The following post is sponsored by Best Buy. Head over to Best Buy for your back to school needs.
We can sympathize if you’re a bit saddened that the end of summer is coming up, but we’re here to let you know that all isn’t so bad. In fact, it’s the perfect chance to load up on some sweet new gadgets before you head back to the classroom. And with technology expanding at such a rapid pace, there’s no shortage of cool stuff to go around. Whether it’s a USB powered razor for shaving (yep! It really exists!) or a charging dock that can power all of your Apple devices, there’s something for everyone. Let’s take a look at a few of our favorites now.
Sorry folks, but no back to school gadget guide would feel complete without some mention of Google’s new Chromecast. It’s perfect for a dorm room and, better yet, at $35 it’s an affordable streaming option for any budget. Kick back on your futon and stream YouTube videos, Netflix and more on the big-screen all from an Android or iOS-powered smartphone, or from a Chrome browser on your computer. Setup is a breeze, and your friends and jump-on and help control the content you’re watching. We imagine the Chromecast is only going to get sweeter with time, too, as developers create additional apps for the device.
ShaveTech USB Razor
We’ve had the pleasure to test the ShaveTech USB Razor for a few days now. It’s ridiculously awesome if you need to get a quick shave in during that skateboard ride to class. All you have to do is plug it into a USB port – there’s a swivel USB head right on the shaver itself – and charge it up for a few hours. Then, toss it in your bag and grab it anytime you need to clean up that beard real quick before a presentation. Sure, a blade will cut you a lot closer than this $30 razor will, but it’s great for small touch-ups when you don’t have a dollop of shaving cream sitting around. The ShaveTech is available in white or black.
Moleskine Smart Notebook with Evernote Support
Jotting notes down with a pen and paper is an art we don’t necessarily want to leave behind. And you don’t have to, because with the Evernote Smart Notebook from Moleskine you can write with pen and paper and save your notes digitally. Simply take a photo of your sketches or scribblings and, thanks to built-in Smart Stickers and digital tags, you’ll be able to search for those notes using the Evernote app on your computer, smartphone or tablet. The notebook comes with 3 months of Evernote Premium, too, which is capable of searching through hand-written notes, too. It’s a bit expensive at $24.95 per notebook, but I think that’s a small price to pay for any device that can turn my handwriting into something remotely usable.
ChargeCard for iPhone and Android
Check the scenario: you’re in class and your phone dies. You forgot your power cable and, while there’s an outlet in the room, it’s next to that guy who forgets to shower. Fret not, the ChargeCard is perfect for this scenario. It’s slightly fatter than a credit card and slides right into your wallet. There’s a USB attachment at one end that plugs into your computer, and a microUSB, a 30-pin iPhone port or Lightning adapter at the other end for plugging in your smartphone. The device basically acts as a USB cord, but can be stowed away much more efficiently. You can also use the $25 ChargeCard to sync your device using USB 2.0. We’ve been carrying one for a few weeks now and really like that we don’t have to worry about our phone dying as often – now if only they managed to find a way to slim down a wall wart to this size.
PowerSkin PoP’n Charger for iPhone 5 / Android Smartphones
The worst things about external chargers for smartphones is that they’re typically bulky or require you to remove your smartphone case. PowerSkin aims to solve that problem with its PoP’n chargers for the iPhone 5 and various Android smartphones. The device costs $79.99 and “pops” over your existing cover and sticks to the back of your device. The internal 2,000mAh battery should be enough to refill your battery up to 70 percent. At just 10.mm thick, the device isn’t too bulky, either. Four LED lights will keep you in the know on how much of a charge is left, and you can turn it on and off on the fly. Unlike other options, these chargers work across other devices as long as the ports fits and it doesn’t require a separate cord. You simply pop on the pack and can be mobile without bulky battery packs.
Griffin PowerDock 5
What if you could easily and neatly charge all of your mobile Apple devices at once? Wonder no more – Griffin’s PowerDock 5 lets you charge up to five different devices, whether it’s an iPad, an iPod or an iPhone, at the same time. It’s perfect for roommates with multiple devices, a family, or even a gadget gear-head with tons of charging to do. The layout makes it easy to stack the devices in a row, too, so that they’re not spread out all over a desk, and each device gets up to 10 watts of power. Better yet, the Griffin PowerDock was designed so that you don’t have to take any of those devices out of their cases. Sure, it’s a fancy stand with five USB ports, but at $100 you’re getting an organizer and a huge power strip in the same, neat gadget.
External speakers are becoming increasingly popular as smartphones and tablets become more integral in our everyday lives. One problem, there are so many to choose from. The Braven 570 is a great option, it comes with an auxiliary port, Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port to charge mobile devices from its 1200 mAh portable battery. The speaker itself can operate for 10 hours before needing to charge. When you pair it to a smartphone you can use it as a speakerphone with the built-in noise canceling microphone. The sound quality is pretty remarkable for such a small form factor and will fit in any spot, even in your backpack. We tried out a blue unit, but there are 6 total color options. The Braven 570’s suggested retail price is $119.99, but can be purchased for just under a hundred bucks.