MobileSyrup Back-to-school Gift Guide [2019 Edition]

We here at MobileSyrup have put together a list of reasonably priced tech products the team thinks will help students get through the upcoming school year. From grade school to post-secondary, there should be something on this list for everyone. 

We’ve got speakers and headphones to help you party and study, along with a Chromebook, a MacBook and a Windows laptop to make sure no matter what you’re looking for, we’ve got a recommendation that should work for you.

There’s even our two favourite mid-range phones that we feel offer some of the best value you can currently get from a smartphone. 

Check out the full gift guide below.

Wemo Wi-Fi Smart Plugs

Wemo’s smart Wi-Fi plugs remain some of the best and most reliable around.

Imagine how great it would be to turn your dorm room lamp off and on with a simple Alexa or Google Assistant voice command, or even via the Wemo app on your phone.

This is exactly what Wemo’s smart plugs offer since they're compatible with a variety of voice-activated assistants.

What makes Wemo's plugs so useful is that they work with all three major smart home ecosystems: Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple's HomeKit and the company's own app.

All you need to do is connect the plug to your Wi-Fi, give it a name and you'll be the digital master of your dorm in no time.

The Wemo Mini Smart Plug is available for $39.95 on Amazon. The company also sells the more expensive Insight Switch Smart Plug that gives you information regarding power consumption for $69.99.

$39.99 – $69.99

Buy on Amazon

Acer Swift 3 2019

If there's anything a student really needs for back to school, it's a reliable laptop that doesn't break the bank.

While there are many great options out there, Acer's Swift 3 is an excellent laptop. It's slim, stylish and light, without compromising in significant ways.

The Swift 3 2019 features a great spec upgrade and a variety of hardware choices for the best PC experience. There are options for both AMD and Intel configurations. Further, you can pick anywhere from 4GB to 12GB of RAM.

For most students, the $849.99 Intel i5-8265U model with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD is powerful enough to handle almost everything you throw at it, from Netflix binges to that all-nighter you're pulling to finish that essay.

You can check out all the configurations, specs and colours for the Swift 3 on Acer's website.

$698 – $1,249

Buy on Amazon.ca

Sonos x Ikea Symfonisk speaker

One of Ikea’s most recently released product lines is its Symfonisk collection. It offers a table lamp and shelf Wi-Fi speakers in one complete package.

The Sonos-manufactured device is a clever way to save space and blend technology into your living space, letting you surprise friends and other guests with a lamp or shelf that can also play audio.

Because of the speaker's Wi-Fi functionality, you’ll be able to play music, podcasts and radio from major streaming platforms, even without a phone or tablet on hand.

The Symfonisk bookshelf retails for $149 while the lamp costs $249.

$149

Buy from Ikea

Bose SoundSport

While over-the-ear headphones might offer better sound, battery life and other features, not everyone prefers the more bulky style.

For those who want smaller headphones, Bose’s SoundSport wireless in-ear earbuds are a better option.

The headphones are a bit more expensive, but you also get a lot for that price tag, including Tile integration so you can track them if they get lost, and a water resistant design.

Bose’s SoundSport earbuds are discounted to $149.99 right now. The original price is $179.99.

$149.99

Buy from Bose

Apple MacBook Air

If you’re a macOS user looking for a laptop for to accomplish simple tasks, Apple's latest Macbook Air is the perfect computer for you.

The laptop's high-resolution screen features ‘True Tone’ to match the ambient light surrounding the laptop. While you wouldn’t think this would make a significant difference in the laptop’s viewing experience, it really does.

Beyond this, the MacBook Air’s compact size makes it easy to lug between classes, and its battery should last you all day.

It also features Apple’s revamped keyboard, which feels smoother to type with when compared to the older Butterfly key mechanism.

Further, if you buy a MacBook Air from Apple before the school year starts, the tech giant is throwing in a free pair of beats headphones.

$1,319 – $1,699

Buy from Apple

Google Pixel 3a or Samsung Galaxy A70

At $549 and $649 respectively, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the student in your life a better, more affordable smartphone than the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.

What makes the new Pixels so compelling is that they feature more or less the same great main camera as their more expensive counterparts. What’s more, with Google planning to support both devices with three years of platform and security updates, the Pixel 3a makes for a smart investment.

If you're not looking for a Google-made smartphone, Samsung's recently released Galaxy A70 is priced at $580 outright and is almost just as good.

The phone features a massive 6.7-inch display, and it's speedy processor can handle everything you could ever want to throw at it.

While the phone's camera isn't as powerful as the Pixel's, it's still worth looking at as one of the best mid-tier devices out there.

$549 – $649

Buy from Google or Samsung

Panasonic RP-HTX80B

One of the most important accessories for any student is a pair of good quality headphones.

We considered including wired headphones in this year's back-to-school guide, but in an era where everything is becoming increasingly wireless, the MobileSyrup team decided headphones that have already cut the cord make more sense.

The Panasonic RP-HTX80B wireless headphones are over the ear and come in a variety of colours. They’re a bit retro-looking so take that into consideration. They may not be Bose noise-cancelling over-the-ear headphones, but they’re sleek, comfortable and sound great.

With Amazon.ca the grey variant is priced at $59.28, while the black version costs $81.06.

$59.28 – $114

Buy on Amazon

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

This Chromebook from Asus isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it’s still reasonably priced and powerful.

First and foremost, the Chromebook features a stellar keyboard. If you think you’re going to be doing a lot of typing, this machine is perfect for that. Its 14-inch HD screen also flips all the way around, making it great for watching Netflix or Crave after a late night of studying. Since it flips around and has a touch screen it also becomes a great tablet.

Overall Asus’ Chromebook is a step above most other Chromebooks in terms of build quality and we'd even rank it above some Windows 10 laptops.

You can buy the Intel m3 version from $699 at Newegg Canada. The more expensive models have stronger processors and more storage.

 

$699 – $1,079

Buy from Newegg.ca

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