Satechi stand

WiFi HiFi’s Back-to-School Gift Guide 2022

No one wants to think about back-to-school when the sun, fun, beaches, margaritas, and vacation is still on the mind. Nonetheless, August is when reality begins to set in that summer is almost over and that it’s time to stock up on gear for the new school year. Whether it’s school-aged kids or those entering post-secondary institutions, tech plays a huge role nowadays.

Not sure where to start or what items could come in handy? We have put together this gift guide with items that the student might not have thought of to buy for themselves but they’ll appreciate having one they begin using it.

Satechi Aluminum Desktop Stand for iPad

Satechi desktop stand

For students who might use an iPad for productivity, particularly when studying in creative fields, this stand can be handy. But it’s also a great way to prop the tablet up for video calls and virtual classes. At US$50, it’s adjustable with a hinge so you can position it perfectly. Finished in space gray, it may also beautifully match the iPad, depending which finish they have.

Epson EcoTank ET-2850 Wireless Colour All-in-One Cartridge-Free Supertank Printer

Epson Ecotank ET-4850 printer

I have mentioned year after year that I have been using an Epson EcoTank printer and that hasn’t changed. While my printing needs are less frequent nowadays, I still require it multiple times per month, sometimes to print 30+ pages at a time. It never fails to amaze how well it performs but, most important, how I can buy bottles of ink that last for up to two years. This is something any family with kids who are printing school projects or college/university students with heavy printing needs will appreciate. This model sells for $400, which seems high for a printer, but consider that aside from paper, the only thing a college/university student would need to buy through an entire four-year tenure is a new set of ink bottles, which are comparable in price to the replaceable ink cartridges for standard printers. There’s no rushing to the local shop or campus store for ink because they ran out the night before the report was due. Yes, a lot has gone virtual these days, but having a printed back-up can make the difference between an A and an all-nighter because you had to re-write the report that failed to save when your computer did a hard reboot.

Scosche BoomCan Magnetic Wireless Speaker

Scosche Boomcans

Any student could use a nice set of portable Bluetooth speakers, and it doesn’t get smaller and more adorable than the Scosche BoomCan Mini Bluetooth Magnetic Speakers. Perfect for using as a desktop speakerphone, in a dorm for background tunes, or even while studying outside at the local park, they are designed to attach directly to Apple MagSafe iPhone models 12 and later. They connect via Bluetooth 5.3 and can pair together for stereo sound. A neat added feature is that you can use one as a kickstand for the iPhone. Get up to five hours of playtime per charge, and since it is IP67 rated for water and dust resistance, you can comfortably use it outdoors as well as inside. They sell for US$50 ea.

House of Marley Charging Cables

House of Marley REWIND charging cables

Charging cables are a necessity, and you can never have too many. For the eco-conscious student, consider getting them a few extras from House of Marley, which recently launched a line of sustainable cables. Available in 1.5- or 3-meter lengths, there are 3.5mm audio cables, USB-C to Lightning, USB-C to USB-A, and USB-C to USB-C, all made using sustainable materials like FSC walnut sources from responsibly managed forests and post-consumer recycled GRS-certified material. The convenient cable management strap is made from upcycled REGRING silicone and recycled aluminum. With a braded design using REWIND fabric, they are durable and offer extended strain relief so students can take them anywhere without worry of wear and tear. Pricing ranges from US$35 to US$50 per cable.

Google Pixel 6a Smartphone

Google Pixel 6a

As an entry-level phone, the new Google Pixel 6a smartphone is an affordable one for a student being gifted with their first device. Selling for $599, it has a 6.1-inch screen, 12MP camera, and Google’s Tensor AI chip. It’s the perfect device for a newly minted teen or someone who doesn’t need all the bells and whistles of a premium smartphone but still wants to be able to do the basics, including accessing apps, social media, and e-mail, snapping photos, and staying connected to loved ones.

Google Pixel Buds Pro True Wireless Earbuds

Google Pixel Buds Pro

A perfect pairing with the Google Pixel 6a smartphone, or to use with any phone or other mobile device, are the new Google Pixel Buds Pro true wireless earbuds. Google’s answer to the Apple AirPods Pro, they sell for $259 which is still on the higher end of the pricing scale. But they sound divine with lovely sonic separation, clear audio, and excellent wind noise reduction. The active noise cancellation (ANC) works beautifully, thanks to the Silent Seal feature that adapts to each wearers’ ears to ensure the best possible noise blocking experience while also monitoring pressure in the ear canal so they remain comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Indeed, I wore them for multiple one-hour walks outdoors and XXXXX. With rumours of the addition of spatial audio and Android Find my Device coming soon, they’re a pair that any student will appreciate.

V-MODA Crossfade 3 Wireless Headphones

V-MODA wireless headphones

For the student who loves to listen to tunes during their break periods or while in a dorm or commuting home, these new wireless headphones are a great option. Offering up to 30 hours per charge, and with the option to go wired when the battery is running low, they offer heavy bass and immersive sound. They offer premium sound via Qualcomm aptX HD and AAC codecs, 5-40,000Hz frequency response, and Hi-Res Audio certification. Light and durable with a flexible headband and large memory foam cushions, they clip down neatly using the patented CliqFold hinge and can be stored in the included carrying case. Grab a pair for US$300.

Uber One Subscription

A passenger in an Uber vehicle.

An Uber One subscription is a great option for students, particularly those living in shared housing or a dorm. For $100/yr. (or you can choose to pay monthly at $9.99/mo.), they will get discounts on both rides (so they can safely get home after they have been out drinking) as well as food and grocery delivery. With eligible deliveries, they will also receive $5 in Uber Cash if it doesn’t arrive by the Latest Arrival estimate. There are no delivery fees, they’ll get 5% off eligible orders, and 5% off rides. You’ll need to have their account information to sign them up or set them up with an Uber gift card they can use towards Uber One.

Samsung Galaxy Book2 360

Samsung Galaxy Book2

Help them stay productive with the Samsung Galaxy Book 2 360, a 2-in-1 laptop/tablet they can easily use at home and on the go. With a generous battery life and a universal fast charger that will provide a charge up to 40% in just half an hour, they can keep going all day. It boasts the 13th Gen Intel Evo-certified processor, Windows 11, and Samsung Knox for security. It’s easy to unlock with a fingerprint, perfect for when they pop into a lecture with seconds to spare for note-taking. Equipped with a 13.3-inch touchscreen, go all out with the optional S Pen as well. It starts at $1,350.

Sharp Stainless Steel Smart Carousel Countertop Microwave Oven

Sharp smart microwave

Chances are the last thing you think about for a student is a small appliance, but if they’ll be living in a dorm or responsible for making their own meals at home, they’ll appreciate something of their own they actually know how to use. This microwave is not only simple to use, it’s also smart and high-tech, which any Gen-Zer will appreciate. It works with Amazon Alexa for over 70 voice commands. For popcorn lovers, it even comes with an Orville Redenbacher-certified preset for the buttery treat – perfect for when you’re burning the midnight oil to study for an exam, pulling an all-nighter to get an assignment done, or relaxing for movie night with friends. It cooks for up to six minutes, has an add 30 seconds quick-touch button, and includes a sensor cook menu for cooking common items and even reheating last night’s pizza. Grab it for US$200.

Surface Laptop Go 2

Surface Laptop Go 2

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go 2 is an affordable option for students. Starting at $740, it boasts a 12.4-inch touchscreen with swipe and pinch functions, large-sized keyboard, an 11th Gen Intel Core processor, and an all-day battery at up to an impressive 13.5 hours. As the lightest Surface laptop in the line-up, it also comes in really cool colour options like Sage, Ice Blue, Sandstone, and Platinum. Choose from 4 or 8GB of RAM and enjoy Microsoft 356 pre-loaded apps along with a one-month trial to Microsoft 365 Family as well as a one-month trial to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Blendjet 2 Personal Blender

BlendJet 2 personal blender

I reviewed the Blendjet 2 earlier this year and it’s a wonderful option for busy students who need grab-and-g- breakfast, a healthy late-night snack, or mid-day fuel when there’s limited time between classes. Instead of grabbing for a sugary granola bar or vending machine chocolate bar, they can bring this portable, battery-operated blender in their bag. Mix up virtually any ingredients with a liquid, like water, milk or milk alternative, or juice, and blend for mere seconds to have an on-the-go, delicious meal replacement you can drink right out of the machine. You get up to 15 blends per charge and it’s all stored in the cup with the leak-proof lid. Back at home or in the dorm, they can use it for smoothies, homemade dips, or even, for students of age, alcoholic beverages. It’s simple to clean and easy to fit in a backpack. I’d recommend getting the optional case for it and, if you want to go all out, a set of the Jetpack powders, which range from smoothie mixes to lattes, they can use when hunger strikes. Keep a small container of oat milk in their backpack, for example, and they can mix it up with this in a jiffy. The machine itself can be had on sale for about US$65 and the Jetpacks are about US$30 for a five or six-pack, but if you sign up for recurring deliveries, you can save over the long run.

Kensington SmartFit Easy Riser Go Adjustable Ergonomic Laptop Riser and Cooling Stand

Kensington laptop riser

Students tend to work whenever and wherever they can, which often means at the coffee shop, small desk, or other spot that isn’t the most comfortable. Using a laptop riser like this one can ensure they always have a proper view of the screen while the laptop remains cool instead of literally sitting on their lap. It both raises the screen’s height and helps increase air circulation so it doesn’t overheat. Designed to accommodate laptops and tablets up to 14 inches in size, it has anti-slip footpads, padded inserts, and a slim and foldable design so it will easily fit in a backpack. $30