Home / Gadgets / How the gadgets my daughter took to college are working out so far – The Gadgeteer

How the gadgets my daughter took to college are working out so far – The Gadgeteer

Previously I have reviewed three different gadgets with the intention of giving them to my daughter as she headed off to her first semester of college:  the Osprey Tropos everyday backpack, the Kensington Thunderbolt 3 Nano dock, and the BunkTrunk PhD footlocker.  At the time of these reviews, I believed that each of these would work well and be a help.  Now that she has been at college for 3 weeks, it’s time to find out what my daughter thinks of them.  I gave her a call on Discord, and we talked about each gadget, what she liked and what she didn’t, what was working well and what was annoying.  At the end, I asked her to rate each one:

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  • 2 Thumbs Up – The gadget is great and she uses it a lot
  • 1 Thumb Up – The gadget is good and she uses it some
  • 0 Thumbs Up – The gadget is bad and she doesn’t use it

Let’s see what she thinks!

Osprey Tropos Everyday Backpack

Overall, my daughter really likes her Tropos; it’s a good backpack.  When we picked this particular pack, we picked it because it was one of the larger everyday packs; in fact, it’s a guys’ pack, which makes it even bigger than the equivalent gals’ pack.  She’s come to realize that it’s way bigger than she needs.  It turns out that she only takes her laptop and a couple books or notebooks to class, and the Tropos has more than enough space for carrying these items.  If she could pick again, she would get a smaller backpack and probably get one designed for gals.  The lesson learned is that sometimes it’s good to try before you buy, which is why it’s good that Osprey’s website has links to local stores.  Despite being big, the Tropos works great.

She has found that the Tropos is generally very comfortable, but it can get a bit uncomfortable after extended use.  I suspect that this is mostly due to the fact that she is not used to carrying a pack for long periods of time, and that her tolerance will increase as the semester progresses.

Her favorite feature about the Tropos is the small compartment on top where she carries her phone, headphones, a bottle of Advil, and some quarters for the vending machines. It’s super convenient to have this small, dedicated space.  She also found that the kickstand works really well, so long as she has a few books in there, and it’s a very useful feature to have in class, as it keeps the Tropos in an upright position beside her desk.

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Her biggest disappointment is the Airspeed ventilated backpanel system.  It’s designed to keep the backpack off her back and allow some ventilation, thus keeping her back cool.  It doesn’t seem to work very well, as she almost always finds that her back is hot and sweaty after a long walk to or from classes.  There’s only one thing about the Tropos that annoys her, and it’s a small thing.  If she opens the front compartment, where she stores all her pens and pencils, to get a pen, leaves it open, and then she opens the main compartment to get a notebook, the front compartment flops over and her pens and pencils are dumped out onto the floor and scattered everywhere.  This has happened to her 3 times, and it’s not a lot of fun.  She showed me a picture of this, and it seems to me that the front compartment lacks the structural integrity to remain upright on its own.  There’s probably not a solution for this, so my daughter has simply learned to be careful and not open these 2 compartments at the same time.

In the Tropos review, we had a fair amount of discussion on where to put her laptop.  In the end, she put her laptop in the final compartment, the one that is intended to carry laptops, but to compensate for some of the lack of padding, she put a small towel in the bottom.  This has worked out really well for her, and she’s happy with the protection it provides.

Rating:  2 thumbs up!

She loves this backpack and uses it all the time.

Kensington Thunderbolt 3 Nano Dock

Of the three gadgets here, my daughter had the least to say about Kensington’s dock, and the reason for this is that it just simply works.  It sits there quietly and unobtrusively doing exactly what she expects it to do.  This sounds kind of boring, but for a gadget like a dock, it’s actually high praise.

Her favorite feature is that the USB C port that connects the dock to her MacBook Pro also charges it. That means she only has one cable to plug and unplug when she takes her laptop to and from class, and she finds that to be very convenient.

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