And here we go again.

Try walking into Target, Wawlmart, Staples, or a discount furniture store this time of year.

Everyone is spending all that discretionary income on back to school and back to college items. Beds and futons. Microwaves and microfridges. Notebooks and netbooks. It’s a cornucopia really.

We guarantee you missed something vital.

Here are five things you need, but didn’t buy, for your dorm or recently graduated apartment.

1. A home theater receiver with HDMI

You may have speakers. You may not, so keep that in mind.

What we know you DO have is a video game console or two, a Blu-ray player or DVD player and cable service with DVR. You also have that shiny new flat panel your parents bought you.

You need a home theater receiver to (a) have surround sound and (b) organize everything into a manageable mess.

An old hand-me-down receiver will not work. You need a receiver with HDMI ports.

On a budget, the Yamaha RX-V371BL will do the trick. It has four HDMI inputs as well as an output. This means you only need HDMI cables to wire up your PS3, video player, etc. You do not need several multicolored cables for video and optical cables for audio. One wire, done.

Of course, if you want to get a little more complicated and a lot more high-end, check this out.

2. A personal smoothie blender

You want the Oster BLSTPB-WBL My Blend 250-Watt Blender. Just trust our judgement on that.

You want to get in shape. You want to eat and drink healthy things. You just don’t have a handy solution. For all of $29.50, you can have a personal blender that makes fruit smoothies, mixes protein shakes, and allows you to craft something just for you.

The 20-ounce BPA-free plastic bottle is dishwasher safe and fits most cup holders.

It will pulverize frozen fruit, fresh fruit, ice, and even veggies, if you’re really healthy.

The My Blend also comes in a variety of stylish colors.

3. A keyboard case for iPad

You may very well have been lucky enough to own an iPad or have received one as a gift. The iPad is wonderful. The apps. The multimedia. The battery life. Love it.

The super duper new folding case? Not so much. It slips off and doesn’t provide much protection.

It’s also a bitch to type anything long on a touchscreen.

The Logitech Keyboard Case for iPad 2 solves a lot of these problems.

First, it is an aluminum case. It adds a new level of protection beyond the soft cover you may have purchased with the iPad. It’s also soft on the inside to keep your screen safe.

Second, it’s a real keyboard, no worse than a laptop keyboard. It lets you sit there and take notes or write emails or blog more comfortably on an iPad.

It also works in portrait or landscape mode.

4. HDMI and Cat5e Cables

We touched on wires a bit in the first option, but cables are the salt of the techno-dorm’s earth. The two main wires in services today are HDMI multimedia cables and Cat5e network wire.

Do. Not. Buy. Them. At. Best Buy.

At their core, cables and wires are cheap. They are just wire! Copper, plastic, rubber. Raw materials. They cost very little to make.

Do not pay $50 for an HDMI cable and $30 for a network cable.

Buy your cables on Amazon. You can get a good HDMI cable for $10 or a decent cable for about $3.

Network cable is even cheaper.

You can get 25-feet of Cat5E (which works for gigabit ethernet) for 30 cents on Amazon.

You need cables for all your devices. Don’t pay a lot for them.

5. A Crock-Pot

Even if you can’t cook at all, you can still use a Crock-Pot to make food.

And the Crock-Pot Cook and Carry 6-Quart Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker lets you not only cook but bring your melange of foodstuffs with you. You can actually bring something homemade to that housewarming party you’re going to next week.

These slow cookers make stews and and chilis very doable. Anyone can cook with a Crock Pot, and if you’re new to living on your own, you need one. Unless you enjoy Ramen every day.

Oh, and it’s $29, so no price excuses here.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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