Students are an interesting bunch. What they like may vary dramatically from a grade school student to post-secondary. Here, we have highlighted a selection of tech gifts that will suit students of all ages.
Audio-Technica Sound Burger
The vinyl revolution has been happening for several years as the new generation gets acquainted with the experience of sliding a vinyl record out of its sleeve and spinning it on a turntable. The Sound Burger portable turntable combines the nostalgic vinyl world with the modern benefit of portability. The unit might not look like it, but it works with a belt-drive system for playing 33 1/3 and 45 rpm records. The tonearm has a dynamic balance system in which stylus pressure is applied via a spring while a high-precision DC motor maintains stable rotation. For those who want a wired listening experience, it also comes with an audio cable. The entry-level turntable offers Bluetooth connectivity and USB charging to last for up to 12 hours per charge. Boasting a retro aesthetic with modern updates, the Sound Burgercomes in black, white, and yellow for $279. It ships with a 45rpm adapter, RCA audio cable (3.5 mm male to dual RCA male), and USB cable for charging (USB Type-A / USB Type-C). It features a replaceable stylus.
Samsung M80C Smart Monitor
Perfect for a post-secondary student living in a dorm or as a family computer a student can use at home, the Samsung M80C comes in a 32-inch size with UHD resolution and 400 nits of brightness. Available in Warm white, Daylight blue, Sunset pink, or Spring green to match every home office décor, it’s ultra-slim at just 11.39mm at its thinnest point. Use the height-adjustable stand with tilt support to adjust the angle while creating a clutter-free environment. The screen can pivot 90 degrees to reduce fatigue with scrolling through long files. It offers 4K resolution with HDR 10+ along with the increased brightness. Get access to the Samsung Gaming Hub as well as a Smart Hub to tap into services like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube during downtime. Enjoy colour coverage up to 99% sRGB colour gamut. There’s a magnetic, removable Slim Fit camera that supports FHD resolution and video conferencing features. Connect to Google Meet and other apps while leveraging Auto Framing capabilities for more effective meetings as well. Multi View has been upgraded and now allows you to use Microsoft 365 and the Browser app in full screen mode to reduce switching between apps. Mouse and keyboard control functionality have been added to many apps, including SmartThings and Smart Hub. Maintain full control while exploring favourite content without needing a remote. Additionally, control in-home connected devices right from the monitor thanks to the built-in IoT Hub that supports both Zigbee and Thread. There’s also voice assistant support, including Bixby and Amazon Alexa. Far-field voice is also supported with a built-in mic, allowing you to speak directly to the monitor.
Hisense U78K ULED TV
Whether it’s for a dorm or a student’s bedroom, the Hisense U78K ULED TV will be appreciated by a student of any age. If they love to play video games, the native 144Hz refresh rate combined with enhanced on-screen response time will come in handy. It also features Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos, Filmmaker Mode as well as gaming features like Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and Game Mode Pro to eliminate lagging and frame tearing. A 65-inch model is about $1,100..
Amazon Echo Pop Smart Speaker
The Amazon Echo Pop, which sells for $55 (though you can often find it on sale for about half price), boasts a unique semi-sphere shape with full audio and new colour options, Lavender Bloom and Midnight Teal that students will love in addition to the standard Charcoal and Glacier White. It comes equipped with a custom-designed front-facing directional speaker that is ideal for small spaces, says Amazon, like bedrooms, dorm rooms, and apartments. It functions like all other Amazon Echo speakers, answering queries, playing music, setting alarms, controlling compatible smart devices, and more. Powered by the Amazon AZ2 Neural Edge processor, the smart speaker comes with eero built-in for adding up to 1,000 square feet of coverage to an existing eero Wi-Fi network.
Google Pixel 7a Smartphone
Yes, Google has since come out with the Google Pixel 8 and 8 Pro. But the Google Pixel 7a remains one of the most affordable and feature-rich options in the line-up. It comes with a custom-built Google Tensor G2 chip (the same one found in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro), which powers the advanced machine learning, speech recognition, and Google’s AI as well as battery life and photos and video quality. Additionally, it has 8GB RAM, 128GB storage, and a 6.1-inch FHD gOLED display with, as noted, an up to 90Hz refresh rate for a smooth and responsive experience, a marked upgrade from the 60Hz display in the Google Pixel 6a. Combined with the handy photo editing features kids will love, like Magic Eraser and Photo Unblur, it has a water- and dust-resistant rating and comes with a scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass 3 screen. The all-day battery life lasts for more than 24 hours per charge and it supports wireless charging at a rate of 7.5W and 18W fast charging. The best part? It starts at just $599. Read more in my first impressions report
LG Gram 14-Inch 14Z90R Laptop
The LG Gram laptop line includes models in several sizes, but for a student who is always on the move, the lighter weight 14-inch model ($2,000) will make the most sense. It has a 13th Gen Intel Core processor, LPDDR5 6000 MHz RAM, and upgraded cooling system, and has received MIL-STD-810H military durability test certification. With enhanced smart security, it will lock itself and send an alert if it senses an abnormal situation, such as a loss of the device, which is ideal for kids who leave the laptop in classrooms or dorms. Alternatively consider one of the two-in-one models, the 16-inch 16T90R ($1,800) or 14-inch 14T90R, which makes it simple to switch from laptop to tablet thanks to the 360° hinge. These models come with the LG stylus pen, Gorilla Glass screen, and full-size keyboard.
Kensington MagPro Elite Magnetic Privacy Screens
Kensington offers these privacy screens for a multitude of computers, and this year, the newest versions are for the Studio Display (K50740WW), iMac 24” (K55170WW), and MacBook Air 2022 (K58374WW). I reviewed it for my MacBook Pro and found it perfect for those evenings when I’m working from a local coffee shop. Privacy screens like these help protect against visual hacking. For students, they can also prevent other students from peeking at your work or seeing your personal information while you work in the cafeteria. These screens are easy to install, detach, and reattach, limiting viewing angles by as much as +/- 30° while also reducing harmful blue light by up to 30%. The low reflective coating, with one side that has a matte finish, helps ease eye strain and diminish glare from outside light sources while the other glossy side helps provide a clear view of the monitor or screen. The screens also serve another purpose: protecting the screen from scratches, dust, and smudges. Even with the privacy screen attached, the MacBook can close completely to enter sleep mode.
Amazon Fire Omni QLED Series TV
Students might watch movies, TV shows, and videos from their smartphones and laptops, but a big-screen TV provides a better experience, especially when watching with friends. Get them an Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series TV for the bedroom or dorm for starting at $270. Ambient Experience offers the option to display things like pertinent information or a slideshow of images when the TV is off, and higher end models that include this feature start at $600. Each higher end model features 4K Quantum Dot Technology with full-array local dimming of up to 96 zones and support for Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive. The TVs also features built-in far-field technology, enabling you to find apps, discover shows, manage playback, and control the Ambient Experience hands-free with Alexa from anywhere in the room. As a more affordable option, the Fire TV 2-Series models come with Alexa built in as well and provide access to streaming services like Prime Video, Netflix, and Apple TV+. The 32-inch model boasts HD resolution and the 40-inch FHD. Both support HDR 10, HLG, and Dolby Digital Audio and come with the Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote.
Amazon Luna Controller
Consider grabbing them an Amazon Luna controller they can use alongside the Amazon Luna cloud gaming experience, accessible right from a compatible Fire TV like the new ones mentioned above. An Amazon Luna subscription is included with an Amazon Prime membership, which post-secondary students can get for discounted rates. Luna is powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) for streaming games without lengthy downloads or updates, expensive hardware, or complicated setup. The Luna Controller, meanwhile, is designed and optimized for cloud gaming, connecting directly to the cloud via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to control your game and minimize gameplay latency. Cloud Direct technology makes it simple to seamlessly switch between screens like Fire TV and mobile phone without additional pairing or configuration changes. Games range from casual to retro classics and AAA titles. Prime members get access to a rotating selection of games each month. There are also subscription options to access more game titles through Luna+, which starts at $13/mo. But you can start them off with the Luna controller and the games included with Amazon Prime. The Luna controller is $90.
NewQ 16-in-1 USB-C Docking Station
Students can connect all their important devices easily using a docking station like this one from NewQ. It provides 150W power delivery, 16 commonly used ports, super-fast file transfer, and support for triple 4K monitors in Windows, MacOS and Steam OS. Using DisplayLink technology, the docking station can extend up to three 4K@60Hz monitors quickly and easily. An advantage of DisplayLink is that it can expand two monitors at 4K 60Hz resolutions, ideal for post-secondary students studying in fields where multiple monitors are helpful or even necessary. The connections include a pair of HDMI, one DP, one USB-C 3.0, two USB-A 3.0, two USB-A 2.0, one Gigabit Ethernet, one SD card slot, one TF slot, two 3.5mm audio, one USB-C PD Out, and one USB-A PD out. By using its USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 port, you can transfer large files in seconds. The station supports up to 10Gbps data transfer speed. With safety features built-in, the docking station has excellent cooling performance to ensure it remains stable and reliable, along with an aluminium alloy shell, ample space within its case, and a high-efficiency chip. The docking station can also provide up to 96W to a laptop and can charge a smartphone with its 18W PD-out. Audio is also taken care of with dual 3.5mm ports, providing 48k stereo sound. Grab it for US$200.
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G Smartphone
A great first phone for a tween or teen, the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G won’t break the bank at $589 but still provides access to all the cool features they love, social media apps, gaming, and great cameras. It has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display that has been upgraded for better outdoor visibility, even under bright sunlight. With the enhanced Vision Booster and a 120Hz refresh rate, the display can keep up as you move between different lighting conditions. The phone focuses on photography like other Galaxy devices with features like Nightography and AI capabilities. Enjoy the 32MP front camera, 50MP main camera, 5MP Macro camera, and 12MP ultra-wide camera. There are also features like improved optical image stabilization (OIS) to help eliminate the results of camera shake as well as video digital image stabilization (VDIS) for moving videos. This phone is also the first in the Galaxy A series with a feature for removing unwanted shadows and reflections. With Samsung Knox, data is kept under lock and key with defence-grade mobile security. It even comes with a six-month trial for Microsoft 365 Basic and 100GB cloud storage so students can use it for schoolwork, too.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 Instant Camera
Students love taking photos with their smartphones, but the Fujifilm Instax Mini 12 instant camera adds another option to the mix that’s even more fun. It has features like Close-Up Mode and Auto Exposure adjustment capabilities. The neat Parallax Correction feature aligns the camera’s viewfinder with the lens when using Close-Up Mode, minimizing object shifts, to produce a centred photo. Use it with the Instax Up! smartphone app for digitally scanning, importing from other Instax apps, organizing, and storing photos. The free app works with any type of Instax film, camera, or printer. The camera comes in Blossom Pink, Mint Green, Clay White, Lilac Purple, and Pastel Blue for an MSRP of $100.
Amazon Kindle Scribe eReader
Great for older students, the Kindle Scribe eReader can be used as a typical e-reader but also comes with a stylus and has a section for note-taking as well. Additionally, do things like add virtual sticky note and annotations to text. Even upload personal documents and work on them without the distractions of other apps and messages on a smartphone or tablet. They can create to-do lists, use it as a digital journal, and more. Upgrade to the Premium Pen with an eraser on the bottom for a true pencil on paper like experience. Check out my review for more details and pick up the Scribe with the Premium Pen for $510.
Google Pixel Watch 2 Smartwatch
If they already have a Google Pixel smartphone, or you know they’re getting one this year, consider the Google Pixel Watch 2 as a great companion device. The second-generation watch has an all-day battery (even when the always-on display is active), new safety features that parents will appreciate their kids having like emergency SOS and safety check, and additional sensors for more useful health insights. It’s lighter and more comfortable to wear than the previous generation watch as well. It accurately tracks heart rate, vigorous activities for kids who exercise or play sports, sleep, and more. It works with Google Assistant and has things like pace training, great for students who run. Like the first-gen model, it also works with the Fitbit app and features all the typical Fitbit features you know and love. Students will appreciate the integration of apps like Audible and WhatsApp as well. It starts at $480.
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE Fan Edition Smartphone
Samsung’s line of smartphones designed with fan input in mind, the latest Samsung Galaxy S23 FE fan edition phone has a pro-grade camera and smooth gaming performance thanks to the 8GB RAM out of the gate and 120Hz refresh rate, which students will love. It has the signature floating camera and premium aluminum finish, and it’s IP68 dust- and water-resistant. The phone, which comes in Mint, Cream, Graphite, and Purple, as well as Samsung Store exclusive Indigo and Tangerine, has a 50MP high-resolution lens and 3X optical zoom. After dark, Nightography on Galaxy S23 FE lets you take clear selfies and portraits in lifelike colours. There’s also advanced video digital image stabilization (VDIS) for taking steady shots on-the-go using the rear camera with the optical image stabilizer (OIS). In Pro Mode, there are controls for shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and more that can be manually adjusted to your preferences. Capture customized shots with the Camera Assistant app and choose from automated features for a customized shooting experience. The long-lasting 4,500mAh battery adjusts to conserve energy, charging up to 50% in just 30 minutes with a 25W Adapter. The phone is equipped with a 6.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display. Based on your surroundings, Vision Booster technology on Galaxy S23 FE automatically detects bright lighting conditions to help maintain a vivid screen. Pricing starts at $870 for the 128GB version.
HP Chromebook Plus
As one of the first Google Chromebook Plus models to launch, the HP Chromebook Plus has a 15.6-inch screen with a 12th-gen Intel Core i5 processor, memory up to LPDDR5, ample storage, and up to 13 hours of battery life. It comes with built-in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, as with any Chromebook, all of which are available both online and offline. The computer offers AI-powered video conferencing tools, including noise cancellation, lighting improvement, blur backgrounds, and live caption tools. Advanced photo and video editing tools offer a premium creator experience, including Google Photos AI-powered Magic Eraser that easily removes distractions in a photo background or enhances brightness and contrast with a HDR effect. There’s also Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Express. Get Photoshop web and Adobe Express Premium for three months at no cost. Equipped with Wi-Fi 6e technology, the HP Chromebook offers an up to 144Hz refresh rate, FHD IPS panel, and smart security features. There’s an easy-to-access microphone mute button and webcam switch to turn off the camera when not in use. It starts at US$500.
JBL PartyBox Encore Speaker
Have an epic karaoke party with friends using the JBL PartyBox Encore speaker, which not only plays tunes, it also displays a light show for a more immersive experience, and comes bundled with two mics. Offering up to 10 hours of play time per charge, more than enough time for the weekend sleepover late-night singing sesh, it’s also IPX4 splashproof rated so they can enjoy it poolside as well. It comes with two die-cast zinc digital wireless mics powered by AA batteries with adjustable bass, echo, and treble controls so you get the complete sing-a-long package. The system is $500.
Epson EcoTank ET-2850 All-in-One Supertank Printer
At $400, you’ll spend more for this printer than you would most others. But trust me, it’s worth it. Why? Since this printer uses refillable ink reservoirs you only need to replenish every two years or so, you’re saving a ton over time on ink cartridges. The refillable ink is available in bottle sets for about the same price as a standard ink cartridge for a cartridge-based printer. Bottom line: a student can get through an entire four years of high school or post-secondary education with only having to refill the ink once. They can print reports or rough drafts to mark up with red pen, scan study notes to share with friends, and use it for personal projects, too.