As the days get shorter and summer draws to an end, it's time to get out of the pool and ready for school. Unlike bygone days, there are more ways to get kids psyched about restarting their education than just a new wardrobe. Here are some tech items that can make returning to school absolutely cool. Manufacturers suggested retail prices are given, but you can find many of these items for less. -- RONNIE GILL
WHY Any backpack can carry your gear, but a PowerBag will charge your gadgets as well. Equipped with a built-in battery along with Apple, micro- and mini-USB connectors and an onboard USB port, you can power up four devices simultaneously. The included AC adapter lets you recharge PowerBag's battery either inside or outside of the bag. The regular backpack fits laptops up to 14 inches, the deluxe model up to 16 inches.
BUY $139.99, deluxe $169.99; kohls.com, amazon.com, bestbuy.com, lordandtaylor.com
MYCHARGE PEAK 6000
WHY Turn any backpack or bag into a recharging station for your gear. This portable power pack allows you to charge three gadgets simultaneously. The unit comes with Apple, micro USB and standard USB connectors, which tuck neatly around the casing when not in use. It is powered by a 6000 mAh battery which is recharged in any wall outlet through the unit's foldout plug. When fully charged, myCharge Peak 6000 can repower a fully drained average smartphone four times.
BUY $100; mycharge.com
SOLARFOCUS SOLARKINDLE LIGHTED COVER FOR KINDLE TOUCH, KINDLE 4
WHY This solar-powered e-reader cover has a renewable solar energy panel and integrated reserve battery that provides extended reading time and superior lighting to keep you green and unplugged. One hour under direct sunlight equals up to three days of reading time. The cover's built-in pop-up LED reading lamp can be powered by the case continuously for up to 50 hours without using the Kindle's main battery.
BUY $80 Kindle 4, $90 Kindle Touch, solarmio.com, amazon.com
GRIFFIN BINDER INSERT FOR IPAD2 AND IPAD 3RD GENERATION
WHY Note-taking and research are easy when you carry your iPad securely and under cover in any three-ring binder with this Griffin insert. There are cutouts to access all iPad buttons, controls and ports, as well as reinforced grommets and a loop to hold your pen or stylus. Weighing less than 4 ounces and taking up only a half-inch of binder depth, the insert accommodates both right- and lefthanded users.
BUY $25, store.griffintechnology.com
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS NSPIRE CX CAS GRAPHING CALCULATOR
WHY This backlit and full-color display calculator allows students to explore higher-level math and science concepts. Thin and light, it features laptop-like touch pad navigation and transfers class assignments to your computer. Students can complete work assignments outside of school using the included student software. Useful for algebra, trigonometry, geometry, calculus, statistics, business and finance, biology, physics and chemistry.
BUY $175; schoolmart.com, walmart.com, amazon.com, staples.com
CELLUON MAGIC CUBE PROJECTION KEYBOARD AND MOUSE
WHY Magic Cube virtual keyboard laser projects a functional full-size QWERTY keyboard on nearly any flat, opaque surface, serving as a companion to tablets, smartphones, laptops and desktop PCs. Its optical sensor can determine the exact 3-D position of your fingers as you type. Magic Cube also doubles as a virtual multi-touch mouse. Connects wirelessly via Bluetooth. Compatible with many Apple, Microsoft and Google Android devices and computers.
BUY $200; amazon.com, buy.com, smarthome.com, hammacher.com
ASUS ZENBOOK PRIME UX31A ULTRABOOK
WHY Ultrabooks are smaller, slimmer and sleeker than traditional laptops. From its spun metal aluminum chassis to its great specs -- it measures just 0.72 inches at its thinnest depth and weighs less than 3 pounds -- the Asus Zenbook is worth checking out. It is has a 13.3-inch display, is powered by a third-generation Intel Core i5 processor with Intel Turbo Boost up to 2.6GHz and has a 128-gigabyte solid state drive and backlit keyboard.
BUY From $1,100; amazon.com, newegg.com, jr.com
CISCO SYSTEMS LINKSYS SMART WIFI ROUTER EA4500
WHY Worried that your children are spending too much time on Facebook and Twitter and too little time on homework? The Smart Wi-Fi router allows parents to have better control of all the smartphones, smart TVs, computers, iPads and iPod Touches used in the house. Its parental controls can block specific websites on certain devices all the time or just during specific times of the day -- all from their mobile device.
BUY $199; Best Buy, Walmart, amazon.com, newegg.com
IRISCAN BOOK 2 SCANNER
WHY Portable, cordless and lightweight, this 10-inch-long scanner captures black-and-white or color information from books and magazines and turns the scans into editable text. Scans are transferred to computers or tablets via USB cable or the unit's MicroSD card. Use the included software turn the scans into editable and searchable documents that can be imported into PDF, Word, Excel and other programs.
BUY $129; staples.com, bhphotovideo.com, irislink.com/usa