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Back to School Tech Checklist

posted by Suzanne Kantra on August 09, 2011 in Family and Parenting, Kids, Guides & Reviews, Back to School, Shopping :: 6 comments

It’s back to school time and, like most parents, I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to make my kids more productive.

 
HP Pavilion dm1z

HP Pavilion dm1z

Laptop

If you’re looking for portability and the ability to write and research papers online, a lightweight, entry-level system like the 3.5-pound HP Pavilion dm1z ($399.99) is a great choice. If PowerPoint, video editing or gaming factor in, you’ll need to step up to a mid-level processor and a discreet graphics card, like those found on the HP Pavilion dm4x ($774.99, with the 1GB Radeon HD 6470 discreet graphics card option).

 
Incase Nylon Sling Pack

Incase Nylon Sling Pack

Laptop backpack

Lots of pockets, a well-padded, integrated laptop sleeve and a dirt-resistant fabric are all important in a laptop backpack. The Incase Nylon Sling Pack ($79.95) is great for younger students carrying smaller laptops (up to 15 inches). For a backpack, try the Incase Nylon Compact Backpack ($63.94).

 
HTC Thunderbolt

HTC Thunderbolt

Cell phone

When kids are old enough to navigate the world without adult supervision, it’s time to consider getting them a cell phone. A smartphone is a great choice, since it serves as a game machine, music and video player, e-book reader and camera, in addition to enabling them to call home. If you’re set on the next generation iPhone, sit tight. Otherwise take a serious look at the top Android handset available from your carrier: AT&T’s Samsung Infuse ($124.99), Sprint’s Motorola Photon ($179.99), T-Mobile’s HTC Sensation ($199.99) and Verizon’s HTC ThunderBolt ($49.99).

 

iLuv iBA300Phone backup charger

If you’re worried about your child becoming stranded without a phone, the iLuv iBA300 ($69.99) provides approximately 15 hours of additional talk time from its 2700mAh battery. Most chargers are rated at 1150mAh (about three additional hours) or 1800mAh (about four additional hours). The iLuv iBA300 is also capable of outputting more power than standard chargers, which means it can be used with the iPad.

 

Livescribe EchoPen/recorder

The Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen ($97.64) record what is heard and written simultaneously, so your kids can go back to their notes and play the corresponding audio by tapping on any word. And if they’re really ambitious, they can upload everything to the computer, convert their written notes to text and make everything searchable.

 

iLuv iBA300Printer

Whether your kids need photos for a science fair project or a decorative cover for a written report, they are bound to benefit from the photo printing, scanning and color copying capabilities of a multifunction printer. The Canon PIXMA MG6120 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-in-One Printer ($99.98) does all that admirably, plus it has the ability to work on wireless home networks so you can work in one room and print in another.

 

Etymotic hf3 Headphones

Shockingly light, the critically-acclaimed Etymotic hf3 ($107.06 on Amazon.com) in-ear headphones have a wide dynamic range that lets you hear more of your music. You get interchangeable silicon noise-isolating ear tips as well as ear tips made of sponge-like foam, which allow in some ambient noise. The headphones have an in-line mic and support iPhone's Voice Control and music navigation. Plus, a new Awareness app (free) listens for sounds louder than normal background noises and either lowers the music or vibrates your iPhone to keep you safe when running.

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Discussion loading

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Seriously?

From Brent on August 09, 2011 :: 10:44 am

You’re seriously recommending people considering “gaming” when it comes to what they send kid’s back to school with?

When it comes to school supplies, gaming shouldn’t be a consideration.

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You're not going to consider

From Josh Kirschner on August 09, 2011 :: 10:59 am

You’re not going to consider that your kids may want to relax at some point during the years they’re in school? Weekends? Holidays? Summer?

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Josh, I never said that.

From Brent on August 09, 2011 :: 11:08 am

Josh, I never said that.  I’m only saying that shouldn’t be a consideration on tech that goes to school with them.  There will be tech at home for them to do that with, that doesn’t go to school.

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Back to School Tech Checklist

From Cecilia Davis 893 on August 09, 2011 :: 12:05 pm

Frankly,unless it’s a requirement,the only tech my daughter is getting for school is a flash drive and a minute phone.We have a a computer,printer and a game system at home that she can use.All these things are great,and believe me we love our tech,but most of it is beyond my budget for school supplies right now.

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Wireless printers on campus may not be a good idea

From Chris on August 09, 2011 :: 12:10 pm

Wireless (WiFi) printers have the potential to disrupt or not play nice with campus wireless networks.  Check with your institution before taking a wifi printer to college!  Some schools recommend against them.  Bluetooth wireless printers won’t be a problem.

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A few other items

From Lisa Padilla on September 02, 2011 :: 8:42 pm

Gaming and video processing are needed in a laptop for viewing all kinds of things besides games, such as rich educational material.

Your list isn’t age-specific, taking that into consideration. For our sophomore, the iPhone is covering the laptop needs. I see an iPad in her future before a laptop. The pen is a great idea. I have one and if I can every get her thumbs away from the 17,000 text messages she sends back and forth with friends each month, I might give it to her.

Other back to school items for this age:

1) School counselor and principal full names, direct phone numbers and emails.

2) GPS on her phone (in case she loses it/misrepresents her location on a sleepover). I like the Uber app for the iPhone, the parent can put in their $ information, and the child can use it to call a safe cab home from anywhere (if they are in your area yet, they are in SF/Silicon Valley).

3) Open access to you, unconditionally, without any judgement, as she tortures you with new topics of discussion from TV shows like “15 and Pregnant” and “Jersey Shore”.

4) Replacements for everything: pens, pencils, books, phone chargers, paper, planners, checkbooks, house keys, and lots and lots of $20 bills.

5) A self-help book (for you) about dealing with teens and their various and entertaining moods!

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