Back to School Gadget Guide for 2007

Whether you're sending the kid off to school or just getting ready for another school year at home, theres a good chance youre going to be shopping for some essential tech gear.


Desktops are pretty much out for today's college student however, a desktop might make sense for the student still living at home. You can get a lot of bang for your buck with a desktop system that often comes bundled with a big display and printer. In either case, the first decision is Mac or PC. You still pay a slight premium for Apple products and there is still more software available for Windows. On the other hand, you can always run Windows applications under an emulator on a Mac while you can't run Apple apps on a PC (not that you'd want to). Apple just announced a new line of very stylish iMacs ranging in price from $1,199 for a 20 inch version to $1,799 for a 24 inch one.

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While Windows desktops with lots of memory (2GB), hard drive storage (250 GB), processing power (Athlon Dual Core), running Vista and including a 19 inch flatscreen monitorare availableat your local Circuit City for well under $1,000. You can check out the latest deals on desktops here. Laptops The choice for a Mac laptop comes down to the Macbook or Macbook Pro. As of the last refresh in May, 2007 the Macbook comes with the latest Intel Core 2 Duo. They both offer adequate hard drive storage (80 plus gigs) and RAM (1 GB and more), fast Ethernet and WiFi, and Bluetooth.

white macbook.jpg macbook-black.jpg macbook pro-2.jpg

A white or black plastic Macbook with a 13 inch display will cost you a little over $1,000 and for just under $2,000 you can get a Macbook Pro which offers a lighter aluminum case, better graphics, a larger, higher resolution, screen, and other extras like an illuminated keyboard. In the Windows arena your laptop choices range from slim and portable like Dells XPS M1210 or Sonys VGN-TXN15P/B, to highly rated value laptops like HPs Pavilion dv6500t for $1300, or a budget Toshiba Satellite A135-S4527 which you can buy for around $700 and comes with WiFi built in and Windows Vista.

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Dells XPS M1210 Sonys VGN-TXN15P/B HPs Pavilion dv6500t Toshiba Satellite A135-S4527


Every student has to have a printer or at least access to a printer. A good general purpose color inkjet that makes quick work of term papers or cranks out great photo prints can be purchased at very reasonable prices partly because the manufacturers know they are going to make a bundle on ink. Canon's Pixma ip4300gets high marks from experts and users even though some say it's a little on the large side and a bit noisy. You can get this fast, high resolution printer for under $100 but the ink is a little on the expensive side. The HP Photosmart D7160 printer gets high marks from users for high quality prints.

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Canon's Pixma ip4300 HP Photosmart D7160

*Buying tip check to see if third party ink is available for your printer on ebay before you buy a printer. You can also try and buy a printer in the same ink cartridge family as the one at home so you can buy in bulk and save a few bucks.


Digital Cameras

For most students we recommend a point and shoot camera in the 7 mega pixel range. Of course art students and serious hobbyist will want an SLR camera likethe Canon Rebel XTiwhile others will be able to get by with the camera built into their cell phones. The latest crop of point and shoot cameras offer image stabilization for blur-free shots and new face detection technology that makes it harder to take bad pictures. The Nikon Coolpix S500 and the Canon SD1000 have these features and sell for around $250. Fuji Finepix F40fd also has the latest features, costs a few dollars more, but gives you 8.3 MP.

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Nikon Coolpix S500 Canon SD1000 Fuji Finepix F40fd

MP3 Players

This may be a better present or reward for making the deans list but in case you want to round out the send-off package with an MP3 player, here are some to consider. If you want to go with a non-Apple player check out the Creative Zen Vision M,iRiver clix,or the SanDisk Sansa Connect. You get some important features that Apple left out of iPods like FM radio/recorder and a voice recorder. You can also use some of the alternative (less expensive) music libraries like Napster and Rhapsody.

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Creative Zen Vision M iRiver clix SanDisk Sansa Connect

As far as iPods go, you'll need to decidebetween the $240 30GB iPod video, the $340 80GB version, the $190 4GB Nano, the 8GB, $240 8GB Nano, or the $75 1GB Shuffle. Your choice, they all use iTunes software, havetons of accessories available, and have the all-important Apple "cool factor."

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80GB Video 8GB Nano iPod Shuffl

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