We’ve been searching far and wide for the best back to school products that you can buy ahead of the school year this season. We know some campuses are already back in session, but there’s still time to pick up some great products to make your return to school a bit more enjoyable.
Whether it’s a new streaming box for your dorm room or a smartphone battery pack to make sure you have enough battery life to get you through a study marathon, we have you covered. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite gadgets now.
1. ClamCase Pro for iPad Mini
Your iPad can easily double as a small laptop, offering more battery life than its more powerful brethren, and it’s perfect for writing an essay out in the quad or gaming on a bus trip to visit friends back home. We recommend the ClamCase Pro for the iPad Mini, which turns your iPad into a device that resembles a tiny MacBook Air. It offers a fantastic keyboard, amazing battery life and an unmatched design. It’ll set you back $129.99, which isn’t cheap, but it’s our favorite Bluetooth keyboard option out there. If you have an iPad Air, consider the $169 option for that tablet, too.
2. Smartphone Battery Pack
We have a few smartphone battery packs we recommend, and since we know our readers carry a variety of smartphones we didn’t want to just pick one option. We’ve always trusted Mophie’s battery chargers on our phones, however, and recommend the Mophie Juicepack Air for the iPhone 5/iPhone 5s, and we suspect the Mophie Juicepack for the Galaxy S5 is another superb option. For extra power, consider the Mophie PowerStation XL with a 12,000mAh battery and support for charging two tablets at once. We’ve also enjoyed our time with the Justin Portable Power Rechargeable iPhone 5/iPhone 5s case, which offers a built-in stand for video chat or for propping up on your desk, a feature some other battery packs don’t offer, and extra power for $69.99.
3. Fugoo + Sport Portable Speaker
Portable speakers are amazing… until someone accidentally spills on one at a party, or you get it gunked up with dirt during tailgates. Fugoo has you covered with its Fugoo + Sport speaker, waterproof Bluetooth speaker that offers up to 40 hours of battery life, support for Siri and Google Now capabilities and more. It’s snow proof, so you can take it on a ski trip, mud proof for those rowdy days in the quad, shock proof in case your buddy decides to toss it to a friend who misses the catch, and water proof for time on the beach during spring break. The Fugoo + Portable Speaker will set you back $199.99 with a protective jacket and includes a 1-year manufacturer defect warranty.
4. A Smartwatch
Just like with battery packs, we think there are a lot of options in the smartwatch market now that you might want to consider. Samsung has a bevvy of Galaxy Gear products running both Tizen and Android Wear, LG’s G Watch is worth considering, and the Pebble and Pebble Steel continue to offer the most robust experience around. We think a smartwatch could be particularly useful keeping you up-to-date on your busy school schedule, but you’ll also be able to receive e-mails, texts and other alerts when you might not otherwise be able to look at your smartphone… like in Econ 101.
5. Plantronics BackBeat Fit
Normally we’d recommend a set of good cans for walking around campus, but we think the Plantronics BackBeat Fit offers the best all-around headphone experience. It connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth and offers a light and relatively slim profile free of wires. That means it’s perfect for listening to tunes while walking to class, or for working out in the gym without having a huge set of headphones on your head. Plus, you can control your music and the volume from buttons placed conveniently on the side of the BackBeat Fit, answer and end your calls and more. It even comes with a smartphone arm band to hold your phone while you’re working out.
6. Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III Point and Shoot Camera
We admit the Sony RX100 III isn’t cheap, but with the huge steps smartphones have made these days we think most folks are perfectly set with a smartphone camera. That said, if you want to take your photos to another level, this is the point and shoot camera we think is worth considering. It offers a 1-inch 20.1-megapixel Sony Exmor R sensor for excellent low-light shots, a built-in SVGA OLED viewfinder, Wi-Fi, NFC and more. It’s also received accolades from some of the most trusted camera sites out there, like DPReview. Just don’t leave it behind on the beach chair when you head to Panama Beach next spring.
7. A Streaming Gadget
No dorm room should be without some sort of streaming gadget, at least if your cable channels are as limited as they were when we were back in school. Our favorites include the Amazon Fire TV, the Chromecast, the Apple TV and Roku’s family of devices. You’ll be able to use your parent’s HBO account to stream your favorite shows, watch Netflix, keep up with your favorite sports teams and more. The Chromecast offers the best bang-for-your buck at $35, and works with iOS and Android, but the Amazon Fire TV is another superb option if you already have an Amazon Prime account, while the Apple TV has long been a go-to for folks who already have a ton of iTunes content.