School's out for the summer. Or at least, it will be soon. And that means graduation time and lots of high school and college students moving on to their next place in life. But it doesn't matter what kind of grad you have in your life; they're going to need some good tech in that next step. Below are the best gadgets and tech gifts for the upcoming graduate.
|Best Choice: Apple iPad (Starts at $399) or Kindle Fire ($199)|
The first suggestion isn't very shocking. The iPad makes a great gift for either the high school or college student. It's great for all those tablet tasks -- surfing the web, reading, watching video, playing with fun apps, and, for those college grads, looking at job listings. The new iPad, which starts at $499, has an eye-popping Retina Display, but the iPad 2 costs $100 less.
Speaking of costing less, we understand that not everyone can afford an iPad, so that's why we are also recommending the Kindle Fire. The Fire costs $199 and can perform many of the same functions as the iPad -- browsing the web, reading, watching video. However, the app selection isn't as plentiful or powerful.
|Best Choice: Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover ($99.99)|
Of course there's always a chance that the new grad already has an iPad (hey, over 3 million people bought the new one in its first weekend). For those who already own an iPad, an iPad case or cover is the perfect gift. In particular, we really like Logitech's new Ultrathin Keyboard cover.
The cover is a lot like Apple's Smart Cover with magnetic clips that latch on to the left side of the iPad, but instead of a flat cover, it has a Bluetooth keyboard. Pair the keyboard with the tablet and you can transform your iPad into a laptop of sorts. The keyboard itself is very comfortable and the iPad locks into place really nicely.
|Best Choice: Jambox or the Big Jambox|
This gift makes a great party companion. But that's the beauty of being young, right? A new speaker or speaker dock is a great gift for an new grad. Our top suggestion right now is the Big Jambox. Pair the speaker via Bluetooth to any device -- iPhone, Android phone, iPad, etc. -- and the sound will speak for itself.
The original Jambox costs $199 and can be thrown into a purse or small bag. It makes great sound. But the Big Jambox, which costs $100 more, makes even better sound. Both of them sound incredibly good for their size and, with Jambox's LiveAudio setting, songs have a 3-D effect.
|Best Choice: Roku (Starts at $59.99)|
Whether they're about to be living in a dorm room or getting a place of their own for the first time, they're going to want to watch TV, but also avoid those expensive cable bills. A streaming video alternative is the perfect solution to that problem.
There are plenty of options to choose from, including the Apple TV and Blu-ray players with built in apps, but the Roku stands strong as our top choice. Starting at $59.99, the box can connect to a Wi-Fi network and stream Hulu, Netflix, and other options right to your TV when it is plugged in with an HDMI cord. You still have to pay for some subscriptions to Netflix, etc., but you'll save tons over the monthly cable bill
|Best Choice: Amazon or Best Buy Gift Card|
You might have noticed that we haven't recommended the most obvious graduation gift -- a laptop. And that's on purpose. Right now is one of the worst times to buy a laptop, but that will change next month.
Intel is about to refresh its processors (the new version is called Ivy Bridge or the third generation Core processors) and a ton of new laptops from every major computer manufacturer will be coming out in early- to mid-June. There will be new ultrabooks, new budget systems, and new power rigs.
That's why we are suggesting that you buy a gift card to Amazon or Best Buy. That way the grad in your life can use it to pay for a new laptop when the time is right.
You could also shell out for a new laptop bag. We particularly like the Crumpler Heist for the recent college grad -- it fits a 15-inch laptop, but looks very professional.