MacBook To Fitbit: 11 Back-To-School Must-Have Gadgets - InformationWeek

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9/8/2015
07:05 AM
Nathan Eddy
Nathan Eddy
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MacBook To Fitbit: 11 Back-To-School Must-Have Gadgets

Back-to-school season is the ultimate excuse to stock up on all the electronics you've been pining for since - well -- since the last school year ended. From MacBooks to Fitbits, here are some of our recommendations.
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(Image: nito100/iStockphoto)

(Image: nito100/iStockphoto)

Ah yes, it's September. The summer, along with freedom, is gone, and now it's time to return to books, lectures, homework assignments, teachers, and professors. Oh man, is it really September? Is summer over? More important, do you have everything you -- or your kids -- need to start the school year off right?

If not, have no fear: We're here to help.

Are you searching for the perfect portable computer or a storage device that can hold all of your papers, presentations, and the latest season of True Detective? (Yeah we thought it was lame too -- and yet, we still watched.) Are you looking for a sweet set of headphones that will help you study in (relative) peace and quiet in the stacks or in the dorm? We're sure you'll find something on this list that will make your college life just a little bit easier.

[Check out InformationWeek's review of Google's OnHub Router.]

In addition to outlining all the electronic essentials you'll need to have a productive semester or start of the school year, we've also included an assortment of gadgets that will help you to unwind and relax in between classes, tests, and mountains of homework. We've included devices like the Fitbit, which can help you ensure you're getting enough sleep (you're not) and getting enough exercise (running to class 15 minutes late doesn't count).

Also on the list is one of Topo's stylish and durable backpacks, which has room enough for all of your notebooks, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, portable speakers, and all the rest -- all wrapped up in a secure package that's handmade in the USA.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/12/2015 | 3:54:44 PM
re: Fitbit
I'd actually recommend they just subscribe to Shawn Stevenson's Model Health podcast. The problem with most of these 'fitness' devices (including the new Apple Watch) is that the metrics they are tracking aren't of much use.

Yes, you should get exercise. Yes, you should get a bit of movement every hour or so. But, I think *most* students will naturally get that.

The big problem for most students is going to be DIET and SLEEP (as mentioned). And, I don't think a Fitbit is going to help that much with either. They need to understand how sleep works (so they value it... and understand how counter-productive not getting it is)... and how crucial diet is in the overall picture.

Shawn's podcast is the kind of info I sure which I'd have had at that age!
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/12/2015 | 3:48:13 PM
Re: Macbook?
Also, be very careful when thinking through that 'strapped on cash thing.' While that can simply be the reality.... be careful of short-term-gain vs long-term-investment. That's actually a good overall life-lesson to always keep in mind anyway!

For example, my parents (incredibly computer illiterate) just purchased their 2nd Mac in almost 8 years. And this was largely due to the fact that a laptop would better suit them than the initial iMac (and my sister is now using their iMac).

My inlaws (also computer illiterate), are now on their 5th bargain PC over about that same time-frame and have actually spent nearly double the money overall... AND I've had to spend a good bit more 'support' time helping them with all sorts of non-fun issues. (And, becaues I live far away, they've had to spend money I'm not even inlcuding taking it in for repairs when I couldn't help via remote-access or phone.)
stevew928
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stevew928,
User Rank: Ninja
9/12/2015 | 3:40:13 PM
Re: Macbook?
I don't agree that it's a matter of style over substance. The new Macbook is very much a best-in-class for what it is. (A good friend and Mac user of over 30 years says it's the best Apple product he's ever owned.)

The question is more if it's the *right* fit for what a particular student wants/needs.

If you can give up a slight bit of portability/size, you'll actually save a bit of money by going with a Macbook Air. True, the Macbook has zero moving parts... but my Macbook Airs have been incredibly reliable even with a fan. (And, my wife has put her's through the ringer with Flash content... the fan runs a lot! and it's going on its' 5th year I think.)

And, if as Whoopty says, you need more ports and such (think about the why of that though!), a Macbook Pro would be a better choice. Plus, if that recreational time includes gaming, the student will probably be a bit bummed with the Macbook, as it's a minimialist design, not a powerhouse design (CPU or GPU). (It will maybe play games on low settings... my friend says it does OK with Minecraft, for example... but it's probably not going to handle something like Star Wars Battlefront very well if at all.)

Also, a Macbook Pro has plenty of power (heck, it's beating many desktops in performance) if a lot of RAM is needed, or the student wants to run a Windows partition, or other such more heavy-duty things. It's just bigger and heavier... and yea, quite a bit more expensive.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
9/8/2015 | 7:22:40 AM
Macbook?
As much as I know people love to have cool Apple gadgets, the MacBook seems like a poor recommendation. Even if it might be forward thinking with its single USB port, that doesn't provide anywhere near the functioanlity of more port-heavy notebooks and the price is far and beyond what it should be for comparable hardware for other manufacturers. 

Students are already cash strapped so recommending a product that is more style over substance seems like a poor choice. 
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