Tech round-up for September 5: Prime for students, designing your dorm room, laptop alternatives, what's new in gaming

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, back to school also means back to the game console, laptop alternatives for students, and apps to help you come up with the best layout for your dorm. But first, Amazon’s got a Prime deal for students.

Amazon offers Prime deal for students

It can be difficult to get out to the store to purchase staples when you’re in college or university. There’s sleeping in to be done, classes to attend, pubs and parties to put in appearances at.

Amazon Prime Student to the rescue. Students in two- or four-year programs can get a membership for half price, and set up recurring orders for things like toothpaste, granola bars, and pencils.

In addition to the convenience of free two-day shipping, you also get Prime Video and Prime Music, and deals on video-game pastimes with Twitch.

Apps for students in the dorm

Typical dormitories at colleges and universities are small spaces, but you can make the most of what you’ve got with a couple of clever smartphone apps, available for free.

  • PLNAR is only available for iOS and uses the iPhone’s augmented reality to create a three-dimensional map of your room. You don’t even need a measuring tape, because PLNAR can do the measuring for you. You can export your file as a CAD file, too.
  • You can also use Magicplan (Android and iOS) to design the optimal floor plan for your room, including the best way to arrange those plank-like single beds.
  • Ikea Place (Android and iOS) uses augmented reality to let you see what your favourite Scandinavian furniture looks like next to that human anatomy poster.

Laptop alternatives for students

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Apple computers. But Windows 10 is a great operating system and devices running it come in a range of configurations to meet nearly any need.

Asus alone has a half dozen laptops ranging from the entry-level VivoBook series, including the basic S15 (about $1,000) and the Flip 14 (starting at about $700) which introduces the 360-degree hinge, to the Republic of Gamers devices with premium components, including the Zephyrus M ($2,800) with its groundbreaking cooling system that opens up the bottom of the laptop to allow more air to move through the machine.

There’s also the slick ZenBook series including the Pro 15 ($2,300), which has introduced a new feature called “Screen Pad” which turns the track pad into a miniature screen that can extend your desktop. It can also display media details like a small audio player and can be used to create digital signatures.

Microsoft has developed its Surface line of computers into seriously good options, too. All of them can run the full version of Windows 10 (although some are coming configured with the lightweight Windows 10 S), which means that while they may have tablet functionality, they are full-fledged computers, too.

The Surface Laptop ($1069) is a traditional laptop of the options. It will give you some 14 hours of battery life.

The Surface Pro ($1049) is a tablet that supports the Surface Pen for taking notes right on the screen, and converts easily into a laptop with the slick attachable keyboard.

Back to school means back to gaming, too

Yesterday wasn’t just back to school. It also opens the door to all the video games being released in the coming months.

Marvel’s Spider-Man, which I previewed and which I’ve been playing for the past couple of weeks, comes out on Friday, and is as good a superhero game as the Batman Arkham series from Rocksteady.

Friday is also the release day for two basketball sims, 2K’s NBA 2K19 and EA’s NBA Live 19.

Next week we get NHL 19 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the third game in the rebooted Lara Croft franchise, and on September 28 is FIFA 19 for all the footy fans.

But yesterday marked the release of Forsaken, the new expansion for Activision’s Destiny 2.

As far as the narrative is concerned, this update is significant because it seemingly kills off Cayde-6, who has been played by Nathan Fillion, and sets players in pursuit of the prison escapee who shot him with his own gun.

But Destiny 2 is also getting new weapons, new sub-classes for Hunters, Titans, and Warlocks, a new area to explore, and a new multiplayer mode called Gambit, which pits teams against each other and against the game’s AI enemies at the same time.

It’s all got me a bit breathless.

And I’m guessing that the developers at Bungie are already trying to figure out how to resurrect the beloved Cayde-6.


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