It is back to school time. With technology helping or intruding on everyone’s lives, depending on how you look at the situation, it is only natural to want to buy the best that a student can get for back to school use. This list of essential tech gadgets for students encompasses the most functional and useful gadgets offered today, whether you are the parent of a small child or a college student going back for those last few credits, these gadgets have a purpose for all.
The FunkyBoard & FunMouse by Chester Creek $35 to $58
Normal keyboards have small keys, normal mice are too big for little hands to maneuver properly and both are just plain boring to learn to use. The FunkyBoard is a bright red colored keyboard with keys that are color-coded; red for vowels, green for consonants, yellow for punctuation, blue for the spacebar, enter, function and other such keys and purple for numbers. The FunMouse is an optical mouse that is half the size of a normal mouse and color-coded; green scrolling, blue for left click and red for right click. Compatible with all Windows and Mac systems, this FunkyBoard and FunMouse set connects using a USB port and comes with a PS/2 adapter for systems older than the kids using them. Comes with a limited lifetime warranty and discounts for educational institution buying. Other keyboards made especially for children and seniors are available from Chester Creek.
HELIUS Solar Backpack by V-Dimension $99 to $130
Perfect for back to school kids of any age, this backpack stores the usual books and other school supplies with numerous pockets and hiding places. What makes the HELIUS Solar Backpack different and even more useful is that it can charge cell phones and small other items using the built-in 4.5 x 5.75 inches wide solar panel. Using the panel, it charges any phone or MP3 player in seven hours. If using the built in an integrated 2200 mAh battery, devices charge in about two and a half hours. Additionally, the unit comes with adapters for the most popular phones including iPhone, iPod, LG, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and mini-USB phones. Other adapters are available at an additional charge for phones not listed and headphones come with as well. However, keep in mind this backpack cannot charge laptops or some netbooks, only cell phones, small smartphones and other small devices.
Clocky Mobile Alarm Clock by Innovatoys $25 to $50
Clocky the Mobile Alarm Clock makes it so annoying for anyone to stay in bed that even the most “dead-to-the-world” student will have to get up eventually. You know the ones, those whom you have to dump a gallon of water on their faces, or light a fire under their rumps… Clocky is nice enough to allow students to set the number of nine minute snoozes allowed. The fun or annoying part is that if the student “snooze smacks” Clocky one too many times, the student gets smacked back, so to speak. Clocky jumps up to three feet from where it is sitting and rolls around the floor with its wheels flashing lights and making a lot of annoying noise making it impossible to go back to sleep. Available in brown, red, while clue and chrome colors, Clocky is the most innovative and annoying gadget any student can have. (Shhh… do not tell anyone but anyone can disable the wheels, but what fun is that?)
Big-C Dino Lite Digital Microscope/Camera $150 to $190
Dino Lite Digital Microscope/Camera is versatile and a good choice for students of all ages. The microscope is easy enough for little hands to hold and learn to use, but it is still powerful enough for older students use during classes as well. This particular microscope is handheld and uses a USB port to connect to the computer allowing viewed items to be displayed on a computer monitor. With a resolution of 640 pixels by 480 pixels and a 10X to 200X magnification factor, it is compatible with all Windows and some Mac based computers and also holds US Patent 7.102.817.B1. The Dino Lite microscope comes with a stand for hands free use in addition to software. Optionally available from BigC are a mobile stand, articulating desktop stand and a four port USB Hub. Other models are also available.
Echo Smartpen from LiveScribe $150 to $180, LiveScribe Echo Dot Paper $15 to $20
What student wants to simply write? The Echo Smartpen from LiveScribe allows students to take notes and perform other writing tasks as normal with a replaceable ink cartridge, but this pen also allows voice recording and playback. The best thing about the pen is that everything the student writes can be stored in the 4GB (400 hours of voice storage) or 8GB (800 hours of voice storage)versions and later digitized by transferring the notes to a computer using the included applications and software. The USB top is what recharges the pen and transfers data (voice and handwriting) to the computer. This “pen” also comes with a camera that takes video at 70 frames a second. Included in the Echo Smartpen packaging is a special Dot paper notebook, microUSB cable, interactive guide, two ink cartridges, tips and tricks guide, and two caps for the pen. Other DOT paper made for use with the Echo pen is available at most retail outlets.
C-Pen 3.5 (Ectaco) $100 to $125
Another innovation in pen technology is the C-Pen 3.5 scanning pen. This pen can scan notes from textbooks and other sources and save it into applications in use on a laptop, making it useful for students who hate to carry their books with them. Moving the device over the text allows the pen to recognize the characters on the page and if, users need to perform special functions or add special characters, then can using the printable PDF C-pad sheet. Scanning the C-pad adds special characters in addition to allowing the user to perform edit, enter, select, number pad and mouse pad functions among others without needing to put the pen down. The device charges by using the USB port connector and is made for both right and left-handed users. C-Pen comes with installation software compatible with Windows computers and laptops, a Bluetooth headset, instruction video, cradle, USB receiver, quick start guide and a language dictionary.
IamaKey USB Flash Drive by LaCie $15 (4GB) to $100 (32GB)
Why take the chance of having a USB key full of important information stolen? The IamaKey USB Flash Drive is a normal USB drive, but in the shape of a key. While up close it does not look too much like a normal key, but from afar, it appears just like a regular house or car key would especially when it is stored on a key ring with other keys. The USB flash drive features fast data transfer rates of up to 10 Mbit/s and it is both scratch and water resistant as well. This USB is compatible with any standard USB 2.0 port, meaning it can be used with both Windows and Mac computers, but it is also backwards compatible for USB 1.1 as well. Available in sizes from 4GB drives to 32 GB drives.
Fantom G-Force Green Drive eSATA/USB 2.0 External Hard Drive $80 to $200
The Fantom Green Drive offers extra storage in an external hard disk drive for students who need more storage space than even the largest USB flash drive can provide. From 500 GB to 2TB, the Green Drive offers the newest power saving technologies allowing up to a 40 percent reduction in power consumption and is also ROHS compliant (lead free construction) so it is great for environmentally savvy students. The drive comes with a stand and a USB cable in addition to a user’s guide and two-year warranty.
BACtrack B70 Breathalyzer $50 to $80
Probably one of the most problematic of all situations when a college student returns to school is going to class intoxicated. The legal limit for driving is 0.08 percent BAC in most states; however, if a student shows up in class with any alcohol in his system, or is visibly intoxicated, most colleges will expel that student for the first infraction and not give him a second chance. The BACtrack B70 has the ability to monitor Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) from 0.00 percent to 0.40 percent and display it on a LED screen within three seconds. Additionally, the BACtrack will remember how many tests are done and it has an accuracy of +/- 0.01 percent BAC at 0.02 percent BAC. With FDA pre-market 501(k) clearance and CE clearance, a student can safely use the device anytime he needs to. Just remember, it the BACtrack registers over 0.00 percent BAC, that student should suffer the consequences of skipping class rather than get expelled. Other BACtrack models are available as well.
Google Apps for Education
While this is not technically a “tech gadget,” Google Apps for Education can be coupled with many gadgets using its suite of applications that make learning and sharing fast, easy and fun. With apps made especially for Universities and K-12 schools, Apps for Education offers storage solutions, privacy, security and more all rolled into one simple program. Both apps programs are free of charge, including Google’s collaboration and connectivity apps such as Talk, Groups, Calendar, Docs, Video, Sites and, of course, Gmail. Additionally, Postini email archiving, security and discovery services can be added for a small fee as well. These apps are a great way for students to stay in touch, share homework and notes and study together while keeping their activities private and secure.
“Chester Creek Computer Fun Keyboard Fun Mouse Bundle,” Amazon.com
Ewdison Then “V-Dimension HELIUS Solar backpack Review,” Slashgear
“V-DIM HELIUS Features (PDF)” V-Dimension
Clocky Customer Reviews, Amazon.com
“Dino Lite Dino-Lite Digital Microscope (Black / TV-Output) 10x~200x Magnification Review,” PC Gears
Joanna Stern, “LiveScribe gets pensive, unleashes new Echo Smartpen,” Engadget
Dan Ackerman, “LaCie IamaKey USB Flash Drive,” CNet Reviews
Fantom G-Force GreenDrive – hard drive – 1 TB – Hi-Speed USB / eSATA-300, ” CNet Shopper
Ectaco C-Pen Bluetooth Scanning Pen
“BACtrack B70 Breathalyzer,” breathalyzer.net
“10 Reasons to Use Google Apps” Google