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Back to school must-have tech and gadgets: 2014

From gaming headsets to budget tablets, here are some of the best back to school tech and gadgets on the market.
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1 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Google Nexus 7 tablet

Google's Nexus 7 tablet is generally considered a good all-round tablet for daily tasks, and education is no exception. You can use apps such as Evernote to take notes on the tablet, and remote desktop software like Splashtop lets a user remotely access their home PCs -- useful for working on assignments on-the-go. The Nexus can also be used to access the Web, watch films, listen to music, play games and read ebooks. Unless you're continually watching films, the battery is more than enough to last all day, and the device is a lot less bulky than carrying a laptop to class. 

However, if you're willing to wait a little longer, Google's Nexus 8 is touted for release later this month.

Price: From $229

Via: Google

Read more:

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Kindle Unlimited

For college students who want to save on buying books individually or for parents who want to give their children access to as many stories as possible, the Kindle Unlimited subscription service is an interesting option. For $9.99 a month, online retail giant Amazon gives subscribers access to over 600,000 ebook titles and Audible audiobooks, including popular titles such as Harry Potter and the Life of Pi

Kindle Unlimited is compatible with Kindle devices and the Kindle app for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, PC, Mac and Windows 8.

Price: $9.99 per month

Via: Amazon

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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Corsair Vengeance 2100

A decent pair of headphones is often a must-have for college gamers, and the Corsair Vengeance 2100 wireless headset doesn't disappoint, especially for its price bracket. The makers claim the headset is capable of 7.1 surround sound, and while I don't think the quality is quite up to that standard, the sound quality for game elements including character speech and environmental noise is very good. The battery life isn't too shabby either, and the headset certainly looks stylish.

Price: $129.99

Via: Corsair

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV

Streaming devices which gives students access to online entertainment come in a range of guises, but my two favorites are Google's Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV. Amazon connects your television set to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon instant video, as well as TV shows and films if you're part of Amazon Prime, whereas Chromecast can also stream a variety of services, including YouTube and whatever is shown on your browser. I happen to prefer Chromecast due to its ease of use and cheap pricetag, and the plug-and-play device makes a valuable gift if you're packing your kids off to college. 

Price: $35 | $99

Via: Google | Amazon

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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5 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

GoPro Hero3+ cameras

The GoPro Hero3+ camera is fast becoming an essential piece of kit for the adventurous among us -- and can prove to be a valuable, if expensive, gift for students who enjoy adrenaline sports. The Hero3 + is more of an update than a radical change from its predecessor, but has been updated to take clearer, sharper footage, is able to cope with an underwater length of 40 meters. The action cam also has resolution settings suitable for both beginners and professionals. 

Price: £199 - £359.99

Via: GoPro

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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Bose SoundLink Mini

Having one of this company's main stereo systems in my apartment, the Bose SoundLink Mini caught my eye when it was first released. A tiny, compact system without the usual Bose pricetag, I've found that despite its size, the sound quality is excellent. Turning up the volume is more than enough for a dorm room, there is a deep bass line and smooth sound -- although college neighbors might not appreciate it when exams come rolling around. Sometimes it does need some sharpening up and a touch more bite, but it's a worthwhile investment. 

Price: $199.95

Via: Bose

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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Kinivo BTH220 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones

These Kinivo headphones are not at the top of the market, but the price tag should be suitable for most budgets. The headset fits around the back of your head to remain secure on your ears, and connects via Bluetooth to mobile devices. Users can then listen to music, make and accept calls. While the sound quality is rather commonplace, I do find them to be comfortable and useful when on a morning jog. 

Price: $20

Via: Amazon

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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Livescribe 3 Smartpen

The Livescribe 3 Smartpen is a modern piece of kit which should be in any back-to-school bag. Dubbed a 'smart pen,' the Livescribe 3 is equipped with a small infrared camera that digitizes the user's notes when used in conjunction with the company's specialist paper. What makes the gadget useful for those heading back to school is that these digital notes are beamed to your iOS mobile devices via Bluetooth -- although Android support is expected soon -- where notes can be organized using apps such as Evernote. Especially useful when compiling revision notes.

Price: $149.95

Via: Livescribe

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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WD MyPassport Ultra 1TB portable hard drive

If disaster strikes and your PC is treated with coffee, the Windows blue screen of death appears or your Macbook Air ends up flying off the table, the loss of data -- especially if it's the night before your essay is due -- can be heartbreaking. However, purchasing an external hard drive like the WD My Passport can make sure separate backups of college work are safe, and can also free up space on PCs by hosting videos, music and photos. 

Price: $92.95

Via: Amazon

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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10 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Anker Astro Mini 3000mAh compact charger

Whether its a college student who uses smartphones and tablets to a high school student given a phone for use in emergencies, having a second source of power nearby for when you their devices run out of juice is wise. Products like the Anker Astro charger are lightweight, can be thrown into a bag and forgotten about, and come at a reasonable price.

Price: $16.99

Via: Amazon

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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11 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

iRobot Roomba 880

The ultimate home appliance for a lazy student is the iRobot Roomba. The bot can be turned on and let loose on the floor, zooming up dust and grime so you don't have to. Instead of using brushes, rubber extractors pick up everything from dust to pet hair.

See also: CNET: iRobot Roomba 880 review

Price: $699

Via: iRobot

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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12 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

iPad mini

The 7.9-inch iPad mini is the smaller version of the standard iPad tablet. This particular tablet is one of the most high-end products on the market, but gives students access to over 500,000 apps through the App Store -- many of which are education-based -- as well as iTunes U, a popular ed tech resource for students and teachers. 

Price: $399

Via: Apple

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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13 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Microsoft Surface 3 tablet

If your student prefers the Windows platform on their mobile device, Microsoft's 12-inch Surface 3 tablet, available in both entry and high-end versions, runs on Windows 8.1 and is lighter than its predecessors. It might not be the first tablet you would consider for a student -- considering its high price for a tablet -- but decent specs and a full HD 2160x1440 resolution make it a possible laptop replacement which will last for some time.  

A separate keyboard accessory can be bought for $150 to create a hybrid laptop, a useful element for students looking to complete coursework.

If you're looking for a Windows-based tablet with a lower price bracket, consider the Surface 2.

Price: $649 with current educational discount

Via: Microsoft

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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14 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

The Mighty Mic

Photojojo's Mighty Mic is a bolt-on for your smartphone. Once plugged into the smartphone's headphone jack, any footage you are recording will have improved, clearer sound -- and the mic also has a headphone jack of its own, which lets the user hear the recorded sound and adjust settings accordingly. For travel, nights out, dictating thoughts or for recording a lecture, this is a useful gadget. Used in conjunction with apps like Evernote or Dragon Dictation can also help keep your student more organized and productive. 

Price: $70

Via: Photojojo

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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15 of 15 Charlie Osborne/ZDNET

Moshi's Versacover

Simple and stylish, Moshi's Versacover is a protective case and stand for tablets. Whether a tablet is being used in a high school classroom or lecture theatre, without needing to hold the tablet in place manually, the stand lets a user rest their wrists on a hard surface while using their device -- which in turn can prevent strain or repetitive strain injury. Something I particularly like about this cover is the origami-inspired design that can be twisted and moved for different viewing angles. 

Price: $60

Via: Moshi

Related links:

20 essential iPhone, iPad apps for college students

The top tablets for kids: 2014 edition

50 resources for iPad use in the classroom

Back to School 2013: What to buy a new college student

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