The back-to-school period is a time to restock on school supplies, and that increasingly involves getting new tech gear. Today’s students can’t succeed without the computers, tablets, and phones that are needed for socialization, staying connected, and school work. If you’re sending a child back to school, here are some of the best tech gifts to outfit them with.
Chromebook: For Basic Computing
Google’s Chromebooks remain largely relegated to K-12 education, but they’re perfect for this application. Especially in primary and middle grades, Chromebooks offer a price point, level of capability and easy user interface that make them ideal.
Consider a Chromebook if you have a younger student who needs a computer. Google will help you keep tabs on their use, and everything is stored in the cloud in case they lose the computer. Also important, Chromebooks are inexpensive — many new models are priced below $200 and the $250 price point gets you a fairly powerful machine.
Tech Tip: Look for a Chromebook that has at least 4 GB of memory. Cheaper models that have only 2 GB will run significantly slower, especially after a couple of years.
IPad: Basic Computing Alternative
The main Chromebook Alternative is Apple’s iPad. It’s a tablet, but can be paired with a keyboard for laptop functionality. The device is able to handle anything that K-12 students need to do, and young users will quickly become accustomed to the user interface. Apple is also leading the industry in privacy protection, which is a big deal for many parents.
An iPad makes a lot of sense if your family uses Apple devices or Apple devices are used in the school. Expect to pay a little more (the new iPad starts at $329), but refurbished and good-quality used ones have prices that are comparable to some Chromebooks.
Tech Tip: Apple-refurbished iPads come with a warranty and optional accidental damage protection. Such protection is useful anytime a student carries a device around, and refurbished iPads are sold at a slight discount.
IPad Pro: Powerful Computing and Art
The iPad Pro is priced significantly higher, starting at $799. The model is much more powerful, though, and it can be outfitted with a much larger, 12.9-inch screen. When paired with a Magic Keyboard, this is a full-fledged computer replacement.
The iPad Pro 12.9-inch and Magic Keyboard are a great combination for any college student, and they’re probably the best choice for art majors. The device and Apple Pencil are the most convenient and most accurate way to draw digitally. High school students who are looking at art would also appreciate this device.
Tech Tip: Accidental damage protection is strongly advisable when giving a student something this valuable. Also, make sure your homeowners insurance covers theft of the device.
Android Tablet: Alternative for Android Households
Another alternative to the Chromebook and iPad options is to get your student an Android tablet. There are significant compatibility drawbacks if the school uses iPads, but Android devices otherwise are capable and affordable. You can find basic ones for less than $150, and high-end ones are often no more than $200.
Long-term usage will likely be limited with an Android tablet, but this is a cheap first device for younger children. It’s definitely something to consider if you already have an Android phone.
Tech Tip: The Microsoft Surface product line is an exception among Android devices, offering functionality that’s on par with computers. Look at models from other companies, such as Lenovo, Samsung and Asus, if you’re getting this to be a starter device.
IPhone: Smartphone for All Students
The iPhone is the most popular smartphone within the United States, and for good reason. The phone is powerful, user-friendly and comes at multiple price points. It also integrates seamlessly with iOS devices, such as iPads.
Unless you’re already heavily invested in Android, outfit your student with an iPhone if they don’t already have one. The newest iPhone 12 comes with 5G connectivity and will have the longest life span, making it a good value for students who can responsibly watch after a phone. The iPhone 12 Pro Max has three excellent cameras, and is well-suited for photography or art students. If you want something more affordable, the new iPhone SE and used iPhones offer varying price points.
Tech Tip: IPhones generally retain their value well, making them good long-term investments. When it’s next time to upgrade, you can probably sell a used iPhone for good money (see below).
Android Phone: Smartphone for Android Users
If your family or your student already has Android devices, there are many good Android phone options to choose from. Determine your student’s performance and screen requirements, and shop around for something that fits the bill. You’ll find Androids that range from cheap to expensive.
Tech Tip: Chromebooks can now run Android apps, allowing for integration between them and Android phones. This might make an Android phone preferable if your student will be using a Chromebook.
Get Cash for a Tech Device from MLG Cash
Make any of these tech gadgets even more affordable by selling old devices to use at MLG Cash. We’ll pay good money — 30% more than many competitors — for both phones and tablets. Depending on your device(s) and their condition, you could have anywhere from a few bucks to several hundred that can go toward a student’s device. To find out what your old devices are worth, go through our 6-step online quote finder. We’ll tell you what the device is worth, allowing you to determine whether you’d like to sell it. Assuming you do, just bring the phone to your nearest UPS Store for verification and you’ll instantly receive the funds.