Your back-to-school shopping list may look a little different this year.
With many schools choosing to remain virtual for now, tech products will be in high demand.
News 3 Anchor Erica Greenway spoke with Consumer Reports Deals Editor Samantha Gordon to find out what products you should consider.
Q: Is now the right time to start back-to-school shopping if you haven’t already, or is too soon?
A: It’s not too soon at all. Retailers are starting on their annual sales pushes early this year. Not all of the deals are being called back-to-school promotions, but retailers are highlighting traditional academic staples such as laptops, along with technology such as routers that are particularly important for households where students are working from home.
We know that these are uncertain times for many families. That’s why, as always, Consumer Reports will continue to sift through these deals for the best-performing products that offer good value and will help ensure that students can be productive this school year, no matter where they’re learning.
Q: Let’s talk about some specific deals, starting with laptops.
LG Gram 14 ($1,047, Amazon, B&H, Walmart) - The 2020 incarnation of the LG Gram is a highly rated laptop that practically defines thin-and-light design. The 14-inch version weighs a feathery 2.2 pounds—you almost want to hold it down if the wind kicks up. The other factor in portability is battery life, and with this machine our testers logged 19.5 hours under moderate use. The $150 savings makes these appealing deals.
Lenovo Yoga Laptop ($675, Amazon) - This laptop has good core specs for a mid-range computer—an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 256-GB solid-state drive. It will purr along easily while performing most tasks. It weighs an easy-to-tote 3 pound and provides plenty of battery life, and the 2-in-1 convertible design lets you prop it up in tent mode or use it like a tablet.
Q: What about a WiFi router. Any good deals on those?
A newer router could be especially helpful to handle the increased demands that come with remote learning
Netgear Nighthawk Wireless Router ($160, Best Buy, Office Depot, Walmart) - This model is well-suited for mid-sized homes. In addition to solid performance, it also delivers the protection of automatic firmware updates and is easy to set up via a smartphone app.
Q: Headphones are always popular with students. What’s the best deal you’ve seen on those?
Microsoft Surface Headphones ($193, Best Buy) - Trying to do schoolwork at home can be tough, especially for a student who doesn’t have a separate room for it. But a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can make it easier to focus. These headphones usually sell for about $100 less than comparable options from Sony and Bose, and they’re an additional $57 off at Best Buy right now. Its noise-cancellation abilities are top-notch, and the sound quality is just a step behind, producing an enjoyable experience.
Q. And what about smart speakers?
Google Home Mini Smart Speaker ($30, Bed Bath & Beyond, Buy Buy Baby, Home Depot) - The Mini is an inexpensive way to access Google Assistant, especially now that it’s selling for $20 less than usual. Though the tiny speaker is fine for spoken content—news, weather reports, etc.—our testers report that it’s not ideal for listening to music. But connect the Home Mini to a better-sounding speaker and, just like that, the better speaker has smart functionality.