Essential items for any student.

It’s that time of year again — school season. It seems like with every year that passes, there are more and more technology items to help students navigate through the school year successfully. The MacSources staff has collaborated to bring you a comprehensive list of our favorite gadgets to help you with studies, productivity, and even your extra curricular activities.

Our very first recommendation is to sign up for Amazon Prime. Even though it’s a yearly subscription, students can get a special discount (50% off after a 6-month trial period). Remember, Amazon Prime isn’t just about shopping. It also gives you access to Prime Video, music streaming, e-books, photo storage, and Same-Day delivery (in eligible areas). Becoming a member of Amazon Prime has a lot of great benefits and it’s highly suggested for students.

With great power, comes great responsibility — and mobile charging options.

Power is essential to most daily activities we do these days. I know that I hardly ever go an entire day without having to plug my phone in for some more battery power. For those times, we recommend keeping a power bank with you. Power Banks are portable rechargeable batteries that you can plug your devices into to grab and extra charge when you are on the go. Most power banks are small enough to carry in your pocket and some don’t even require you to carry charging cables with you. Here are a few of our favorites.

myCharge HubMax 10050mAh – This power bank has enough capacity to charge your phone to 100% multiple times. It has two built-in cables — Micro USB and Lightning — and it also has a built-in wall adapter so when it’s time to recharge it, you simply plug it into the wall.

Anker Premium 5-Port 60W USB Wall Charger – This USB hub is meant to charge multiple devices at the same time without taking up multiple power outlets. You plug the hub into your wall and then plug USB cables into the hub for your devices.

MyCharge HubMax Portable Battery REVIEWAnker PowerPort Plus 5 USB-C

Nomad three in one Lightning, Micro USB, and USB-C – I hate carrying multiple cables with me so this 3-in-1 option is the perfect solution for me. Whenever I go on road trips or decide to work remotely, I grab this rugged charging cable so that I can charge different devices without having to carry a mess of cables with me. In addition to cutting down on cable clutter, Nomad’s 3-in-1 is also built to last.

NOMAD Ultra Rugged Charging Cables REVIEW

Carry on my wayward son — and carry it all to class

When it comes to studying, you will find yourself sometimes living from your backpack. Therefore, it’s important to have one that’s made well and offers special features. Even though the MacSources staff had several favorites in this category, we narrowed it down to two options — a backpack and a messenger bag.

XIXOV Water Resistant Business Backpack – This backpack is not only very functional as it will allow you to store several books and folders, but it also has a charging port, which can be paired nicely with portable power banks like the one we featured above. There are charging backpacks out there that come equipped with their own batteries (like the TYLT Pro Power Backpack), but they can be quite a bit more expensive than this option at $35. The backpack is also water resistant and it has a storage compartment for laptops up to 17 inches in size.

Solo Sag Harbor Laptop Briefcase – This bag is a messenger style laptop case. It’s become a daily carry-all for one of our writers. It holds up to a 15-inch sized laptop, but if you have a smaller one like the 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro, you can also fit a 12-inch iPad Pro inside the laptop compartment along with several folders, notebooks, and books. There are lots of pockets for organization and the bag really stands up to daily wear and tear.

Solo Sag Harbor Briefcase REVIEW

To share or not to share your entertainment — that is the question.

You will find, especially in a college setting that you tend to share…a lot. Most college residents have a roommate. That means you can’t get away from hearing their preference of music and they can’t get away from your Adult Swim cartoons. You do, however, have a choice of whether or not you want to embrace the sharing. We really love our movies and music here at MacSources so we have no shortage of opinions on headphones, speakers, and media devices. Here are a few examples of how you can share (or not share) your favorite means of entertainment.

Sony 1000X Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones – When you need to drown out your roommate’s phone calls home, or just want a little quiet time, these Sony headphones will do the trick. They are comfortable wear for long periods of time and they provide you with excellent noise canceling. These are also great for when you are trying to watch a video and you want to be courteous to your roommate who is studying for a final exam. If you are looking for a slightly different option, but still want noise canceling, we would recommend the Libratone Q Adapt Wireless On-Ear Headphones. They will still cancel ambient noise out, but there are four different levels of ambient noise cancellation that you can choose from.

Sony 1000X Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones REVIEW

Monster SuperStar BackFloat Bluetooth Speaker – There are a lot of Bluetooth speakers out there, but some of them have a lot of unnecessary features that just inflate the pricing of it. Monster has a great speaker called the SuperStar BackFloat, which not only produces great audio, but it is also designed to float when placed in water. The BackFloat has an IPX-4 splash protection rating and is a lot of fun when you want to share your tunes with a group of people. It’s durable and could be used for any number of activities.

Amazon Fire Stick – When it comes to streaming media players, there is a lot to choose from. Amazon Fire Stick is one of the least complicated to set-up and it gives you access to thousands of apps, games, and of course, movies and TV shows. It’s very affordable at only $40 and only requires an Internet connection and an HDMI port on your TV.

Don’t lose it! Keep track of your stuff.

We could all use a second set of eyes when it comes to keeping up with our belongings. This is especially true when we are away from home. In the past couple of years, Bluetooth trackers have become increasingly popular. We have a couple of options to recommend for small, discreet trackers that can ensure you never lose your stuff.

Tile Mate – This device is small, made of plastic and can attach directly to your key chain. Once it’s connected to the Tile App, you can use your phone to ‘ring your things’ to find where they are. This is especially great for small items that can easily slip away.

Pixie – This tracker is slightly more advanced in my opinion than the Tile Mate. It doesn’t ‘ring’ your items like the Tile Mate will, but it does give you a virtual environment through the app that will help you locate your items visually. I really like this one for bigger items like backpacks.

pixie

GuardPeanut Smart Anti-Theft Alarm – This tiny object is very similar to the other two trackers we mention here, but it is actually designed to alert you if your belongings are moved and they shouldn’t be. It’s small, affordable and durable.

Other really cool stuff that is useful

As I said at the beginning of this article, there are a lot of tech items that can help students navigate their way through school (literally and figuratively), but sometimes those things don’t fit into a specific category. The last three items fall into that area.

Blink Lite – This is a small, electronic skateboard. Some schools may not approve of its use on school grounds, but I can’t think of a better way to get from one side of a college campus to the other than this really fun Blink Lite skateboard from Action.

iPad Pro and Apple Pencil – Even though you may not be able to go completely mobile during school, it’s much easier to carry around a tablet with keyboard and stylus than a full-size laptop most of the time. The iPad Pro (along with its premium accessories) is really the ideal option for students because it gives you multiple options for productivity apps to use along with a lot of creative apps. It’s incredibly versatile and very easy to carry around.