TechRadar Choice: The tech-head's university survival kit

Or, how best to blow that first loan instalment of the year...

vado

There's no question about what you should do with that lump sum when your loan comes through at the beginning of term – squirrel it away to pay for text books, stock up on cans of baked beans and top up your library photocopying card.

There's also no question that in the first flushes of independence, and with a monumental sum of 'free' cash suddenly appearing in the bank account, priority number one is going to be tooling up with some tasty tech.

If you can tenuously justify it to "help with your course" then all the better. Because you're inevitably going to treat yourself (probably to your parents' chagrin).

Here are the ten items you should be buying, with a total budget of under £850 – you still need to eat, you know...

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advent
1. Advent 4211

While plenty of the items on this list could be dismissed as spurious luxuries, a notebook is genuinely an essential for university.

Striking a brilliant three-way balance between size, performance and price, the innocuously-named Advent 4211 is portable enough to sling in a rucksack before a lecture, but has plenty of room for MP3s to drown out the lecturer if it all gets too dull.

Best of all you can grab one in PC World the day the cash appears in your account.

Price: £279.99
Buy: www.pcworld.co.uk
TechRadar review

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rally
2. OCZ Rally 2 32GB

Whether you're ferrying documents to and from the Uni computer rooms, or simply sharing photos of a debauched night out with your mates, a decent USB key is vital for a stress-free student life.

The Rally 2 32GB is capacious enough that even if your major is in the visual arts you'll have room for the resultant high-def videos. It's also lightning quick and small enough to be popped in a pocket.

Price £71.97
Buy: www.overclock.co.uk
TechRadar review

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fuze
3. Sansa FUZE 4GB

Killing two birds with one stone, not only is the FUZE a capable MP3 player that will serve you well drowning out the drunkards on the night bus back to halls, it also boasts an excellent quality voice recorder.

That means you can record those vital lectures when you're too hungover to concentrate the next morning.

Price £68.95
Buy: www.memorycardzoo.co.uk
TechRadar review

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hp
4. HP PhotoSmart A526

A photo printer is ideal for university, not only because you'll want photos of family and old school chums dotted around your halls of residence, but also because you'll no doubt be taking photos of your friends on hedonistic nights out. And the student newspaper may want hard copies.

The PhotoSmart A526 is great quality, and is small enough not to clutter your bijou student accommodation.

Price: £56.07
Buy: www.microwarehouse.co.uk
TechRadar Review

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hercules
5. Hercules Mobile DJ Preview Edition

No doubt you'll find yourself hosting your fair share of house parties and imposing your penchant for Mongolian folk/techno fusion on your guests.

If you're playing DJ, why not spin with style using the Hercules Mobile DJ unit. Best of all, it's wireless, so you can still mill around making friends as you mix.

Price £64.51
Buy: www.comwales.com

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flashlight
6. Shake To Charge Flashlight

Perfect when you're fumbling around for the key to your residence at 4am on a moonless November evening, this torch is charged with 30 seconds of vigorous shaking, and will then shine bright for up to five minutes.

It's an LED lamp and the batteries are built in so it never requires maintenance – perfect for students!

Price: £9.99
Buy: www.qfonic.com

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vado
7. Creative Vado

There will be some momentous events at uni where photographs simply won't do it justice, so having a decent handy camera that you can whip out at opportune moments is extremely useful.

The Vado's only 640 x 480, but that's almost certainly more than enough detail for putting your mate's naked dissertation dash on YouTube.

Price: £61.92
Buy: www.lambda-tek.com
TechRadar review

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cam
8. Logitech QuickCam for Notebooks Pro

Everyone gets homesick once in a while, so if you want to chat to friends and relatives from your university hundreds of miles away, a decent webcam means you can pester them face to face.

You'll even be able to show them the throne you've built from empty cans of Carlsberg. Logitech's QuickCam for Notebooks Pro will clip nicely to your laptop and can be slipped easily into a bag.

Price: £44.99
Buy: www.play.com
TechRadar review

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psp9. PSP Slim and Lite

Long train journey home to see the folks on the cards? You could do much worse than picking up Sony's PSP Slim.

Not only is it a handy games machine, but the large, wide screen and comfortable shape makes it perfect for watching videos on public transport. If you're on National Express for the long haul north or south, it also includes W-iFi support and a built-in browser.

Price: £129.97
Buy: www.asda-electricals.co.uk
TechRadar review

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siesta10. Pure Siesta DAB Alarm Clock

Of course, in the middle of all this gadget fun there are going to be dry engagements, such as lectures and seminars that you'll be required to attend if you want /next/ year's loan.

A decent alarm clock is a good investment, and this offering from Pure has both DAB and FM radio, multiple alarms and low power consumption to save you a crippling electricity bill.

Price: £49.95
Buy: www.superfi.co.uk
TechRadar review