The college students of yesteryear packed their laptop computer and a graphing calculator when they went off to school in late August. Today’s tech-focused coeds take a large array of tech gadgets with them to campus. From Bluetooth speakers and keyboards to drones, fitness wearables and Go-Pro cameras, the 21st century undergrad makes Elroy Jetson look like Pebbles Flintstone. This back-to-school tech list has both the practical and the just plain fun gadgets for those headed off to academies of higher learning who are desiring high tech.
Parrot Bebop Drone: A drone might not be a required device to pack for college, but it will certainly be a fun, attention-catching toy for a creative college student. This compact, durable, easy-to-use quadcopter is great for capturing overhead video and photos. The Parrot Bebop is one of the most popular recreational use drones on the market and its small and lightweight enough for out-of-the-box usage. The Bebop’s camera has been improved from previous drone models and has a 180-degree angle of view with a 14-megapixel sensor. The Bebop can be piloted with a smartphone or tablet. With a GNSS chipset with GPS, Glonass and Galileo built in, the Bebop will return to its take-off location on its own and hover in place 2 meters above the ground. It can reach speeds of around 45 mph. You’ll have to recharge the Bebop’s battery often between flights, but it will be fun to capture video footage on beautiful fall days from high above the campus.
Priced: $499 www.parrot.com
Ultimate Ears UE ROLL: Everyone knows college students love their music and they have to be able to take it with them. In 2015, no one is shlepping a heavy stereo to the park to play Ultimate Frisbee, but simply putting on your favorite playlist on your cellphone won’t be loud enough either. The UE ROLL from Ultimate Ears plays your music loud in every direction. This is the most powerful, yet small wireless Bluetooth speaker. For added sound you can double up with a second UE ROLL or use one of Ultimate Ears’ other Bluetooth speakers like the UE MEGABOOM. This comes with a downloadable mobile app for remote on/off and custom wake up settings.
Priced: $99.99 www.ultimateears.com
Amped Wireless RE1750A Wi-Fi Range Extender: This is the fastest and most powerful Wi-Fi range extender on the market. Ideal for students who aren’t picking up the strongest available Wi-Fi signal in their dormitory, sorority, fraternity or off-campus house. This range extender from a company known for technology innovation can provide up to 12,000 square feet of Wi-Fi coverage, which will prove to be more than necessary for any college student. The one thing students don’t need on the night before a big paper is due is the headache from not being able to get a good Internet connection.
Priced: $169.99 www.ampedwireless.com
Cycliq Fly6 Bicycle TailLight and Safety Camera Combo: Cycliq makes innovative cycling accessories and while the Fly6 HD camera and taillight combo is ideal for cyclists, it will also prove useful for college students biking around campus. The Fly6 camera replaces your existing taillight and records what happens behind your bike in real time. The camera provides great low light images featuring 1020 x 720 HD camera footage and dynamic audio recording. It comes with a USBrechargeable battery (6 hours runtime), 8GB Class 10 microSD card, two seat post mounts for use on two bikes, and an Aero seat post adaptor.
Priced: $169 www.cycliq.com
Newer Tech Power2U AC/USB In-Wall Charger: Think of this as the electrical wall outlet for the 21st century. Swapping the traditional wall outlet in your apartment or off-campus residence for this one lets you charge up to four devices simultaneously. This AC/USB wall outlet is a simple do-it-yourself installation product. It will also save you money with its energy efficient design that offers a modern, centralized location for charging and powering USB devices. Its spring-loaded Safety Shutters turn power off to the USB ports to eliminate “vampire” energy draw when a connecting cable is removed.
Monster SuperStar BackFloat Speaker: This waterproof Bluetooth speaker from Monster Products is ideal for the shower or pool. It’s the perfect Back-to-School gift for the college student who needs some loud music in the shower before that early morning class. The BackFloat has a built-in microphone with advanced noise cancellation for hands-free calling and conferencing. It comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery to provide up to 5 hours of music. The less than 10-inch wide footprint makes it ideal to take with you to the pool or beach (it comes with a carrying case). It’s no surprise that this speaker from Monster has tremendous sound quality with its no distortion high volume sound, two front full-range drivers for clarity and coherence and two bass radiators.
Priced: $149.99 www.monsterproducts.com
TiVo Roamio Pro: Perfect for the fraternity or sorority house, or for the off-campus house with multiple TV lovers. The TiVo Roamio lets multiple users record their favorite television shows and movies, as well as stream content from just about every provider. This is TiVo’s best DVR yet. Simply put a CableCARD in and there’s no more need for a cable box. Great for mobile TV viewing with the Android and iOS mobile app. With six tuners to record shows at once, there will be much less fighting among friends competing to record their favorites. TiVo’s famous search capability is used to find the right content within your cable guide and streaming networks. 450-hour HD recording capacity. Online content from Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Pandora and YouTube.
Priced at $599 www.tivo.com
FitBit Surge: Everyone might be talking about the Apple Watch, but if you want to get your favorite college student the smartwatch they’ll really get the most out of, check out the Surge from FitBit. Available online and at retail stores. The monochrome touchscreen display is easy to read in sunshine and it lights up blue to make it even easier to read. This fitness superwatch tracks everything from steps, distance, calories, flights climbed, sleep, and active minutes, as well as continuous heart rate monitoring. It has built-in GPS tracking and also displays caller ID, app notifications, and music player controls on its LCD screen. You can also track your progress while biking, golfing or training for a marathon. Surge is sweat resistant and water resistant to 50 meters.
Priced at $249.95 www.fitbit.com
Netatmo Weather Station: The air quality of your fraternity house or college dorm room might not have been something you ever considered during your college days, but today’s students are more mindful about their environment and healthy living has become a priority. Most of a college student’s time is spent indoors, especially when the weather turns cold, but the indoors is often more polluted than outdoors. The Netatmo Weather Station measures the level of CO2 indoors and sends a warning when you need to air out your home. Its real-time weather readings let you know how to dress for the outdoors, which comes in handy for across campus commutes, football tailgating and bike riding. It comes with a mobile app for iOS, Android or Android devices, which allows you to display the environmental data and observe the cycles and forecast variations around you.
Priced: $149 www.netatmo.com
Pearl Compact Mirror with Portable USB Charger: College students are using their mobile devices more than ever. Phone and tablet batteries just can’t keep up with the active usage of today’s coeds. Late at night they’re still very much awake, but their devices’ batteries are running of out juice. Pearl’s compact mirror doubles as a device charger. It’s the ideal gadget for women to stick in their purse and allow their phones to charge. The mirrors, which began with a Kickstarter campaign, come in several colors and contain a 3-way charging cable and a carrying bag.
Priced: $39.95 www.hypershop.com