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The back-to-school season started about a month ago, but many of you might have decided to skip the mad back-to-school rush. If so, take a deep breath and check out this last minute eclectic tech collection for back-to-school at home or afar.
Samsung Galaxy Book Go
This affordable Windows 10 laptop from Samsung with a long 18-hour battery life and decent performance might seem like a steal. It is. The Galaxy Book Go ($420) is everything that similarly affordable but clunky and heavy laptops with older Intel or AMD processors are not. It’s light and peppy in an ultra slim shell with 180-degree hinges running on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 Kryo 468 Octa-core CPU, up to 2.55 GHz and Qualcomm Adreno graphics. For the uninitiated, Snapdragon processors are found in most Android phones, and excel in low power usage. Anyone can buy it. But If you are a Samsung user, you would even have more reasons to look into the Galaxy Book Go as it can easily communicate with Samsung phones and tablets. For example, the integrated second screen feature allows the Book Go to work alongside a Galaxy Tab S7 of S7+ and S Pen (see photo). If you open the case of a pair of Galaxy buds near it, they are synced! This little 1.84kg gem comes with a French and English keyboard, Windows 10 Home, 64GB storage, 4GB RAM, 14.0″ FHD LED Display (1,920 x 1,080), anti-glare screen, stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos Internal Digital Mic, 720p HD camera, Bluetooth 5.1, 2 USB Type-C, 1 USB2.0 MicroSD Multi-media Card Reader and 1 Headphone out/Mic-in Combo. It comes with Screen Recorder, Samsung Gallery, Samsung Flow, Samsung Notes, Samsung Settings, Galaxy Book Smart Switch and Quick Share.
Philips Re-invents Sonicare
Philips has completely redesigned the Sonicare series with the 9900 Prestige ($500). It’s smaller with fewer moving parts, includes a compact chargeable travel case, and comes with plenty of cleaning smarts. Built for home and travel, the 9900 Prestige is shorter and sleeker with a touch power button and fits into a compact travel case with a USB port for charging on the go. The AI-fortified app uses SenseIQ technology that adapts to and cares about your oral health like a human. It adapts to your cleaning style instead of following the “proper” cleaning techniques of the past. Sensing pressure (its base lights up if you are brushing too hard) motion, coverage and more up to 100 times a second it automatically and in real time adjusts intensity when it senses you are pushing too hard. It tracks your time brushing not just for cleaning but factors in cleaning and gum techniques over time. I found with previous models that once you start properly using the onscreen app and put the phone aside for a while, you slowly veer away and develop your own (usually wrong) cleaning habits. SenseIQ basically keeps track and adjusts the brush setting to achieve proper oral care. And finally, with this brush model, Philips released its newest brush head that cleans, removes stains and massages gums without having to switch between dedicated brushes.
The many charging options from Ampere Technology
Ampere Technology is an innovative company with plenty of great charging products. Some of the items below can work together as indicated, for even more charging options on the go.
- The Side Pocket Wireless (US$218) from Ampere Technologies is a small fanny pack that charges your devices hands and cords-free. It uses a hidden Qi enabled 13,400 mAh Full Circle, Wireless Input and Output Power Bank. When a wireless charge-capable phone is dropped to the dedicated pocket of the Side Pocket it starts charging wirelessly. It also keeps your valuables secure with an internal RFID blocking sleeve, is waterproof, and can be worn in multiple ways with an included heavy duty quick release strap/belt.
- You can buy the 13,400 mAh Full Circle, Wireless Input and Output Power Bank (US$129) and take advantage of more features. It has an USB-A port and a two-way USB-C port to charge itself via cable or charge other devices. This power bank has a unique feature in being able to charge itself wirelessly by placing it on another wireless charger, or via a wall outlet, thus the name “Full Circle.” It has four built-in corner straps to securely keep your phone attached or you can simply lay it on your phone for charging.
- HyperCube Wireless Charging Station and Sleep Aid (US$218) folds in different ways with five usable panels but works best as a cube. It features three direct Qi wireless charging surfaces, a user-selected colour night table light and a combination control panel with clock, sound and alarm settings. It also has a USB-C cable output for a fourth device. This means it can charge four devices simultaneously at 10W each. It comes with a powerful 65W quick charger with plenty power to spare, for charging four devices simultaneously at peak power. The optional Power Cube below, fits in the hollow base of the Hypercube to make it work away from outlets.
- The Power Cube, a 20,800 mAh high capacity power bank (US$90) is a beast designed to keep you powered for hours on end. A fully-charged Power Cube can charge an iPhone X six times over or it can fully charge a MacBook Pro from 0 to 100%. Its fast-charging and has both USB-C and USB-A ports. With 45W pogo pin connections on top to power the HyperCube with no cables or wires.
- The UV Self-Cleaning Water Bottle (US$65) effectively uses proven technology to neutralize microbiological contaminants killing up to 99.9% of germs and bacteria. It features a chargeable cap with built-in UV light good for 30 three-minute sanitation cycles and safely turns off if you mistakenly remove the cap during a cleaning cycle. It will keep hot drinks for up to 12 hours and cold drinks for up to 24 hours. A recent trip to Palm Desert kept my cold water chilled for more than 10 hours in a locked car on a 44C day.
- Featured in previous guides, the Ampere Cell (US$77), is a Qi wireless phone charger with two super-fast 15W charging coils and a built-in UV sanitizer to safely clean your phone or other small items like pens or keys under its expandable (and collapsible) silicone shell. During a sanitizing cycles the Cell automatically turns the UV light off if tipped over. It also works as a phone stand. It removes 99.9% of bacteria and 99.9% of viruses.
The Fitbit Luxe ($170) is a curious mix of advanced technologies found in the top Sense Fitbit built into an attractive design the size of a tracker. Once you get over the mesmerizing and precise design you will be surprised how much the Luxe can do. Ready? Daily Readiness Score, Active Zone Minutes, 24/7 heart rate, oxygen saturation (SpO2) monitoring, real-time pace and distance, all-day activity, 20 exercise modes + SmartTrack, swimproof design with swim tracking, menstrual health tracking, stress management tools, mindful minutes, guided breathing, sleep stages, Sleep Score, skin temperature variation, breathing rate, heart rate variability, Google Fast Pair, call, text, and other smartphone notifications, Do Not Disturb mode, Sleep Mode, silent alarms, timer and stopwatch, and a 5-day battery. Need I say more? It has a huge selection of stylish straps to choose from so you will never get bored with its ageless design. It comes in three colour combinations. Check out our in-depth review of the Fitbit Luxe.
TP-Link Deco X90
Every home can use better Wi-Fi but if you have areas or rooms where the connection often drops, check out the TP-Link Deco AX6600 (X90) tri-band mesh Wi-Fi 6 system package which includes two nodes and boasts the ability to reach a combined speed of up to 4,804 Mbps at 5GHz. It took a few hours for me to realize how improved the Wi-Fi in my two-storey home got. That’s because TP-Link’s AI-Driven Mesh technology learns the layout of your home, keeping connections steady as you move about between the two nodes. I found my connection speeds to be relatively even throughout my home, even in my basement. The X90 has a 360° spread instead of just horizontal to reach every nook and cranny in your home. It is WiFi 6 (802.11ax) capable which shines if you have WiFi 6 capable devices. It’s backwards compatible with previous Wi-Fi versions too. The step-by-step setup was easy and you can add extra nodes as needed. Most homes work with two. Three speed bands are supported: 4804Mbps at 5GHz, 1201Mbps at 5GHz, and 574Mbps at 2.4GHz allowing up to 200 devices to connect at once with no notable performance loss. Parental controls and guest access options let you customize your network as needed. TP-Link HomeShield and WPA3 security connections offer better security.
Ekster Aluminum Wallet
A neat, safe and minimalist way to keep the cards you need the most is offered from Ekster in its aluminum smart wallet built for quick access (US$59). This cardholder fans out your cards at the click of a button and the expandable metal backplate allows you to carry more while keeping a slim profile. Made from Space-grade 6061-T6 aluminum, it also blocks RFID (wireless theft) and can hold up to six cards in the cardholder and up to 15 cards and bills in the expandable backplate. It comes in eight colours.
Want more suggestions? Check out our comprehensive Back-to-School Gift Guide for more ideas.