News & Politics

Back to School 2.0: Gadgets for Students

Want to send your kid back to school with the latest technology in hand? Here are a few gadgets that might make the transition from the pool to the classroom a little easier.

Back to School Guide

Tips From the Pros

Greening Your Back-to-School Shopping List

What to Do After School

Back to School 2.0: Gadgets for Students

Great First Day Clothes for Girls

Great First Day Clothes for Boys

Spicing Up Brown Bag Lunches

Getting In To Top Colleges

$43 to $59

If this alarm clock on wheels doesn’t get Junior out of bed, we don’t know what will. Here’s how it works: Set the alarm, and when it beeps you can hit the snooze button—but just once. After a quick doze (from zero to nine minutes), Clocky will jump off your nightstand and beep and flash while it rolls around the room. The only way to stop it is to get out of bed and chase it. Clocky can make the jump to the floor from up to three feet in the air. It comes in red, chrome, brown, aqua, and white.

Helius Solar Backpack

Backpacks aren’t just for lugging books anymore. This solar-powered pack lets you charge small portable electronics (excluding laptops). It comes with adapters for iPods, iPhones, BlackBerrys, and phones from Samsung, LG, Nokia, and Motorola. If your phone’s brand isn’t on the list, no problem—for $4.99, the company will get the right adapter. Electronics charge fully in about two hours, and there’s a port for headphones so you can use the devices while they charge.

Dell Mini Netbooks
Start at $299

These pint-size laptops are good for students who prefer clacking on a keyboard to pen and paper. The computer weighs just 2½ pounds and can fit easily in a backpack. It comes with Microsoft Works, a basic word processor, but Microsoft Office Basic with Word, PowerPoint, and Excel can be added for $129. With an undersize keyboard—the typing surface is 92 percent of a regular-size keyboard—a Dell rep says it might not be the most comfortable way to type a ten-page paper, but it’s perfect for taking notes during class or surfing the Web. The computer features a built-in Web cam, a speaker and headphone port for listening to music, and a ten-inch wide-screen display. And here’s something the kids will like: Netbooks come in six colors.

Flash-drive bracelet
$14.99 to $19.99

Who said technology isn’t fashionable? These nifty flash-drive bracelets let you tote around electronic files like a piece of jewelry. This one works with PCs and Macs and comes with 2- and 4-GB storage capacities. The band is made of silicone and comes in black or brown. Have a youngster with portable electronic-storage needs? Disney makes a 1-GB model with Camp Rock ($5.99) and Hannah Montana ($4.99) themes.

Kajeet Cell Phone
Phones start at $16.99 for refurbished models; plans start at $4.99 a month.

Kajeet helps parents keep tabs on their kids’ cell-phone use. The company offers online controls where parents can set phone-usage times, block and allow calls from certain phone numbers, and more. You can also set up allowances so kids and parents can share the cost—for example, Mom and Dad pay for calls home, but Junior pays for texts to friends. There’s also a GPS option ($9.99 a month), which allows you to see the phone’s location in real time on an online map. Monthly service plans include talk-only and pay-as-you-go options.

Kindle Textbooks
Kindle is $299; some textbooks are free.

The six-inch reading device is a favorite among busy professionals and frequent travelers. But the Kindle offers something for students, too: a textbook store. Amazon’s online bookshelf has titles in more than two dozen categories, from literary fiction to children’s chapter books to science and reference books. Prices range from free to a few hundred bucks. When we looked, some of the free titles available included Pride and Prejudice, The Art of War, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense can be had for $1.60. And 501 Spanish Verbs—a book we couldn’t have survived grade school without—is $9.99.

Pulse SmartPen
$149.95 to $199.95; notebooks are $19.95 for four.

Pens that just write are so 2008. Soup up your kid’s note-taking skills with one that writes and records sound at the same time. The Pulse SmartPen has a built-in camera near the tip and a microphone for sound. Using special notebooks, you can record a math lesson, for example, and play it back later. The handwritten notes are linked with the audio so you can listen to a teacher’s lesson while reviewing notes at home. There are 1- and 2-GB varieties available. Accessories include leather cases for storage ($24.95) and a wall adaptor for charging it anywhere ($14.95).