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Pencils, lined paper — and a new tablet?

It may look out of place to shoppers who’ve long left school behind, but these days, personal tech is a growing fixture in the lives of students of all ages.

According to a recent poll, 21% of parents said electronics were on their shopping lists for the next school year. Increasingly portable and powerful tablets and laptop-tablet hybrids don’t take up room in a dorm or a backpack, and accessories can give new life to a student’s already all-purpose machine.

There’s something out there to suit the needs of every returning student, whether they’re headed for grade school, high school, or higher education.


HP has rolled out the Slate7, an affordable tablet aimed at students, kids and first-time users. The 7-inch tablet weighs only 13 ounces — perfect for smaller bodies. But lest you think it’s completely basic, it comes equipped with Android 4.1 and is the first tablet to offer embedded Beats Audio. If kids are working on an assignment — from storybook pages to essays — they can take advantage of the built-in ePrint technology. Get a clean slate for $149.99 at Best Buy.

For kids who aren’t quite ready for a real-deal tablet, there’s the latest incarnation of the popular LeapPad "learning tablet" for kids. The 4 GB LeapPad2 gives kids an engaging portal to the world around them — in addition to the huge range of educational apps and cartridge games, creative kids can also take advantage of the front and back video and still cameras. Hop over to and pick one up for $99.99.

Technology kills some of the romance of keeping a paper journal, but it sure makes for better secrecy than writing “DO NOT READ EVER” on the cover. The iHeart Locket gives young diarists a way to keep their thoughts private through an iPhone/iPad app that can be unlocked only using a signal from the heart-shaped charm. You can even store photos, videos and voice memos. It’s $24.99 at


In the market for a new go-to machine? Tablet-laptop hybrids are a versatile choice for students — they blend processing muscle with a variety of uses (and look wicked cool to boot). There are as many takes on the concept as there are consumers — hybrids that split into two, fold backwards, or in the case of Sony’s VAIO Duo 13, roll the screen smoothly into a flat position. What’s inside counts, too: It packs an Intel i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 128 GB hard drive. It’s $1,499 at Best Buy.

School means lectures, and lectures mean notes. Simplify that process with the Livescribe Sky smart pen, which features 2 GB of memory, Wi-Fi connectivity and a built-in mic. Record lectures, sync them to your notes, and then wirelessly upload the whole thing to your Evernote account, so you can keep them with you on the go or share them with study buddies. It’s $169.99 at Future Shop.

Whether you’re taking notes in class or at a study meeting, the portability of a laptop is key for student life. When you get home, hook it back up to all your desktop devices through a single USB port with a laptop dock, such as the USB 2.0 HZ-1 docking station from Asus. It sells for a suggested $97.99; for more, visit

Between phones, tablets, and laptops, you’ll need a solid wireless network for your dorm room. Asus’ RT-AC66U router claims to be 1.5 times faster than standard speed, and boasts a great range, so you can show that awesome YouTube video to your new friend next door. Find it for $189.91 at