As August speeds by, it’s time to get the little ones ready to head back to school. Of course, with that comes the dreaded “Back to School” shopping spree. With so many gadgets to choose from, how do you know which ones will best suit your kid’s needs? Lets dive in and see if we can find a few killer gadgets that can enhance anyone’s learning experience.
While Apple’s iPad is the clear market leader among tablets, there are also some great alternatives. The ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity ($500) is a top of the line Android tablet that can be coupled with a keyboard dock ($150) to give it the versatility of a laptop. Not only does the dock deliver a full keyboard, and SD Card reader, but you can connect a mouse via the USB port. And the dock comes with its own battery to extend the life of the tablet. If you don’t want to go the Apple route, this is a definite contender for an alternative.
If you already have an iPad, never fear: There are excellent third-party keyboards on the market that will also let you work away on your tablet. ZAGGfolio ($100) acts as both a full keyboard for the iPad and a case to protect your much-loved device. It comes in an assortment colors so you don’t have to be bored with basic black.
At some point, every child will have the inevitable, “I forgot my assignment at home!” moment. In the digital age you can just make sure your kids store their homework on a gadget like Western Digital’s My Book Live ($160), and then they can access their work from any Internet-enabled device. It’s the equivalent of having your own cloud storage solution that lets your young student retrieve that essay right from the classroom. That is, if the dog doesn’t eat the hard drive.
Over the course of the school career, your student will have to read many books. While the vast majority of text books are still of the printed variety, novels that get assigned for book reports and term papers are probably available in ebook form. Amazon’s Kindle ($79) offers up a large selection of classic books for free, and — thanks to agreements with many public libraries — you can also borrow books as you would a printed version. Even better, carrying a Kindle means shedding pounds and pounds of weight from the backpack; the Kindle weighs only 6 ounces and is the thickness of a pencil.
And finally, what about all that wasted time on the bus, where homework can’t be completed? Thanks to mobile hotspots like the Verizon Jetpack ($50 on a two-year contract), now students can access the Internet from virtually anywhere to study, research, and catch up on their assignments.
The digital age has certainly redefined what kids need to pack for school, and these new gadgets cost more than the book binders and pencil sharpeners of yesteryear. But the good news is that any of these purchases will last far longer than just a semester or two. Some of these items might seem expensive today, but after two or three years of use, you will definitely have gotten your value out of them.