Consumer Reports reveals the best tech products for students and how to save money when buying them

Posted at 10:34 AM, Aug 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-27 10:44:46-04

You need a lot more than pens and pencils for school these days, but there are so many choices for tech products that it can be tough to figure out what your child really needs.

News 3's Erica Greenway chatted with Consumer Reports Technology Reporter Bree Fowler to get her recommendations.  Here's what she suggests for students:


  • 13.3-inch Dell XPS - It costs about $1,100 and is among the fastest laptops tested at Consumer Reports with a battery that lasts nearly 16 hours. It has more than enough power, including an Intel Core i7 processor, 256GB of solid state storage, and 8GB of memory (RAM) to cut through demanding applications.  It only weighs 2.7 pounds, so it can be carted from room to room in your house and slipped into a backpack for trips across town.
  • Lenovo Flex 5 14-Inch 2-in-1 Laptop - This is another good option, but for about half the price of the Dell.  This $530 laptop can breeze through spreadsheets, word-processing programs, video chats, and other productivity tasks. The Intel Core i5 processor can even tackle some graphics-intensive gaming at near top speed. It lets you fold the 14-inch touch-screen display flat against the back of the keyboard so you can use the device like a tablet.  It's a little heavy, and the battery life is only 8 hours, but still a great laptop for the money.


  • Canon Pixma G4210 - If you're shopping for an inkjet printer that's destined for heavy use, then this is a great choice.   Fowler says you shouldn't let the $300 price scare you off because it will save you cash in the long run.  Instead of pricey ink cartridges, it has tanks that can be replenished with low-cost bottles of ink. According to Consumer Reports estimates, the cost to keep this printer running is only $10 per year in ink, compared with the hundreds of dollars some other inkjet printers will cost you.


  • Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 - You don't have to spend a small fortune to get a decent pair of headphones.  Noise-canceling technology is typically reserved for higher-end headphones, but you'll also find it in these.  They cost just shy of $40 on Amazon.  CR experts found these headphones with small buds that go directly into your ears to be quite capable. They produce very respectable sound overall and reach satisfyingly loud volume levels even when paired with low-power portable devices.

Bluetooth wireless speakers

  • Edifier R2000DB - These sharp-looking speakers stand out from a lot of the models CR tested for two reasons. One, they sound great. The second reason is that, unlike most wireless models, the Edifiers come as a pair, which means they can be set up to provide much better stereo separation than single-unit models.  Another bonus: At a hair under $250, they're less expensive than many other top-rated models that can deliver the same level of sound quality.

Small-screen TV

  • 32-inch Samsung J4000 LED LCD TV - This $170 TV offers very good high-definition picture quality and a wider-than-average viewing angle.  It’s priced very well for its size and is a great buy for dorm rooms.

Ways to save money

Consider buying refurbished electronics. Rather than splurging on a brand new computer or phone, look for a certified used model from a reputable seller like Amazon or Newegg. You can also go directly to the manufacturer. Manufacturer-refurbished goods will have been returned to factory-like condition and should be covered by a manufacturer's warranty. Refurbished models are a good choice, especially for young kids who might be prone to dropping or breaking them.

If you want to buy a new product, you`ll get a better price waiting until October when retailers tend to get new models and discount older merchandise.