Believe it or not, the end of summer is very near, which means one important thing: It’s back-to-school time! It also means that it’s time to assess that arsenal of tech that, officially or unofficially, is required at every institute of learning.
Yes, of course you need your phone and a tablet or laptop, but in this year’s guide, we’re looking at the very best must-have accessories that make all that other tech so much better.
From a portable speaker strong enough to power a party to a mobile VR headset that turns a smartphone into a next-gen gaming and learning tool, here are six things we’re pretty sure any student will love.
Ever try to fill a room with music using just your smartphone’s speakers? They’re pretty impressive considering their small size but if you really want to share your music with friends, a larger speaker is the way to go.
Enter the UE BOOM 2. This portable, Bluetooth speaker was clearly designed with group listening in mind, with 360-degree sound, 100-foot wireless range, and a Block Party feature which lets up to three friends connect to single UE BOOM 2 and take turns playing DJ.
In other words, this is a party speaker if there ever was one.
With up to 15 hours of playback on a single charge, the UE BOOM 2 is shockproof up to five feet and waterproof for up to half an hour at three feet depth. Let’s face it: This is a speaker that should survive every party… or study session.
Back to school is all about adventure. Sometimes that adventure is in the classroom but sometimes it’s outside. Running, skiing, boating, hiking, and an endless list of other sports are often a huge part of the school experience.
So what do you do when you need a soundtrack for that experience? Your tiny phone speaker in your pocket isn’t going to do it and headphones aren’t always the best solution depending on the sport.
This is where a clip-on speaker like the JBL Clip 2 Portable Bluetooth Speaker comes in really handy. This ultra-light Bluetooth speaker wirelessly streams crystal clear sound from that phone in your pocket or backpack.
If you’re worried about using this outdoors, don’t be. The JBL Clip 2 is a rugged speaker, designed specifically to handle whatever you throw at it. The high quality metal carabiner will make sure it stays where you put it but it’s nice to know that it can also be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes at over three feet and live to play another day.
With up to eight hours of playback on a single charge and hands-free calling support, you can’t go wrong heading back to the trail, track, slope, or field this year with a JBL Clip 2.
Most students have figured out that homework is much more enjoyable (or at least less bad) with the right music playing in the background. Of course, in the library and other public areas at school, a portable speaker probably won’t go over well.
Fortunately, the LG TONE PRO Bluetooth Stereo Headset solves all of these problems with a wireless earphone design that doesn’t sacrifice sound quality. Thanks to LG’s Advanced Quad-Layer Speaker Technology™, you get unprecedented clarity across all audio frequency bands. Dual, high-quality microphones make hands-free calls sound great even with the background noise of a bustling hallway or cafeteria.
Not only does the LG TONE PRO sound great, it looks great too. This sleek and discreet headset sits comfortably around your neck and hidden magnetic earbuds are easy to remove and connect with fine, low-profile wires.
Everything about the LG TONE PRO makes it the perfect headset for any music-loving student looking to get through some of the more challenging parts of the school day.
Like we mentioned above, earphones are a discreet and uber-portable way to listen to music, two important things for a student to keep in mind when choosing what to buy.
No surprise then that we chose another great set of earphones, even more discreet and portable than the last: the ultra high quality BeatsX Earphones.
Beats is famously obsessed with quality, comfort, and style, and they did not disappoint in any of those categories when they designed these earphones. They’re sleek, lightweight, and super compact. They work via Bluetooth with just about any smartphone but pairing is super easy with Apple devices and support extra features like Siri integration.
With eight hours of battery life, and up to two hours of juice after just a five minute Fast Fuel charge, there’s very little chance you’ll be without your music for long with the BeatsX Earphones.
For some, heading back to school means going from summer activities back to sitting in a desk all day. For others, it’s from summer lounging back-to-school sports. Either way, keeping tabs on physical activity during the school year can help you meet your physical goals, in addition to your academic ones.
The Fitbit Charge 2 is the perfect device to help do this. This popular wearable does so much more than count steps. All day and night it’s tracking heart rate, automatically recording exercises, mapping your run, and so much more.
It even shows call, text, and calendar alerts, right on its screen. With up to five days use on a single charge, you’re getting smartwatch-like features in a wearable that actually lasts through the whole school week.
As cool as all of those features are, the real value of the Fitbit Charge 2 for students comes from three features: sleep length and quality tracking, guided breathing sessions, and reminders to move. By tracking your movements and heart rate, your Fitbit can make sure you’re getting enough sleep after an all-nighter, help you relax before that test, and keep you from sitting at your desk for too long.
Healthy activities can often take a backseat to other things when school starts. Buck that trend by picking up a Fitbit Charge 2 and start this year off right.
Virtual Reality, or VR for short, might not be a technology you’d think about when heading back to school, but that might be because you haven’t yet had a chance to try out the Daydream View.
The Daydream View is a headset that turns your Daydream-ready phone* into a mobile VR system. Just slip your smartphone into the headset and use the included remote control to interact with an almost endless number of virtual experiences.
While most VR systems are large and clunky, the Daydream View is lightweight (even with your smartphone installed), breathable, hand-washable, and fits over most eyeglasses.
Google’s Daydream platform is full of amazing educational experiences, from exploring famous monuments and museums, to swimming with dolphins and standing next to erupting volcanoes. Hundreds of other experiences and games are just a few virtual clicks away from the Daydream app home screen.
Easy to use, portable, and high quality are not how we’d describe most VR system out there, but Google Daydream found a way to put it all together. No, you may not be attending a VR class quite yet, but we’re confident this is one of the more fun additions to the tech you take to school with you this year.
*As of this writing, Daydream-ready phones include the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, and Motorola Z Force Droid.