Yep, it's that time again. While students might be rolling their eyes, 'tis the season for heading off to school for another year of higher learning.
Kids might bemoan the end of summer, but at least there are some cool back-to-school gadgets to get excited about — including high-tech devices to keep you organized, productive and entertained while in your dorm room.
Laptops, ultrabooks and tablets are ideal for toting between classes, but students in search of a stationary computer for their dorm room might opt for an "all-in-one" model. You get a powerful computer built into the back of a big, wide and flat screen. This frees up valuable space on your desk or floor.
The HP Envy 23 All-in-One (starting at $949.99), for example, houses a stunning 23-inch edge-to-edge glass high-definition display and is powered by a third-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of system memory (RAM) and 1 terabyte hard drive to store all your digital stuff.
Designed for both schoolwork and entertainment, this Windows 7 PC — upgradeable to Windows 8 in late October — ships with a wireless keyboard, mouse and remote to control all your media from across the room. A DVD player comes standard, but the computer can be ordered with a Blu-ray disc player and TV tuner.
Mac users, on the other hand, might opt for the sleek iMac (starting at $1,199), Apple's next-generation all-in-one desktop with a 21.5-inch screen. It is also available in a 27-inch model, which starts at $1,699.
Powered by the new OS X Mountain Lion platform, the iMacs now feature a quad-core processor and faster graphics capabilities, multiple USB ports and a Thunderbolt port to attach accessories, and a FaceTime HD camera for high-quality video calling.
Speaking of all-in-ones, students in a small dorm room could benefit from a multifunction printer capable of printing, scanning and copying — and wirelessly, too, from any smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. The Epson Expression Home XP-400 Small-in-One ($69.99) can print nearly nine pages per minute (black) or 4.5 pages in color (from 4 x 6 photos to 8.5 x 11-inch documents) — from any Wi-Fi-enabled Windows or Mac, Apple iPad or iPhone (via AirPrint) or Android device with a free Epson app. With the Epson Connect feature, students can also e-mail documents and photos outside of the dorm room to the XP-400, so the print job is ready for when they return.
This small all-in-one also has a 2.5-inch color LCD touchscreen, 100-sheet input tray and memory card reader.
The downside to all these gadgets is finding enough AC outlets in a wall and keeping all the cables uncluttered. Enter Quirky's Pivot Power ($29.99), a cleverly flexible power strip you can contort to fit the space it's in and adjust for those bulky AC adapters, too.
Designed to work in the U.S. and Canada, the Pivot Power fits up to six items at one time, offers surge protection for your devices and has a 6-foot cord with a flathead plug for the wall.
While less of a necessity, there are many other gadgets that can make dorm life easier.