Jamie Sorcher, Technology & Entertainment CorrespondentBest known for her television work as the original 'Gizmo Girl' on ESPN's Cold Pizza morning show and numerous appearances on network television, Jamie Sorcher is a seasoned technology and entertainment correspondent with more than 15 years experience in print, broadcast, and online media.
Although the new year begins in January, back-to-school season feels more like a fresh start. It's the perfect to time get rid of what's old and outdated and upgrade to the top tech tools. Here are some of the ones I recommend.
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 series -- This 2-in-1 laptop is available at Office Depot and Office Max. They are running a special back-to-school promotion now through September 20th. When you buy this laptop, it comes with Microsoft Office 365 Personal and McAfee Total Protection for up to three PCs. The device gives you the full performance of a laptop with the convenience of a tablet. Perfect for students who are working on assignments at home or in the dorm, and also studying on the go. It has an 11.6-inch HD (high definition) touchscreen that folds back 360 degrees giving you four adjustable modes of display--tent, tablet, stand, and standard clamshell (your traditional laptop position). It has 7.5 hours of battery life and weighs in at about 3 pounds. Price: $449.97.
Net 10 Wireless (provided by TracFone Wireless)--College students have an average of seven tech devices and one of them is going to be a smartphone. The question is how to have one economically. Well, the answer is to go without a contract. Net 10 is the nation's largest no-contract cell phone service provider. They offer the latest smartphones with America's top carriers at up to half the cost of a contract plan. For instance, 30-day plans start at $40 for unlimited talk, text and data (up to 500 MB of high-speed data). Buy a phone from Net 10 or go with their BYOP plan--Bring Your Own Phone. Perfect for students who want to keep their phone, their network and their number but still take advantage of these low-cost airtime plans. And no contract--also good for students. There's no monthly bill, no surprises at the end of the month, and no penalties to change phones or plans.
Calculus, algebra, trigonometry, chemistry, physics, statistics---have I named your favorite class yet? Maybe I wouldn't have gotten that "D" in math if I had one of these calculators from Casio. They have a wide portfolio of calculators so that students from elementary school through college can develop an appreciation, and even excel, in math and science. The devices come in a range of colors--nice bright pops of blue or pink--so you can be fashionable and functional while figuring out those fractions. And for those in high school---take note: these are approved for use during the SAT and ACT college entrance exams. Prices range from $8.99 to $150.
Whoosh-- Can we talk tech hygiene for a moment? Smartphones can be breeding grounds for germs...some studies say they can be 10 times dirtier than public toilets...For all the time we spend on our dispaly devices, it makes sense to keep our screens clean--with some sheen. This non-toxic, 100 percent natural solution gets rid of germs on your screen while also forming a protective layer that resists dirt build-up, smudges and fingerprints. Price: $5.99 for a pocket size up to $20 for the DUO +. A must-have!
Back-To-School Shopping Tips: Stick to the list and stay on budget. Check the school web site/ teacher's supply list so you get what you need and avoid the impulse items. Go with one-stop shopping. Places like Office Depot have all the essentials, plus fun stuff like locker accessories. Look for the 1,000 items they've got under $5. Check out deals, promos and flash sales online. Don't forget to tap the apps and social media. And buy now for next year. Stock up on those essentials once they go on sale and you'll be set for whatever you need the remainder of the year and for next year, too.
Education trends and technology-- Things sure are different from when I was in school. There is more collaborative learning as students work collectively on projects and with teachers in social network communities. There is more self-directed learning. Virtual classrooms. And more students are working on laptops that schools are providing in class and for use at home. It's an exciting time to be a student!