It’s that time of year again. Summer is drawing to a close, and kids of all ages are headed back to school (in fact, many are already there). This of course means back to school shopping is now in full swing, so we wanted to put together a list of some of our favorite tech gear that we think will help set you up for success this year.
About the guide
Back to school tech gear, for us anyway, encompasses a wide range of products that can potentially aid you in your studies. This can include anything from major hardware like laptops and tablets, to smaller accessories like desk lamps and battery packs.
The picks below were made considering a variety of factors, including usefulness (obviously this is subjective), price, professional reviews and personal experience.
Best back to school tech gear
9.7-inch iPad 32GB Wi-Fi Model
It seems kind of trite to recommend the iPad right off the back, but students of all ages will certainly benefit from the tablet. In addition to the generic duties—email, Internet, social media access—the iPad can also be used to type papers, research projects, study for tests, store text and ebooks, and much more. Pair it with a keyboard case, and it’ll perform like a laptop at a fraction of the cost. If price isn’t a major factor, upgrade to the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which will allow you to make handwritten notes using the highly-rated Apple Pencil stylus.
Buy for $330.
Marshall MID Bluetooth Headphones
Everyone needs a solid pair of Bluetooth headphones. You could make a good argument for Beats Solo3 headphones here, or even AirPods, but I felt these Marshall headphones were also worth mentioning. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because it is—Marshall has been making guitar amps and speakers for decades. And their legendary sound and vintage styling carry over nicely to these headphones. I like them because they are well-built, comfortable, sound great and feature a classy, subtle design. Again a lot of Bluetooth headphones could probably be subbed in here, but if you’re not familiar with these Marshalls, check them out.
AUKEY 12W Dimmable LED Desk Lamp
Power through those late night study sessions with this dimmable LED desk lamp from Aukey. It features an oversized 12W LED bulb that can swivel to a variety of angles, touch controls, and is adjustable with 7 levels of brightness. It also has a timer, a night light mode, and a USB port for charging your devices. I like that it can project enough light to illuminate my entire desk, and that I can change from a warm (yellow) to a cooler (white) tone depending on my task.
Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker
Avoid the inconvenience of misplacing your backpack, or losing your keys, with a Bluetooth tracker. And the most well-known one on the market right now is the Tile Mate. Roughly the size of a half-dollar, this square device attaches to your keys, bag zipper or wherever, and connects to your smartphone via…you guessed it, Bluetooth. Lose your keys? Open the Tile Mate app and if they are in range, you can see them on a map and even make the Tile ring so you can find it. Also works vice versa with your lost phone. Obviously with Bluetooth there is a limited range, but the app smartly remembers the last place your Tile Mate was to give you a starting point in your search. You can also enlist the help of the Tile community to find lost Tile Mates.
Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse
Like headphones, everyone needs a solid mouse—whether you’re using a laptop or desktop. Also like headphones, there are a lot of solid options in this category. My personal favorite right now is the Logitech MX Master. I use mine every day, for both work and play, and I really like it because it’s comfortable to use for long periods, has several customizable buttons, great build quality, and it works over Bluetooth—so it doesn’t take up any ports on my MacBook Pro. Plus it can last up to 40 days on a single charge, can be used while charging, and a newer version was just released, so the price on this model has dropped substantially.
SanDisk Extreme 64GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
A flash (or thumb) drive allows you to take your files and media with you wherever you go. Need to work on a paper at school and then later at home? Need to give a fellow student your part of the group project? Flash drive. And one of the best on the market right now is the SanDisk Extreme CZ80. It’s fast (up to 245MB/s read, 190MB/s write) with USB 3.0 support, well-built with a sliding plug design and built-in key ring, and it comes with SecureAccess software and a lifetime warranty. Available in multiple sizes, but 64GB is the sweet spot.
RAVPower 20100mAh USB-C Power Bank
Throw this portable battery from RAVPower in your backpack and always be prepared for any kind of power-related emergency. Yes you can find one of these almost anywhere these days—say, the grocery store checkout line—but not all of them are created equal. This one stands out for its high capacity battery (20100mAh), capable of recharging your iPhone up to 8 times, high power output—can power a MacBook or Nintendo Switch, and Quick Charge 3.0 compatibility. Other features include LED status lights, scratch resistant surface, and USB-C port. Has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon, on nearly 1,000 reviews.
Logitech K780 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard
My wireless keyboard of choice (at the moment) is the K780 from Logitech. There circular keys take a bit to get used to, but they have great travel and are comfortable to type on for long periods. I also like that it’s Bluetooth compatible, so again it doesn’t require any ports from my MacBook Pro, and it can connect to up to 3 devices simultaneously—so typing on your Mac, iPhone and iPad are just a single keystroke away. Plus, it even has a built-in cradle, so you can keep all of your devices close.
Osprey Packs Comet Daypack with Laptop Sleeve
Forget your Jansport and SwissGear bags. If you want a proper backpack that will travel from home to school, and everywhere else, check out the Comet Daypack from Osprey. This brand is synonymous with quality and their higher end bags sit at the top of several “Best of” travel bag lists. The Comet is a nice mid-sized daypack that works for anything from hiking to running errands. Features include a laptop/tablet sleeve, front-facing handle, several large compartments with organization, a chest strap and removable hip belt.
Rasberry PI 3
As sort of an honorable mention, I’m throwing the Raspberry PI 3 out there as well. For those who aren’t familiar with the Raspberry PI, it’s essentially a single board computer that can be converted into anything from a gaming console to a desktop computer. It’s perfect for STEM education or as a thought-provoking hobby/toy. The model 3 has a 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU, 1GB RAM, Low Energy Bluetooth, a camera interface, Micro SD card slot, and much more.