Back to School Tech: External Hard Drives, USB Battery Packs, and All the Classroom Essentials

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Back to School Tech: External Hard Drives, USB Battery Packs, and All the Classroom Essentials

The beginning of the school year is quickly arriving (or has already arrived for some!), so it’s time to get to the tech that will actually help you in the classroom and in getting around campus.

We’ve already taken a look at our guide to the best dorm room tech, but these products below will give you everything you need to be successful in your college classes, except of course for all that coffee and determination.

External Hard Drive

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Despite the fact that a lot of work and school life happens in the cloud these days, having a hefty external hard drive is still a great thing to have for backups and quick file transfers while working on big projects.

When it comes to buying an external hard drive, there are two kinds to be aware of: Desktop-class and Notebook-class. If you want a huge amount of space, you can grab the maximum size of an 8TB Desktop-class hard drive, while the Notebook-class ones top out at 4TB.

For most people, a TB or 2 is probably more than enough space and there are a host of different options out there. The 2TB drive from Western Digital can be picked up for only $79 on Amazon, while the 4TB drive from Seagate goes for just $119.

USB Battery Pack or Battery Case

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Another great accessory to have is a mobile battery or a battery case for your smartphone. You’ll be out walking a lot at your University, which means keeping your phone powered all day will be important (especially if you’re playing Pokemon Go) Unlike the hard drives, there are a ton of different options for your USB battery packs depending on what you’re looking for. The TravelCard Charger is great for it’s slim build that fits nicely into your pocket or wallet ($30), or the even cheaper Jackery Bolt ($26) which is the size of a bar of soap. To get the fastest-charging and biggest battery, you’ll want to take a look at something like the RAVPower 22000 mAh Ace Series Portable Charger ($40), which can charge your iPhone 6s up to 9 times before giving out.

A second option is to go for a battery case, which gives you the additional battery without having to carry around a second gadget. Some of them get a little bulky (hello official Apple battery case), but ones that we’d recommend that try to hide the extra battery are Anker Ultra Slim Extended Battery Case ($40) and the Mophie Juice Pack Ultra Case ($150).

Case for Laptop and Tablets

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If haven’t left your house with your devices much before now, it’s time to consider a case—because a college campus will have you bringing your tablets and laptops all over the place. You might not think a case is absolutely necessary, but nothing can ruin a term of college like a computer that you accidentally spilled coffee on or a tablet that got wet in your backpack during a downfall on your walk to class. Laptop cases will depending completely on what kind of laptop you have, but there a ton of great options out there both in stores and online.

If you’ve got an iPad that you take to class for notetaking (and staying incredibly concentrated on your lecturer of course), having a keyboard case is an absolute must. Apple has finally made iOS a bit more friendly for multitasking and actual productivity, so your iPad might be more useful for schoolwork now than it was a year ago.

For iPad cases, we point people to the Apple Smart Keyboard Cases ($170), which is light, doubles as a stand, and doesn’t need to be charged. It comes in both the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch sizes. If you’re looking for a something a little more a travel in the keys, the Logitech Create Keyboard Case ($140) is a great option—and is even a little more affordable!

Printer / Scanner


While your digital devices take care of a lot of the things you might have needed to bring to school with you in the past, having a printer and scanner can still come in handy once and a while.

One of the coolest scanners that we’ve tested out is the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 ($195), which is a super light-weight and portable scanner that’s really easy to throw in your bag and take with you to project meetings. If you’re looking for more of a more traditional printer/scanner all-in-one, we’d recommend something like the Brother MFC ($199), but there are a ton of good options out there.

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