Stylish tech for back-to-school
Like the latest clothing and hairstyles, a hallmark of the return to class is up-to-date and hot-looking tech gadgets and accessories. Here are some suggestions. -- Ronnie Gill
TODDY GEAR SMART CLOTH
WHY Smudges and fingerprints all over your gear? Use this scratch-free antibacterial cloth to keep the screens on your cellphones, tablets and music players clean. The plush microfiber on one side and patterned silk microfiber on the other are coated with an antimicrobial and crafted for polishing sensitive surfaces without messy sprays or wipes. Available in a variety of patterns and colors.
BUY $10 (three for $20); toddygear.com
BELKIN KEYBOARD FOLIO FOR APPLE IPAD 2
WHY Other companies have developed keyboard cases for iPad 2, but Belkin's just released Keyboard Folio claims to be the first with spring mechanized TruType keys, giving you the same feel you get on a standard keyboard. Function-specific keys copy and paste text, moderate volume and control music. Runs 60 hours on a battery charge, and recharges via USB cable. Tuck away the keyboard and the soft cover protects your iPad's screen.
BUY $100; amazon.com
CANON PIXMA MX410 WIRELESS PRINTER
WHY This budget-priced printer does it all: prints, scans, faxes and copies. The built-in Wi-Fi lets you print and scan from any room in your home and print photos wirelessly from compatible iPad, iPhone 4, 3G, 3GS, iPod touch and Android devices. Its Easy-WebPrint EX lets you clip, arrange and print Web content off the Internet, plus it has a 30-sheet auto-document feeder.
BUY $99; amazon.com, Best Buy, Sears, buydig.com
CANON X MARK I MOUSE CALCULATOR
WHY This wireless Bluetooth 1200 dpi mouse adds a numeric keypad and calculator to your laptop or netbook keyboard without adding to its length. The keys sit beneath the area where your palm normally rests. Constructed from recycled plastic reclaimed from old Canon products, the mouse is compatible with both Windows and Mac. Available in black or white, it comes with two AAA batteries and a drawstring storage pouch.
BUY Black $58; langtoninfo.com. Ships from England (add about $7 for shipping, which Langton says usually takes seven to 14 days.)
BUY A PC FOR COLLEGE, GET A FREE XBOX 360
WHY Provide Microsoft with a valid .edu email address, then spend $699 or more on a qualifying computer with Windows 7 and you will receive a promo code for a free 4-gigabyte Xbox 360. We recommend that you comparison shop prices before purchasing, but you just might snag not only a good deal on a PC, but a free gaming system as well.
BUY From $699, microsoftstore.com/store/msstore/html/pbpage.pc-xbox-promo-v2
SONY ICD-PX312D DIGITAL RECORDER + VOICE-TO-PRINT SOFTWARE
WHY Taking notes in class is so 15 minutes ago. Record your classes, lectures and other voice audio with Sony's ICD-PX312D Digital Recorder, then use the included Dragon NaturallySpeaking software to transform the spoken word into print. The recorder's 2 gigabytes of built-in flash memory provides up to 530 hours of recording time. The microSD/M2 memory card slot allows for additional storage. Other features include voice-operated recording technology and built-in speaker.
BUY $100; store.sony.com is running an $80 special through Saturday; also at OfficeMax, amazon.com
AYL PORTABLE MINI SPEAKER SYSTEM
WHY The AYL speaker system for your PC, phone, tablet, laptop or MP3 player might be on the small side, but it packs a lot of punch. The pleasing orb-shaped speaker provides 10 hours of continuous playback before its lithium battery needs recharging through the included USB cable. The 3.5-mm jack is compatible with just about every audio player. Available in black, red and white, and includes a carrying pouch.
BUY $39.95; amazon.com
LEAPFROG LEAPPAD EXPLORER
WHY The 5-inch touch screen on this just-released iPad-like tablet for ages 4-9, responds to a finger or the tap of its accompanying stylus. Its tilt sensor allows it to be turned, twisted or shaken for motion-based play. A library of more than 100 LeapFrog books, games, videos and apps are compatible with LeapPad Explorer, which also has a built-in camera, video recorder, microphone, Disney animation studio and interactive reader. Share your kids' creations via USB connectivity.
BUY $100; downloadable apps from $7.50; game cartridges $25; leapfrog.com
SAMSONITE SOLAR LAPTOP BACKPACK
WHY "Green" students will appreciate that this backpack is constructed from Samsonite's recycled 450 denier PET fabric and that its solar panel's 4.5-watt output can be used to recharge their batteries or small electronics after being exposed to four hours of sunlight. Weighing only 2.2 pounds, the bag also has a separate compartment that can hold up to a 15.6-inch laptop. Other features include a padded top handle, adjustable backpack straps, side pocket and mesh water-bottle holder.
BUY $135; shop.samsonite.com, luggageonline.com, thenerds.net, techonweb.com
APPLE IMAC AND MACBOOK AIR
WHY Many agree Apple makes the sleekest and best-looking desktop and laptop computers. The new all-in-one iMacs have quad-core processors, faster graphics, quick data transfer via Thunderbolt ports and a FaceTime HD camera. Choose from a wireless mouse or trackpad, standard numeric or wireless keyboards. Students on the go may prefer the MacBook Air. Less than an inch thick and lighter than most netbooks, it has the latest Intel Core processors, a Thunderbolt port and a backlit keyboard. Both include Apple's new OS X Lion.
BUY iMac from $1,199; MacBook Air from $999; Apple stores, apple.com
VTECH BRILLIANT CREATIONS ADVANCED NOTEBOOK
WHY Kids ages 5 to 8 can bone up on language, math, science and other subjects through 120 activities and three learning levels. It's all packaged in a realistic-looking laptop with a 41 / 2-inch LCD screen that displays animations, the keyboard, touch pad and mouse, which are used for answering questions or selecting topics.
BUY $50; amazon.com, jr.com
IHOME IA17 GLOW TUNES
WHY Make waking up more fun with iHome's color-changing, app-enhanced alarm clock with FM radio. Compatible with iPod and iPhone, it charges the devices when docked and can be set to wake you to music from either, or from its FM radio. The translucent cabinet can be set to different colors and mood modes, or no color at all for a clean silver and white look. Downloadable iHome apps provide custom alarms, wake and sleep music profiles, sleep stats, reminders and more than 30,000 Internet radio stations. Include a remote control and AC adapter.
BUY $100, ihomeaudio.com
NZXT CRYO LX
WHY This handsome brushed aluminum notebook cooler's three 120-mm adjustable fans will keep your laptop from running hot and bothered. Plus, its four rear USB ports provide maximum accessibility. Designed to fit 15-to-19-inch widescreen notebooks -- including Dell's XPS series and Apple's 17-inch MacBook Pro -- the Cryo LX folds for easy storage and portability.
BUY $80; store.nzxt.com, amazon.com, atacom.com
BARRY’S FARM FURRY MONSTER LAPTOP SLEEVE
WHY Kids and children-at-heart alike will love this whimsical yet practical laptop sleeve that resembles a Muppet-cum-monster. Sleeves are handmade and custom tailored to the dimensions of your laptop. The padded case comes in a variety of faux fur colors. Barry's Farm also makes monster iPad and iPhone sleeves, as well as a monster pencil case. Monsters not your style? Check out their other handmade sleeves resembling everything from a toaster pastry to a shirt and tie.
BUY $55 Furry Monster laptop sleeve, prices vary for other items; barrysfarm.net
GRIFFIN TECHNOLOGY TECHSAFE CABLE LOCKING SYSTEM
WHY In the few minutes it takes for a thief to make off with your laptop, you could have installed TechSafe to ensure its safety. Just slide its steel LockBlade through the laptop's cover hinge, hook the four-digit combination lock through the LockBlade and loop the 5-foot, 1.5-meter steel cable around a table leg or other immovable object. Compatible with most laptop, netbook and notebook computers.
BUY $30; griffintechnology.com, buy.com