Like it or not, another school year is right around the corner. Supply lists are out and, as curriculum is more and more digitized, good tech is just as much of a part of a child’s back-to-school gear out as a backpack, pencils and notebooks.
But what do you send them back to school with? Do they require a laptop? And if so, what kind? And is there other tech gear for staying productive?
Here are some back-to-school must-haves for 2019:
Razer Blade Stealth
If you need a laptop for school, why not go back in style? The Razer Blade Stealth is a top-level performer with a solid aluminum frame (available in anodized black or pink quartz finish). There are plenty of upgrade options available (a 4K touchscreen, an improved graphics card, an optional external graphics module), but the base model is more than enough for school-related tasks. The keyboard is, of course, brilliant (and Chrome-enabled) and the 13-hour battery life ensures productivity all day long.
Apple MacBook Pro
If you’re an Apple family rather than a PC pack, the MacBook Air is the popular choice for an ultra-portable macOS laptop. But you get a lot more for your money by choosing a MacBook Pro. The Pro has a quad-core processor, so it can multitask like a champ. It has up to 512GB of available SSD memory (the Air only goes up to 256). If you want to take advantage of the 3-D touch functions of macOS, you need the force-sensitive touchpad of the Pro. It’s a reliable Mac that won’t let you down.
Samsung Chromebook Plus
Of course, a Mac or Windows laptop isn’t the only way to get work done. A solid Chromebook gives you ready access to all of Google’s incredible productivity apps. I’ve found that Google Docs and Sheets is all I need to stay productive and get the job done—who needs a $1,000 laptop for that? Plus, Google’s Chrome OS is constantly updated, eliminating the need to maintain expensive security software. With a convertible screen and included stylus, the Plus can quickly switch to tablet mode, giving you even more options.
Apple iPad Pro
Speaking of tablets, with the release of iPadOS 13 just around the corner, there’s a solid case to be made for Apple’s iPad as a go-to device. While it’s not quite a full desktop-level OS, there are fascinating innovations being made in regards to mobile productivity. With multi-touch gestures to accomplish text-editing functions, multitasking features that let you do multiple things in the same app at the same time, true desktop Web-browsing, and a dark mode—you’ll find that working on an iPad Pro is just as easy (if not easier) than working on a laptop.
Apple Smart Keyboard Folio
Of course, if you go with the iPad Pro, you’ll need a keyboard (above)to truly unlock its potential. The official Apple Smart Keyboard Folio is a keyboard case that’s so good, it should be included in the box with the iPad Pro. The keys have just the right amount of travel so that extended typing sessions don’t get tiring. You don’t have to worry about charging the folio, since it draws power from the iPad Pro itself. Plus, there are two notches for easy setting of optimal viewing angles. If you want your iPad Pro to be a true productivity machine, you need the Smart Keyboard Folio as well.
Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator
Writing reports isn’t the only thing your child is doing back at school. Chances are, if they’re in any sort of advanced math class, there’s a graphing calculator on the supply list. The pinnacle of graphing calculators is the TI-84 Plus CE. Is it pricey? Yes, it is. But it’s the only graphing calculator your child will need for their entire school career—and beyond. Just make sure you have extra charging cables, because they will inevitably lose the one that comes in the package.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the TI-84 is the Freewrite. Whereas a calculator is a unitasker focused on mathematical equations, the Freewrite is a unitasker focused only on words. There are no games, no apps, no . . . anything, really. Looking more like an old-school typewriter, the Freewrite is a Web-connected word processor that syncs with the cloud so that whatever you type on the Cherry-MX keys is secure and ready. The e-ink screen is legible in full sunlight and the battery life is phenomenal, going for at least a week with regular typing. In a world of distraction, the Freewrite can give you focused clarity.
Garmin vivosmart 4
Getting work done is important, but so is tech that encourages you to keep moving and nudge you into healthier habits. I’m a big fan of the Garmin vivosmart 4. In addition to the usual step-tracking and standing metrics, the vivosmart monitors pulse oxygenation, stress levels and sleep quality. More than just seeing if you’re active enough, the vivozmart 4 can help you make smarter choices about your health. It’s one thing to say, “I feel tired.” It’s quite another to pull up the Garmin Connect app and see just how little sleep you’ve gotten and how that’s affecting you. Plus, it can display notifications and track your exercise. Pretty impressive for such a slim little band.
Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case
You could talk to your child all day long about how you can get better audio fidelity, for less, in a non-Apple earphone. They will not care. Luckily, Apple has just made its top-of-the-line AirPods even better with a wireless charging case, which makes it so easy to keep those little ear-Chiclets topped off. And the AirPods are fairly magical—able to do all sorts of things with your iPhone that third-party earphones just don’t have access to. Plus, with the coming of iOS 13, you will be able to do even more with AirPods. So don’t force your kid to be the only one with generic wired earbuds when they go back to school. Send them back in style.
Apple Smart Battery Case
While we’re talking iPhones, you might as well grab this official Smart Battery Case for their iPhone XS. Because no matter how many times you tell them to make sure their battery is topped off, no matter how often you ask them if their battery is okay, they will inevitably come roaming home after curfew with a dead slab of glass and silicon in their hand.[“source=forbes”]