Are you on the hunt for the perfect tablet, notebook or tech gadget for your child in time for back to school? If so, you’re in luck! Tech expert and Today show contributor Mario Armstrong joined me for an interview recently to share his top eight tech must haves for your favorite student whether he or she is in elementary school, middle school, high school or college!
Candace Rose: What should we look for in a tablet or notebook this season?
Mario Armstrong: “There are so many different choices out there for parents and I know it’s a little confusing and overwhelming, so the first thing is really look for the right operating system. Microsoft’s latest and greatest is the Windows 8.1 operating system, so whether it’s a tablet or a laptop, that operating system is going to give you that great SmartScreen with all of your apps right there at the forefront at their fingertips. You’ll also be able to have Bing’s smart search tool which is great for all that research you’ll be doing for school; Office applications; OneNote for taking notes for in class. Lots of great built in apps and things in that 8.1 Windows operating software device.
And then if you need a device, you want to look at a tablet, this is the Surface 2. It’s really lightweight and easy to carry across campus. You can use it just as a tablet or hop on that keyboard and use it as a full-blown laptop. You’ll also have all cool apps like Skype and MyStudyLife, so if you are traveling away to school and you still want to connect to the family, you can use Skype on that and still stay in touch with family and friends while you’re away. I think that’s the first thing to look for when you’re looking for a laptop or a tablet.”
Candace Rose: What are the must haves for the dorm room this year?
Mario Armstrong: “We’ve got a couple of good ones – you may not think about this one right away, Candace, but the first one I have is flashlights, but not just any flashlight, these are flashlights by Energizer. The first one is an LED headlight. The reason why I like the headlight is because you wear this over your head with the elastic band and you can use it on a couple of different places – one, in the dorm room so that if you’re doing some late night studying, you don’t want to disturb your dorm mate…but also if you’re traveling across campus late at night (a lot of students bike at night or they jog at night) this will also keep them safe while they’re out late night on campus as well.
Every dorm room, really you should just give your kids a flashlight, they need to have one. Energizer’s two-in-one flashlight is great because it has an area light as well as a spotlight on it as well. These things are under $20, so they’re not going to break the bank, but they’ll also give you some peace of mind.”
Candace Rose: What’s a fun way to party?
Mario Armstrong: “A fun way to party? Music! You’ve got to have music in your life if you want to party, Candace. I’m a DJ so I know what good sound sounds like and my favorite Bluetooth wireless speaker is the UE Boom from Ultimate Ears. This is a Bluetooth wireless speaker that is 15 hours of battery life, water and stain resistant, it can take a nice couple of knocking around. My kid has dropped it several times and I’ve taken it with me to the beach, use it outside. It sounds phenomenal with the 360 degree design and the sound that comes through sounds incredible. It’s a smart speaker too, so it gets updates when new features come out, which is really cool.”
Candace Rose: Are there any other must haves that we need to know about?
Mario Armstrong: “There are three other things. One is you want to make sure your kids are fashionable and can get some computing stuff done while looking good, so an easy way to do that is to upgrade something that most of us never think about upgrading, and that’s a mouse. Upgrade that mouse for your student, these are like $29. There are a variety of different colors, different patterns – everything that’s cool, maybe even your favorite team colors are here so check out Logitech’s 2014 Color Collection.
To look good on campus – men listen up, young boys listen up! You want to get the Philips Norelco Click & Style. This is the one shaver that will carry you for the rest of your life, but really it’s great for going back to school and for the dorm room because you can use the three different attachments, they just click right off and they click right on for what you want to do. You have everything from beard and mustache trimming to body grooming as well as just standard shaving and you can shave wet or dry, so this can be used in the shower or just by itself or with shaving cream or without, so it’s a great shaver for back to school so that everybody can look clean while they’re in school.
And then the little ones don’t want to be left out, they see everybody else getting all this great cool stuff and they want something so LeapFrog is a leader in educational devices for kids and they’ve come out with the LeapBand. This is great for ages four to seven, it’s got a bunch of creative fun games that are educational, that are active play, that are teaching kids healthy habits. A cool thing in it too, is it’s got an accelerometer which means it will also follow movement. Once the kid is doing some movement things, it knows that the kid is doing that. It’s got some parental controls in there as well. It’s full color touchscreen on it, it’s just a lot of fun, kids are going to love it and they’re going to learn a lot of great things.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Mario Armstrong: “I just think that a lot of these things – some of them are fun, some of them are practical, some are going to give you peace of mind. The bottom line is you just want to make sure that you arm your kid with the right technology that’s going to help give them that competitive edge and also feel a little special, too. There’s no reason to break the bank, a lot of these things that we discussed are really, really inexpensive too which is great. Head over to our website so you can see the pricing there and make a good decision for you, our website is ThunkNews.com/SchoolTech.”