Smart buys: our favorite back to school tech essentials


These tech essentials will not only help you survive college life, but maybe even help you land a spot on the Dean’s list (no promises). Even though the majority of our top picks are geared towards college students living in a dorm, we think they can help students of all ages.

All of the recommendations below have been shaped by my experiences while attending a four-year private University.

Entertainment

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The fall is not only back to school season, but also home to the baseball playoffs and the start of the football season. MLB.TV is expensive and NFL Sunday Ticket is a hassle. We recommend a Sling Media Slingbox to keep tabs on your favorite sports teams while away from home. The all-new SlingBox M1 was just released and is the most affordable Slingbox ever at just $149.99.

Xbox One and PlayStation 4 may be the flashy options for dorm room gaming, but we recommend saving a few bucks and opting for an Xbox 360 or Wii U. The Xbox 360 has a huge back super-smash-bros-wii-ucatalog of awesome games that are now priced to move. Plus, some next-gen games (like Mortal Kombat X), will also be available on 360 and PS3. The Wii U has had a rough run, but party games like Mario Kart 8 and the upcoming Super Smash Brothers make it an excellent choice for dorm room hang sessions.

Skip Blu-ray and DVD. The players will take up prime TV stand real-estate and it’s a hassle to find the movie you’re looking for and then physically pop it in a player (I know, first world problems). Instead, go with a Roku 3/streaming stick or Apple TV to stream your media from Netflix (free trial), Hulu Plus (free trial), and iTunes.

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It’s perfectly OK that listening to Norah Jones Spotify radio (student discount) helps you study, but don’t be that guy and play it out loud. A nice pair of headphones are key for school. If your budget allows it, then definitely upgrade to a set of noise-cancelling cans, like the Bose QC15, to drown out any background noise. Bust out a larger portable Bluetooth speaker like the Logitech UE BOOM (review) or Jawbone’s Big JAMBOX (review) when it’s time to party.

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Sony aims to up your tennis game with new racket sensor

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Today, Sony announced the Smart Tennis Sensor that attaches to select rackets and provides instant feedback on your game. By simply placing the sensor to the bottom of your racket, you are able to track a variety of data and report it to the accompanying smartphone app. Sony has entered into partnerships for this project with a number of the most popular tennis manufacturers, such as Prince, Wilson and Yonex.

 Details below:
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TCL Roku-enabled HDTV available today for pre-order

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As we previously reported, TCL and Roku have partnered to create the first Roku-enabled television which is available for pre-order today via Amazon and are expected to ship in 2 to 3 months. The TVs will initially be available in three sizes:

The Roku TVs will feature a simple 20-button remote control with the popular Roku software integrated directly into the TV. Roku players have the most streaming content available with over 31,000 movies and 1,200 channels.

Hisense is also set to offer Roku-enabled televisions, they have yet to announce pricing and are likely to begin shipping in September.

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Media: Captain America early iTunes release/3D Blu-ray deal, Chuck complete series on Blu-ray $67, more

Update (8/22 9:00am): Today only, Amazon has Stargate Atlantis – The Complete Series on Blu-ray for ($44.99)/DVD ($29.99), their best prices ever.

You can enjoy Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Solider three weeks before its official release thanks to an early release ($19.99) on iTunes.

But the biggest superhero fans are going to want to take advantage of Target’s current preorder deal. For just $22.99, you’ll get this film in the following formats: 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray, 2D Blu-ray and digital copy. It also includes exclusive “Behind The Lens” bonus footage.

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Amazon offers Chuck: The Complete Series on Blu-ray for $66.77 shipped. That’s 63% below the list price of $180 and the best deal we have ever seen. This set includes season 1-5 of this action-packed comedy TV series that has scored an 8.3 star rating on IMDB.

More Blu-ray deals via Amazon:

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Nike clearance extra 25% off: save on NFL/MLB fan gear, sports apparel, much more

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Score an extra 25% off all Nike clearance items with promo code BIGTIME at checkout. All orders of $75 or more will ship free.

Preseason football is already heating up and that means Monday Night Football (and pumpkin beer!) are right around the corner. Get ready for the upcoming season by picking up discounted team hoodies, shorts, pants, and more:

*most items are available for different teams

or maybe grab some baseball gear to cheer on your favorite MLB team during postseason play.

Again, this promo code will work on ANY clearance item (running shoes, socks, backpacks, hats, golf clubs, more) at the Nike online store.

More fashion/activewear deals:

Apple cuts prices of all Beats by Dre products by 10% through Aug. 23rd

From 9to5Mac:

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Update (8/19 9:15am): This sale is also live at Amazon and Best Buy.

A couple weeks following the closing of Apple’s acquisition of Beats Electronics and the Beats Music streaming service, Apple has cut the price of all Beats by Dr. Dre products by 10% in both its physical retail stores and official online store. The 10% off discount will last through August 23rd, according to a source. Beats products, including over-ear headphones, in-ear headphones, and speakers are all covered by the deal, but those seeking those “Beats Pill Dude” speaker covers will still (fortunately) have to pay the full price of $49. This 10% price-cut makes the pricing of some of the Beats products more reasonable, which is a good way for Apple to further celebrate its largest acquisition yet. Last week, Apple debuted a dedicated Beats products section within its online store. In May, the price of Beats Music became slightly more affordable with a new $99/year subscription plan.

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16GB iPad Air Black or White: $400 shipped, tax only in NYC (or $10 international shipping)

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Blutek’s Ebay store, via Ebay Deals, is offering the Apple iPad Air 16GB Wi-Fi MD785LL/A Black Or MD788LL/A White 5th Gen Retina for $399.99 shipped. That’s $100 off and matches current lows we are seeing at Staples and Best Buy but Blutek, who get impressive 99.3%positive feedback, only charge tax in its native New York State possibly saving readers up to $40 more. Additionally, Blutek will ship this overseas for and additional $10.

Keep in mind that Altatac’s Ebay store is still selling the Retina iPad Mini for $319.99 shipped ($80 off) with Tax only in California (and $8 international shipping). Read more

New LED laden shower head packs a waterproof Bluetooth speaker

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If you have ever wanted to bring your favorite tunes to the shower with you, there is a new option coming to the marketplace. The Shower Speaker combines a built-in rechargeable Bluetooth speaker with a rainfall shower head design. This IndieGoGo project aims to combine these two previously separate items into a complete body cleansing, bass pumping experience.

The Shower Speaker features an LED backlit system which changes colors as the temperature of your shower rises, allowing you to visually see when the water is at your desired temperature. The speaker portion of the shower head is detachable, so it can also be used as a listening option away from the bathroom as well. Installation is similar to other shower heads already on the market, The Shower Speaker fits any standard 1/2-inch shower setup.

There are many other Bluetooth-enabled waterproof options, but this is the first we’ve seen that physically combines the shower head with a speaker.  For $90 shipped, you’ll be able to be one of the first to own The Shower Speaker, which currently has an estimated delivery of January 2015. If you are in need of a solid waterproof, we recommend the highly-rated ECOXGEAR ECOXBT Rugged and Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, which is available from Amazon for $87 shipped.

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The Apple Store now sells an $89 refurbished iPod touch and it may actually be worth your time/money

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It’s been nearly four years since Steve Jobs announced that the iPod touch had become the #1 portable game player in the world and described the soon to be released 4th generation as “remarkable.” At the time it was hard to refute that description, but a lot has changed since 2010.

Apple recently dropped the price of the refurbished 8GB model down to $89 from $129, which includes a 1-year warranty and comes in Black or White. It wasn’t supported by iOS7 and will obviously miss the iOS 8 train, but it still remains a capable device. It has a 3.5-inch Retina display,weighs less than a quarter pound and is still pretty sleek after all of these years.

Despite its shortcomings, there is certainly a place in the world for sub-$100 WiFi-equipped iOS device that fits in your pocket. It’s for a dedicated Apple TV remote, workout iPod, or a knock around gaming system. Set your grandparents or kids up with an Apple ID and you can FaceTime them anytime you want for less than $100. It even has a back camera so you can snap (low quality) photos and videos while on-the-go.

It’s certainly not perfect or even ideal, but I’ll bet most of our readers could find something to do with it.
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Philips introduces new $30 iOS/Android-controlled Wifi Hue bulb, now available for preorder

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There’s no denying that Philips Hue LED lighting products are nothing short of mesmerizing. They are also pretty darn pricey. But that’s all about to change because the Hue Lux series bulbs that were announced in March retail for half the price of traditional Personal Hue bulbs. What’s more, they have finally become available for preorder.

To achieve this much lower price point, Philips had to omit a major feature…. Read more

Introducing the OM/ONE: The world’s first floating Bluetooth speaker

The OM/One was developed by world class industrial designers and audio engineers to produce sound with no external distortion. By using the force of magnetic levitation, the speaker actually floats about an inch off its base, allowing you to spin it around in mid-air while listening to the audio.

In a world filled with speakers that look and sound the same, OM/ONE is a paradigm shift. Designed by a team of world class industrial designers and audio engineers, OM/ONE is as functional as it is beautiful.

It has 15 hours of runtime, 110db output from a 3 watt speaker, and a built-in speaker for conference calling. It features Bluetooth 4.0 that allows you to change tracks and control volume from up to 33 ft. away. It can also be taken with you and used as a portable speaker. Unfortunately, it charges by a conventional cord only and not when its in mid-air as we hoped.

If you don’t think you can wait for its release, Om Audio has launched a crowdfunding campaign on their website where you can preorder the Om/One for $179. When it hits shelves in 2015 it will have a $199 price tag and will have different color options as well.

Additional specs for the OM/One:
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HP Chromebook 14 in Red or Turquoise refurb w/200MB 4G for life: $200 shipped ($129 off)

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Today’s Amazon Gold Box Deal of the Day is the HP Chromebook 14 in Red or Turquoise refurb for $199.99 with free shipping. That’s $129.01 off the list price and the lowest we’ve ever seen this Chromebook which includes 200MB of free 4G wireless for life thru T-Mobile with the ability to get more data at T-Mobile’s rates. The 4-lb machine features 14-inch/1366 x 768 display, 4GB RAM/16GB Storage amd 1.4GHz Haswell processor.
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