encourages you to squeeze a 20-minute snooze into your busy afternoon activities.
Read our full review of the Lenovo Smart Clock.
Amazon Echo Dot
Google Assistant may be our favorite smart assistant, but Amazon's Alexa and Alexa devices (like this Echo Dot) might be better suited for a collegian because of all the perks of a Prime Student account. A Prime Student account gives you many of the same benefits that a traditional Prime membership includes, but at half the cost. You can also shop the Off to College store with deals on all things dorm- and college-related.
Read our full review of the Echo Dot.
Kasa Smart Plug
Consider using a smart plug for your otherwise-dumb dorm devices. That way you'll be able to power them on (or off) from wherever you are. And at just $13 per plug, the Kasa Lite is a real value. It connects to Alexa and Google Assistant, making it simple to integrate your favorite electronics into your routine. The one catch is that the Kasa Lite is rated for only 12 amps, so if you want to use it with a device that draws more power, you should check out the WeMo Mini or the Kasa HS105 smart plug.
Monoprice Wireless Smart Power Strip
Power strips are a must in college dorms, where outlets are few and far between. Our favorite smart-power strip value is the Monoprice Wireless Smart Power Strip. With four outlets and two USB ports, it can't accommodate quite as many devices as some surge protectors. But at only $32, it's less than half the price of some of its upscale competitors. You can use Monoprice's App to control the outlets individually, or set them up to respond to other smart-home devices.
Roku Streaming Stick Plus
Just because you're at college doesn't mean you can't keep up with your shows. Adding a Roku Streaming Stick to your entertainment system is a one-stop solution for accessing your favorite apps. The Stick is our favorite streaming device, and won't take up any space in your cramped dorm room. And thanks to a wireless amplifier, you'll get a strong signal even if you're using the crappy campus network.
TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4K TV
If you're really serious about streaming, you can get the TCL Roku Smart TV. It's rated one of the best cheap TVs by Tom's Guide, and you won't sacrifice quality for the cost. You'll get Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos sound and a better-than-average version of Roku TV. It also supports Sling TV, which might offer a better cable-like experience than what your university has to offer. The 43-inch screen is also perfect for a smaller space.
Read our full review of the TCL 43S517 Roku Smart 4K TV.
JBL Link 20 Speaker
Bring the party with you wherever you go. The portable JBL Link 20 Bluetooth Speaker delivers stellar sound and almost all the features of Google Assistant. The speaker is rugged enough to withstand water and survive bumping around in your backpack as you hustle about campus. With a 10-hour battery life, sleek design and smart capabilities, it's one of the best smart speakers on the market.
Read our full review of the JBL Link 20 Speaker.