20 must-have back to school, college gadgets and gifts: 2017

Here is a look at some of this year's must-have gadgets and devices for students heading back to school or leaving to start their college careers.
1 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Samsung Galaxy Tab E

As an alternative to lugging laptops around, a decent tablet is often a must-have for today's students. A tablet such as the Samsung Tab E can not only provide access to social media, educational and generally useful applications but can also run apps such as Dragon Dictation which can be invaluable for students attending lectures -- without taking up much room in their bag.

Price: $185 (£132)

Via: US | UK

2 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is a popular e-reader which students can use to full advantage for reading purposes. The lightweight and thin tablet is also Wi-Fi enabled and can be used to pull up and read books purchased through the Amazon store. A major benefit of the Kindle over standard tablets is the battery life, and while you sacrifice app access, it lasts for weeks rather than days on a single charge.

Price: $199.99 (£109.99)

Via: US | UK

3 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Seagate Expansion external hard drive

With many college and university students now heavily reliant on PCs throughout their courses, an external hard drive is almost essential to provide additional storage space and a separate backup system for important files, such as coursework and projects.

Available in models up to 4TB, the Seagate Expansion external hard drive is an affordable option which is light enough to be thrown in a bag for campus, but is also reliable and sturdy.

Price: $54.99+ (£49.95+)

Via: US | UK

4 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

ASUS VivoBook E12

If you're in the market for a slimline, relatively powerful laptop suitable for college use, the ASUS VivoBook E12 is an option to consider. This 11.6-inch model is equipped with a Celeron processor up to 2.4GHz, 2GB RAM, 32GB storage and runs on Windows 10 Home. It is far from the most powerful PC on the market, but when on a budget, the E12 is very reasonable for the price.

Price: £179.99

Via: US alternative | UK

5 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Microsoft Surface laptop

For a laptop with powerful specifications and well able to last throughout a college career and beyond, the Microsoft Surface laptop is worth considering. Available for a discount for students, the laptop comes with Windows 10 S, a 13.5-inch PixelSense display, a 7th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, up to 16GB RAM, up to 512GB SSD storage and up to 14.5 hours of battery life.

Price: $999+ (£979+)

Via: US | UK

6 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Kensington Combination Ultra Laptop Lock

A laptop lock can be an invaluable gift for a student destined to spend many long hours in the library. Should they need to get up to get a drink or visit the bathroom, a lock which keeps their laptop securely where they left it -- such as the Kensington Combination Ultra laptop lock -- can give them peace of mind.

Price: $19 (£33.33)

Via: US | UK

7 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Urban Armor Gear

Accidents happen, and for students -- or otherwise -- the prospect of damaging expensive laptops, smartphones, or tablets due to a fall or spill can be a true concern. To combat this, companies such as UAG offer a range of rugged cases and protective gear to keep mobile devices in top condition.

Price: $Various

Via: UAG

8 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Raspberry Pi

If you have a student in your life keen to learn to code or seeking a project to keep them occupied for some time, a Raspberry Pi could make a fun -- and educational -- gift. The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer, based on Linux, which can be programmed for almost limitless possibilities.

Price: $35 (£32)

Via: US | UK

9 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

HP Envy 4527 wireless all-in-one printer

Many colleges and universities offer printing services, but for quick printouts, last-minute emergencies and research, students having their own is a good idea. They do not need to be specialist or expensive, however, as the affordable wireless HP Envy proves. The printer and scanner combination is not only small enough to fit snugly under a desk but can also print directly from PCs or mobile devices.

Price: $62+ (£40)

Via: US | UK

10 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Apple MacBook Air

Apple's MacBook Air has remained a firm favorite for students for many years. The lightweight, durable 13-inch laptop is easily transported in a backpack and is reliable enough to last throughout a student's academic career.

Specs at a glance: 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor to 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 | Up to 512GB storage | 8GB RAM | Intel HD Graphics 6000 | Approximately 12 hours battery life

Price: $999+ (£949 to £1,099)

Via: US | UK

11 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Google Chromecast

The Google Chromecast -- while there are other more advanced and more expensive options on the market -- is an affordable and very useful gadget for students who like to stream online content. The dongle is plugged into the HDMI port of a tv to stream content from PCs and mobile devices.

Price: $35 (£30)

Via: US | UK

12 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Anker SoundCore portable speaker

Whether a replacement for PC speakers or a speaker system useful for taking on-the-go, a portable, Bluetooth speaker is a neat accessory for students.

The Anker SoundCore portable speaker is an affordable option which gives listeners decent sound quality for the price bracket, and is light and small enough not to be cumbersome on the move.

Price: $33.59 (£29.99)

Via: US | UK

13 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Inateck laptop backpack

There are many backpacks suitable for students on the market, with everything from USB chargers to solar power and military-grade cushioning. However, if you're after a simple but stylish option which does not break the bank -- and includes handy USB charging for mobile devices as a bonus -- the Inatek laptop backpack is worth consideration.

Price: $39.99 (£29.99)

Via: US | UK

14 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Anker Power Bank portable charger

A handy gadget for any student is a portable powerbank. The Anker Power Bank portable charger, containing three USB ports and 20000mAh capacity, is one option which, while affordable, can also hold enough charge to power mobile devices several times over.

Price: $39.99 (£18)

Via: US | UK

15 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Philips Hue smart lighting

Smart lighting for a dorm room may seem a bit far, but it can actually have a place in boosting studies. The Philips Hue smart lighting starter kit, containing pairs or more of smart bulbs, can be used to tailor the lighting in a room from party lights to soothing reading lights. However, as a user myself, I find the white scenes dedicated to improving concentration -- "energize" in particular -- as an assistant in focusing on work.

Price: $64.99+ (£59.95+)

Via: US | UK

16 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET


As a night owl by nature, the Clocky is an evil, evil product -- but for students who need to make sure they are up in time for lectures and seminars, it can also be a lifesaver.

The Clocky is a simple alarm clock with no bells or whistles, except the ability to bellow out tones loud enough to wake the neighbors while at the same time, spin and run away from you. It's the worst thing in the world to hear first thing in the morning, but there's no denying that Clocky does the job.

Price: $17.99 (£35)

Via: US | UK

17 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Fitbit Flex 2

The Fitbit Flex 2 wristband can help students keep track of their fitness around their studies. The wristband, sync-able with smartphones and tablets, monitors sleep and fitness activity, and can be worn during a normal day or when running, sleeping, or swimming.

Price: $59.95 (£69.99)

Via: US | UK

18 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Cowin noise cancelling headphones

With noisy neighbors in dorms, sometimes trying to study can be a challenge. To combat this, a pair of noise-canceling headphones, such as the Cowin E-7 headphones, can be a valuable accessory to own not just to listen to music, but to isolate students away from their environment in order to concentrate.

Price: $69.99 (£65.99)

Via: US | UK

19 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon's Echo Dot, the smaller cousin to the more expensive Echo speaker, can be a handy addition to a student's dorm room. The device not only acts as a streaming device for Amazon Music, Spotify, and TuneIn once connected to a speaker but also as a voice assistant which can read the news, set alarms, tell users about the weather, and more.

Price: $49.99 (£49.99)

Via: US | UK

20 of 20 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Teqstone 8-in-1 Clip-On smartphone camera lens kit

Mobile photography has become a vast industry in its own right with the explosion in mobile device use, and while some bolt-on lens kits designed to improve the capabilities of smartphone and tablet photography can be as expensive as DSLR lenses, there are still affordable, fun kits out there.

The TeqStone 8-in-1 smartphone lens kit, for example, is a bargain set complete with a polarizer, macro, fisheye, telephoto, and wide-angle lenses.

Price: $15.99 (£13.99)

Via: US | UK

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