Back to school calls for new, cutting-edge technology. But don't discount older tech that can still walk the walk. Here is my eclectic mix of savvy products that will help any student be properly armed for school - from smart backpacks to indoor grills, loud concert protection to affordable and safe big screen media portability.
Galuchon Urban Rucksack
Weatherproof, pick-proof and smart, the very cool Galuchon urban rucksack, starting at $190, has flashing and vibrating front and back LED straps to guide your walk or bike ride along with the map app on your smartphone, which can remain tucked away in the bag. You can also manually activate your LED turn signals by pressing either left or right straps. When cycling on a mapping app, the left or right straps vibrate and turn on and off to inform you of street traffic of an impending turn. It comes in two sizes and several colours at www.galanck.com. CEO and Co-creator Lea Galice from Paris showed off the backpack at the recent Movin'On Sustainable Mobility Summit in Montreal, including its impeccable stitching.
Alcatel 3T 8
The Alcatel 3T 8 is the perfect device to handle everyday tasks while providing an all-encompassing multimedia experience. Parents can rest assured that the Alcatel 3T 8 has the features to make this school year an A+. It features CloserTV the one-stop shop for video streaming and live TV and a huge 4,080mAh battery to handle all your projects. Its capable of providing 8.5 hours of constant video streaming over Wi-Fi and 7 hours on high-speed LTE. Kids Mode features an easy-to-use parental control panel that allows you to set usage time limits and select which apps your children can use. Alcatel-exclusive Eye Care Mode reduces blue light to help relieve visual fatigue and offers optimized brightness and tonality in the most extreme lighting conditions - both in the daylight and at night. The Alcatel 3T 8 is available at Telus and Koodo Mobile for $7.50/mo. for 24 months, or $180 outright.
Philips Avance Collection Smokeless Indoor Grill
The Philips Avance collection Smokeless Indoor Grill ($350) is one of the best designed compact cooking devices I have ever used. The simple on/off power one-temp setting and warm up mode is the closest thing to outdoor barbecuing indoors! The advanced infrared light technology, off the sides of the reflective interior, heat the non-stick heavy iron cast grill, leaving those typical barbeque burn lines, while a removable tray collects drippings without the smoky burn. It cooks everything from meats to fish, poultry, veggies, toasts and is easy to clean. It also comes with a cookbook.
Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II
If you need a combination 15" laptop backpack with room for extra stuff like books, lunch and more, the Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II ($160) will do the trick. It's well made with just the right padding and will last forever.
L.L. Bean Lunchbox
What's in a lunchbox? Great design and workmanship if you pick the insulated L.L. Bean Lunchbox. Durable and reliable, the lunch box is made of the same hard-wearing nylon as L.L.Bean's popular backpacks, and its smooth interior is easier to wipe clean than that of many other models with exposed seams and crevices that trap food and residue. It has plenty of room for food, thermos, and multiple containers, and the interior mesh pocket can hold an ice pack to keep contents cool. L.L. Bean offers a one-year satisfaction guarantee.
Logitech Wireless K380 Multi-Device Keyboard and Doodle Mouse
The wireless K380 Multi-Device Keyboard and Doodle Mouse ($72) from Logitech is brightly designed with just the right amount of colour accent to brighten up your day. The multi-function keyboard features round keys with just the right finger travel and pressure. The Bluetooth keyboard for smartphones can switch among three devices while the Doodle mouse works with Windows Mac, Chrome OS and Linux.
Compared with cheap foam earplugs, which are designed to block all sounds, a good pair of universal-fit (aka musician-style) earplugs like the Loop Earplugs provide a much better listening experience, allowing you to hear music and voices at a safer level. They rate high in many reviews for their simplicity and long-wearing comfort. The earplugs come with enough tips (six pairs) to fit nearly every ear shape. They have the right amount of sound suppression without sounding muffled. The Loops stay in place through dance moves and workouts and have a discreet design that doesn't protrude from your ear. A zippered carrying pouch tiny enough to fit in the smallest jeans pocket is included.
Philips Hue Light Strips
Philips Hue light strips produce a fancy light show whether its to accompany music listening, movie watching, or playing games. Add accents or create lighting effects that range from subtle to spectacular lights from a choice 16 million colours. Start off with the 2m LED base strip ($110) and expand by one meter strips or cut your own. Expandable up to 10m (sold separately) first time Hue users require the additional one-time Philips Hue bridge $70 sold separately. It connects wirelessly using your smartphone to enable unlimited control from anywhere with all Hue products.
Check out more back-to-school tech item suggestions in the WiFi HiFi Guide to Back-to-School Tech.
Top photo: University of Toronto (UofT) Engineering