When I was a kid, going back to school meant picking up a shiny new ruler, a few binders of different colors, and several packs of pens. Of course, the world of education has changed a lot over the years and having the right technology is no longer a luxury for college or even high school students; it’s a necessity. At the same time, you may not exactly have a lot of cash on hand.
So, just as I did last year, I am now presenting an updated guide to the tech you need for going back to school, keeping a more modest student’s budget in mind.
Smartphone: Motorola Moto G 4G LTE
A smartphone is so much more than just a means of making mobile phone calls. It’s also a decent digital camera, a voice recorder, a web browser, a music player, a note keeper and so much more. While it’s easy enough to drool over the most powerful flagship smartphones, most of those high-end features aren’t really necessary. For a solid smartphone that’s a good value, there is the Moto G from Motorola. Key specs include the 4.5-inch 720p display, 5MP camera, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor and 1GB of RAM. It’s reliable, it’s solid and it’ll get the job done. Pricing is $179 or $199 for the 8GB and 16GB versions of the regular Moto G, or $219 for the 8GB model with 4G LTE. The non-LTE model has the added benefit of coming with an extra 50GB of Google Drive online storage free for two years on top of the standard 15GB.
Tablet: Dell Venue 8
If you’re going back to school, you may want a reasonably portable tablet where you can thumb through PDF files, quickly browse websites, and share presentations with your fellow students. A good value in this market is the Dell Venue 8 tablet, which can be had for under $180. As its name implies, this Android tablet features an 8-inch display and solid build quality. Power comes by way of an Intel Atom Z2560 processor, up to 32GB internal storage, 2GB of RAM, 2MP and 5MP cameras and an optional stylus for jotting diagrams and taking notes in class.
Laptop: Lenovo IdeaPad U430p
As great as tablets may be for what they can do, you’ll likely still need a “real” computer for the rest of your studies. Although officially listed at $799, the Lenovo U430p was available directly from Lenovo for just $549 as of the writing of this guide. For that price, you get a 4th generation Intel Core i3 processor, Windows 8.1 (64-bit), 14.0″ HD LED display, 4GB DDR3-1600 RAM, and 500GB hard drive. If you’re willing to put up with the added bulk of a bigger 15-incher, the Acer Aspire V5-571-6891 at under $500 offers a lot of bang for the buck. Alternatively, if you want to spend a little more money and go super skinny, try scoring a 2013 version of the Apple MacBook Air for as little as $800 . And don’t forget to take advantage of education pricing with Apple while you’re at it.
Bluetooth Keyboard: Anker T300
Your laptop may not need an extra keyboard, but if you plan on taking notes with your Android tablet or iPad, having a “real” keyboard is incredibly advantageous. At just $20, the Anker T300 is going to be one of the most affordable Bluetooth keyboards you can find on the market. It’s really thin with its 0.23-inch profile and you can expect to get 700 hours of continuous use out of just two AAA batteries. The T300 is compatible with a good range of devices too, including iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS X and even Windows Mobile.
USB Power Bank: Poweradd Pilot 2GS
When you’re back at school, you may not have every opportunity to plug your new smartphone or tablet into a wall charger. And there’s nothing worse than running of juice halfway through the day. Thankfully, the Poweradd Pilot 2GS packs a lot of punch for just $24. The aluminum shelled power bank may look slim and compact, but it’s got an impressive 10,000mAh. That’s enough to provide the average smartphone with about four full charges. The 2.1A output makes for speedier charges and the power bank is great for travel too.
Image credit: audiolucistore / Flickr