14 Essential Tech Products for Back-to-School

08/10/2016 11:47 am ET Updated Aug 11, 2016

Although we are in the dog days of summer, August signals an ending and a beginning for many. Back-to-school is on the horizon, much to the dismay of millions of kids around the country. And parents feel it, too. This means back-to-frenzied schedules, packing lunches, ceaseless carpooling and homework, my god, the homework! 

But it shouldn’t be all dread and gloom. The start of a new year brings promise and excitement, especially when there’s shiny, new tech to accompany it. The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) estimates a whopping $18.5 billion will be spent on tech for back-to-school this year. If you’re hitting the aisles soon, here are 14 awesome products to consider.   

Students in need of a reliable laptop that can meet the rigors of daily life can’t go wrong with this new model from HP. Key features of this touch-enabled PC include portability (less than 3 lbs.); storage (4 GB memory and 500 GB storage); flexibility (360 degree hinge allows for multiple uses); and longevity (battery lasts up to nine hours). The price is definitely noteworthy, too. (Starts at $279)  

If you’re not backing up your smartphone data on a regular basis, one drop/spill/disaster and your data might be kaput. Major fail. With the MEEM Memory Cable, your data is backed up every time you charge your phone, which for most, is daily. ($49.99 for 16 GB for Android; $69.99 for 32 GB for Apple)  

With the reliance on the Internet for copious amounts of homework, a highly reliable home WiFi network is essential. Eero is a system of three router touch points that broadcast reliable signals to every corner of your house. It also works with a complementary app to manage, as well as monitor usage, via parental controls. ($499 for a set of three; can also be purchased individually) 

Anyone with a 16 GB phone knows how quickly the camera roll can dominate any and all memory. Especially when the actual storage is lower than what the device comes with. Leef helps the storage-deficient with a mobile solution that automatically provides extra space to keep taking more pictures, and preserves them without having to do the daily data delete. (16 GB for $49.99; higher storage options available)  

Between homework printouts, assignments, permission slips, photos of giraffes and other random print/copy/scan demands, a good printer is a home tech essential. This Epson wireless color printer is built with a plentiful 2-year supply of ink (approximately 4,000 black/6,500 color pages). It also offers wireless printing from tablets and smartphones. ($299) 

Older kids who let themselves into their homes after school might appreciate a keyless smartphone-enabled system. No more lost keys! The August Smart Lock is easily installed into any existing deadbolt and syncs with an app (iOS and Android) for access and monitoring entry activity. If your child doesn’t have a smartphone, the Smart Lock can be used with the complementary Smart Keypad. (Prices start at $199 for the Smart Lock; $79 for the Smart Keypad) 

Long gone are the days of lugging around heavy backpacks filled to the brim with huge textbooks. Thanks to the Kindle Paperwhite, students can now enjoy reading on-the-go for school or pleasure with access to more than 800,000 titles, including downloads from Amazon’s eTextbooks. The resolution makes you feel like you’re reading real paper, and the battery lasts for weeks. Your student’s back and eyes will thank you. ($119.99)  

Kids are constantly connected these days, which means their devices need to be charged at all times. You can go with a portable mobile charger like the Belkin MIXIT Power Pack 6600, or use solar power with this BirkSun backpack. The water-resistant solar panels charge while students are walking to class or socializing with classmates on the green. They charge an estimated 1% for every 2-3 minutes of sun and when fully charged, provide always-on power. ($249) 

A great safety gadget for any student is this very compact personal alarm that can be attached to a backpack. When the pin is pulled, the Sound Grenade emits a piercing 120-decibel alarm (as loud as an ambulance) that immediately alerts those nearby. If the pin remains unplugged, the siren will sound for 30 straight minutes. Hopefully it’s something that will never be used, but it’s nice to have the extra precaution. ($14.99)

Mac users will appreciate these highly colorful keyboard covers to add a bit of personality and keep those midnight snack crumbs from infiltrating the keys. Made from flexible and waterproof silicone (yes, it’s washable), Flapjacks slip right onto the keyboard (again, Mac users only) and also reduce typing noise. Ssshhhhh. ($14.99) 

Speaking of colorful, these will add pizzazz to any desk set-up. This wireless mouse can be thrown into a backpack or used with a desktop computer, adding functionality and personality to any student’s study time. Plus, it’s called the “Party Collection,” which makes it all the more fun for kids. ($29.99)  

Every student needs tunes and the EcoPebble Lite is great for insta-music anywhere. This portable Bluetooth speaker is fully waterproof (it even floats!) and provides great sound quality for something so compact. With a 7-hour battery life and measuring in at a mere 3x3”, this can be stashed away for impromptu study hall sessions or dance breaks. ($59.99) 

For a more personal listening experience, these sporty wireless earphones from JBL fit the bill nicely. Speaking of fit, they offer in-ear snugness that ensures they stay in for study hour, running to class and even intense workouts. They’re sweat-proof, water-resistant and provide 8 hours of battery life. ($99.95)

With the alarming stats on how detrimental sitting is, it’s important for kids to keep the blood flowing, even during those long cram sessions. The DeskCycle is a great way to ward off complete sedentariness, without breaking concentration. Easily hidden under desks, students can exercise their bodies while exercising their minds. ($159) 

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