Back to School Gift Guide + Win Monster Inspiration Headphones

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It’s August, and that means it’s time to get educated. Kindergarteners need to go learn about dinosaurs, and geology majors need to go learn about dinosaur bones. You, on the other hand, need to learn about the gadgets that will make this school year run smoothly for you and your student. Here’s our back to school gift guide for 2012. And don’t forget to enter for a chance to win a pair of Monster Inspiration headphones. These great sounding fashion headphones are perfect for relaxing with in between classes.

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Google Nexus 7

Students are always running off somewhere – school, practice, who knows where – they are the pioneers of the mobile lifestyle. Laptops, more often than not, aren’t mobile enough. For all those students clamoring for a tablet, and for all those parents looking to grab a good one at a low price, Google might have what everyone needs.

The 7” Google Nexus 7 is a $200 tablet made to take full advantage of the Google Play store. Your student can fulfill all their social networking and entertainment needs on one device that fits in their pocket – who knows, they might even find a way to use it for school, too. You can get the Google Nexus 7 on Amazon in both 8GB and 16GB capacities.

Nike+ Kinect Training

Back to school often enough means back to practice for many athletes. That means it’s time to shake off the cobwebs of laziness from summer and get back in shape. Thanks to modern technology, they can do that in front of a television screen, too.

Nike+ Kinect Training is one of the newest entries into the fitness genre of games for the Kinect, and offers up a personalized training program co-developed by Nike trainers. As long as your student stays committed, they’ll be back up and in shape in no time. Only problem is, you’ll have to wait a little while to get your student into this game – it doesn’t hit stores until October 30th. Until then, you’ll just have to make sure they put all that extra energy into academics. The Nike + Kinect Training is available for Pre-Order on Amazon.

Sony Walkman F800

Those that had Walkmans ruled the playgrounds back in the ’90s. Why should it be any different now? Sony has released the Walkman F800, one device that’s helping to keep the brand name modern. It’s an mp3 player that runs Android and has access to Google Play, making it the perfect device for on-the-go music and entertainment. Students can even get a little gaming done on it thanks to the Tegra 2 dual-core processor, but I’m not sure how much quality gaming you can do on a 3.5” screen.

And, best of all, it doesn’t take after Apple in one important way – you can easily drag and drop files to load them onto your Walkman. You can make back to school time music to your student’s ears for $270 for the 16 GB version and $300 for the 32 GB version.

Tyla Rae Tech Accessories

Technology no longer makes you a social outcast at school – everyone’s tech savvy these days. That means it’s finally OK to have your tech and flaunt it, too. Your student can head back to class in style with any of a variety of tech accessories designed by Los Angeles-based designer Tyla Rae. She’s created smartphone cases, iPad cases, iPad bags, and laptop bags, and might have invented a whole new type of accessory with the smartphone purse. Who knew tech and fashion would ever go hand-in-hand?

 

Beatbox Portable

Beats By Dre don’t just come in headphone form. For the student who really likes to share their music, you can grab the Beatbox Portable, a wireless speaker dock that doesn’t skimp on the sound quality. There is a built-in iPhone/iPod speaker dock, but the Beatbox Portable is Bluetooth-friendly, so students can pair it up with just about any device that can carry a tune. Of course, it’s carrying the Beats name, so it’s not going to be cheap. The Beatbox Portable is selling now for about $399 at AT&T.

WeShareBytes USB Drives

WeShareBytes scoops up USB drives from all over the Web, and right now, they’re getting rid of them with some back-to-school deals. Currently, the site is offering a buy two get one free deal on certain drives. You can find the Avengers USB drives we looked at a while back, as well as a pair of BFF monster drives. The pair comes together in a friendly embrace, each offering 4 GB of storage. One of the drives can be given to a friend, and both can be worn as necklaces. If that doesn’t say high school, I don’t know what does. The pair are selling for $13.49.

Tick Tock Dock

If you asked my mom what the hardest part of raising me was, I’m not sure what she would say, but I am definitely sure that waking me up in the morning would be in her top five.

Send your sleepyhead a gentle reminder that mom or dad have other things to do besides being a walking, talking alarm clock. The Tick Tock Dock is an alarm clock that should satisfy today’s students – it’s an iPhone/iPod dock made to look like a classic two-bell alarm clock. The alarm clock comes with an FM radio and an auxiliary jack, if your student isn’t the Apple type. The clock’s speakers are embedded in the bells. Who knows, maybe your student will be more willing to wake up to their own music, instead of the lights being turned on suddenly, or a spray bottle to the face, or whatever gets your student out of bed.

Edifier is selling the Tick Tock Dock now at a discount for about $80.

Griffin Binder Insert Case for iPad

Some teachers might not like it, but the classroom isn’t going to get any less tech friendly anytime soon. But, with the Griffin Binder Insert Case for iPad, your student can at least make it look like they’re using their iPad for constructive purposes during class. It’s a protective case that fits the iPad 2 and the new iPad, and can clip onto an insert that can be put into most three-ring binders. The iPad will finally become the educational tool it always had the potential to be. Or, it’ll become the next evolutionary step up from the old magazine-behind-the-textbook trick. Take your pick. The Griffin Binder Insert Case for iPad is selling now for about $25.

Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover

It’s hard enough for college students just to get out of bed in the morning, let alone lug a laptop to class. Fortunately, you can get your student a little something that will make their tablet useful for more than just watching movies in bed. The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is a case for the iPad that doubles as a mobile keyboard.

The keyboard pairs up with the iPad via Bluetooth, and allows for a few of the top number keys to be used as shortcut keys for commands like cut, copy, and paste. Once class is over, the keyboard becomes a case that clips magnetically over the screen of the iPad. That way, the new Retina screen won’t get scuffed up for when your student needs to watch movies in bed.

The Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is on sale now for $100.

Epson XP-400 Printer

It’s the end of the quarter. There’s five minutes left on the clock, and there’s a long way to go.

I’m not talking about football, I’m talking about a college student who has just finished that paper they procrastinated on for over a month. And when that paper gets finished, they’ll need a reliable printer.

Cue the Epson XP-400, which should be a student’s dream come true – a wireless printer that is light on set-up and small enough to fit just about anywhere. The XP-400 is an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier that is about 11” x 15” (or 300 mm x 390 mm), and can connect to Wi-Fi networks. As long as the computer is on the same Wi-Fi network as the printer, a prompt will come up to download and install the printer software, a process that takes very little time. There’s also a small 2.5” LCD screen, in case you’re printing directly from an SD card.

That last-minute dash to the lecture hall, paper in hand, will be sabotaged by printer difficulties no longer. The Epson XP-400 is reasonably priced, too, at $100 or less at Amazon.

Fu Design MacBook Air Sleeve

Tech isn’t cheap – sleeves and cases aren’t a bad idea, especially for students (who aren’t known as the most careful group). The Fu Design MacBook Air Sleeves, featuring the illustrations of Taiwanese artist Fu, are otherwise simple leather sleeves which seal magnetically and are water-resistant. There’s also a strap that holds a cleaning cloth, which is great, because otherwise that cloth is getting lost in the mess that is a student’s desk. They’re perfect for college students making that awkward transition from the expressive phase to the oh-man-now-I-need-to-look-professional phase.

The Fu Design MacBook Air Sleeve is selling for about $54.

Belkin @TV

If your student somehow wants to watch something on television that can’t be accessed on Hulu or Netflix (read: sporting events), and needs to be elsewhere at the time, they’re in luck. You can give them the gift of live television from anywhere on their smartphone or tablet.

Belkin @TV can sync up with a home television or DVR, then transmit whatever is on television to a smartphone or tablet while the user is on the go. It can be used with a home Wi-Fi network, which allows for up to eight devices to connect to it at once, as well. When the user is mobile, the @TV can use a 3G or 4G connection to transmit live television to a single device – just know you’ll only have yourself to blame when your college student starts spending all his time in lecture watching NBA games.

The Belkin @TV is going for about $180 on Belkin’s website.

iPhone 4S from Virgin Mobile

Young people have commitment issues. It’s to be expected. So, it’s no surprise that contracts and students often don’t go well together. Unfortunately, top-tier smartphones almost always come with contract strings attached.

That’s no longer the case for the iPhone 4S. Virgin Mobile is one provider that is offering the iPhone 4S sans contract, for much lower monthly fees than you’ll see at the big four of the telecom world. Your student can enjoy the freedom to switch providers and phones at a moment’s notice, without needing to worry about getting nailed with an early termination fee.

The bad news is, as the parent, you’re going to get nailed with a non-subsidized phone cost. Getting an iPhone 4S from Virgin Mobile will cost $550 for the 8 GB version. If you go this route, you might want to prepare your gratefulness lecture ahead of time just in case your student starts complaining about not having an iPhone 5 in a few months.

Samsung Galaxy S III

Want to guilt your student into getting good grades this year? Butter them up with the definitive Android phone of 2012 – the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Boasting the latest in terms of processing power, graphics power, and Android power, the Galaxy S III is the gift for the student who needs to be on the cutting edge. “But mom” they’ll say. “I just have to have it.”

Giving in to their demands will give them bonus social status points. Just don’t forget this come report card time. Hopefully they won’t, either. Pricing for the S III begins at as low as $189 with a 2 year contract.

Monster Inspiration Headphones

Being a teenager is all about setting up an identity. It’s a time when young people figure out who they are, and what kind of image they want to display to the rest of the world. Usually, that means doing things a little differently.

Enter the Monster Inspiration Headphones, a set of over-ear headphones that have a sleek, rectangular look that sets them apart from the rest of the pack of headphones on the market. Better yet, your student can change up their headphones’ look along with their ever-changing mood. These headphones feature a headband that can be swapped easily. Each set comes with two headbands, and there are extra styles available that can be purchased separately. It also doesn’t hurt that the sound quality is top-notch.

As always, looking good doesn’t come cheap. A set of Monster Inspiration Headphones will set you back about $249 on Amazon.

Kensington MacBook Air Security Dock

Dorms are known for a lot of things. Security isn’t usually one of them. Far too many students get a rough introduction to college, as they get their precious gadgets swiped right from where they sleep.

The Kensington MacBook Air Security Dock looks to put the clamps down on that theft business. Students looking for a little extra security will welcome this simple device – a dock for the MacBook Air that can be closed up, locked in place, and anchored to a desk. All ports will still be accessible, but the laptop will be decidedly inaccessible to any would-be thieves stalking the dorm halls.

The MacBook Air Security Dock is available for both the 11” and 13” models, and is selling for $90.

Ted Plush Doll

It’s difficult to find a teddy bear gift that actually works for anyone with an age in the double digits, but if one exists, the Ted Plush Doll is it.

There’s no better humor for the teenage crowd than the Seth MacFarlane kind. The Ted Plush Doll spouts lines from the movie and stands 24” tall – the same size as he is in the movie. If your student is a die-hard Seth MacFarlane fan, you can consider this guy to be a potential thunder buddy for life. Otherwise, the $59 Entertainment Earth is asking for it will probably be better spent elsewhere.

Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 Limited Edition Artist Series

The life span of a mouse can be depressingly short. They got lost in transit, or the USB dongle ends up who knows where, or they just get dropped one too many times.

So, lengthen that life span with a mouse that your student will actually want to take care of. The artist series of the Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse includes designs from artists all around the world, so there’s a good shot you’ll find something that suits your student’s tastes. They’re also small and travel-friendly, and won’t add too much to the bulk students already have to carry around.

You can grab one of these artful mice for about $30.

Hex Academy Collection

The Hex Academy Collection includes what might be the ultimate back-to-school backpack for 2012. The Sonic Backpack is made of cotton with a waxed denim shell that protects against rain. The backpack looks very sleek and classy and, more importantly, has cushy places to store a laptop as big as 17” and a tablet. It also functions as an organizer for the less high-tech tools of the trade – pens, pencils, erasers, and all that.

Also part of the collection is a laptop duffel and a convertible sleeve backpack. The Hex Academy Collection price range is reasonably priced, between $40 and $100.

<h3Nokia Play 360° Wireless Speaker

Help your student take their music on the road with this very small, very lightweight speaker from Nokia. The Nokia Play 360° Wireless Speaker weighs only 514 grams (a little over one pound), but gives off sound in all directions, hence the 360°. The speaker can connect to any Bluetooth device, and has NFC compatibility, making it ready for the newest smartphones that will be hitting the market in the future. There’s still a 3.5mm audio jack, too, just in case you need to keep it wired.

BlackBerry Music Gateway

The BlackBerry Music Gateway should be a prime party accessory for this school year. Roughly put, it democratizes DJ responsibilities.

The BlackBerry Music Gateway is a small device that can be connected to most stereo systems. Once connected, anyone with a Bluetooth or NFC compatible device can stream music from those devices to the stereo system. That includes music from personal libraries and from Internet radio apps like Pandora and Slacker. True, anyone and everyone at the party being able to play their own music might not be a good thing, but you can still control track switching and view songs in the queue that others have added, so it’s a limited democracy. And, it’s not limited to BlackBerry devices – BlackBerry Music Gateway works with all brands and operating systems.

The ultimate party DJ that is the BlackBerry Music Gateway is selling for about $50.

Brooks Nightlife Hat

No, it’s not a lampshade. The Brooks Nightlife Hat is a reflective baseball cap with a flat LED light on the back that helps keep runners visible at night. It’s a great way to make sure your student stays safe while staying in shape. The LED light is on the backstrap, and the hat comes in multiple colors, though I’m not sure how well the black one will work for the purpose of staying visible.

Also, don’t forget to remind your student to remove the battery pack before washing. Students don’t need that kind of real-world educational experience.

The Brooks Nightlife Hat is currently going for $35 off the Brooks website. Reflective vests and jackets are available on the site, too.

VTech InnoTab 2

Last but not least, we can’t forget that students come in all ages. We haven’t forgotten about the littlest of students – the VTech InnoTab 2 helps the young ones get a leg up in academics with its educational software. It’s a tablet of sorts, designed for small children. It runs educational apps and cartridges, but can’t access the Web, keeping kids safe. Kids can use the 5” screen as a photo viewer, eReader, and video player, too – it’s a starter tablet to prepare them for the real thing when they’re older.

The VTech InnoTab 2 is selling for $80, and is ideal for kids from ages three to eight.