Yoga

To help out students heading to college this fall, as well as their anxious parents, we've put together a list of some of our very favorite tech products of 2017. Whether it's a laptop light enough to take anywhere but powerful enough for any task, or devices to help family members stay connected when they're thousands of miles apart, we think there's something on the list for everyone, even if you're well past college age!

You can catch The Tech Buyer's Guru demonstrating a number of these products on NBC/KGW-8's "Portland Today" Show, recorded live on August 9, 2017. To jump to the video, just click the following screenshot:

Most of the products we list are available at great prices from Amazon. To help support this site, please use these links if you decide to buy any of the products we recommend below. Thanks!

Back-to-School 2017

    Cable:

    SilverStone Reversible USB-A to Reversible Micro USB

    This product lands squarely in the "why didn't I think of that?!?" category. How many times have you struggled to insert a USB cable only to find you had it upside down? And how many times have you actually broken a USB cable or port because of this? Well, SilverStone comes to the rescue with its reversible USB cable, which is indeed reversible on both ends - the full-size USB-A as well as the micro-USB end used for Android smartphones and countless other devices.

    The Guru's Tip:

    SilverStone also makes a reversible Lighting cable for iPhones and iPads, although keep in mind that the Lighting connector is always reversible, so only the full-size USB side is different on this cable.

    The Perfect Travel Mouse:

    Cherry MW 3000 Compact Wireless Mouse

    The perfect accessory for any lightweight laptop, this compact wireless mouse runs for two years on a set of AAA batteries, and offers plenty of features you typically only find on more expensive mice. These include adjustable DPI via selector switch (1000dpi/1750dpi), a responsive scroll wheel, forward/back thumb buttons, and a "nano" receiver that tucks inside the mouse when not in use.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Cherry, based in Germany, is well-known in the industry for its commercial-grade office peripherals, but has recently brought a new high-quality line of accessories to the consumer space.

    Mobile Accessory:

    SilverStone 5200 mAh Battery Backup/Qi Wireless Charger

    A device just about any cell phone owner should have, this portable battery can charge your phone using the Qi wireless charging standard. Just pop any recent high-end Android phone on top of the battery and it starts charging - no wires required! That being said, you can of course plug in a USB cable, and this charger includes a short USB-to-micro-USB cable. Note that you'll need to use the same cable to charge up the battery pack via a desktop, laptop, wall adapter or other device.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The only modern phone that doesn't support the Qi industry-wide standard is the iPhone. Rumors suggest that wireless charging may show up on the iPhone 8, but knowing Apple, it will likely be proprietary.

    The Premium Gaming Headset:

    SteelSeries Arctis 5

    For a stylish set of wired headphones that produce great sound no matter what you connect them to, look no further than the Arctis 5 from SteelSeries. The winner of multiple industry awards, these set the standard for what you can expect from a $100 headset.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This model includes a microphone for gaming, chat, or phone calls. It tucks away neatly when not in use.

    The Ultimate Voice Assistant:

    Amazon Echo Show

    A wonderful device for parents to send their kids off to college with, the Echo Show does all the neat stuff all Echoes are known for, but adds a 7" touchscreen and a built-in camera to allow for voice-activated video calls to your friends and loved ones. Calling by Show works with other Shows, but more importantly, and cell phone loaded up with Amazon's Alexa app, regardless of brand. Amazon gives you a big incentive to pick up two of these devices, however, with a $100 discount when purchased in a 2-pack!

    The Guru's Tip:

    Yes, video calling is possible using Apple's FaceTime, but you need an iPhone on either end, and the narrow screen and tiny camera make calls a bit awkward. The wide-angle camera lens and 7" screen on the Show allow people to talk without holding a device in their hands and to see the whole room.

    The Multi-User 802.11ac Router:

    TP-Link Archer AC5400

    Students who will be living off-campus will want to bring their own wireless router to get the most out of their Internet service. This high-powered from TP-Link is the fastest router we've ever reviewed, and generates three separate networks to support a large number of simultaneous users.

    The Guru's Tip:

    TP-Link recently upgraded the Archer AC5400 with its new HomeCare feature, which allows users to monitor traffice on their network via smartphone, and to schedule certain devices to turn on and off at specified times. That's perfect for college students who need a little "help" agreeing to get off the Playstation at night!

    The 24-inch Small Office Monitor:

    Dell UltraSharp U2415

    Sometimes a laptop screen just isn't big enough to get serious work done. That's where this stylish, high-quality, and affordable monitor from Dell comes in. Featuring a big 24" IPS panel with a document-friendly 1920 x 1200 resolution, this monitor will look good from any angle, and the height-adjustable stand will allow users to set it up for ideal ergonomics.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The U2415 has advanced connectivity, including Displayport, mini-Displayport, and HDMI, as well as USB 3.0 for charging phones and other devices.

    Noise-Cancelling Headphones:

    Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless

    Sometimes you just need to shut out the world around you to focus on your studies, and there's no better way to do that then to slip on a pair of Bose QuietComfort headphones. This new version connects wirelessly, eliminating the bulky wires, yet still offers the best-in-class noise-cancelling technology that Bose is known for.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that all QuietComfort headphones requires batteries for their noise cancelling system; this one includes a lithium ion battery that powers the noise cancelling feature, the Bluetooth connectivity, and the headphone speakers, yet still lasts 20 hours on a charge.

  • The Budget Surface Beater:

    Lenovo Yoga 710 11.6" 2-in-1

    While plenty of college students may be drawn to the trendy but expensive Microsoft Surface, they'll get a whole lot more value for their money out of the sleek Yoga 710 laptop. It's a full-fledged laptop running an Intel Core i5 processor, with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive. Being a 2-in-1 device, it flips into tablet mode for watching movies or TV, and unlike a tablet, can stand on its own in "tent" mode. And despite packing in an 11.6" screen and a full keyboard, it weighs just 2.3lb and can slip into just about any bag.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This laptop is a Best Buy exclusive - despite how great it is, Lenovo doesn't sell it directly from its website.