The summer is winding down, and the leaves are forming just the faintest hint of color. At least that's what we hear, since we've been inside all summer rounding up the best back-to-school tech. From phones to Chromebooks to backpacks, cables and more, here's what you need in the classroom this fall.
Samsung Galaxy S8
The Galaxy S8 is that product that you can recommend to everyone. It's got a big, beautiful Infinity Display, an awesome camera, and very good battery life, and that's just the beginning. A few months ago, we would have said that the phone was a bit too pricey, but recent specials have brought it down to the sub-$500 level, which just reinforces our recommendation for students (and teachers) everywhere.
from $425 Buy Now
Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook
Schools are increasingly going Google, and that's why we're recommending a Chromebook. The Flex 11 from Lenovo isn't perfect, but it's close to perfect for most students. Featuring a spill-resistant keyboard and a 360-degree hinge, it's also the only Chromebook we tested that could withstand a 2.4-foot drop onto a hard floor. Add to that support for Android apps and you've got a fully-fledged school laptop.
from $270 Buy Now
iOrange-E 6.6 ft braided USB-C cable
I know what you're thinking: what a lame BTS gift. Except that this is probably the most important one, since cables go missing all the time, and having an extra high-quality USB-C cable is ESSENTIAL for charging, transferring, and being that awesome friend with a spare at the right time. Trust us: get a couple of them.
$10.99 Buy Now
OnePlus Travel Backpack in Morandi Gray
Did you know that OnePlus makes backpacks? And that they're really, really good? We didn't either until we tried this travel pack and, MY GOODNESS it's awesome. At $69, this tri-tone bag is big enough to fit a laptop (there's a padded side pocket) and plenty of extra stuff, including books, cables and maybe a Nintendo Switch, with plenty of room left over. And because it's made of nylon and polyester, it's water resistant, scuff resistant, and — well, it's just resistant, OK?
$69 Buy now
UE Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker
Ultimate Ears' Wonderboom takes everything we love from UE's more expensive Boom and Megaboom speakers and shrinks it down into a little floating cube that stays waterproof while sounding great. It's seriously one of our favorite things, and the perfect little speaker for some pre- or post-homework jams.
$99 Buy Now
Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug
Everyone has to drink, be it water or hot chocolate, and the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug is the best bet for both. Say that three times fast. We're big believers in staying hydrated, and this Japan-made water bottle doesn't leak — guaranteed with its awesome lock feature — and will keep liquids hot or cold all day.
from $29 Buy Now
For the kid with a YouTube addiction and a Spotify account, Google Home is just awesome. It connects to Google to answer homework questions or offer some much-needed distraction, and as a speaker it's pretty darn good, too.
$129 Buy Now
In between bouts of homework, there's the need for some gaming, and the Nintendo Switch is the one to buy right now. It's fun, unique and portable, and has some amazing games, like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
from $299 Buy Now
Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker 4-pack
It's pretty obvious that when you're in school, things go missing pretty easily. Tile Mate is a tiny tracker that attaches to anything — keys, a laptop, or stuffed in a backpack — and can be used to locate a missing item using Bluetooth. The beauty of Tile is its ease of use; the Android app is super simple and totally reliable.
from $25 Buy Now
Samsung Gear VR
Along with your schooler's Galaxy S8, get him or her into mobile VR with the excellent, and completely affordable, Samsung Gear VR. It's got plenty of video content, lots of games, and now with the included controller, it's even easier to use. A must-have.
$105 Buy Now
Amazon Fire TV
Is your student addicted to video streaming? Amazon's Fire TV media player allows them to watch all their favorite shows and movies from popular services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Amazon Video, and more. With Amazon Alexa support built in, all it takes is a simple voice command to start watching.
$90 Buy Now
Google Play Music subscription
One of Google's best services is for streaming music, and at $10 per month it's a great way to rock out, to concentrate, or to pine after the lost days of summer. Google Play Music is awesome for listening to albums, singles, or to amazing playlists that never end. Ah, to be young again...
from $9.99 Buy now
How do you fit thousands of books into a dorm room? With an eReader! Amazon's Kindle has a glare-free touch display, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a battery that lasts for weeks at a time. If your student is a bookworm, there's no better gift than a Kindle.
$80 Buy Now
Mpow Thor Bluetooth Headphones
Everyone needs a good pair of headphones, and the best way to listen these days is sans wires. Mpow is an up-and-coming brand that delivers quality products at prices you'll be willing to pay — and then pay again when your student inevitably loses them. They are comfortable and sound great for up to 8 hours of battery.
$24.99 Buy now
Anker PowerCore+ 21000 battery pack
Everyone needs a battery pack to keep their gadgets powered, and Anker's PowerCore+ 21000 is a huge portable battery with a USB-C port and two USB-A ports, making it versatile enough for any situation. At $65, it's on the less expensive side, and it's great value, especially when paired with the Galaxy S8, Nintendo Switch and Lenovo Flex 11!
from $65 Buy now
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