Back to School Gifts for Every Budget

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Introduction:

This is the first Back-To-School guide that we've posted at BCCHardware and we may have a bit of a different look at this whole back-to-school than other sites.  We have broken down the guide into price ranges and this guide covers ideas for those in grade school as well as those going back to college.  We've got a total of 10 products worth considering in five different price ranges.  Let's start out with some budget stuff that would work for a lot of people.

Back To School

 

Sub $50:

Go Mic Other than pencils, paper and few other consumables, there often aren't a whole lot of products represented in a tech guide.

Samson Audio Go Mic - $49.99 MSRP - Find Lowest Price Here

The Samson Audio Go Mic has been recently announced and this little USB condenser microphone is a worthy addition to almost everyone's gear.  A condenser microphone is much more sensitive that the cheap mics that come with your $20 headset and is far superior to the microphone in your webcam or notebook.  The Samson Audio Go Mic looks very slick and provides you with excellent audio quality for podcasting, Skype, or even for recording your favorite YouTube clips.


 

be.ez LArobe Netbook 10.2 Sleeve - $19.99 MSRP - Shop for LArobe Here

be-ez Netbook Sleeve

If you picked up a shiny new 10" netbook over the summer or are thinking about grabbing one before school starts up, you should consider protecting your investment with something like the be.ez LArobe Netbook 10.2.  This little sleeve will protect your netbook from scrapes, bumps and the everyday wear and tear that happens when your favorite netbook sits inside your backpack.  At $20, it makes a very affordable gift to someone who is heading off to college and may not protect their gear as much as they should.

It also comes in "2Pink", "2Blue", "2Green", "Red Kiss" and of course the black and white version you see here.  

 

 

Under $100:

If you've got a little bigger budget and want some great ideas for your favorite student - or for yourself, there are a couple of things that we recommend checking out.

Powerstick Profile Powerstick USB Powered Portable Charger - $49.99 Online

This item originally debuted at $70 but has since dropped making it even more appealing.  The Powerstick USB Powered Charger looks like a USB flash drive and it charges when plugged into your computer.  On the other end of the device is a jack that outputs power with the appropriate cable to your favorite cell phone.  The Powerstick covers Apple, Sony Ericsson, LG, Samsung, Nokia and Palm devices as well as those that use mini-USB and micro-USB.  Not bad for a product that offers an extra 750mAh and gives you extra talk time, music listening and more.

 

 

 

Mophie Juice Pack Air - $79.95 MSRP - Check for Lowest Price

Juicepack Air The sub $100 segment is all about extending the battery of your device this year.  The Mophie Juice Pack Air is the latest and greatest (also the slimmest and lightest) battery extender for your iPhone 3G or 3GS.   It offers a very significant battery boost to your iPhone without adding a lot of bulk to your device.  The battery is 1200mAh and this should give you an extra 9 hours of video playback on the 3GS and an additional 20 hours of audio playback on the 3G iPhone.  For $80 it makes your iPhone actually usable for an entertainment device and you should still have enough battery left to make a few calls.

On the next page we'll cover a few more items that will set you back a little more, but still offer good value.


 

Under $250:

Moving onward and upward in price always gets your "cooler" gadget and gear, but we still have to make sure we get good value for our money - and gear that is actually useful. 

MBS-200 Sony Ericsson MBS-200 Wireless Portable Speaker - $129.99MSRP - As low as $69.99 Online

If you have a Bluetooth enabled laptop, cell phone or music player, the easiest way to share your music and fill a room is with a set of Bluetooth speakers.  The Sony Ericsson MBS-200 Wireless Portable Speaker fills this need.  This is a very stylish speaker that offers a lot in the way of good looks and sounds pretty good to boot.  It certainly won't fill a large room and keep your party going, but it provides a great way to share music on your phone with others in the room.  


Flip UltraHD Camcorder - $249.99MSRP - Find Lowest Price Online

Flip UltraHD Perhaps one of the most useful camcorders on the market is the Flip UltraHD.  This camcorder is very small and offers great quality for such a small device.  It records at 1280x720p and can be found online for under $180 currently.  This camcorder can quickly become the hub for your online media as it has excellent software that allows you to easily upload video clips to YouTube.  It comes in different colors that purple and yellow for those of you that prefers a more traditional look.  The only downside is that it has no optical zoom, but the convenience of this little unit still makes it one of the best little camcorders you'll ever use - and you'll use it lots.

 

Below $500:

NMH-400 Most of these back-to-school recommendations have to do with media of some form or another and the first one in the sub-$500 category is perhaps one of the slickest devices for sharing and enjoying media in your home.

Linksys by Cisco Media Hub NHM410 - $479.99MSRP - Lowest Price Online

The Linksys NHM410 is a multi-function Media Hub that allows you to easily share data on the included hard drive, connected USB drives and even flash media cards to every computer on your network.  The included software provides a great interface and you can connect directly to the device though windows file sharing as well.  The handy display and controls allow you to monitor and control the device even without a computer connected.  The NHM410 comes with a single 1TB drive and has room for an extra drive.  This gives you a lot of storage and great upgrade options - all in very stylish package.

 

 
Lenovo IdeaPad S10-2 Netbook - $399.99MSRP - Find Lowest Price

S10-2 Cover In the crowded market of netbooks Lenovo has done a couple of things that make the IdeaPad S10-2 worth considering if you're considering an ultra-portable computer.  The IdeaPad S10-2 is a bit of an upgrade from the original S10e in the fact that the 6-cell battery is standard.  It also comes with a 10.1" screen that runs at 1024x600 and weighs in at a mere 0.7" thin.  With a weight of 2.65lbs, it's one of the lightest netbooks around and offers Lenovo quality at a competitive price.

For those of you with a bigger budget, make sure you head on to the last page as we've got a couple of recommendations that will take a little more green out of your wallet.


Under $1000:

MSI X340 Slim Notebook - $899.99MSRP - Find Lowest Price Online

The Apple Air laptop has got a lot of attention due to it's slim design but is very expensive for most people.  MSI offers a solution with their X340-023US laptop.  While this notebook runs Windows Vista Home Premium it has a very nice 13.4" display as well as a 1.4GHz Core Solo processor, a 320GB HDD, 2GB of memory, 1GB Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n networking with Bluetooth.  Also included is the standard card reader, 1.3MP webcam, 2x USB2.0 ports, VGA out and all for a mere 2.86lbs - almost as light as the Lenovo S10-2 netbook.  This looks similar to the Apple Air and offers a lot more value at under $1000.  It's worth looking at if you need something super thin and light.

 X-340 Setup

 

Over $1000:

iBUYPOWER Chimera Killer X58 - Starts at $1899 - Configure here

For those that like to have some fun in between studying for tests, the iBUYPOWER Chimera Killer X58 system is perhaps one of the best ways to spend $1900 or more.  The base model comes with a sweet case pictured below as well as a Core i7 920 processor that is liquid cooled by Asetek.  Also under the hood is 6GB of DDR3-1333, SLI GeForce GTX 275 cards all plugged into an ASUS P6T motherboard.  If you want to get all crazy you could configure the hardware to run in the neighborhood of $4500.  There is a lot of flexibility but the basic package is pretty sweet with 6GB of memory and SLI.

Chimera Killer

 

Final Thoughts:

While I'm sure there are a ton of other products that could have been included in this article, I have chosen a few that fit almost every price range.  I also realize that times are tough and you may not have the money to spend on items on page 2 and page 3.  That being said, as I was writing this article, I saw prices drop as companies are gearing up for a downward economy as the back to school sales start.  This is really good news for us consumers if we've got a little money to spend - it will stretch even farther.  Remember to check our shopping comparison page that will help you find the lowest price, save money and get you the best deals on the stuff you're looking for.

If you have anything you'd like to suggest as an item for the guide, please feel free to do so at the "Comments" link below.