25 Must-Have Back-To-School Gadgets And Gizmos

Cheat Sheet

Going back to school in 2016 means going shopping for a lot more than new clothes. Electronic devices to aid the learning process -- and to help students relax after class -- are pretty much a necessity. So are protective backpacks, on-the-go chargers and other gizmos to help students get the most out of their schooling.

So, as students head back to their classrooms in coming weeks, here's our cheat sheet of 25 items that might be worth picking up.

Rocketbook Wave

For students that still like to take handwritten notes in class, the Rocketbook Wave can offer a modern high-tech take on an old school chore. It looks and feels like a normal pen-and-paper notebook, with the difference being that the notes can be automatically uploaded to the cloud for easy access later on. The Rocketbook Wave includes 80 pages and, once it's filled up, users can actually erase the contents by microwaving it.

The Rocketbook Wave with the accompanying Pilot FriXion pen is priced at $27.


While it's marketed as a device for easing jet lag -- by mimicking the energy-boosting effects of sunshine -- the HumanCharger can just as easily benefit students struggling with mental fatigue. The device works by delivering blue-enriched white light through earbuds to the brain. The device's manufacturer, Valkee, says the device only needs to be used 12 minutes a day to get users "fully charged."

The HumanCharger is priced at $219.

Bose QuietComfort 35

Noise-canceling headphones are virtually a must for the college dorm room, and while Bose doesn't exactly have the cheapest options out there, it does have some of the best. The QuietComfort 35 is a new offering in the category from Bose, with the added features that the headphones connect wirelessly over Bluetooth and NFC.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 is priced at $349.95.

Apple MacBook

For a laptop that offers productivity and portability -- plus cool factor -- the MacBook is a solid choice. The 2016 release of Apple's newest-to-market laptop comes with a faster processor and a longer-lasting battery than the original release--all of which students should appreciate. It also remains insanely portable at 2 pounds and about a half-inch thick. And, it comes in Rose Gold now, too.

The MacBook has a starting price of $1,249 for education pricing, $1,299 without education pricing.

Lenovo Yoga 900S

Speaking of cool factor, the Lenovo Yoga 900S is perhaps one of the few laptops in the Windows universe that can rival -- and maybe even surpass -- the MacBook in that regard. It's similar on portability and pretty-ness, but it's got the added benefit of doubling as a tablet; the 360-degree watchband hinge on the device lets you fold the touch screen display all the way back. That's something that might appeal to students who'd like to have a laptop and a tablet for their studies, but don't want to lug around both.

The Lenovo Yoga 900S has a starting price of $899.99.

Speck Laptop Business Backpack

Don't be scared off by the fact that this is described as a "business" backpack. The modern student and on-the-go professional share a lot in common these days, certainly in terms of how much gear they're expected to lug around. This backpack features shock-absorbing bumpers to protect a student's laptop and has spots for a tablet, e-reader, phone, water bottle and more. Meanwhile the backpack is also outfitted with pass-through ports that let users charge their devices using a portable charger in another compartment (charger sold separately).

The Speck Laptop Business Backpack is priced at $69.99.

Kensington LM340 Messenger Bag

For students with more of a messenger bag inclination, this "cool gray" bag from Kensington has lots to offer in terms of style, as well as a padded section for a laptop and other devices.

The LM340 Messenger Bag is priced at $59.99.

RAVPower 16750mAh Deluxe Portable Charger

Phone batteries haven't quite caught up with the demands that students place on them. Not to worry, because this portable charger will charge an iPhone six times or a Galaxy S6 without needing to be re-charged itself. It also promises to fully recharge an iPad Air once on a charge.

The portable charger is priced at $32.99.

Apple iPad Pro

Speaking of iPads, while the Air might have the most cool factor going for it, the iPad Pro is the one that many students are going to want. At least if they intend to use it for research and writing papers--the iPad Pro comes with Apple's latest-generation processor (A9X) and can connect to a keyboard (sold separately) for getting a lot of schoolwork done on the go.

The starting prices for the two versions of the iPad Pro are $599 for the 9.7-inch version and $799 for the 12.9-inch version.

Samsung Galaxy Note7

Some students might rather not have a tablet to carry around at all -- but would still like something with a big screen to help them chip away at assignments while on the move. The productivity-focused Galaxy Note7, which was announced this month and will be available just before the start of school, might fit the bill with its 5.7-inch display and an included pen for jotting down notes. Rugged features such as water resistance and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 might also come in handy for students in their travels.

The Galaxy Note7 is available Aug. 19 in the U.S. and is priced at $849.

Mophie Juice Pack Reserve

Recharging your iPhone gets a little simpler with this device. The Juice Pack Reserve is both a case for an iPhone 6 or 6S - which, the company notes, is "barely" noticeable compared to other cases - and a battery that can provide up to 60 percent more battery life to the phone, according to Mophie.

The Juice Pack Reserve is priced at $59.95.

Razer Blade Stealth

For the gamer-students out there, a laptop that doubles as a gaming device and a machine for crushing schoolwork might make a lot of sense. The Razer Blade Stealth has won plenty of fans for its combination of style, thin form factor (just 0.52 of an inch thick) and power (Intel's top-of-the-line Core i7 processor). The laptop's high-resolution touch screen (either 4K or QHD) doesn't hurt, either.

The Razer Blade Stealth has a starting price of $949.99.

Roost Laptop Stand

For students suffering the effects of the "laptop hunch" -- the act of hunching over a desk to work away on a laptop -- this Roost Laptop Stand aims to improve both ergonomics (i.e., health) and productivity. The lightweight, collapsible stand can be adjusted to bring any user's laptop to eye level, though an external keyboard and mouse will be necessary. Importantly, it fits all but the very thickest laptops out there.

The Roost Laptop Stand is priced at $74.95.

Quietus RF Desktop Keyboard and Mouse Combo

To fill those external keyboard and mouse needs, a wireless option could be just the thing. This new keyboard-and-mouse combo from IOGEAR features not only wireless connection -- at up to 33 feet, according to the company -- but also the company's Quietus keyboard technology for less-noisy typing.

The Quietus keyboard-mouse combo is priced at $39.95.

Bose SoundSport In-Ear Headphones

Again, Bose is not your go-to for the inexpensive option, but the SoundSport In-Ear Headphones are an investment that just might pay off in the form of a better workout after class. The headphones aim to actually stay in your ear, comfortably, during an exercise session, while also including features for easily skipping tracks and sweat resistance.

Bose's SoundSport In-Ear Headphones are priced at $99.95.

Fitbit Blaze

While we're talking workouts, Fitbit's Blaze smart fitness watch has just about every feature one could dream up for helping to get in shape--which might be ideal for students that don't have much time to worry about maximizing their workout. Features include activity tracking, workout instruction right on the display and multi-day battery life.

The Fitbit Blaze has a starting price of $229.95.

Quirky Flexible Power Strip

For this power strip, "quirky" is actually the name of the manufacturer, though it's an apt descriptor for the item too. The six-outlet power strip is highly flexible -- bending into circular or zig-zag shapes. Which along with being fun, is also actually ideal for fitting into tight spaces, such as the college dorm room.

The Quirky Flexible Power Strip is priced at $29.99.

Epson Expression Home XP-430

Tight dorm-room spaces can also be a challenge for students who need to be able to print. The Expression Home XP-430 could be the answer with its highly compact design--a width of 15.4 inches, depth of 20.8 inches and height of 11 inches--and wireless printing capability.

The Expression Home XP-430 is priced at $49.99.

Nvidia Shield Android TV Box

There's nothing wrong with a little entertainment after class. The Nvidia Shield Android TV Box is a device for streaming media--such as Netflix and YouTube -- to your TV set in insanely good 4K HDR picture quality. The device is really best for those who are also into gaming, though, as it includes streaming of PC games from the cloud through GeForce NOW.

The Nvidia Shield Android TV Box has a starting price of $199.99.


A cheaper, yet tried-and-true, option for streaming Netflix and other media to your TV is the Chromecast. It's a simplified setup that many students might appreciate, as it gives you the ability to stream content to TV right from your phone and other devices.

The Chromecast is priced at $35.

Samsung USB 3.0 Flash Drive Fit

This 64GB flash drive is a little cooler -- and sturdier -- than the rest. The drive comes with a metal casing and a highly compact design, so that it doesn't stick out quite as far from a computer as the typical flash stick.

The 64GB Fit flash drive is priced at $17.99.

Jawbone UP3

The age-old problem of students not getting a good sleep at night might have a technological fix. That, at least, is one possible goal for buying the Jawbone. Along with offering fitness tracking, the wearable also includes features for advanced tracking of sleep -- such as measurement of deep, light and REM sleep -- paired with tips for how to improve restfulness at night.

The Jawbone UP3 is priced at $129.99.

Kindle Oasis

The features on the Kindle Oasis certainly fall into the category of "premium," as, not surprisingly, does the price of the e-reader. Those features can start to seem worth it though when one considers the benefit to schooling that might accrue. The Oasis is the lightest Kindle and, as it probably goes without saying, it can take the place of plenty of books for class. It's also got a new design for better ergonomics and built-in buttons for page-turning, all of which might help students actually complete the assigned readings.

The Kindle Oasis is priced at $289.99.

PERALTA Scarlett Sleeve

Remember the iPad Pro and MacBook we suggested earlier? A new women's line from WaterField, Peralta, has some stylish cases to offer that are tailored to both of the devices. The cases come in three colors and have options to fit MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, as well as the iPad Pro (with room for the Apple Smart Keyboard or Logitech keyboard and Apple Pencil).

The Peralta Scarlett Sleeve is priced at $79.

HP Power Pack Plus 12000

For students looking for a bag that's got device-charging capabilities built in, the Power Pack Plus 12000 may be a good fit. Among the big features of the Power Pack is the ability to charge two different devices at once. HP also says the Power Pack can recharge a smartphone up to five times before it has to be recharged itself.

The Power Pack Plus 12000 is priced at $64.99.