Back To School 1 - Page 16 - New School Year, New Tech Gear

Back To School 1
- Page 16
New School Year, New Tech Gear
By Megan Weeden,
Contributing Writer

Just as the lazy days of summer are winding down, the back-to-school shopping frenzy heads into full swing. While this used to mean shopping for new clothes, notebooks, pencils and backpacks – parents and kids today likely have a few tech gadgets on their back-to-school shopping lists. Even kids as young as elementary school age will find themselves in need of some technology in order to succeed in school.

Not sure which gadgets your student might need for school? From elementary school to college, here’s a look at must-have tech for students.

For many of us, school meant sitting in quiet rows, listening to lectures and memorizing information. Today’s classrooms encourage hands-on collaborative experiences, where students develop both skills and knowledge.

Laptops and tablets are essential for most students as they head back to school. While most schools still offer computer labs, it’s pretty much expected from an early age that kids will have access to a computer for doing assignments and homework. Some schools, like those in Baltimore County, provide laptops to all students – giving students from first to 12th grade access to technology and transforming the way lessons are taught.

If your school doesn’t provide laptops, there are plenty of budget-friendly options like Chromebooks, which are popular in K-12 classrooms for their compact size, use of free Google apps and security and will ensure your student can complete assignments at home.

For students in high school or college, Best Buy recommends thinking about your needs and degree path before purchasing a laptop.

For example, math majors should look for a laptop with a touch screen to take notes and work through equations directly on the computer screen; architecture students will want something with great graphics (such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 6, which offers the versatility of a laptop, tablet and portable studio all-inone); engineering students most likely will need a computer with Windows; and photography and design students will likely need a Mac.

When choosing a laptop, consider the specifications including processing speed, memory and internal storage.

And be sure to look for student discounts. Best Buy offers special deals for college students, including deals on software like Microsoft Office. Whichever laptop or tablet you choose, it’s also recommended that you invest in a good carrying case, screen protector and service plan in case anything breaks.

Best Buy’s Total Tech Support can help with basic software fixes (even if you don’t purchase it at Best Buy). If you do buy your tech at Best Buy, consider purchasing a protection plan or warranty to cover accidental damage, like a cracked screen, to your device. In addition to helping out in emergencies, the support plan also offers regular care and cleaning, data backup and more.

USB Thumb Drive
One of the most useful gadgets for students is also one of the cheapest – a USB thumb drive.  hese handy drives range in price from a few dollars to just under $100, depending on your storage needs.While some Macs take only USBCs, a standard USB thumb drive is often the easiest way to move files from one computer to another.

Smart Speakers
Another helpful, if not necessary, device is a smart speaker. A smart speaker like an Amazon Echo or Google Home can help students who might be living on their own for the first time set reminders, alarms and even call home (without a phone bill). Plus, they’ll enjoy being able to stream music from their subscription services.

Noise-canceling Headphones
It’s easy to get distracted when you’re studying, especially in a noisy environment like a dorm room or student union. A pair of noise-canceling headphones can work wonders in these situations. Students can listen to music and tune out the rest of the world, minimizing distractions.

Backup
Losing your work by accident is every student’s nightmare. TheWDMy Cloud Home lets you backup from anywhere, from any device, with the My Cloud Home app. It’s your own personal cloud, so you’ll be able to access your papers and projects from anywhere there’s an internet connection. Plus, with 4TB of storage, you’ll have plenty of space for photos, games and music.

Portable Power Banks
With a big reliance on mobile devices like smartphones and wireless headphones, things can become disastrous when your battery runs low. That makes a portable power bank a must have. These inexpensive and compact devices incorporate a battery so a smartphone or other mobile device can be recharged without needing an electrical outlet.

Tech Backpacks
Perhaps even better than a portable power bank is a charging backpack. Fit your laptop and other tech gear while having the convenience of charging your devices built-in.

Amazon Prime Membership
Amazon offers a great discount to students with a .edu email address. Students can sign up for a six-month free trial, with a $6.49 per month after that. The student membership comes with all the Amazon Prime perks including free shipping, music, and movies and shows.

Smartphones
Just about every student wants one if they don’t already have one. It’s the device they use to text,email, chat and interact on social media. It’s also a device that can be used for gaming and streaming music and video. The apps can turn it into everything from a calculator to an online calendar to help keep track of schedules. Students can choose between an iOS or an Android device.

One more tip – school is expensive. Best Buy says students can save some serious cash by trading unused devices like phones, tablets and computers. For more ideas of how to make school and college fun and efficient, check out Best Buy’s student hub on BestBuy.com. •