Back-to-school technology every kid needs
It’s back-to-school time again, and that means it’s time for you to hit the stores. You may be surprised when you see the supply list -- it’s a lot longer than it was when you were in school! Your kids still need paper, pencils and glue, but they also need a few tech gadgets. Even if they aren’t on the list, these techie treasures will make the transition from summer to school year much easier on your student, whether she's in middle school, high school or college.
No one likes to be chained to a desk all day. A laptop computer gives him a chance to get comfy when it’s time to study, and older students can carry them to class for easy note-taking. Laptops don’t come cheap, but they're a lot cheaper than they used to be. You can pick one up for $300 to $400 -- keep in mind that they’ll last a few years if they’re taken care of, so it’s a worthwhile investment.
If you send her to school with a laptop, make sure she has everything she needs to use it to its full potential.
- Cooler -- Laptops are notorious for overheating, and over time that can cause significant damage to the computer's internal components. Pick up a laptop cooler to make sure the computer lasts. A good one should keep the laptop around 10 degrees cooler than it normally runs, and newer models are less clunky and awkward.
- Mouse -- A laptop mouse isn’t a necessity, but they do make things easier. Laptop trackpads are tiny and can cause hand cramps -- plus they’re just not convenient when you’re doing a lot of typing or cutting and pasting. Some newer versions don’t require a USB port, which -- let’s face it -- is precious real estate on a laptop.
- Laptop lock -- Laptops aren’t cheap, so you certainly don’t want hers lying around unattended. Most laptop locks will work with nearly any brand or model and can chain the laptop to a desk or table. They’ll run $20 to $30, but it’s worth that cost if it keeps you from having to replace the computer.
- Laptop bag -- Laptops are portable, but it’s much easier to get around with them if you have a bag to help out. Look for one that fits not only the computer, but also all of your accessories.
Whether it’s for printing out an essay or a picture from last weekend’s party, he's going to need a printer. Make things easier for everyone by grabbing one that’s wireless. You’ll have fewer wires to deal with, and laptops can print from anywhere. Look for one that’s smartphone capable, and he can print out tonight’s homework while he walks home from class.
If there’s room in your budget, spring for a tablet. They serve as smaller computers and are much more portable than laptops. Tablets can also double as e-readers, and downloaded textbooks are much cheaper and easier to carry than the paper versions.
Another advantage of tablets is that they are customizable with apps, some free and some paid. Look for apps (for both your tablet and smartphone) that record classes, help take notes, remind you of test dates and organize assignments. These apps and others like them will help turn your device into the perfect back-to-school tool.
Is your student tired of hiking to the library for a quiet place to study? Buy him a pair of noise-canceling headphones so he can have peace and quiet, no matter where he is.