Back-To-School Tech Doesn’t Have To Break The Bank

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pens, pencils, notebooks — they’re the boring necessities of back-to-school time. But heading off to class doesn’t have to be a drag — especially if you have new gear in tow.

Slip a Tile slim in your backpack, one in your wallet; stick ’em on your phone and laptop. When you can’t find your stuff, the Bluetooth trackers go into service. They’re $100 for a pack of four.

The $400 Nintendo Switch is designed for portable and personal video game play, but even something as simple (and relatively inexpensive) as a Netflix or Hulu subscription can provide a needed diversion from the classroom.

“You can never have too many conversation starters when you’re entering college and trying to make friends,” says Dana Wollman, executive editor of Engadget.com.

In the tech site’s annual Back to School buying guide, Wollman says a USB battery pack is a must-have, a niche item like a turntable can help you make a name for yourself, and Cuisinart’s PerfecTemp electric kettle can keep you caffeinated, and sated (it’s great for instant ramen).

“Use tech to make a dorm room feel not so much like a prison cell but like someone’s real home,” Wollman advises.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive. For $10/month, you can get music on demand from Spotify or Apple Music. Don’t forget a Bluetooth speaker: the SoundCore from Anker (with its 24-hour battery life) can be had for less than $40. $30 provides a year of EA Access, a video game subscription service for Xbox One.

Virtual reality, with headsets like Google’s Daydream View, doesn’t sound like a very social activity. But Wollman says that’s OK.

“It might be a way for certain kinds of people to find a little peace and relaxation in what’s sure to be a very busy, very new environment,” she explains.

Engadget’s Back to School Guide also reminds students to back up their work on an external drive or with a cloud service (like Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, or Google Drive), most of which offer a few gigs of space for free.

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