Do you hear that? It is the collective groan of millions upon millions of young people. Those pitiful moans can only mean one thing, school is about to start. As our nation's youth head back to their esteemed establishments of higher learning, it is time to reflect on what kind of techy goodness will be resting either in their backpacks or dorm rooms. Gone are the days when the mini-fridge was the height of scholastic technology, after all. Here is our list of the best new back to school gadgets.
It's hard to study without music. Well, actually it's extremely easy to study without music but it's hard to take a study break without it. For years, iHome has been manufacturing quality audio gear with the iPhone enthusiast in mind. Their new product raises the bar considerably. This sleek and functional speaker tower uses the magic of Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your phone, tablet or computer. It sounds great and you'll wonder how you ever got along with so many wires in your life. Bonus points? The speaker tower changes colors in time with your tunes for those nights you just want to pretend you are at a rave. This isn't 1976 (or even 2009). Just about every student nowadays could be benefited by owning a tablet computer. You can download text books on them, manage your finances on them, and play Angry Birds on them when you should be studying. The catch? The brand leader, Apple's iPad, is pretty expensive and, until now, cheaper alternatives were crappy. That is no longer true. Google's little tablet that could is aesthetically pleasing, functional and easy on the pocketbook. It runs on Android and has access to hundreds of thousands of apps and games. There is nothing worse than being kept up all night by the sound of bloodthirsty aliens when you have a test the next day. Get your game-addicted roommate to embrace quiet time by letting them hold ASTRO's newest wireless headset combo. The A50 squeezes a fully functional preamp and equalizer right into the earcup. This translates to fully customizable and beautiful sounding explosions and, yes, even music. Of course, your roommate will still keep you up all night by yelling at little kids on Xbox Live. ASTRO hasn't invented a wireless gag yet. Modern man spends hours and hours each day in front of a keyboard. We can type fast but what about, that age old craft, handwriting? Will longhand go the way of, well, shorthand? Not if the Echo Smartpen has anything to say about it. This snazzy bit of tech finally brings manual writing instruments to the 21st century. It allows you to take notes and record audio at the same time, storing up to 4GB of data. Now comes the cool part. While studying later, you can actually touch the words you wrote and it will automatically play back whatever audio was recorded at that time. Now you can go to classes hungover and jot notes zombie-style and have nothing to worry about! Future, you are alright. Nothing fuels all-night study sessions like coffee, eggs and toast. The only problem? Your dorm doesn't have a kitchen or, if you live at home, your parents go to sleep at a decent hour (How dare they!). Sunpentown's 3 in 1 Breakfast Station will let you be the master of your own breakfast destiny. It's a toaster oven. It's a coffee machine. It's an egg and bacon maker. It will be the savior of many a late night and early morning. All you could possibly need now is a 1950s style robot that'll call you "hun." Dry erase boards have long been as stiff and rigid as a member of an exclusive country club. Well, hang on to your erasable hats. Even the humble dry erase board has not been immune to the tendrils of technological progress. Whiteyboard makes bendable, flexible dry erase boards in any size you can imagine. Need something poster-sized for your dorm room? You can get it. Need something monster sized for your industrial-grade warehouse? You can get that too. The company even makes mini boards for the person who is just sick and tired of throwing away their used Post-It Notes. Waste not, want not. Sure, the iPhone is fine for taking pictures if you don't care too much about image quality. The photos they take may be fine for Instagram but sometimes you just want a little something more, well, beautiful. It's the start of a new school year, after all. Embrace beauty with this Nikon D3200 SLR digital camera. This SLR may boast an entry level price but the features are anything but entry level. The D3200 sports intuitive controls, a 24-megapixel image sensor and even the ability to make movies in 1080p. The results? Amazing pictures that would make any budding, or seasoned, photographer proud. Now get out there and capture those memories. Here's the deal. You can't always be studying. All work and no play makes you burn out half way through the year and join a commune. Communes tend to not have hot water (or doors) so you better learn how to relax once once in awhile. May we suggest watching some movies? Blu-Ray players are no longer going to break the bank and they are as feature heavy as ever. This LG BP220 not only will play an Blu-Ray on the market, but it also goes online. This means you can use it to access Netflix, Hulu Plus, Youtube and all the rest of your streaming favorites. Sweet, sweet entertainment. The Internet. You can't live without it and, uh, you can't live without it. There is nothing that says "this house is now a home" more than getting the net turned on. To do that you are going to need a wireless router. Why not go for the best? Belkin's new AC1200 DB Wi-Fi Dual-Band AC+ Gigabit Router(say that five times fast) is the Usain Bolt of routers. It's around three times faster than the industry standard 802.11n technology that powers most routers. You'll be the speediest downloader on your block, that is until Google Fiber sets up shop in the next town over.