It’s that time of the year again when you’re bombarded with tons of back to school commercials, followed by the fall window displays and that signature end-of-summer breeze. For many college students, it means buckling down and hitting the books again (yes, less Facebook and Twitter time), but why do so without gadgets that will make college life easier? As part of our Back to School coverage, BlackEnterprise.com has selected six tech apparatuses you should invest in this semester. —Janel Martinez
Have you ever written down all of your notes from class, only to find out you missed a word (or 15)? Well, this sleek, ballpoint pen and recorder combo was designed to avoid those annoying instances. The smartpen saves digital copies of your notes and recordings, which can be saved to your computer and easily shared.
Western Digital My Passport Essential ($99.99, wdc.com)
Recognized as the world’s best-selling portable drive, you’ll get more than a bang for your buck. The inexpensive console keeps your data safe with its password and encryption settings. What makes it a steal is the external drive’s dual USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 capability, which allows users to step up to the later function when ready. When connected to a USB 3.0 port, the drive lets you access and save files up to three times faster than USB 2.0—meaning a 2-hour HD movie transfers in slightly less than five minutes.
Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook (16GB, $499; 32GB, $599 or 64GB, $699; blackberry.com)
This tablet’s Adobe Flash and Microsoft Office capabilities allow students to stay on top of their work in and out of the classroom. The PlayBook helps ease the on-the-go campus culture. In fact, BlackBerry smartphone users have the ability to connect the tablet with their phone to access their BBM, calendar, email, to-do list and address book. It’s the new school organizer. Carrier:AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint
Apple iPad2 (Wi-Fi Only, starting from $499; Wi-Fi + 3G; from $629 to $829, plus monthly data plans; apple.com)
With nearly 10 hours of battery life, you won’t have to worry about juicing up in between classes and extracurricular activities. The popular tablet offers users a simple interface coupled with a thinner build, faster processor, front and rear cameras, and the highly popular FaceTime video chat function. The iPad 2 is available in black or white. Carrier: AT&T or Verizon Wireless
Laptops are known to overheat and if you’ve propped it on your lap, you’re going to feel the burn. The ThermaPAK’s patented HeatShift Technology helps cool your device quickly, leaving the laptop temperature more than 10 degrees cooler. Unlike other cooling devices, this laptop cooler is a no mess or fuss way to keep things cool (pun intended). Plus, it’s easy to tote and stow away.