College Tech
July 31, 2007 9:08 PM   Subscribe

What electronics should I bring to my new apartment?

I am a college student moving into a new apartment. I have a few dillemas as to which electronics to bring up to school.

Question 1: Should I bring a TV? If so, I was looking at the Dell 2005FPW. I can get a refurbished one for cheap and use it as both an external monitor for my macbook, and as a television. Good idea? The only thing I am worried about is loss of productivity. There will be a community TV elsewhere in the house, but a lot of my friends say to me "What if you want to watch a movie with your girlfriend?"

Question 2: Which speakers should I bring? I own both the Altec-Lansing ADA885 4.1 THX surround sound system and the Behringer Truth B2031 Active Monitors. I also have a M-Audio Firewire 410 for controlling and connecting the latter to the computer. I usually play music off my laptop or ipod, but if I have a TV, this could be a factor.

Question 3: Is there any other technological thing I really need for the apartment?

Kids these days.
posted by benji to Technology (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is there any other technological thing I really need for the apartment?

Kids these days.

Take a radio. Use your spare time as a chance to expand your musical horizons. Ditch the TV.
posted by unixrat at 9:16 PM on July 31, 2007

First, a clarification is necessary. When you say you are a "college student moving into a new apartment," do you mean that you're already in college, and you're moving into an apartment from some other collegiate living situation (e.g. a dorm)? Or are you headed off to college for the first time from home, and going to an apartment?

It's tough to address the TV question, not knowing how easily distractable you are, and what your study habits are like.

Personally, I'd bring a TV, but then again, I never did any work in my dorm room when I was in school. I always went to a study carrel in the library, because that's how I got into "work mode." When I was in the library, I did work and only work. When I was in my dorm room, other stuff.

But if you want to work from your room, and you know that you won't be able to deal with the temptation of the TV / DVD collection / game console staring at you, then perhaps it might be better not to bring it.

That said, I really liked having a TV in my room, and I think most people have one (or, these days, have a computer monitor big enough to use as a TV).

I would forget about the whole 4.1 home theater thing in your dorm room. You'll just piss your neighbors off with all those speakers in a small room. And that's not cool.

As for other stuff ... it all depends on the layout of the apartment. If you're not on the ground floor, or if there's a locked door between the street and the actual door to your apartment, a wireless doorbell or intercom is a nice thing to have. (Although, with nearly everyone having a cell phone these days, it might not get as much use ... but still, good to have.) It sucks to have to bang on a door or throw stones at somebody's window because you got locked out or whatever.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:22 PM on July 31, 2007

Instead of purchasing a new display, you can use any television which has composite or S-Video inputs with your MacBook using this $20 item.
posted by porn in the woods at 9:37 PM on July 31, 2007

I made it through four years of undergrad and a year of post-undergrad corporate-world work without owning a TV. I bought a Dell 2407WFP for grad school and I love it as a monitor (I do light-duty video and graphics work, plus scripting/programming) but don't have anything else attached to the s-video/component inputs. It plays DVDs nicely through my desktop's DVD player though!

You don't strictly _need_ anything. If you decide you want something else later and can afford it and have time to use it, go for it, but for now I'd be more concerned with furniture and the like!
posted by Alterscape at 9:42 PM on July 31, 2007

What porn in the woods suggests is right, but the quality will be bad. If you can afford an external monitor, go for it.
posted by stereo at 9:55 PM on July 31, 2007

what if you want to watch a movie with your girlfriend? snuggle on the bed, put your laptop close by on the desk, and play it there. most of your movies will be downloaded anyway if you're like most college students.
posted by PercussivePaul at 10:44 PM on July 31, 2007

I got by in college without ever owning a TV... and 6 years later I STILL don't actually own my own. But I watch a lot of TV.

Communal TVs work just fine for most anything one needs, and I second the "play it off your computer" for anything else.
posted by flaterik at 11:16 PM on July 31, 2007

You must realize that illegally downloading video off the internet is much more pleasant than watching it on broadcast or cable, if you have the self-control to give up instant gratification. About the best the "TV" can do right now is video on demand, which: costs money, has an extremely limited selection, a limited amount of time that you hold on to the video, and generally requires a dedicated appliance and service. Meanwhile, you can pull down an entire commercial-free season of anything within a day or two, and with the technology progressing it will probably be effectively instantaneous by the time you graduate.

So what you really ought to consider is if you want a secondary monitor for your computer, DVDs, video games, and downloaded videos, not if you want a "TV."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:36 PM on July 31, 2007

When I lived in an apartment with six other people, if anyone had a TV it stayed downstairs in the living room for networked video games (we played a lot of Halo.) This also meant that no one sat in their room all day watching TV alone.
posted by Loto at 3:47 AM on August 1, 2007

(To clarify, I still don't own a TV but I now own an LCD with inputs that would make it usable as a TV, assuming I had something that worked as a tuner). Also, what Stereo said -- SD TV was -not- made for any kind of actual computing. Sure you can do VGA->SD TV with an adapter but if you're doing anything other than playing video it will suck massively. Eyestrain like whoa!
posted by Alterscape at 3:49 AM on August 1, 2007

I'm a recent college graduate and faced the same question, only I don't have roommates. I ended up buying a used television on Craiglist, it was my first since living at home.

I use it to play my new (used) Game Cube. For entertainment, my girlfriend and I just watch movies and TV on my MacBook Pro. I don't actually watch any shows or have cable.

I second the suggestion of getting a radio. I love my Tivoli Model Two.

The only other electronic device I ended up needing in my later years in college was a Black&Decker 14.4 Volt cordless drill.
posted by vkxmai at 7:51 AM on August 1, 2007

I'd bring the simplest speaker setup and not buy a TV. If you get there, and decide you'd like to have a TV, you can buy one.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:00 AM on August 1, 2007

Question 1: Should I bring a TV?

If you want to. Not, if you don't. If you are worried about productivity, then don't bring it. Unless you're going to school a zillion miles from home and have no car, you can always get the Dell or similar over Christmas break if you don't like life without it.

Question 2: Which speakers should I bring?

The ones you like better. If you still cannot make up your mind, flip a coin. You are overthinking this plate of beans.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:07 AM on August 1, 2007

I've had a 2005fpw for years and makes a great bedroom "TV", so probably good for a dorm. Good quality, and all those inputs will let you hook up just about any device. I never used the tilt-to-portrait mode feature, but I wasn't writing school papers or anything. You might.

As for how to watch TV in college:
The common TV in the hallway is for watching TV with other people - sports, the Simpsons, etc. Great for that.
But sometimes you will want to retreat to your own room and watch some comfort tv or snuggle up with your honey and watch a DVD. That's what a computer with a DVD drive and a good monitor are for.

You won't lose much productivity if you can't channel-flip while waiting for "something good" to come on. If you don't have anything on hand (DVD, download, etc) then you don't have anything to watch.

Another nice TV substitute is Democracy Player (soon to change name to Miro, I think). It's an OK media player, but what it's good for is subscribing to 5-20 minute video downloads, like subscribing to a podcast or RSS feed. Find a few video feeds you like, and you'll have something like TV to watch when you need a break, but you won't end up zombied out in front of it for 6 hours re-watching all of Season 1 of Galactica on DVD or anything.
posted by bartleby at 4:17 PM on August 3, 2007

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