More Back to School Gadgets and Gear, 2015 Edition

Hankering for more suggestions after reading Part I of our 2015 Back to School Gadget and Gear Guide? No problemo. Here’s another list of gear and gadget recommendation to get you ready for your return to school life.

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Electrohome Signature Player

The Electrohome Signature Music System can play vinyl records, CDs and MP3s and can even record from vinyl or CD to a USB thumb drive. Electrohome

If you think hipster is a good word, then here’s a music player that’s perfect for you. The Electrohome Signature’s design exudes 1970s cool and can not only play MP3s and CDs but also good, old vinyl records. That’s right, vinyl, which automatically makes you one of the cool kids while also earning you props from your parents to boot. It’s like a twofer.

Cost: $200 

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Champ Bodyguard USB Charging Stick

The Champ Bodyguard Battery doubles as a portable smartphone charger, flashlight and personal alarm. Champ

Ever run out of juice in the middle of the day while using your smartphone? If you use your phone heavily for calls, browsing or apps, it always helps to have some backup power in a pinch. For something ultra portable, a battery stick like the Champ Bodyguard is a good option to carry around with you. Like many such devices, the Bodyguard also doubles as a flashlight in case you need to shed some light on something during emergencies. Admittedly, the Bodyguard isn’t exactly the best-looking charging stick out there and doesn't have the best flashlight either. What it does have that other charging sticks usually don’t have, however, is a panic alarm in case some seedy person decides to stalk you. Otherwise, if you don’t care about a panic alarm, other options include the RAVPower Luster, which looks good and has a brighter flashlight or the iFrogz GoLite.

Cost: $13-35

Thonet and Vander Kurbis BT
The Kurbis BT speaker from Thonet and Vander serves up refined sound with lots of punch in both wired and wireless form for computers, MP3 players and other audio sources. Thonet and Vander

Want a pair of multi-purpose speakers for your computer or MP3 player with lots of oomph? Then check out the Kurbis BT from Thonet and Vander, a dual speaker system that features nice clear sound with a healthy heaping of bass. Add the ability to separately adjust bass and treble via built-in speaker knobs as well as Bluetooth and wired capability and you’ve got a very flexible speaker that can be easily finagled with to your audio tastes and preferences. For something smaller, you can go for the super portable and waterproof NUU Riptide. Otherwise, the JBL Flip 2 if you desire a more Jambox-worthy competitor.

Cost: $200  More »

Audio Technica ATH-CKX5iS SonicFuel
The Audio Technica ATH-CKX5iS SonicFuel features excellent stickability and distortion-free audio that can be turned up till your ears bleed. Audio Technica

As someone who used to be a broke college student, maybe recommending headphones that cost between $180 to $300 isn’t exactly all inclusive. No worries, my fellow comrades in college couch diving, there are some affordable options, too. One is the Pulse Fitness in-ear headphones from SOUL Electronics, which not only cost less but also double as excellent earphones for exercising thanks to their superior stickability. If you like jogging past fraternity and sorority houses with delusions of earning some catcall and whistles, these earbud-style headphones will do the job. Otherwise, the Audio Technica ATH-CKX5iS SonicFuel is an option, too.

Cost: $49  More »

Bracketron SmartLantern
The Bracketron Venture SmartLanter not only works as a flashlight lamp but also comes with a built-in battery for charging smartphones, tablets and other gadgets. Bracketron

Speaking of nifty gadgets to have in your vehicle, a lighting option is always handy to have just in case. One nice option is the Bracketron Venture smart lantern. For starters, it comes with a rechargeable power source so you don’t have to fiddle with AAA batteries. It can also switch from a lantern to flashlight depending on the situation. Best of all, it has a USB port that doubles as a charging option for your smartphone and other USB devices in a pinch. Otherwise, the Blackfire Clamplight serves as a more traditional option if you prefer a device powered by normal batteries and also can be easily clamped to act as a strobe for your bicycle.

Cost: $30. More »

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Scosche Freekey Portable Wireless Keyboard

Scosche Freekey Waterproof Portable Keyboard
The Satechi Freekey can be rolled, making it quite portable. Satechi

I still remember when pagers were the gadget du jour to bring to school. These days, those things are practically jurassic. With everybody sporting a smartphone or even a tablet, having a portable keyboard helps turn what normally are great time wasters into vessels of productivity for class. One interesting entry is the Freekey, a soft rubber keyboard that can be rolled up like sushi. On the plus side, this makes it more portable than some hard keyboards. The downside is that tactile feel can be tough to get used to and you need a hard surface to use it so this ain’t gonna be for everybody. For more traditional options, check out the Rapoo E6300Belkin YourType Folio Keyboard, or the folding Verbatim Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard.

Cost: $60.

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Satechi 7-Port USB Charging Station Dock

Satechi 7-port USB hub
The Satechi 7-port hub features outlets for both smartphones and tablets. Satechi

If you have a ton of portable devices that charge via USB, figuring out which one to juice up at a certain point in time can be like playing musical chairs. This gets even worse if you have roomies who like to leech off your USB charger. This is where something like the Satechi 7-port USB charging station can come in handy. With a plentiful number of USB ports plus little mini stands for your various devices, this dock lets you power up all your devices in one go like a boss. Just note that it’s a bit pricey for a USB charging hub.

Cost: $60.

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Onandoff Sound Cover

Onandoff Sound Cover
The Onandoff Spund Cover is a wireless speaker stand that also doubles as a storage case for the iPad Air. Onandoff

Looking for an iPad case that doubles as a speaker? The Onandoff Sound Cover lets you listen to your favorite tunes by either pairing wirelessly with any Bluetooth device or connecting directly via a 3.5mm port. For iPad Air owners, the Sound Cover also serves as a half-shell case that lets you dock your tablet face down when not in use. Granted protection isn’t as good as full-fledged cases but it’s still a nice option if you want a speaker case that lets you turn up the volume. The biggest downside, though, is that it’s quite pricey for a speaker its size.

Cost: $199

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Secur SP-5000 Solar Media Player

Secur SP-5000 Solar Media Player
The Secur SP-5000 Solar Media Player comes with a solar cell, built-in speakers and a portable battery for charging your devices via USB. Secur

This one’s for you environmental types. The Secur Solar Media Player is a rainproof hard case designed to protect your phone and also comes with built-in speakers for listening to tunes whether you’re in your room or reading under (or hugging) a tree by the Quad. On top of that, it also comes with a built-in solar cell for collecting rays and turning them into electricity for powering your phone or other device that charges via USB. Otherwise, you can also directly charge its built-in battery the old fashioned way and plugging it in.

Cost: $50