Is It Back-To-School Time Already? Here Are 20 Tech Must-Haves

Rule The School

Yup. Sorry kids, it's that time of year again. Notebooks, pens, backpacks ... you know the drill. Whether you're off to college or heading to high school (or you're an eager parent looking forward to some peace and quiet -- finally!), going back to school requires the right tools to get work done and look good while doing it.

Here at CRN we've assembled this nifty guide of 20 must-haves (some of which are really probably nice-to-haves, or awesome-to-haves, but we'll try our best to make the case for them being necessities) as summer comes to a close and everyone tries to wrap their heads around marching back into the daily grind of school.

Microsoft Office Home And Student 2010

Since heading back to school means putting your nose to the grindstone and churning out papers and presentations, students will need a productivity suite to get the job done. Microsoft Office Home And Student 2010 ties together the big four when it comes to Microsoft Office productivity apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The suite can be downloaded for about $150.

Asus VG236H Display

Why limit your 3-D experience just to IMAX, bring it to the dorm room with the 23-inch Asus VG236H 120Hz monitor. This bad boy packs a punch with 3-D and full HD 1,080p for games, movies and more. It ties in Blu-Ray support and is able to double the refresh rate to 120Hz frames per second, speedier than LCD monitors. The display is also compatible with the Nvidia 3D Vision kit. While the Asus VG236H runs just shy of $500, it can make any dorm room pop.

Apple iPhone 4

Antennagate be damned! The Apple iPhone 4 is the must-have smartphone of the back-to-school season. The fourth generation of Apple's now-iconic smartphone keeps its smooth-as-silk design while adding a host of new features not available in its predecessor, the iPhone 3G S. It adds HD video recording at 720p, multitasking, a gyroscope and dual cameras enabling video chat with other Apple iPhone 4 users via FaceTime Apps. It also will come standard with Apple iOS 4. The 16-GB iPhone 4 will run $199 with a two-year AT&T service agreement. Its 32-GB counterpart will run $100 more.

Western Digital VelociRaptor 600-GB Hard Drive

When Western Digital said the WD VelociRaptor is bigger, faster and hungrier, the company wasn't kidding. There's no such thing as too much hard drive. Students and PC enthusiasts alike can benefit from the fastest hard drive in town. Top stats include 10,000 RPM, a 32-MB cache and SATA 6 Gbps interface. And at 600 GB, this thing doubles the capacity of previous generations. It's a spicy meatball at around $250, but well worth it.

Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot

Want to do some homework outside? Need to set up an impromptu network for a study group? Just drop the Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot and go. This small wonder leverages Verizon's 3G network and has Wi-Fi capabilities. It also acts as a wireless hub for up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices at a single time, making it an instant hotspot. Smaller than a deck of cards, the Verizon Wireless MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot is truly a back-to-school must-have. Currently, it runs about $50 with a two-year service agreement after discounts and rebates. The original retail price is around $250.

Logitech Harmony One Universal Remote

The Logitech Harmony One is the universal remote to end all universal remotes. It's not as bulky and complicated as some other models, yet it packs all of the features and functions necessary to ensure that once the homework is done the entertainment can begin. The Harmony One, which carries an MSRP of about $250, features a slick full-color touch screen and can control up to 15 video, audio and gaming components all in one fell swoop.

Blackboard Mobile Learn For Sprint

The goal of Blackboard Mobile Learn is to take education mobile. Available on Sprint devices and others, too, Blackboard Mobile Learn is free for students and faculty who use Sprint smartphones. Blackboard Mobile Learn is an interactive teaching and learning experience that leverages popular mobile platforms like Google Android and RIM BlackBerry to deliver lessons, calendars, course work and other data and information to create a mobile learning experience.

Kaspersky Internet Security 2011

Don't head off to school without your machine locked down. Kaspersky Internet Security protects from all online threats and combines antivirus protection with firewall, antispam and more for up-to-the-second Internet threat protection; Safe Desktop for opening suspicious programs; and enhanced controls to limit or log activities and communications. Better to be proactive than reactive and make sure you avoid a virus crippling your computer just hours before a term paper is due. Kaspersky Internet Security 2011 is available for about $80.

Cannon Pixma MP560 All-In-One Photo Printer

The Canon Pixma MP560 is a small wonder: an all-in-one photo printer that is compact enough for a dorm room, bedroom or home office but offers all of the features and functions any student needs to hand in professional-looking work. The wireless high-performance all-in-one offers eye-popping 9,600 x 2,400 maximum color dpi with minimum color droplet size of 1pl and a five individual ink tank system. It features Auto Photo Fix II that lets users correct photos and preview images on the built-in 2-inch LCD screen. It also acts as a copier and scanner to ensure spot-on reproductions. Functions are easily selected from a scroll wheel. The Canon Pixma MP560 is also compatible with memory cards, USB sticks and Bluetooth, meaning no computer is needed for high-quality printouts. The all-in-one has a suggested retail price of around $150.

Apple iMac

Who said the desktop is dead? For students itching to keep working on a desktop, Apple earlier this year unleashed a pair of new iMacs offering speedier processors and swifter graphics. The new iMacs come in 21.5-inch and 27-inch models and pack in Intel Core i3, Core i5 or Core i7 processors. Apple also beefed up the graphics options for both sizes. All updated model Apple iMacs offer a FireWire 800 port capable of powering up to 7 watts, four USB 2.0 ports, an SDXC memory card slot, AirPort Extreme 802.11n Wi-Fi that’s compatible with 802.11a/b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and a 10/100/1000Base-T Gigabit Ethernet connector. They add iSight video cameras, built-in speakers and microphones. The new iMacs run $1,199 to $1,499 for the 21.5-inch, and 1,699 to $1,999 for the 27-inch depending on configuration

Seagate BlackArmor PS 110 External Hard Drive

The Seagate BlackArmor PS 110 external hard drive is a must-have for students to securely back up their documents, presentations and any other data they'll need to make the grade. This bad boy clocks in at just 12.5mm thick, as thin as a CD jewel case, features SafetyDrill recovery software and is available in 500-GB capacity. The Seagate BlackArmor PS 110 automatically backs up for a PC, either part or all of a system; it backs up open files for data protection; and data is secured with file-level and folder-level encryption. The Seagate BlackArmor PS 110 hard drive is available for around $100.

Amazon Kindle E-Reader

Don't lug around heavy, bulky books. Let the Amazon Kindle do the lugging for you. The Kindle, the world's most popular e-reader, is a solid option for students looking to cut down the clutter of hardcovers and paperbacks. And some textbooks have even caught on, offering digital versions. Amazon's latest Kindle models run $139 or $189, for Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi with 3G, respectively. But there are other models out there too.


Be the first on campus with 4G connectivity thanks to the HTC EVO 4G. The Google Android EVO runs on Sprint's 4G network and offers a 4.3-inch touch screen, a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, an 8-megapixel HD video and still camera and a second 1.3-megapixel camera. Along with being the first to leverage Sprint's 4G WiMax network, the smartphone also can leverage 3G and Wi-Fi and features a built-in mobile hotspot for up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The HTC EVO 4G is $199 after rebates and a two-year agreement with Sprint.

Kodak Playsport Mini Video Camera

Get your video projects done in style (and maybe even under water) with the Kodak Playsport. Think of it as a more rugged, versatile Flip. The little HD pocket video camera can go 10 feet under water and still record in full 1,080p. It also features image stabilization, so even when things get a little shaky, the picture stays smooth. The Kodak Playsport packs in 4X digital zoom, a 2-inch display and 128 MB of onboard memory that's expandable with a SD/SDHC card slot for up to 32 GB. It comes in black, blue or purple and retails from Kodak for about $150, but can be found for less elsewhere.

Apple iPad

Apple hit a real home run with the Apple iPad, the touch-screen tablet to beat all touch-screen tablets. For students, it offers an ultraportable way to stay connected, whether via e-mail or various social networks. It also lets students access productivity apps that can be used to do work on the go. That functionality, plus access to books, newspapers and other content, means it can be used to both consume and create content. The Apple iPad runs $499 for the 16-GB Wi-Fi model to $829 for the 64-GB Wi-Fi with 3G model.

Apple MobileMe

Now that you have all of these Apple products – an iPhone, an iPad, an iMac and probably a MacBook (or PC) – it only makes sense to be able to get and work on your papers, presentations and other important documents regardless of which one you're using. MobileMe is Apple's syncing offering that syncs e-mail, calendar and contacts between devices. It also offers users cloud storage for music, video, documents and more. And with a nifty feature that lets users find lost devices, there will be no panic if your iPad vanishes during a late-night study session (or party). MobileMe is $99 a year for 20 GB of combined e-mail and file storage and 200 GB of monthly data transfer.

Booq Boa Flow Backpack

If you can't fit it into the Booq Boa Flow, you don't need it. The Boa Flow by Booq is more than just a laptop backpack. It's a carry-on, it's a travel bag and it's a school bag all in one. The Boa Flow fits Macs from 13 inches to 17 inches and PCs from 13 inches to 15 inches. Its ballistic nylon exterior features a water-repellent coating, and it features a foam laptop compartment for added protection. The interior is designed for laptop accessories and the side pockets are designed for a phone, music player or water bottle. For about $200, the Booq Boa Flow may be pricey, but it will last all four years of college.

Olympus WS-710M Digital Voice Recorder

One of the newest digital voice recorders from Olympus is perfect for any classroom or interview environment. Record long lectures so you don't miss a beat. The Olympus WS-710M features 8 GB of internal memory and can hold a removable 16-GB microSD card; records and plays back in MP3, WMA and PCM; and links directly to a Mac or PC with the USB direct design. It also ties in features like an FM tuner, voice activation, stereo recording and multiple language display. The Olympus WS-710M offers 25 hours of battery life and can organize 200 files in five available folders. The suggested retail price for the Olympus WS-710M is about $150.

Philips SHE9850/27 In-Ear Headphones

If you want to zone out and get some work done, or tune out your roommate pounding away at the keyboard in a last-ditch effort to finish a paper on deadline, a good pair of headphones are a necessity. The Philips SHE9850/27 earbuds are in the top of their class without breaking the bank. The sub-$100 headphones feature a high-definition transducer, precise acoustic tuning, angled acoustic design, ear-fitting design and a three-size silicon comfort cap. Critics have praised the sound quality. So whether it's to listen to a recorded lecture or podcast or listen to tunes while studying or working on a paper, these earbuds make the grade.

Samsung Q430-11 Notebook

Samsung takes the notebook PC marke by storm with the Q430-11. The black finish aluminum surface gives way to a 14-inch LED backlit LCD with HD images. Meanwhile, it offers 16:9 wide screen for DVDs. For a processor, it ties in an Intel Core i5 and takes Nvidia graphics. For school, the Samsung Q430-11 features Windows 7 Home Premium to navigate applications. On the connection side, it includes HDMI, a 3-in-1 memory card slot, three USB 2.0 ports and one chargeable. The battery lasts four hours, so it's ready for work on the go. The Samsung Q430-11 is available for around $900.