As you or your kids prepare to head back to the classroom this fall, you’ll want to make sure to be prepared for the busy days ahead. Between writing papers, studying for tests, and conducting research, you’ll be looking for tools to make student life easier.
Whether you’re looking for a shiny new laptop, a great tablet or just something to keep your tech protected, the gadgets and gear below should have you covered. All prices listed are starting MSRP unless otherwise noted.
Apple MacBook Pro
The MacBook Pro is generally the right choice if you’re an Apple fan who plans to use your laptop for more than just word processing and web browsing. No matter which Pro model you choose, you’ll be getting a snappier processor, an option to add more memory, and a sharper screen compared to the Air. Such features may be necessary if you’re a student who anticipates editing a lot of complex multimedia projects this semester.
If you don’t necessarily care about having touch-friendly shortcuts above the keyboard and a fingerprint reader for unlocking your laptop, opt for the cheaper standard version rather than the Touch Bar edition.
Buy now: Apple MacBook Pro, $1,299, Apple
Lenovo Yoga 910
The Lenovo Yoga 910’s long battery life, responsive touch screen, and flexible hinge make it a quality option for those seeking a general purpose Windows laptop. The exceptionally thin frame around the screen makes it stand out from most other Windows laptops, and the fingerprint sensor below the keyboard adds an extra layer of security.
Like many Windows notebooks, the Yoga’s screen can bend backwards so the laptop can be used in different modes. You may, for example, want to prop it up in “tent” mode when giving a class presentation or watching a movie in your dorm room, then use it as a regular laptop while taking notes.
Buy now: Lenovo Yoga 910, $999, Amazon
Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro
If you’re on a tight budget and really just need a computer for taking notes and browsing the web, check out Samsung’s Chromebook Plus and Pro. Yes, they are a bit more expensive than other Chromebooks, but their premium design, sharp screen, and fast performance make it worth it.
There’s little difference between the two models, save for the more powerful processor in the more expensive version. Otherwise, both notebooks are capable of running Android apps, can fold back to function as tablets, and come with a stylus.
Microsoft Surface Pro ($649 for Pro 4, $799 for 2017 version)
The Surface Pro is one of the best laptop-tablet hybrids around, making it a solid choice if you want more flexibility than a standard laptop can provide. Now five generations in, Microsoft has nearly perfected the TypeCover and Surface Pen, much-needed improvements to maintain the Surface Pro’s status as a top-notch productivity machine.
The newest model, which Microsoft launched in June, offers slightly speedier performance and a subtly changed design. If you’re a student on a budget, you’re probably better off going for the older Surface Pro 4, which is about $150 cheaper and provides roughly the same experience.
Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim
Backing up your class projects is always a smart idea, and having a portable hard drive is especially important if you plan on transporting large multimedia files between computer labs and classrooms. The Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim’s fast transfer speeds, affordable price, and sleek form factor make it a great choice for those in need of a lightweight and reliable drive.
AmazonBasics Laptop Sleeve
Amazon’s laptop sleeve may be among the most versatile around. It’s available in sizes ranging from seven to 17.3 inches, ensuring it can accommodate everything from an iPad mini up to a workstation laptop. Amazon offers common sizes in between as well, such as 11.6 inches, 13.3 inches, and 15 inches, among others. And most importantly, it’s affordable, making it ideal for budget-conscious students.
Logitech Slim Folio/Create Cases ($99.99 for Slim Folio, $129.99 for Create)
If you have an iPad that you occasionally bring to the library or coffee shop for getting work done, Logitech’s keyboard cases are worth checking out. The Slim Folio is a Bluetooth keyboard designed to work with Apple’s fifth generation iPad, complete with a row of keys just for iOS shortcuts, like Siri and search. The company says its replaceable coin cell battery should last for up to four years, so you won’t have to worry about charging it.
The Create is meant to be an alternative to Apple’s Smart Keyboard Case for the iPad Pro. That means it can connect to the iPad Pro using its Smart Connector instead of Bluetooth, and like the Slim Folio, it also includes iOS shortcuts.