It’s time to gear up for back to school, but kids can still sing the famous rhyme, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers with dirty looks”.
That’s because pencils have been replaced with high tech stylus pens, books have transformed into powerful notebook computers, and teachers now just give wistful looks at their red apples, wishing their students gave them an Apple instead.
With more and more technology entering classrooms these days, it's likely your grandparents wouldn't recognize half of what kids are storing in their backpacks. But usually (usually) these items will actually help the kids with their learning.
Here are 15 “best-in-class” techy school supplies that will make your child the star of show and tell:
Verbatim 8GB Dog Tag USB Flash Drive
What it is: “The dog ate my homework” is just one excuse that your teenager will never get to utter again, thanks to the Verbatim Dog Tag USB key. This stylish, yet practical, back-to-school fashion accessory is a rugged looking necklace that also functions as a 8GB USB flash drive. As an added bonus, the USB drive is water resistant – so your teen can’t claim to have drowned their homework either.
Where to buy: Overstock.com
Infomotion 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball
What it is: Back to school shopping for gym class usually just requires a new pair of sneakers and wedgie-resistant shorts. However, if your future all-star is a serious student athlete, the 94Fifty Smart Sensor Basketball will help take their game to another level. By connecting to an iPhone, iPad, or iPod, the ball is able to measure muscle activity and offers different levels of training for shooting and dribbling skills. Visual and audio voice feedback comes within milliseconds on every sensor-analyzed shot and dribble. The ball comes with a ball placement holder that acts as a charging pad, as well as, a nifty ball carrying bag. Teammates will be envious and the coach will feel threatened, until your kid leads the team to the city championships.
Where to buy: Apple.ca
What it is: Kids are really good at two things, breaking stuff and losing stuff … especially cellphones. The HTC Fetch connects with Android phones through Bluetooth to help locate the phone when lost. Just press the button on the small, keychain-sized device and the lost phone rings from as far as 15 metres away. There's even a warning beep when you leave the phone on the counter and absent-mindedly walk away from it. The device also has a neat little feature that allows you to snap remote photos on your phone by pressing the HTC Fetch button from afar. Perfect for selfies.
Where to buy: Telus.com
Livescribe 3 Bluetooth Smart Pen
What it is: Taking notes in class can be a pain, literally. Your pencil might break, your fingers cramp up, then you get carpal tunnel syndrome from having to type your handwritten notes on the computer. The Livescribe 3 Smart Pen saves you all that trouble by digitizing your handwritten notes and doodles to your paired mobile device with an app. There’s even a feature that lets you record and play back audio that's synced with your handwriting.
We tried out the Livescribe Smart Pen and can’t go back to normal pens. For starters, the Smart Pen looks like a sophisticated business executive’s ballpoint pen, which might make some kids take their work more seriously. The infrared camera in the tip of the pen was able to accurately capture our chicken scratch handwriting, and the transfer from pen to special 50-sheet Livescribe notebook that comes with the device was error-free … except for our grammatical typos.
A useful feature is the pen’s ability to let you tag, search, and share your notes through text messages. The best part: Kids will never get caught passing notes in class again. Unless teachers suddenly discover the technology to intercept texts.
Where to buy: Future Shop
Moshi Stanza Duo
What it is: There was a time when a student needed a pencil case to carry, well, just pencils. These days, however, kids need to carry their pencils for their workbooks and stylus pens for their devices. The Moshi Stanza Duo is a two-in-one aluminum stylus and ballpoint pen that provides a natural writing experience both on and off the screen. The pen comes with an extra silicone stylus nib, just in case your kid has a habit of chewing on their pen during tough exams.
Where to buy: Moshi.com
Griffin Technology: PowerMate Bluetooth
What it is: The Griffin Technology PowerMate Bluetooth is perfect for overachieving students, always on the lookout for that extra edge. The PowerMate is a wireless, multi-functional controller that streamlines key commands for Mac computers. It looks like a volume nob, and actually acts as one, with the ability to quickly mute audio. Students can even add custom commands to fit their scrolling and clicking habits. Using a mouse or keypad was sooo 2013.
Where to buy: GriffinTechnology.com
Satechi 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub
What it is: Students today have certain technological challenges that students from 10 years ago just didn’t have. For instance, think of the teen anguish of having too many devices that need charging or connecting into a Mac or PC, but not enough USB ports to accommodate.
The Satechi 10-Port USB Hub is compatible with a wide array of flash drives, smartphones, tablets, external hard drives, printers, and cameras. It is equipped with its own power supply to guarantee power stability in times when devices suddenly crash and students panic in fear that all the homework they’ve been working on has been wiped out.
Where to buy: Satechi.net
Brother P-Touch PT-H100
What it is: With the start of the new school year, students face new organization challenges – new school supplies, clothing, permission slips and endless amounts of homework come streaming in and out of lockers and backpacks, making it cluttered, messy and chaotic – but it doesn’t have to be that way!
The Brother P-Touch PT-H100 is an easy-to-use label maker that will organize school supplies and ensure that all lost textbooks and misplaced gym clothes will always be returned to their rightful owner: “Property of ….”
MyTask Urban iPhone 5/5S
What it is: We had to get our hands on the myTask because it is a multi-purpose iPhone case that we needed to see to believe. The myTask features an assortment of hidden compartments, with a range of useful tools for school. Your child is going to be the hit of art class or shop class with an iPhone case that can pop out a pen, stylus, ruler and scissors. Other tools in the myTask Urban iPhone case include: a bottle opener, mirror, flashlight, USB drive, screwdrivers, nail file, tweezers, and more. Each tool is extremely easy to access and return in place. The tools themselves are made from high quality materials and seem to work just as well as their larger versions. The only drawback is that you kid better get used to nickname “MacGyver” for the rest of the semester.
Where to buy: thetasklab.com
What it is: One of the first things students learn at school is to always wash their hands in order to fight the spread of germs. Perhaps students should also think about washing their phones. Studies have shown that a cell phone is 18 times dirtier than a public toilet.
The PhoneSoap Charger is the first and only cell phone charger that cleans and sanitizes your phone in less than five minutes while it charges. Using UV light to safely get rid of bacteria, the PhoneSoap charger does not use heat, liquid or chemicals. The device is designed to fit even the largest smartphones. And there’s no need to worry if you want to charge and clean your phone overnight, the PhoneSoap charger has unique acoustic outlets designed to let you hear your notifications and alarms even when your phone is inside.
Where to buy: Phonesoap.com
Epson Expression Premium XP-610
What it is: Any university student will tell you about the stress of having to print a deadline-intensive essay from a common campus computer room, while waiting in the print job waiting list.
Printing won’t be such a big deal anymore if you equip your young scholar with the compact Epson Expression Premium XP-610. The small-in-one printer can print, scan, and copy documents in a flash. Students can also print straight from their smartphone or tablet devices.
Where to buy: Epson.ca
128GB Canvio AeroMobile™ Wireless SSD
What it is: Toshiba‘s Canvio AeroMobile eliminates the need to physically connect the hard drive to the PC to act as a hub to access your files; you are now able to connect wirelessly with a smartphone, PC or tablet, and up to 8 devices.
The AeroMobile acts as its own wireless hub. This allows students to access their files wirelessly, and unfortunately, eliminates tried and true excuses such as “I left my homework at home” or “I lost my project on the bus.”
Price: Starting at $179.99
Where to buy: Toshiba.ca
Sharp EL-W535XBSL Scientific Calculator
What it is: This isn’t your daddy’s calculation machine. This is a calculator that allows students to type in formulas exactly as they appear in the textbook, to eliminate confusion on how to enter the equation into the calculator. Students can playback and edit their equations after completing them, making it easy to identify errors, learn from mistakes or edit formulas. However, no matter how cool these new calculators are, we still advise against wearing them in front shirt pockets.
Where to buy: Sharp.ca
Native Union JUMP Cable
What it is: The JUMP cable is the world's first 2-in-1 smartphone battery and charging cable — it charges your phone and the battery, so when you're on the go between classes and your battery is about to run out, it can provide you with 1/3 of your phone battery. That’s more than enough power to play Candy Crush while serving detention for playing smartphone games in class. The wires fold up nicely into a compact square that fits neatly in your pocket.
Where to buy: Nativeunion.com
Slingsafe 300 GII Backpack
What it is: Protect your electronic valuables while at school with the Slingsafe 300 GII backpack. The Slingsafe is large enough to fit an iPad, tablet, 13 inch Mac Book, and other valuables. However, its true value can be seen in the built in anti-theft features, such as: slash guard straps, slash guard fabrics, and RFID blocking pockets to keep credit cards and ID cards safe from scammers with scanners.
Where to buy: Pacsafe.com