Tech Essentials: Back to School Guide

By Roger Murray | September 13th, 2016

It’s that time of year again! From elementary through college, the school year has officially begun.  What does this mean?  That it’s time to get the latest tech to make the daily hustle of class infinitely better. However, sifting through the mountain of options available in the marketplace to determine which is worthy of your dollar can be hard.  Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up the best of the best to help get the most out your tech this school year.

Laptops:  Although it is considered a bad time to buy a new laptop, with a long-awaited MacBook Pro update rumored for year-end, Windows improved processors around the corner, and Chromebooks OS getting an overhaul to support Google Play Store, it is still a necessity. So if you can’t hold out for a few more months, you can use the following tools to compare models from three of the largest providers:

Apple Recommendation: For the average student, a MacBook Pro can easily be eliminated as viable.  It is the costliest option available and unless you require significant design development, it’s simply overkill.  Consider also the fact that this light and expensive piece of technology would be in lecture halls, libraries, or dorms; making it a high risk target for theft.

The MacBook Air however seems like an ideal choice.  It has one of the lowest starting price points, and in the end, you will still save significantly while enjoying some of the best features available today.

Windows Recommendation: Again, if you have the option to wait, do.  Numerous Windows Laptops were announced this week with the majority utilizing Intel’s 7th generation processor.  Even if you aren’t picking up the latest and greatest, this announcement will bring down the prices for last year’s machines which are just as capable.  Still, for today, Dell offers a number of compact Ultrabooks, like the XPS 13, which will meet all of your demands.

Other choices include the ever popular Microsoft Surface Pro 4, a great 2-in-1 for the student who needs a device for both classwork and watching videos to unwind.

Smartphones:  If you have looked at any news in the last 48 hours, you are likely aware of the upcoming release of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus.  The release offered up durability (ignoring the fingerprint prone jet black) with water and dirt resistance, more storage (standard 32GB), and of course, the ever-courageous elimination of the headphone jack (more on that next), this device will undoubtedly be popular among the student body.

For Android users, the Samsung Galaxy S7 model, a pioneer toward the water resistance craze, and one of the best cameras on the market, is the safest buy you can make.

Headphones:  Apple literally killed the headphone jack with their latest release, only increasing the surge toward wireless headphones.  You can snag a pair of Apple AirPods toward the end of October, of course there are many others on the market.

For someone needing to focus in often noisy areas, the Bose QuietComfort 35 has unmatched noise cancellation with superior sound, albeit a bit pricey on a student budget.  Both wireless options are great solutions to eliminating distractions, that is, until you forget to charge them.  That’s when you consider a trusted pair of earphones, like the NHT SuperBuds, that offer superior sound for a quarter of the price.

Other Tips:  The downside to all technology, especially as things move to being lighter and slimmer, is battery life.  Invest in a solid travel battery pack to give your devices the juice they need to make it through your long night of cramming.

If the cloud isn’t enough to store the endless amount of documents, consider picking up an external portable hard drive.  They are relatively inexpensive and provide plenty of storage space for all your work.

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