It’s that time of year when shouts of “Free at last! Free at last!” are heard throughout the halls of schools as students graduate across the nation. No more homework, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks–at least until the fall for high school seniors. They worked hard all year, and they deserve some recognition for all they’ve accomplished. So what’s the best tech to get the high school or college graduate in your life? We’ve rounded up 10 great choices.
1. Apple iPad (Wi-Fi)
The most talked about device of the year lives up to the hype. While it won’t replace a real laptop, the iPad is great for watching TV, reading books and newspapers, playing games, and staying in touch via e-mail and instant messaging. There are so many apps for the iPad that your grad won’t have any problem finding tons he can’t live without. Thanks to Apple’s iWork suite of apps, your grad can even create presentations, spreadsheets, and write essays on the iPad (not that he’ll be doing that this summer).
Cute and tiny, this pocket camcorder is a little smaller than a BlackBerry, but can shoot 1080p digital video or 5-megapixel still photos, and comes with 4x digital zoom. And thanks to the 270-degree rotating lens, your grad to film her friends or to turn the camera on herself and become the next YouTube star. It includes a built-in USB plug and software for easy transfer to her computer and to such sites as YouTube.
She won’t stop singing that song . . . “Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah,” as she’s constantly telling you that she can’t read your poker face. The odds are good she would love a pair of Lady Gaga-branded earbuds. Heartbeats, made by Monster Cable, are part of the Beats by Dr. Dre headphone line. The in-ear buds offer sound-isolating technology, which means they’ll passively block out environmental noises and allow your grad to enjoy her music without damaging her eardrums. The flat cable design keeps the cords from getting tangled, and the buds themselves are available in bright chrome, black chrome, or rose red.
4. HP Photosmart Plus All-in-One Printer
As any good college student knows, the trick to handing in a paper on time is a fast printer. The HP Photosmart Plus All-in-One wireless printer cranks out 30 black-and-white pages per minute and 28 color pages. Plus, it’ll print photos straight from his camera’s memory card, so they can give you that last-minute Father’s Day photo in a frame. The Photosmart Plus will even print 4 x 6-inch photos wirelessly from an iPhone or iPod touch to help him decorate his new dorm room walls in a jiff.
5. Hello Rewind Custom Laptop Sleeve
Appeal to his social consciousness side, while still protecting his new laptop. In addition to Hello Rewind’s fun concept of creating a laptop, netbook, or iPad sleeve from an old t-shirt (lord knows he has enough of those), the company uses its profits to help sex trafficking survivors start a new life for themselves and reintegrate into society. The survivors earn money from making the sleeves and learn English and basic business skills in the process.
Apple’s latest MacBook Pro recently earned an Editors’ Choice from us thanks to its updated processor, auto-switching graphics, and all-day battery life. It comes loaded with Apple’s iLife suite which will help your grad manage her music and photos, create her own films with iMovie, and make music with Garage Band. Plus, the MacBook Pro comes with Boot Camp pre-installed. Add a copy of Microsoft Windows 7 to create a dual-booting laptop that will fulfill all her computing needs.
If your grad takes his gaming as seriously as he takes he studies, the Alienware M11x may just be his dream laptop. Also an Editors’ Choice-winner, it combines an Intel ULV processor, discrete switchable graphics, and Alienware’s distinctive style to create the ultimate 11-inch powerhouse. On our performance tests, the battery lasted longer than 7 hours using integrated graphics and longer than 4 hours with discrete graphics, which means the grad in your life can relax with a game without running for the nearest outlet.
A monitor isn’t just for his laptop. This 22-inch ViewSonic LED-backlit monitor offers 1920 x 1080 HD resolution and stereo speakers, so your grad’s external screen can pull double duty as a high-def TV. Plus, thanks to such services as Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube, he won’t even miss your TV from home. Not only will this sleek display save precious dorm room space, it also uses 50-percent less energy than traditional monitors of this size.
9. Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex Ultra-portable Drive 320GB
“The dog at my homework” today translates to “my hard drive crashed.” And while you won’t be able to stop your grad’s hard drive from dying, you can help keep her data backed-up. The niftiest feature of the Seagate GoFlex line is the interchangeable interface adapters that make it compatible for just about any port. In addition to the included USB 2.0 cable, the GoFlex can be upgraded to USB 3.0, eSATA, or FireWire 800. Plus, the drive works on PCs and Macs.
10. Quirky PowerCurl
If your grad is bringing her MacBook to college, you’ll definitely want to hook her up with a PowerCurl. This dead simple product keeps the whole Mac power cord (both the thin and thick cables) in a cleanly-wound pile. Thanks to Quirky’s uniqu business model, the PowerCurl was developed in less than 24 hours by the Quirky community, voted on, and became a real product. Everyone involved with the creation receives a percentage of the profits. Who knows, this gift might just inspire your grad to develop her own brilliant invention, and then you can stop paying for school.