20 Cool Tech Gadgets For Back-To-School 2022

CRN takes a look at some of the coolest tech gear for this school year as consumers drop a record amount of cash on back-to-school and back-to-college supplies.

It’s that time of year again: whether you’re a grade-schooler or a college student, back-to-school shopping will have parents across the country hunting for the latest gadgets to help their kids get though another year of learning.

Gone are the days of a simple trip to the store for a Trapper Keeper and a box of No. 2 pencils. Gen Z is a little more demanding in the tech department. According to Statista, combined spending for college and back-to-school shopping will spike to a new record of $110.8 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion over 2021 spending. The average expected back-to-school spending for U.S. consumers aged 35-44 is $1,007.69, according to the report. Inflation is driving that overall spend number up 8 percent, the report said. Total spending has trended upwards yearly since 2007, when the total U.S. spend for college and back-to-school was pegged at $50 billion.

“Families consider back-to-school and college items as an essential category, and they are taking whatever steps they can… in order to purchase what they need for the upcoming school year,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “The back-to-school season is among the most significant shopping events for consumers and retailers alike, second only to the winter holiday season.”

With COVID-19 shutdowns forcing students of all ages home during the height of the pandemic, students were immersed in a world of high-tech remote learning. The younger generation is becoming immersed in technology at a faster clip than previous generations. So it makes sense that 2022 would entice parents and kids to enhance their back-to-school shopping.

CRN has you covered with this handy list of cool gadgets to make the back-to-school experience better:

* Soundance Laptop Stand

* AFROG Multifunctional LED Desk Lamp

* Echo Dot

* InCase Bionic Accessories Organizer

* Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard

* MacBook Air M1

* Lenovo Chromebook Duet

* Beats Studio Buds

* Jall Wake-up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

* Backbone One-Mobile gaming controller

* Fitbit Ace 3

* Apple AirTag (four-pack)

* Q Timex Reissue Digital Watch

* Anker 313 Wireless Charger

* Kindle Paperwhite

* Nintendo Switch Lite

* Lenovo Smart Clock

* Roku Streaming Stick

* iSwift 6-in-1 portable Desk

* Ninja CREAMi Ice Cream Maker

Soundance Laptop Stand

Even inside the classroom, students have stayed connected to the laptops and Chromebooks introduced during the pandemic. So it makes sense to let them use their learning tool with the most comfort. The Soundance Laptop Stand is an affordable way to make sure your student isn’t hunched over their laptop while working. Suitable for any laptop 10- to 15.6 inches, the stand is made from lightweight aluminum and comes in several colors.

Price: $28.99 (on sale)

AFROG Multifunctional LED Desk Lamp (4th generation)

Keep your students reading through the night with the AFROG Multifunctional LED Desk Lamp with 10W fast wireless charging, USB charging, five lighting modes, touch control, auto timer, and more features. This is the ultimate lamp for a student – allowing for multiple settings, lighting choices and colors, and connectivity for devices.

Price: $39.97 (on sale)

Echo Dot (4th generation)

While the small Echo Dot doesn’t offer the same level of boom sound as its Echo sibling, it gives students an affordable and practical way to enjoy a smart audio device. Featuring both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, users can link up to a variety of streaming audio services. This is the most affordable way to add the excellent Amazon Alexa voice assistant to your student’s back-to-school arsenal. For the younger student, parents can opt for the Amazon Kids+ service.

Price: $39.99 (on sale)

InCase Bionic Assessories Organizer

Instill a sense of economic stewardship along with organizational skills with the InCase Bionic Asscessories Organizer. The case is designed with BIONIC yard, a durable material created from recovered plastic pollution found in marine and coastal environments. The case offers protection and organization for your smartphone, chargers, cables, earbuds and other essentials for the tech-savvy student.

Price: $29.95 (on sale)

Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard

Students will love this multi-functional and simple Logitech K380 Bluetooth Keyboard for use with computers, tablets, laptops or phones. It gives them another typing option on the go with a light, stylish frame that offers different cool color options. Weighing just 423 grams, the keyboard is just 16mm thick and offers Bluetooth connectivity. Software options are included for Windows and Mac users alike.

Price: $33.99 (on sale)

MacBook Air M1

This is a bit of a spurge for a student, but the MacBook Air M1 (2020) offers a lot of power along with excellent portability. The MacBook Air M2 just came out, so these M1 units can be had for a bit of a deal now through various resellers. We think the cost savings on this model make it cool enough for our list. With its powerful ARM-based M1 silicon, the MacBook Air’s CPU offers 8-core performance while just sipping on battery life. For graphics, the GPU offers 7-cores, delivering more than enough integrated graphics processing for any student.

Price: $850-$999 at various retailers

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 2-in-1 is a great lightweight Chromebook/Tablet hybrid that will give your student plenty of portability to work just about anywhere. With a standing screen display size of 10.1 inches, the Duet delivers 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution. Powered with an ARM-based chip, the light unknit gives you 4GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD with plenty of connectivity options.

Price: $226 and up at various resellers

Beats Studio Buds

With near constant device connectivity, it’s important to consider the quality of earbud sound and Beats Studio Buds bring high quality and style kids seek out. With six color options, these buds support spatial audio for an immersive experience, active noise canceling, up to 8 hours of listening time, and are compatible with Android and Apple devices. These buds feature simple one-touch pairing for ease of use, (students already have enough on their minds without worrying about complicated controls).

Price: $119.99 (on sale)

Jall Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock

We could all use a bit of extra sunlight in our lives and the Jall Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock will start your student’s day out right. Targeted towards kids and heavy sleepers, the device features sunrise simulation, dual alarms, FM radio, snooze, nightlight, daylight, seven natural sounds and seven colors. The cool factor increases with sunrise simulation that gradually increases brightness from 10 percent to 100 percent for a more natural waking experience.

Price: $39.98

Backbone One Mobile Gaming Controller

Maybe you’d rather your student focus on studies, but we had to throw them a bone with the Backbone One Mobile Gaming Controller that turns their smartphone into a proper portable gaming machine. The Backbone One lets mobile phone users enjoy their favorite mobile, console, or PC games from anywhere. The snap-on unit works with iPhone or Android units and does not require charging. Backbone bills the devices as the lowest power and lowest latency gaming device to ever work with iPhone.

Price: $99.99

Fitbit Ace 3

Parents concerned about their younger kids’ fitness get a great option with the Fitbit Ace 3 fitness tracker. Ace 3 offers up to 8-day battery life with three fun colorways for kids ages 6 and up. The device offers parental controls, Fitbit App Kid View, customization, notifications, wireless sync, and is water resistant up to 50m. The Ace 3 works with more than 200 Android and iOS devices.

Price: $59.95 (on sale)

Apple AirTag (four-pack)

Does your student have a knack for losing things? Help them keep track of those important items with Apple’s AirTag technology. The small devices are an easy way to keep track of keys, backpacks, bikes … just about anything you can imagine. Sync up with Apple’s handy Find My app to keep track of some of those great back-to-school finds.

Price: $99.99

Q Timex Reissue Digital Watch

Back before the days of smartphones and wearables with endless features, Gen X had the smartest timepieces available at the time: Digital watches. Now you can slip back into the past and maybe disconnect for a bit of old-fashioned tech fun. While not as advanced as an Apple Watch, the Q Timex still delivers some fun features, including a chronograph function, customizable alarm, and countdown timer. Oh, and it also tells the time of day!

Price: $149

Anker 313 Wireless Charger

Charging solutions are important for everyone – but a connected student must stay charged at all times. The Anker 313 Wireless Charger offers convenient and efficient wireless charging with 10W high-speed charging for Samsung Galaxy and 5W charging for iPhones (which is 10 percent faster than other wireless chargers). The solution is case-friendly, so don’t worry about needless fiddling to get a charge. The unit is compatible with iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, Google Pixel and Samsung Note devices.

Price: $19.99

Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition

While tablets offer a decent reading experience, the Kindle Paperwhite offers the closest eye-friendly experience to reading a book in good light. The Paperwhite Signature Edition offers a 6.8” display, wireless charging, and auto-adjusting front light. With 32GB of storage, there’s plenty of room for your favorite titles. The flush-mount design with 300 ppi glare-free display reads like real paper even in bright sunlight. You can even use the Paperwhite as an audio reader by pairing with your Audible subscription and Bluetooth headphones or speakers.

Price: $149.99

Nintendo Switch Lite

We needed to give the kids another break with the Nintendo Switch Lite, a great portable gaming system that’s suitable for all ages. Coming in five colors, the Switch Lite is meant to be an entry-level option without some of the bells and whistles of the Switch. But the Lite still packs plenty of gaming power with multiplayer gaming options, local wireless and online play. With more than 5,000 Switch games currently available, your student will have plenty of options for that scarce down time.

Price: $199.99

Lenovo Smart Clock Essential

The alarm clock is the tech that starts your day, so make sure to start your day with a versitle device like the Lenovo Smart Clock Essential. Talk to Google to ask questions, play music, control smart home devices and more. The device features a built-in nightlight, timer, speaker, and microphones. The device has the added convenience of a USB charging port.

Price: $49.99

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

We take for granted that our many of our newer smart TVs feature their own apps for streaming content. With the Roku Streaming stick, your student can turn any TV with a USB port into a smart TV with Roku’s user-friendly interface. The Roku is compatible with 4K video, HDR and Dolby Vision and features Roku Voice Remote and TV controls.

Price: $46.99

iSwift 6-in-1 Portable Desk

You’ll love the clever versatility of iSwift’s 6-in-1 Portable Desk that can be folded to allow for seated use or as a stand (in four positions) for a better viewing angle. We’ve all learned to make our new work environments (whether at home or in the office) a more comfortable experience. Students deserve that same flexibility. The iSwift is constructed with fiberglass and premium PU and weighs 2.5 pounds.

Price: $89.99

Ninja CREAMi Ice Cream Maker

For all that hard work in the classroom, your student could use a cool reward. With the Ninja CREAMi Ice Cream Maker, you can create your own flavors and top however you like – all without a trip to the local ice cream parlor or grocery store. Keep it at home for treat time for the whole family, or pack it up for your college student’s dorm. The machine features seven one-touch programs, offers control and customization, and also makes gelato.

Price: $229.99