15 Back-to-School Tech Gifts

30

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

Weo

I don't have a Chromebook, but thought I'd put in my two cents from many years with Windows, Apple OS's, and recently Android in academia. I would not suggest this over windows as a low budget option for a student.

Many institutions design their systems around a particular OS. Although capable of many functions PC's or Apple is capable of, unforeseen issues may appear with a not-so-popular OS. For example, with my books on electronic media, I found it impossible to access required reading from subscription-based, password-protected pdf e-books with Android (dependent on security software company). Also, teachers requiring certain document formats or teaching procedures for documents (like equations in Excel) might be of no help to a student using alternative software. Last, tech departments might be useless with OS's that are not fully supported by the academic institution.

What this boils down to, is that as the student progresses to higher learning institutions they will have to purchase something else, adding to the overall cost. My suggestion to parents would be to check with the academic institution to ensure compatibility and tech department familiarity.

avatar

ThomFrost

only thing on this list i would want is the razer blade gaming laptop.
with the razer wouldnt need a chromebook and the rest not interested in.

avatar

big_montana

Of you want to save money on the laptop, while adding an all in one color laser, go with the Lenovo Y510p with Intel Core i7 4700MQ processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive, and dual Nvidia GeForce GT 750M GPUs in SLI. Runs $1100, and then add the Brother MFC-9130C for $400.

avatar

vrmlbasic

A 1280*800 screen?!

The gimped productivity and gaming that provides will not be well received, especially not once the student sees what even a now-ancient 1920*1080 display provides in those areas. Nor will the eyestrain induced by such a low res; it'll be like looking at the image through a screen door :(

750s in SLI cry out for something more.

avatar

loozer

I don't know what you're smoking, because the y510t comes with a 1080p display

avatar

vrmlbasic

I couldn't find the model specified by the OP because his price is a limited-time-offer price. Outside of the special offer, the only one of the laptops which costs $1100 has only a HD display.

That actually doesn't sound like a bad laptop.

avatar

Eoraptor

I wouldn't spend the money on a chromecast now that they've gimped the ability to stream your own existing media to it.

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

1) Under no circumstances get your children a Chromebook that doesn't use an x86. Nothing they get at school will work with it and it's completely dependent on the internet.
2) Screw the Razer, get them a MSI GS70 Stealth for the same price with much better equipment.
3) Chrome Cast is broken and under-supported for right now. It's a poor purchase. Get the a Roku3 or Apple TV for a little bit more.
4) The S4 active might be good for some but it's advertized in a way that makes people not RTFM. RTFM! Only waterproof for 2 hours, so long as it's not more than 3-5 feet under water and that doesn't include SALT WATER!

avatar

Paul_Lilly

Yikes, I hate to return the nitpick on all four points, so I'll really only disagree with three of the four:

1) ARM vs x86 doesn't matter much on Chromebooks (unless you're hacking) since it's running Chrome OS, not Windows/Windows RT. Chromebooks, including the ARM-based ones, are great for their intended purpose -- low cost machines that allow students to do research on the web, type up papers (via Google Docs), print out online assignments, keep up with social networks, etc. They're not a one-size-fits-all, obviously, but there are plenty of school age kids who these low-cost machines are perfect for. It's part of the reason why Samsung's Chromebook is the best selling laptop on Amazon, which is no small feat.

2) Hey, we could only pick one. MSI's GS70 isn't a bad option either, which is true of several gaming notebooks out there. I'd also recommend looking at Lenovo's IdeaPad Y510p, a 15.6-inch laptop with dual-GeForce GT 750M GPUs for a little over a grand.

3) Chromecast isn't broken, it doesn't support AllCast (streaming from Android devices) via the latest update, sparking fears that Google is going to close down the system and prevent streaming from your home LAN. Google's already responsed to those concerns with an official statement saying that it's "excited to bring more content to Chromecast" and plans to "support all types of apps, including those for local content." Plus, there's an app available for iOS. For $35, this is a nifty little streamer.

4) The point of the Active S4 recommendation is that it's going to offer a bit more protection versus other smartphones for careless teenagers ("Oops, dropped it in a puddle!") and drunken college students ("Let's shove Joey in the pool!").

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

1) I didn't know purchase popularity dictated the "Best" solution. Also you never did explain how it was good w/o the internet. That's one of it's problems. Plus, You'd need to hack it to run something a little less cloud oriented to really get useful programs on there. Ones that let you do work w/o the internet. These don't come with mobile internet built in so you have to consider the most likely worst cast scenarios.
2) I was just going for a direct price comparison. There will always be good laptops that cost a little more or a little less with their own drawbacks. I was just pointing out that there is an imperically better laptop near the one you've selected (as far as hardware is concerned).
3) Still didn't address the lack of support. Netflix? Hulu Plus? Pandora? I don't use iOS, so what about the other 80% of the market like me? (edit: it does apparently support Netflix I think it was amazon Prime that wasn't supported, as well as working for Android so that covers most of the market. Enough for me to not complain at least.) What do we do? If I can't use the tool in good faith then it's "broken", literal or otherwise.
4) Yeah, that pool thing doesn't necessarily mean that it will work after you get out, especially if you're in a drunken stupor. It might survive a puddle but most phones will if you get them out quick enough. Sure, if you're a complete klutz then this might be worth it, but what I'm saying is that the advertizing on it is made so that it looks like the phones is impervious to water and falls. I've talked to WAY to many returns employees who all say the same thing "[returning] people say... went swimming with it all day/ went diving with it/dropped it and thought that it would survive that small drop" So, I posted a warning to people.

avatar

jbitzer

Let's not mention that dell is gigantic. I don't see anyone taking it to bed to facebook on.

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

However, I can see some art students using it. That's why I didn't have anything too poor to say about it. The other ones are completely bad ideas, this one's only a bad idea for some people.

avatar

j_j_montez

I think calling them "completely bad ideas" is a bit harsh. Whether or not your like the specific product, the advice the article is conveying is sound:
-A Chromebook works for a lot of people, especially considering everything is stored online, so backups are taken care of. The laptop is inexpensive, so it is easier to replace for those kids who are irresponsible, or just accident-prone.
-The Razer is a great 14" notebook, compared to the amazing 17" of the MSI. I love more screen real-estate, except when I'm in a hurry, or at the end of a long day and I'm carrying the real-estate in my backpack.
-Paul explained Chromecast well, and I echo: for $35, there isn't much to loose. I have an AppleTV, a Roku 3, and I'm considering picking up a Chromecast
-While the S4 isn't indestructable, as Paul said, a person will be in much better shape with one, compared to another bare phone. If a person is severely accident-prone, or worried about breaking their phone, they can get an extremely protective case for most phones. The S4 Active is a durable phone without the chunky case.
-The other items in the article are good suggestions. The nexus 7 is a great tablet, but most decent tablet will work well for textbook and moderate note taking. A good set of headphones is necessary for a dorm or apartment, as is a durable USB key. Battery backups for mobile devices, since outlets get used up quickly in a classroom, and it's nice to have your phone charge while it's in your bag. I think the other items carry a similar principle: You don't need to get these exact items, but it's some food for thought.

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

I have issues with 14" laptops but I've already expressed those on the actual razor article. My point was that these are supposed to be the "best" which i assume is an imperical measure. For a similar cost, the MSI is better. The only reason I could ever see someone say that the 14" was better for them is if they are shorter than 4'8" (142cm). The rest of us can wield 6 pounds at 17" in our backpacks.
I've answered the other ones with Paul's post.

avatar

PCLinuxguy

I read an "article" on a laptop news site and the guy that wrote it was saying that laptops should be 11-14 inches and that only the unwashed morons use anything bigger and that 15 and 17 inch models are slow, super heavy and basically junk, while the smaller models are for the elite. If I could recall it I'd link it. I had a good laugh at it.

avatar

j_j_montez

I remember my father buying a 17" Dell specifically for it's size. It was the most underpowered laptop I've ever encountered. Even in it's prime, it was probably a $500 purchase. The guy in the article probably had a similar encounter and dismissed all 17" laptops. He never used a quad i7 with SSDs in raid 0 with a high-res screen. Eventually, I have a 17" powerhouse, in addition to a 13" and use them as needed. I couldn't see only having a 17" though, since I prefer a little more portability, and I have a powerhouse at home. If you ever think of that article, come back and link it, I'd love to have a laugh at it as well.

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

What's sad is that the guy was thinking "Huh, 17.3" and the model I'm looking at is 11 pounds... well that's just not good." instead of thinking "Huh, not all laptops of the same size have the same weight. Maybe I should look for a lighter one."

avatar

jbitzer

Now you've gotten us all interested, go find that link!!!

avatar

vrmlbasic

Grade school kids with a smartphone?!

Why?

(Also, soda in schools? Only if the kids bring it themselves...)

Also, my phone has more battery capacity than that MagicStick. I find that interesting.

avatar

Bullwinkle J Moose

I thought you were gonna List 15 Countries that can access our Data

They usually call them "Gifts"

or "features"

avatar

satrain18

How are they supposed to access our data through a set of headphones, a flash drive, a battery, a printer, a mouse pad, a portable speaker, or a game console?

P.S., we're getting tired of that 'Window Vista and above is Govt sponsored spyware platform' bullcrap.

avatar

machew100

What the shit are you talking about? You know what, don't tell me. I don't actually care.

avatar

Bullwinkle J Moose

You're HIRED!

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

Woops. Forgot those meds again did we?

avatar

Bullwinkle J Moose

You're FIRED!

avatar

jbitzer

He really is out there isn't he? Luckily, WinXP is keeping him secure!

avatar

Bullwinkle J Moose

Windows XP, like Windows 8, won't itself keep anyone secure

But a real security Pro can reasonable keep XP more secure than 7 or 8

It just depends on "who" is compromising your security

avatar

Hey.That_Dude

If you don't like it then make your own.
I do it every so often with hardware.

avatar

PCLinuxguy

Agreed, the only security risk to any computer is the end user :-)

avatar

PCLinuxguy

with IE6 at the forefront!