No student should step onto campus without a few tech toys to help them remain productive, connected and entertained.
If you’re looking for some ideas on what to invest in for the school year, we’ve compiled 11 great gadgets for use in the dorm room, lecture hall, or while walking around between classes.
(While this week focuses on high-school and college picks, next week’s Surf Report column will look at educational tech toys for younger students.)
All in the wrist
Students are often on the run, and so a wrist-mounted smartwatch might be a convenient way to stay on top of your busy life. Crafted with stainless steel and strong glass, the Pebble Steel ($179.99) is Bluetooth-connected watch that talks to a nearby smartphone (Apple iOS or Android), and works with thousands of apps and customizable watch faces. Apps can show you who’s calling or texting, live sports scores, turn-by-turn navigation, fitness info, playable games, music control, and more. This waterproof watch comes with both metal and leather straps.
Print, scan, repeat
The HP Envy 5660 Wireless e-All-In-One ($149.99) is compact wireless printer, scanner and copier, that can produce lab-quality photos and laser-quality documents from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop -- even when you’re out of the home or dorm room. Other features include 2.7-inch color touchscreen, automatic 2-sided printing to save on paper, a 125-sheet main input tray, and support for HP Instant Ink, a smart service (from $2.99/month) that automatically sends new ink to your door when the all-in-one detects its running low.
The just-launched Samsung Gear IconX ($199.99) is a pair of wireless earbuds that can hold up to 1,000 songs on its 4GB of internal storage – therefore not taking up any valuable space on your smartphone – but can also wireless connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth, if you prefer. This teeny product has another trick up its sleeve: it’s also a fitness tracker that can give you audible info like speed, distance, duration, calories burned, and heart rate. After your workout, sync the Gear IconX with your Samsung smartphone for a deeper dive on your stats.
On the surface
There are tablets and there are laptops, but the Surface Pro 4 (from $899.99, not including 10 percent student discount) straddles that line between the two form factors. By day, write notes using the bundled Surface Pen on the 12.3-inch HD touchscreen. At night, prop up the kickstand, attached an optional Type Cover keyboard and crank out an essay. Or use your fingertips to flick through movies, games, or ebooks. Powered by an Intel Core processor and full Windows 10 OS, Surface also has a USB port, microSD slot, and more.
Wham cam, thank you ma’am
Want to make sure your college roommate isn’t touching your stuff when you’re not there? The mydlink HD Day/Night Wi-Fi Camera (model # DCS-936L; $79.99) is a discrete wireless camera that not inly saves recordings onto a microSD memory card – once it triggers sound or motion – but you can get notifications on your phone wherever you may be (and with no monthly fees). Along with night vision support and a wide-angle 130-degree lens to get more in, this camera also has a Wi-Fi signal indicator to help you find the optimal spot to place it in.
What’s your type?
Rather than lug a laptop between classes, students might only need a smartphone or tablet and Logitech’s portable and afford K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard ($39.99). Whether you’re on an iPhone, iPad, Android, or Windows device, this one portable keyboard can be used wirelessly with up to three different devices. Along with multiple colors to choose from, a comfortable QWERTY keyboard and handy shortcut keys, battery life lasts up to 2 years (via two AAA batteries, preinstalled).
Beam me up, Scotty
When is a tablet more than a tablet? When it’s also a projector for your dorm room. Say, what? The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 3 Pro ($599.99) is a stunning 10.1-inch tablet with a trick up its sleeve: press a button on the side to splash a movie on your wall up to 70 inches. This Android-powered device also has a built-in kickstand, front-firing JBL speakers, expandable memory, and a killer battery that lasts up to 18 hours between charges.
Thanks for the memory
Your iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s is a pretty sweet smartphone, but a clever accessory can expand its storage, boost its battery, and protect it from the bumps and knocks of every day student life. Starting at $59.99 (for 32GB), the SanDisk iXpand Memory Case can automatically back-up photos and videos from your camera roll, or let you play movies off the case so it doesn’t take up any internal storage. A 64GB and 128GB option is available, too. The optional $39 SanDisk iXpand Battery pack adds a magnetic 1900mAh boost to the back of the case.
Add some boom to your dorm room with the House of Marley Get Together ($199.99). With a built-in rechargeable battery and integrated Bluetooth connectivity, this portable sound system is perfect streaming your tunes wirelessly from your favorite device. With front and back panels made of natural bamboo, as well as exclusive Rewind fabric (made from recycled water bottles, hemp and organic cotton), this great-looking speaker doesn’t just sound great but is also attractive and environmentally sustainable.
While you might be happy with your existing computer, you might want to supersize your view. LG’s massive 34-inch LG UltraWide Curved LED Monitor (model #34UM88C; $908.99) offers a ton of real estate – ideal for serious multitaskers – thanks to its 21: 9 aspect ratio, which is like having two monitors side by side. Also recommended for movie lovers, computer gamers, and video editors, this IPS monitor offers Quad HD resolution, multiple connectivity options, and integrated speakers.
College-bound students could probably use some good coffee to help them through long study sessions. The Keurig K200 Coffee Brewer ($119.99) is an ultra compact premium coffee maker – ideal for the tiniest of dorm rooms – and can brew in one of nine sizes, such as 4 oz. or 10 oz. cups, or even a full carafe for a late night exam cram. Available in white, red or black, the K200 also features separate settings for hot cocoa and other specialty beverages, like chai tea.
Columnist Marc Saltzman writes on tech devices and trends for USA TODAY. Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hey students, this gear makes the grade