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September 3, 2014 at 8:40 PM

Tech tools: Head back to campus with gadgets made for higher learning


By Caitlin King / Special to Sunday Market

A notebook and bundle of pencils just doesn’t seem to cut it in the classroom anymore.

These days, students are toting tons of tech. For those heading off to college, the needs are even greater as you outfit a dorm or apartment for work and play. Here are some gadgets that will make campus life a little cooler.

At home

Build your stereo system with the Sonos PLAY:1 ($199 at Target), a wireless music player and speaker. The sleek device streams music from your library or from services such as Spotify, Pandora and Rdio. You can add additional Sonos speakers to your system, controlling it all with a free app.

Replace your old, glaring alarm clock with the minimalist Cube LED Alarm Clock ($32 at What looks like a plain wooden cube reveals the time when you clap your hands. An alarm will help you make it to early-morning classes.

On the go

Have access to music — and the ability to drown out chatty colleagues in the library — with a lightweight pair of headphones. The Beats by Dre Solo HD On-Ear Headphones ($180 at offer serious sound packed into a compact package you can toss into your backpack.

Speaking of lightweight, the 13-inch MacBook Air ($949–$1,149 at the Apple Store) weighs less than 3 pounds and has all the speed and software you expect from Apple. It boasts more than 12 hours of battery life for getting work done away from home. Students who buy by Sept. 9 get a $100 Apple Store gift card.

Protect your investment with the Baggu 13″ Sleeve for MacBook Pro/MacBook Air ($30 at the Apple Store). The eco-friendly canvas sleeve is made from recycled materials and comes in turquoise, yellow or polka dots, ensuring that you show up to class in style.

If you’d rather go the tablet route, check out the new 12-inch Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (starting at $649 at the Microsoft Store). Microsoft is offering special student pricing through Wednesday that includes the new Surface Pen for writing and drawing. Add the snap-on Surface Pro 3 Type Cover ($130 at the Microsoft Store), which folds down to become a keyboard, and you have all the elements of a laptop.

Parents can encourage calls home by springing for a new smartphone, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 ($600–$700 without contract at all carriers). A long-lasting battery, large screen for web browsing and stylus pen for note taking make it a standout for students (see more on the Note 3 in the smartphones story on the cover). The Galaxy Note 4 is expected out next month if you want the latest and greatest.

Little extras

Fitness fans can dress up their Fitbit Flex with the Tory Burch For Fitbit Silicone Printed Bracelet ($38 at Tory Burch, Bellevue). The fuchsia or navy tracker holder features a fun signature print that will help it blend in with your other bracelets.

Keep your phone chugging all day with the Anker Astro Mini 3000mAh External Battery ($20 at Amazon
.com). The colorful, compact charger slips into a purse or backpack and provides more than a full charge for your iPhone or Android device.

A clever, eye-catching phone case, such as the Kate Spade New York Hold the Phone iPhone 5 Case ($40 at Nordstrom), will make your phone harder to lose and easier to spot under heaps of clothes.

Heading abroad? Grab the colorful Flight 001 4-in-1 Adapter ($25 at, which features four plugs to keep your electronics working in more than 150 countries. Whether you’re studying in Germany or South Africa, the adapter’s color-coded system helps you find the right plug for your destination.


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