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Back-To-School Gadgets That Can Help Your Student

Shopping for school supplies no longer means just pencils, binders and notebooks. Parents across the country are expected to spend $3.6 billion dollars on back-to-school tech this year, according to retail services firm, Deloitte.

“This is our life now. You cannot not use technology,” said tech columnist Amy Iverson of DeseretNews.com. “And, so it’s just part of education.”

We asked Iverson to look into some of the best gadgets that can actually help your student.

NOISE-CANCELING HEADPHONES

Sure, headphones are great for listening to music but a college student might also want to use a set to drown out the noise around them.

“They’re going to be in a dorm and if they are going to study, which fingers crossed (they do), they’re going to want to concentrate and so the noise-cancelling headphones are really the best option,” said Iverson.

She said headphones that have been well-received by audio equipment reviewers include the Bose 700 and the Beats Studio 3, but those top-of-the-line can run as high as $350 or $400. So, Iverson recommended checking out Amazon’s “renewed” options for headphones or any gadget.

“The Amazon renewed program comes with a 90-day warranty,” Iverson explained. “They have professionals go in, totally look at products to make sure they look and act like new. And, so we actually ended up getting some Beats for $200.”

At $50, Taotronics ANC noise-cancelling headphones is a budget option that Iverson said several critics have found to offer decent sound quality for the price.

LAPTOPS

Students entering college may need a laptop of their own. For Mac users, Iverson suggested buyers look into Apple’s education pricing. Couple that with an Apple-refurbished MacBook and you can save over $200 on a $1,000+ laptop.

“Don’t overlook the refurbished options from Apple,” Iverson said. “They are like new. You’re going to get a one-year warranty on these from Apple.”

For around $500, she said Lenovo’s Yoga Chromebook offers a 15.6” screen, fast performance and 4K resolution college kids might need, and it can be used as a tablet.

There are more affordable options Iverson said, but it will likely mean a less memory and slower speeds.

But for $200, an Acer Chromebook 11 Spin offers decent enough performance and durability that can make it a good option for middle and high school.

BATTERY CHARGERS

If your teen carries a phone, for around $40 you can find them a quality battery charger they can keep in their backpacks or even in their pockets. Because, they may not always be able to find a power outlet in between classes.

“That way, you just are never at a lock for power,” said Iverson. “Because, what good is your gadget if it’s dead?”

We found a $34 charger manufactured by Ventev that includes a built-in charging cable. A $40 charger from Anker can charge a phone twice, maybe three times depending on the phone model.

Iverson likes the $130 Tylt Lifestyle Power Bag backpack that can charge up to three devices, simultaneously.

“They keep the wires separate, so there’s no tangling,” said Iverson. “And, this battery can charge a phone four times and you can charge your iPad once.

She said for around $30, you can find smart backpacks that have charging cables laid out inside for easy access but in many cases, you will still have to buy the actual charger, separately.

SMART SPEAKERS

Back at home, consider a smart speaker such as an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini.

Students can use the devices for fact checking their homework and parents can set them to announce helpful reminders such as homework time or when it’s time to head out for the bus.

“This came in handy in my life when my younger son wasn’t quite ready for a phone but sometimes he would be home alone,” Iverson recounted. “That was a perfect way for us to be able to keep in touch with him without having a data plan because you can call people on it.”

Both the Echo Dot and Home Mini are selling for around $25 right now, about half of their usual price.

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