If your child is getting ready to go back to school, impress him or her by being in the know about the latest tech must-haves. Here are some of my favorite products and tips for college students – ranging from the best laptops to stores that offer student discounts.
Laptops: If your student needs a new laptop, the best bet is a PC ultrabook or Apple equivalent. They’re lightweight yet ultra-powerful, so he won’t sacrifice functionality for portability. For PC users, I recommend the Dell XPS 13 ($1000+) or Toshiba Z835 ($850+) and for Mac lovers, the latest MacBook Air ($1000+).
Mobile Accessories: One of my tried and true brands is Logitech. If you’ve already invested in a tablet or desktop – there are ways to increase its productivity and make it a more versatile tool. To go with a tablet, consider a Bluetooth wireless keyboard which will let her quickly and easily type emails, research on the web, or take classroom notes; my pick: Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Case, ($100). For desktop users, find a keyboard and mouse that will not only improve performance, but add a little flair to her desk. My suggestions: Logitech Graffiti series keyboard ($30) and Microsoft Limited Edition Artist Series wireless mouse ($30). And since we know laptop and tablet speakers can’t deliver the beats she’ll want to blast in the dorm, a wireless speaker is a smart accessory. A nice, compact, affordable option: the HDMX Jamwireless speaker ($50).
Data Backup: If he’s up in arms about the lack of wireless hotspots on campus, put an end to his frustration. With the Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless hard drive ($200) he can create his own Wi-Fi hotspot while having the backup he needs. With this device he can share information on up to 3 computers simultaneously, which is great for group projects. And speaking of group projects, if he doesn’t have a cloud service account — now’s the time to set one up. It makes sharing documents, sending large emails, and backing up data seamless. For ease of use, nothing’s more intuitive than Dropbox. Microsoft and Apple offer their own services that are deeply integrated into most of their new computers.
Pens: If she’s a traditional pen and paper student, treat her to Pilot Frixion pens and highlighters ($2 and up). They’re like old-school erasable pens but don’t smudge and the erasers never get eaten away as they erase when friction is applied to the tip of the pen (hence the name).
Phones and Accessories: If he’s up for a new phone, the one to pick is largely dependent upon you family’s carrier and his needs. A few of my faves include: Nokia Lumia 900/HTC Titan 2 for Win 8, HTC One X/Samsung Galaxy S3 for Android and of course the iPhone 4S for iOS. But the good news is that most service providers offer students discounted plans; most vary based upon the school and range from around 5-20% of your family’s monthly bill. And regardless of which phone he picks or has, it’s a good idea to get him a case to protect it. I’m a big fan of the CM4 Q Card Case ($40) as it can double as a wallet. A few other novel standouts: the Opena Case,$40 (doubles as a bottle opener), Incipio OffGrid, $100 (also serves as a battery extender), Ego Snap Case, $35+ (has a built-in 4G or 8G thumb drive) and the Brookstone Keyboard Case,$80 (can be used as a keyboard).
Headphones: Like me, I’m sure she turns to music to get through late-night library sessions or walks to and from the classroom. Treat her to a good pair of headphones. While Bose deserve their hype, they come at a premium price — the over-ear QuietComfort are $300 and the in-ear IE2, $100. More affordable high quality options can be found though, including the over-ear Panasonic RP-HTX7, $56 and iLuv iEP505, $35.
Shredders: With the freedom of living on your own comes responsibility. For many students, college is the first time they’re in charge of their own bills and they should be taught that it’s important to keep their private information secure. A shredder provides a quick and simple way for them to protect their privacy. For dorm use, I recommend the quiet and low-profile Black and Decker Studio Shredder ($50).
Student Discounts: Manufacturers understand that money is tight for students. That’s why many companies offer great deals for back-to-school. Some of my favorites include:
And here are some of my fave year-round student discounts (just remember to have your ID handy!):
In general, it’s a good idea to ask a store or company if it offers any student discounts. For instance, many museums, transportation/insurance companies, and fitness studios offer discounts – even though they’re not heavily advertised. I’ve learned that there’s no harm in asking!