Students’ shortcut to sanity

At the Computer Electronic Expo in Los Angeles, Sony unveiled its prototype OLED monitor — a paper-thin computer screen that can flex and fold beyond belief without the tiniest crack. This could represent a new direction for the future of higher education, as whole laptop computers could be taken to class without weighing down students’ backpacks and the fear of breaking the expensive device.

Sony has yet to give a definite launch date for the technology, but in the meantime students can smooth over the pain of their daily struggle with a few of these handy devices.

The Kingston’s 4-function memory card

Bundled into one package, the Kingston 4-function memory card comes with a micro SD card, a mini SD card, a regular SD card and a USB connector.

Mobile phone users will find use in this product as it allows pictures, calling lists and saved text messages to be transferred onto a computer hard drive. It comes in two sizes each with a low price tag, compared to other multi-storage systems.

This product is perfect for the technologically impaired and the computer whiz alike for its portability and sensibility.

Two gigabytes of memory runs for $11.99 and the high-capacity 4GB model costs $14.99 —Andrea Gallagher

Price: $11.99-14.99
Grade: A

The Bamboo Fun Tablet by Wacom

This lap-sized writing surface links to any PC and provides students with a flat tablet that can be written on with a specially engineered pen that acts as a super-powered mouse. This allows alternation between a pen, mouse and keyboard all with one device.

Users can write directly onto their photos and use the paint function to create pictures and  utilize tools like various brush strokes, sizes and textures.

The tablet is pressure sensitive so line thickness and shading can be easily controlled.

Users can sign their names to documents, mark up texts and add handwritten notes using the machine. —AG    

Price: $94.95-189.95
Grade: A+

The Belkin Digital Voice Recorder for the iPod

This device lets an iPod double as a recorder — a helpful gadget for students who would like an easier way to take in memos, lectures and interviews.

Recordings can also be transferred to one’s desktop or notebook computer for storage, editing or sending to others via e-mail. And recordings can be listened to through headphones or the 16mm mini-speaker built-in to the device. —AG

Price: $39.99
Grade: B+

Sony Noise-Canceling Headphones

Finally, a noise-canceling headset for the common man. These $39.99 headphones from Sony mark a $250 price difference between its main competitor, Bose. Granted, Bose does produce the highest quality sound equipment in the world but the average college student would be sure to sacrifice a few improvements in sound for a couple hundred bucks.

The noise-cancellation feature works just as well as Bose’s product and can help when trying to fall asleep while your roommate parties all night. —Matt Ferrara    

Price: $39.99
Grade: A

The Reader Digital Book by Sony

The size of a small paperback novel, the Reader allows users to carry a stack of books in one hand. It dramatically decreases the weight of one’s backpack, making that cross-campus walk much easier. 

The device can hold up to 160 eBooks at one time with 20,000 titles available in the eBook library that comes with the device when purchased. It weighs 9 ounces and is only half an inch wide so it’s extremely portable.

The device uses internal memory that can be expanded with an optional removable memory card. The Reader uses a rechargeable battery with enough power to read 7,500 continuous pages.

Additional features include the ability to download new releases and specialty titles from the eBooks web store to increase one’s library size and the text size can be changed by using its touchpad as not to put strain on one’s eyes. —AG

Price: $299.99
Grade: B- (only for the price tag)

VIZO Mini Ninja Notebook Cooling Stand

For students who have to work on term papers for hours on end, or who just spend an unhealthy amount of time on Facebook, it’s not uncommon for one’s laptop to become boiling-lava-hot.

This isn’t the most exciting product in the world, but it is useful and considerate of one’s other devices. The Mini Ninja comes with two adjustable cooling fans and operates using one USB drive. However, the device gives what it takes away — the USB port it uses is double-sided and allows for an additional cord to be plugged in. —MF

Price: $34.99
Grade: B

Franklin Merriam Webster Intermediate Dictionary/Thesaurus

Defining on the go? OK, it may be unrealistic to say that a dictionary is something one must have portably, but for a low price it can’t hurt. This digital dictionary holds up to 270,000 definitions and 500,000 synonyms and antonyms.

Its sleek design and thin cover make it easy to carry in a pocket book or wallet, and the keyboard is well laid out and big enough to use without flubbing a few characters.

This is not only one of the cheapest digital dictionaries on the market but also one of the easiest to use. —MF

Price: $31.99
Grade: A

Other helpful services:

The Microsoft applications necessary for today’s student to have in order to successfully create, send and receive documents are available to USF students at a huge discount of $62 for the Mac bundle and $88.15 for the Microsoft Office Enterprise Suite for Windows.

Included in the packages are Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and  Outlook (the Windows version also includes Access, Publisher, Communicator, Groove, InfoPath and OneNote). Regular retail price for these bundled programs range from $230 to $439.

Also, if a computer gets a virus, a laptop keyboard breaks, a screen cracks or if one’s experiencing a myriad of other computer issues, the USF Computer Service offers a computer and laptop diagnostic test for $45 — an estimate of how much it will cost to fix the problem. The cost of the test will be deducted from the price of repairing the broken item, should the owner decide to have the computer store fix it.