Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again: back-to-school. And while certain classics—plastic pencil boxes, black-and-white composition books, tab folders—never go out of style, 21st century students now tote tablets to kindergarten, keep track of assignments with apps and eat lunch out of smart lunch boxes. So back-to-school shopping is about way more than just a quick trip to the school supply aisle of your local drugstore. Here are a few of our favorite gadgets, devices and tools for students of all ages, from high-tech dorm cookers to digital study devices.
The Smart Backpack
As tablets are increasingly a standard item in even a grade schooler’s backpack, charging has become a concern. How can you do your math assignment on the bus when you’re down to 2 percent power? Luckily there are now several “smart” backpacks on, or entering, the market. These products come with one or more docks for charging small electronics anywhere, anytime. The most-hyped—though still in pre-order—is probably the AMPL Smart Backpack ($249), capable of charging tablets and phones. It also comes with a laptop boost battery for charging larger items. Others, like the Tylt Energi ($169) and the Co.alition Colfax ($339), are already available. Though the black and gray designs of most smart backpacks aren’t exactly kid-friendly, the backpacks will give your students one less excuse for not finishing their homework.