Every year, the bar gets raised for fathers as they prepare to send the kids back to school. The electronics get more sophisticated and often more expensive, but they are becoming indispensible tools for kids heading off to school. Whether your son or daughter is in high school or starting college (or some of both), this list will help you find the best and most useful electronic and digital tools that your children will want to use for the 2012-2013 school year.
If you are resisting the idea of investing in an iPad tablet for the kids, you should take a good look at the Excite 10 Android tablet from Toshiba. This has a large but not too large 10.1" diagonal display, a 1280 x 800 LED backlit screen, an SD card slot, 16 GB of storage, better than expected stereo speakers, Flash support and built in GPS and compass. And it uses Android apps so there are many, many tools available for the Excite 10 that your children can use at school or elsewhere.
2. Kindle Fire
The Kindle Fire is simply the best and easiest to use e-reader out there, in my opinion. With a WiFi connection, the Kindle has a pretty good web browser in addition to its access to the Amazon library of electronic books. And it can use Android applications so it is very versatile. If you are looking for a less expensive alternative to a tablet computer, the Kindle Fire might be just the thing. And more and more colleges and charter schools are encouraging students to buy textbooks via the Kindle library, so the Fire will be helpful from that perspective as well. Long battery life, a very readable screen and lots of apps make the Kindle Fire a great choice among the many e-readers out there.
Every teen wants a digital camera, even if their phone has a camera built in. This Sony Cybershot model has a 16.1 megapixel resolution, a 5x optical zoom and 20x digital zoom, and it records 720p HD videos, so it will fit almost every need for a mid-range digital camera. The 3" LCD screen is really quite amazing and even works in bright sunlight, which is really important for kids who are outdoors a lot. I really liked this camera for everyday use. It is small and will fit in a pocket, purse or backpack pocket quite easily.
The Asus Zenbook is an amazing machine for the student. It is very thin and lightweight (less than 3 pounds) and has a 5 hour battery life, so it will work for most students to take to class and then bring back home or to the library for more work. It has an 11.6" display and has 4 GB of memory and 128 GB onboard storage. It has an HDMI output for conencting the laptop to an HD TV to watch DVD's or online videos. It also has a built in microphone and webcam for keeping in touch with parents or friends from a long distance. I think this is just an excellent choice for a student who has to carry the laptop from place to place all day.
If your student is looking for a good MP3 player that he or she can use to listen to music to and from school or while jogging in the morning, this Creative Labs Zen player is an excellent choice. This model has 16 GB of storage and can be expanded by an additionla 32 GB with a memory card. It has a nice, readable 262K screen, is compatible with iTunes Plus, and has a battery life of 3 hours when played non-stop. It also has a voice recorder for those times when the lecture in class is tough to comprehend. The Creative Zen X-Fi is a good addition to your child's back to school electronics this year.
A smartpen is a pretty useful device for students. The pen can record all the notes a student takes and makes them available to be saved and viewed on a PC or laptop. In addition, the pen can record the audio from the class as well and can link it to the notes. So, for example, if you are reading your notes and find something you don't quite remember, a single tap with the pen on the note paper allows you to hear the lecture at that point to refresh your memory. This is such a useful tool for students; I wish there had been such a thing in my freshman level geology class in college (my lowest college grade ever)! This particular smartpen has 8 GB of onboard memory. It comes with and requires special paper and ink cartridges, so it does take some additional money to keep it operating, but students I know who have a smartpen would not trade it for any other notetaking tool.
The TI-84 graphing calculator from Texas Instruments is the gold standard calculator for students in math and science classes like calculus, algebra, physics and calculus. It has 24K of memory, an 8 line by 16 character display and is loaded with math and science functions and formulas. It also comes preloaded with several applications like a calendar, a flash card app, and the Periodic Table of the Elements. It runs on four AAA batteries that can be found anywhere. All of our children have used a TI-84 and loved it.
At 16 GB and Android app support, the Galaxy Note is a top of the line smartphone for teens and college students. The Note has a 5.3 inch Super AMOLED screen and 4G LTE technology for better calls and faster data access. It has an 8 megapixel rear camera and a 2 megapixel from camera for easy web cam applications. The touchscreen is easy to use and the phone comes with a small stylus to allow the touchscreen to do even more than it can with just a finger touch. The phone also has the capability of tethering to a laptop to provide data access where there is no WiFi support. This is a great smartphone for your teen or college student!
For a student living in cramped quarters, this is a perfect (and inexpensive) printer. For a lower cost printer, this one is filled with great features like WiFi connectivity, speeds of 20 pages per minute in black and white and 16 pages per minute in color, and it weighs only four pounds. It takes up a small footprint on a desk (16.5" by 15") but is very full featured. For a student apartment or a cramped bedroom at home, this is an excellent value and will provide good service for your student's printing.