2015 Back to School Gift Guide


The new school year will be starting soon (and it likely already has for some people), which means that it’s time to get those students in your life the tools they’ll need in order to survive the next nine months. No, we’re not talking about boring stuff like pencils and notebooks, but rather the cool gadgets and gear that help make campus life a little more enjoyable. Here are some great gift ideas that just about any student can use.

SOL REPUBLIC Shadow Wireless Headphones


One of the hottest trends on the headphones market these days is those futuristic looking Bluetooth headsets that people wear around their necks. But while they definitely take a little getting used to compared to more traditional headphones, it’s easy to see what makes them so appealing to some consumers. SOL REPUBLIC recently released its own version of a wireless, around-the-neck headset with the Shadow, and not only is it incredibly lightweight and flexible, but it rests so comfortably on your neck that you sometimes forget it’s even there. In addition to boasting CD-quality audio that’s good enough for the average user, the Shadow features a built-in microphone and three-button remote, as well as a fairly decent battery with up to 8 hours of playback and a week of standby time. It can also control two devices (like your phone and laptop) at the same time, and is both water and sweat resistant, so you can wear it just about everywhere you go without worrying about damage. Although it would have been nice if the headset included retractable earbuds like some of its competitors, it’s not a deal breaker, especially when there’s so much other stuff to love about the Shadow.

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2014 Back to School Gift Guide


The new school year will be starting soon (and it likely already has for some people), which means that it’s time to get those students in your life the tools they’ll need in order to survive the next nine months. No, we’re not talking about boring stuff like pencils and notebooks, but rather the cool gadgets and gear that will make dorm life a little more enjoyable. Here are some great gift ideas that no student should be without.

For Your Room:

Grace Digital Primo Wi-Fi Internet Radio Streamer


Internet radio has become all the rage these days, and although you can listen to a lot of stuff on your computer or smartphone, we really dig this wireless music receiver from Grace Digital, which delivers access to over 50,000 stations, podcasts and on-demand content from all over the world with a user-friendly interface. Whether you’re listening to local stations, shows from other countries or cultivated playlists on Pandora, the Primo has everything you could possibly want… except for an integrated speaker, which is a little weird considering that one was included on previous models. With that said, it does make the device more compact, and there’s an AC power jack for headphones and an RCA line out to connect to your personal sound system. The unit itself is also smartly designed, with a 3.5-inch color LCD screen that makes finding what you want a breeze – from dedicated icons for Pandora, iHeartRadio and SiriusXM, to the ability to search for stations by categories like location and genre – as well as eight one-button presets (with the option to store 100 additional stations) and thumbs up/down and skip functionality for Pandora users. Heck, you can even view the weather or use it as an alarm clock, making the Grace Digital Primo the perfect addition to any work desk.

Roku 3


If you’ve never heard of Roku, chances are that you’re living under a rock, because much like how TiVo spearheaded the DVR explosion, Roku has been at the forefront of the streaming media movement since its little black box debuted in 2008. In those six years, Roku has quickly become one of the best and most popular devices on the market, with the Roku 3 serving as the premium model in the company’s line of set-top boxes. One of the biggest reasons why the brand has continued to prosper is just how easy their products are to use, and the Roku 3 improves that experience with a processor that’s five times faster and an extended wireless range to ensure you have the best possible connection when accessing the 1,000-plus entertainment channels like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Pandora. And if you already own a Roku, now’s the time to upgrade, because the Roku 3 comes fully loaded with 1080p video, dual-band wireless, an Ethernet port and a USB port to stream your music, movies and photos. The included remote also comes equipped with a headphone jack and headphones for private listening, so you won’t have to worry about disturbing your roommate’s studying with episodes of “Orange is the New Black.”

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2013 Back to School Gift Guide


School will be starting again soon, which can only mean that it’s time to give the affected love ones in your life the tools they’ll need to survive another year in the jungle of academia, which we usually call back to school gifts. Of those students, perhaps none are facing a less enviable position than those entering their first year of college. Though those four (or five, or six) years will inevitably be some of the best of their lives, they are entering a whole new world that will initially scare and bewilder them.

Here are some gadgets and gear that no student should be without this school year.

Google Chromecast


Fresh from our friends at Google comes what is destined to be one of the best gadgets of the year: the Chromecast. If you missed my write-up on it over at Gadget Teaser, the Chromecast allows you to stream certain popular programs from your PC and mobile devices (including Youtube and Netflix) to your TV wirelessly, with just the press of a button. Essentially, this turns your current TV into a smart TV with almost no set-up, and at a fraction of the cost. Simply put, everyone is going to want this, as evidenced by the significant waiting time it can take to get one.

Satechi 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub


With gadgets now such a big part of our daily lives, most people don’t have enough vacant outlets in their home to plug them all into, which is where the Satechi 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub really comes in handy. As its name suggests, the hub features nine SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports and a 2.1A charging port on the side that’s strong enough to charge an iPad or comparable tablet. It’s compatible with a wide range of devices – including digital cameras, printers, external hard drives, keyboards, flash drives and smartphones – and can either be plugged into your PC or Mac, or directly into a wall outlet with the included power adapter. The USB ports are divided into sets of three, with separate on/off switches and blue indicator lights to let you know which ones are in use, and the hub itself doesn’t take up too much room on your desk (which is especially important for college students living in a dorm environment), providing a versatile and clutter-free solution to charging.

Satechi Smart LED Desk Lamp


This is by far one of the sleekiest, coolest desk lamps we’ve ever tested, and it also happens to be incredibly eco-friendly and energy efficient, boasting a lifespan of over 40,000 hours and consuming only 1/8 the power of an incandescent light and 1/2 the power of a fluorescent light. The lamp is operated completely by touch control, with four different brightness modes – Reading, Study, Relaxation and Bedtime – each with varying ranges of color temperature, and a timer function that automatically turns off the lamp after one hour to help conserve energy. Additionally, you can further fine-tune each mode using the brightness up/down controls, and even charge a USB device simultaneously using the port in the back. Satechi’s Smart LED Desk Lamp also boasts a flexible, multi-pivot positioning system that allows you to adjust the height, angle and direction of the lamp to your specific needs. It’s a little costly at $100, but at that price, you won’t find many other desk lamps that reproduce natural light quite like this.

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Bullz-Eye’s Back to School Gift Guide

It may sound strange, but while I miss being a student, I don’t miss school.

I try to compensate for this by taking every opportunity presented to me to still learn, but there’s just some things that can’t be recreated outside of the school environment, one of which has to be the first day back to school. I know, I know, it means the end of summer and the beginning of classes again. But what if I could tell you that there were steps you could take to ensure that this is the best school year ever, and the year in which you really stand out and make a name for yourself? Even better, what if I told you that you could accomplish it, without any of that self improvement stuff, or without having to apply earnest effort?

I’m talking about coming back to school with the sweetest swag available. Not just any ordinary swag, though, but swag that will be easy to show off and actually aid you in the school year as well. It’s like having your cake and rubbing it in everyone’s face too.

Here are some gadgets and gear that no student should be without this school year.

Google Nexus 7

One day, perhaps, all schools will be able to provide tablets for their students for the ultimate learning experience (and to help create an awesome sci-fi learning environment). Until that glorious day, though, you’ll just have to supply your own.

While the iPad is still the overall better buy, the Nexus 7 gets the edge for a student. Why? Well, its $199 price tag doesn’t hurt, but it’s the Nexus 7’s smaller size that gives it the advantage for every day, on the go use. Plus, in the smaller tablet market, the Nexus 7 is far and away the best available spec-wise at the moment, as even trendsetter Amazon is having to update their Kindle Fire ahead of schedule in order to keep up.

The Nexus 7 features over 600,000 apps, incredibly long battery life (9 hours HD video, 10 hours web browsing), and all of the e-book, email, video download, and online services you would expect from a tablet. Put it all together, and you have a tablet that succeeds where Amazon failed, and manages to provide a true budget alternative to the iPad. It’s hard to imagine a more useful overall back to school device.

Bose MIE2i Mobile Headset

I know that the over-the-ear, in-ear headphone debate is an eternal one that has yet to claim a true victor. However, for whatever my two cents are truly worth, I personally side with in-ears. What you lose in style and comfort, you gain back tenfold in convenience and portability.

So let’s say you agree with me and have decided to finally invest in a set of in-ear headphones that don’t come with your iPhone or from the back counter of a convenience store. Let’s also say that you’re not into the Beat headphone mini-craze and want a set of true quality buds. If so, then I’d like to be the one millionth person to recommend you go with Bose.

For what Bose headphones lack in flash, they make up for everywhere else that matters. The MIE2i have always been one of their best sets as they feature the usual frighteningly good level of sound quality and noise cancellation you expect from Bose, but also offer unrivaled comfort (you hardly notice them, and they always stay in place) and sustainability in the in-ear field. If you’re looking to make an investment on a set of headphones that will actually last, and allow you to discretely listen to the Black Keys in class, look no further than these beauties.

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