Back to School Time: Crash Course on What’s Hot

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Back to school with digital tablet pcAmid the hustle of back to school time, it’s never too late to check out what new gadgets are out there to help students prepare for the upcoming school year.

To help with your technology needs, now is a good time to evaluate which technology gadgets have received the best ratings so far this year. The verdicts are mixed, according to some of the respected media websites that publish reviews on technology consumer electronics globally.


When it comes to tablets, two of the most popular on the market are the iPad mini and Surface Pro 3. Both devices received positive reviews from CNET with the iPad Mini with Retina Display rivaling the larger iPad Air with its excellent high-resolution display and faster A7 processor. The Surface Pro 3 is noted to be thinner and lighter than the previous two versions, despite having a larger display and higher screen resolution, which is great for consuming entertainment and media.

[table th="1"]
Tablet|iPad Mini|Surface 3;;
Price|$370 - $399|$372 - $799;;
Wireless Connectivity|IEEE 802.11a|4G Wireless;;
Weight|11.7 oz.|1.76 lbs;;
Type & Operating System|Apple iOS7|Windows 8.1 Pro;;
Storage|16 GB|64 GB;;

Charge up

With our days filled with so many tasks, it’s more important than ever to be able to connect with our family members at all times. That’s why charging stations for phones are a hot item these days. Soon every restaurant, hotel and coffee shop will have public cell phone charging stations. Most airports already do. Personal charging stations are a great way to juice up your phones at home or in college dorm rooms and a great way to keep track of where devices are as students rush out the door. found ten stations in a range of styles and price points for your consideration.

Wireless printers

Whether your child is in grade school or a college freshman, writing papers is on the agenda. Tony Hoffman and Laarni Almendrala Ragaza of PC Magazine provide their reviews of the ten best wireless printers on the market. The Canon Pixma MX922 Wireless Office All-In-One printer is the least expensive at $98.95 on Amazon with the HP Officejet Pro X551dw Printer beating the competition for its speed, cost per page, output quality, and paper handling at $449.99.

Storage on the go

Like you do at work, students need to back up their work! When it comes to data storage, CNET describes the best external hard drives of 2014 with three main purposes:

  • To expand your computer’s storage capacity
  • To back up your data
  • To share data between computers

Streaming entertainment

On those rare down moments, TV and music products are especially popular with the college students who may not have access to cable. Google Chromecast is an alternative option to watching online content on an HDTV. This inexpensive stick plugs into your HDTV’s HDMI port and allows you to stream media from Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play through your smartphone, tablet or notebook. Will Greenwald, editor at PC Magazine, rates this product a four out of five stars. For music lovers, Bluetooth speakers can be ideal for some households. In a recent CNET article by Matthew Moskovciak, he describes his selections for the best Bluetooth speakers of 2014.

Digital note taking

Finally, the number one must have for any student needing to take notes this year is the Livescribe Smartpen. Transcribe your written notes into digital text for filing and saving for later review. It may also be great for anyone in your office that still takes notes with pen and paper.

Parents are finally embracing the reality that our children’s use of media is necessary and here to stay. Take advantage of the online resources that provide the ratings and reviews that help to make educated technology decisions. And remember, as the new school year approaches, it is important for families to brush up on #onlinesafety and ensure they are staying safe online.

Here are a few back-to-school online safety tips to help protect you and your family this school year and beyond.