Shopping for a student’s back-to-school gear can feel like taking a final exam for a class you skipped all year. How much RAM do they need? What’s a good smart phone that won’t break the bank? And how do you best protect their gear and all of their important assignments? That’s where our cheat sheet comes in. We’ve rounded up five pieces of gear that are guaranteed to keep your student productive, connected, and entertained.
For just $479, you really can outfit your favorite young mind with a great system that has all the essentials. The 11.6-inch HP Pavilion dm1z sports an AMD Fusion processor, a 1366 x 768-pixel display, and HP’s CoolSense technology in a svelte 3.4-pound, package. Your student also gets 4GB of RAM and a roomy 500GB hard drive. Plus, this ultraportable lasts six and a half hours on a charge, a full day on most campuses.
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A ton of companies are trying, but no one can beat the the iPad 2’s ease of use, design, and sheer number of apps. And who needs an eReader when you’ve got iBooks? The iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than most slates, and now has a front-facing camera for making FaceTime calls. The dual-core A5 processor really flies, and the 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768 IPS display offers the best viewing angles.
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Free: That’s what the black, T-Mobile LG Optimus T will cost you to give your student a new back-to-school snartphone. For that rock-bottom price you get a clean, Android 2.2 smartphone with five customizable home screens, a 3.2-MP camera, and access to 200,000-plus apps.
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Armed with the SOLO Sentinel ($59.99), your student will be able to schlepp all her gear all day long without killing her back, thanks to the well-padded shoulder straps. This backpack is sized to protect laptops with screens up to 17.3 inches and features an innovative cord management system that keeps the spaghetti hidden and well organized. Plus, an internal pocket provides a custom fit for an iPad.
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The $149 Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex is one of the fastest portable USB 3.0 drives money can buy. At 9.9-ounces the G0Flex is perfect for protecting that thesis paper along with other files and media. This 1TB USB 3.0 device offers blazing transfer speeds, and it has a lot of helpful utilities, to boot. The GoFlex’s backup software and Mac compatibility make it very versatile for any student on the move.
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