Back-to-school tech guide 2010
Looking for a student's going-away gift or shopping for yourself? These highly useful gadgets and apps will ease the transition back to campus.
Computerworld - Hear that groaning? That's the sound of college students all over the country putting away their bathing suits and sunscreen and packing up their books and bags for another year of school.
As we do at this time every year, we've selected 10 highly useful gadgets -- along with some great Web apps and smartphone apps for iPhone and Android devices -- that will help get you through another year. Whether you're a student yourself or a relative looking for a going-away gift, you'll find something here to ease the transition to the vicissitudes of life on campus. Of course, these devices don't have to be used on a college campus -- gadget lovers might find something useful for the office or road as well.
We focused on gadgets with an educational purpose, though we also included a few digital aids for college life in general. Our other criteria are that a device can't cost more than $200, portability's a good thing and appearance counts.
Most of our 2009 recommendations are still valid too. For instance, we have yet to find a better digital recorder than the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen. Rather than repeat ourselves, we would encourage you to check them out again and visit the vendors' Web sites to see if there are new or upgraded models this year.
Related story: Once all this tech gear is at school, students need to protect it. See "Tips for on-campus technology protection."
Sooner or later in your college career, you're likely to find yourself in front of a room giving a presentation -- even high school students these days have to demonstrate their mastery of PowerPoint or Keynote. To help it go smoothly, equip yourself with a presentation remote that lets you control your slides without leashing you to your computer. The three we like all have laser pointers, because what's the use of being able to walk around if you have to keep going over to the screen to point at something?
We like the look and feel of the Logitech Wireless Presenter R400. At $49.99, it has the basic forward and back buttons you need to step through your slides; the fact that the buttons are big and deep-set should make them easy to find in a darkened auditorium.
A little more spend buys you not just forward and back buttons but the ability to control your cursor remotely and run any multimedia elements your presentation might include. The Kensington SlimBlade Presenter Media Mouse ($79.99), for example, is just a regular laser mouse with a scroll ball when resting on a table. Turn it over, though, and on the underside there are play/pause, skip track, and volume control buttons for multimedia. Slide the switch to presenter mode, and those same buttons now start and stop your presentation, advance through the slides and activate the laser pointer.
You can use the SlimBlade to control your computer's cursor during a presentation, but you have to put it on a surface like any other mouse. The Targus Multimedia Presentation Remote ($69.99), on the other hand, lets you play "air mouse," moving your cursor from where you stand. In addition to the standard presentation control buttons, it also has a volume control. One nice touch: The USB receiver dongle nestles in the unit's battery compartment, making it harder to lose.
Note: If you make presentations using Keynote on a Mac, you can use your iPhone or iPod Touch to control presentations with Apple's Keynote Remote app (99 cents). Keynote Remote does not work with Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation software.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- 4 Customers who never have to refresh their PCs again This paper illustrates a common theme: the combination of desktop virtualization and thin client computing helps organizations deliver an up-to-date user experience more...
- Mobile Devices: The New Thin Clients Get essential guidance for understanding the role thin clients plus virtual desktops play in the enterprise today.
- Taking Windows Mobile on Any Device Taking Windows applications mobile has many advantages, but the process of identifying a solution is complex. Learn how to solve this complex problem...
- PaaS - Powering a New Era of Business IT Why PaaS has suddenly become relevant and irresistible to many organizations. Dive into the opportunities and considerations associated with using PaaS from an...
- Redefine Your IT Operations: Remote Office IT Has Never Been Simpler Join us to see why PC Pro named Dell PowerEdge VRTX the "2013 Server of the Year." PowerEdge VRTX may be just what...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Hardware White Papers | Webcasts