Forget books, binders and backpacks — today's students also need access to three other B's: broadband, blogs and Bluetooth.
High school and college-bound students, in particular, can take advantage of the latest high-tech tools for productivity, communication or entertainment to ensure a smooth transition back into classroom this fall.
Here are a handful of gadgets and gear that are sure to make the grade.
Lap it up
While they cost more than a regular laptop, "ultrabooks" are hot in the computer world because of their super slim and lightweight bodies, instant-on access and all-day battery.
The new 15-inch Samsung Series 9 ($1,399.99), for example, is a top-of-the-line pick for on-the-go students. It is powered by a third-generation Intel Core i5 dual-core processor and 8 gigabytes of system memory (RAM). Ideal for work and play, this sleek and silver machine lasts up to 10 hours between charges. Upgradeable to Windows 8 for free this October, this Windows 7 PC also includes a stunning LED screen (at 1600 x 900 resolution), 128GB of solid state memory and backlit keys for late-night cramming.
Those who prefer a mobile Mac, however, should opt for Apple' MacBook Air, from $999 for the 11-inch model (or from $1,199 for 13 inches). Despite its mere 0.68-inch frame, this 2.38-pound MacBook Air boasts the latest Intel Core i5 processor, faster flash storage than its predecessor (up to 128GB for the 11-inch model) and up to 8GB of system memory. Along with two USB 3.0 ports, the MacBook Air also includes a versatile Thunderbolt port to connect the laptop to an external monitor, hard drive or other devices, plus it houses an integrated 720p HD webcam for FaceTime or Skype calls.
The MacBook Air ships with the just-launched OS X Mountain Lion, Apple's most advanced desktop operating system.
Thanks for the memory
You don't need to be a straight-A student to know how important it is to back up your files — but today's external hard drives can do so much more.
Western Digital's My Book Live (from $159.99 for 2 terabytes) can be connected to your broadband Internet connection, allowing you to access these files anywhere inside — or even outside — your home or dorm room. PC or Mac users can securely access files via a password-protected site, while those on a smartphone or tablet can use free WD2go apps for Apple iOS, Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry devices. Consider it your own personal "cloud," with no monthly fees.
Wish your smartphone and tablet had more capacity? Connect the GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless ($199.99) hard drive to your computer via USB cable, drag and drop files onto it (such as up to 300 high-def films), and then unplug and go about your business. Now, up to three students can wirelessly access content from the 500GB drive, from any Wi-Fi device, all at the same time. No Internet connection is required as this battery-powered portable drive creates its own local Wi-Fi hotspot.
Not mousing around
If your hand is getting cramped from your laptop's limited trackpad, consider an "ergonomic" mouse that comfortably fits the contours of your right or left palm.