By August 28, 2012

Back to school tech

back-to-school1 Once upon a time ‘back to school’ meant a trip to WH Smiths and buying half-a-dozen new pens and a new ruler. Nowadays though it seems that everything from printers to mobile phones are included on that back to school offering, a trip to your local supermarket reveals a whole aisle of ‘essential’ items for the most discerning of school kids.

Having a 4 year old starting school I am acutely aware of the kit that they expect to take to school. Of course, not every 4 year old needs a smartphone for school!

Check out some of the best offers from the folks over at eXpansys below.


Budget (2:2)

Are you sick of having a phone that doesn’t last longer than a day? Worried about getting your phone nicked or broken on a night out? The no frills Nokia 100 is the anti-smartphone. It has a battery life of 35 days and won’t shatter into a thousand pieces when dropped on the floor. Sure it’s no iPhone 5 but at that price you can’t go wrong.

Mid-Range (2:1)

A great all-rounder, the Nokia Lumia 800 has the intuitive Windows Phone 7.5 operating system on board. This uses a smooth Live Tiles menu that connects your social networks together (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), making it easier to coordinate a quick pint in the SU. Add the solid Nokia hardware (unibody design, vivid screen, good speakers and microphone) and excellent Nokia apps and you’ve got yourself an impressive handset.

Money Is No Object (First Class)

Facing cut throat competition from the stellar iPhone 4S and Galaxy S3, the HTC One X needed to be brilliant, and it is. Sitting proudly at number 1 on Stuff and T3 magazines top 10 smartphones lists and getting the nod of approval by Endgadget, the One X is an excellent Android smartphone. Made from tough polycarbonate, the stuff that ice hockey helmets are made of, it runs ICS so it’s very customisable and ultra-social. Entering tablet territory, it has a large 4.7 inch screen and a meaty 1.5GHz quad core-Tegra 3 processor under the bonnet. Add the quality build, brilliant camera (8MP, HD video) and decent battery (13 hours of fairly heavy use), the One X is a phone that is bound to cause gasps of amazement.

Apple iPad (A*)

Be the envy of all your housemates with The new iPad. Standing head-and-shoulders above other tablets, the iPad has a stunning, higher-than-hi-definition, retina display. Everything that falls under its 10.1 inch gaze is crystal sharp or eggshell smooth, pictures, e-books, games, web pages, videos. The camera on the back takes 5MP photos and full HD video (1080p) and there’s a front facing camera too which is ideal for video calls (for those emotional calls home). It’s also really fun and versatile with access to the enormous Apple app store for a wealth of games and apps. The best tablet you can get your hands on does come at a price BUT, from just £63 a month with the Expansys finance option plus the free premium case, it doesn’t seem too bad after all.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 (A+)

The great thing about the Galaxy Tab 8.9 is, well the 8.9 inch screen. Filling that void between the 10.1 and 7.0 like an adolescent in mid-growth spurt, the sleek 8.9 is perfectly sized for one handed sofa browsing or watching a movie on the train. No more stacks of paper after your lectures, you can edit Windows documents using Polaris on the Tab and download note taking apps from the two on board app stores (Samsung Apps and Android Market). But it’s not all work, the 8.9 is a portable media hub that has all the fun you have come to expect from an Android device (update to Ice Cream Sandwich is available). Watch movies, play games, go on Google apps (Maps, Talk, YouTube), take pics or make video calls all on a dazzling high definition display.  Throw in the Samsung keyboard dock for a productive work station that’ll get the most out of your Tab 8.9.

Sony PRS-T1

Sure it doesn’t sound as edgy as the “Kindle” but you’ll have the last laugh owning a PRS-T1. Saving you the backbreaking challenge of lugging those hefty psychology books to and from the library, you can carry a whole library in your bag with the slim Sony e-Rader. It can store 1,200 books on the 2GB of internal memory (has an expandable memory slot for up to 32GB) and with the excellent anti-glare touchscreen you can read, or skim, through them with a flick of your finger. Unlike a Kindle, you can access your local library to borrow books and write notes on the page using the stylus. Great for budding intellectuals, it comes in red, black or white.

On the Cheap

Capable of everything a student would want to do on a laptop, the Fujitsu Lifebook punches way above its weight at under £300. You can absorb media on the 15.6 inch HD(1366 x 768 pixel), anti-glare display or on a HD TV using the HDMI port. There’s a generous 320GB hard drive for all your university work while 4GB of RAM and an Intel i3 processor (2.2GHz) will keep Windows 7 Home Premium running smoothly. It has a spill-resistant keyboard and comes in a smart black finish.

Student-Budget – Sony Vaio EH3B4E

A dependable work horse, the Vaio has some impressive specs for a laptop under the £500 mark. It has a full HD 15.5 inch screen, a big 500GB hard drive for your media and documents and powerful graphics card (Intel HD 3000) that’s great for World of War craft sessions. The punchy Intel Core i3 chip (2.3GHz) with 4GB RAM keeps Windows 7 Home running buttery smooth and a spacious keyboard should prevent those typos on your essays. All of which is encased in a smart wrap-over design, making it the ideal companion for you and your semesters.

Too Cool for School – ASUS Zenbook UX21E

You’re going to be on your laptop a lot at university so get a really, really good one that you’re going to love using and won’t become obsolete once you reach your second year. Called an ultra-book, the ASUS Zen book is a new breed of super thin, super-fast laptops. So thin you can shave with it in the morning (don’t attempt this), it’s just 3mm at the thinnest point, yes 3mm, and weighs a mere 1.2kg. The UX21E’s durable, aluminium, spun finish design is sure to amaze people in the library. It has a nice 11.6inch screen so it’s very portable and has some serious specs under its sleek body. An Intel Core i5 processor (1.6GHz), 4GB of RAM, fast USB port (3.0) and hearty Bang & Olufsen speakers, it will breeze through tasks whilst pumping your favourite tunes. It also boots up in less than 2 seconds from sleep and has a clever battery that channels power efficiently (up to two weeks standby time), so you can crack on with plagiarising Wikipedia in no time (don’t actually do this either:-)).

Money’s No Object – Macbook Pro

Let’s face it, the MacBook Pro isn’t cheap but think of it as a smart investment. Never mind the social credentials for having a half-eaten apple adorned on your laptop; the lust-worthy MacBook Pro takes the amazing MacBook to the next level. The Pro features that superb retina display found on the iPad, new boosted processing power (Intel quad-core i7 chip) and better graphics. It’s the perfect notebook for those on creative courses that use power hungry software – editing for film, design for architecture.



Not the most exciting purchase out of our back-to-school tech but your son/daughter will be thanking you at 4 in the morning the night before their assignment is due. Saving them all the hassle of printing in the library and sorting out printing credits, the wireless HP mobile printer will get that essay in their lecturers hands to mark, just don’t tell their housemates.

Instant Internet

You don’t need to be told at how essential the internet is for people, especially for students. This Huawei dongle will give you and up to 5 people internet access as it is a 3G wireless router. Perfect for if you want hassle free internet, just slot in a 3G SIM card and you’re ready to surf the internet.

Wi-Fi Range Booster

The tiny TP Link will turn your wired internet into a wireless one; it can also act as an internet Wi-Fi extender. Great for those old terraced houses or if you’re just out of reach of your Wi-Fi range, just plug in the TP link to access the World Wide Web. For even better range try this sleek Asus router.

USB Stick

Store your PowerPoint presentations, word documents or anything you like on this Angry Birds 4GB flash drive, just don’t throw it at any green pigs.                                                                                                                            

External Hard Drive

Between sleeping and partying university does require some written work. Be safe and back up your precious 20,000 word dissertation on the massive 500GB external hard drive. Sharing a house? Why not chip together for the wireless version for all your media.

Headphones –Beats Solo HD

These headphones deliver deep bass and great tonal balance, but more importantly they are cool. Forged by hip hop King Dr Dre, Beats Audio have been worn by Michael Phelps, Pharrel Williams, David Guetta and a host of other celebrities, musicians and athletes. You may think your son or daughter looks like they are about to operate a pneumatic drill but they will be grateful for it.

P.S. Beats headphone sales have increased 116% at John Lewis after the Olympics!

Speakers – Jawbone Jambox

Connecting via Bluetooth (or cables) and using clever speaker cone technology, the Jawbone Jambox offers a seamless way of playing music with rich and powerful sound. Completely wireless (just charge it up) and coming in a range of colours, the Jambox gives a perfect oppourtunity to show off your students uber cool music taste.


Stop cramming around a small television and do your games, movies and television justice on a massive screen. The Acer projector can play sharp HD inputs and is even 3D ready. 

iHome Dock

Being away from home without a screaming mother to rouse you from slumber, so make sure you never miss a lecture with the ihome dock. It’s an alarm clock that fits the iPhone.

Flenigan Powerbrick

With all that studying and researching your desk may become cluttered with highlighters, word documents and empty pot noodle cartons. Make sure that cables don’t become be the maze of wires with the Flenigan Powerbrick.

Apple iPod Touch

Going to university may require a lot of travelling to get to and from so enjoy your journey with the iPod Touch – think iPhone minus the phone. The Touch is a great games console, can access Apple’s brilliant app store, watch films, talk to friends on Skype (via Wi-Fi), text other Apple devices with their free iMeassaging service and take pictures. Oh and it’s an MP3 player as well!

TomTom Go XL

Have peace of mind knowing they aren’t going the wrong way round the M25 with the TomTom Go XL. With a large 4.3 inch widescreen display and improved speaker, the user friendly XL will give directions clearly, just pop in a postcode and away you go. It has a vast array of maps that cover the UK and Europe – just in case they find themselves lost in Barcelona – which can be updated using the micro USB port. It will tell you the exact lane to be in on the motorway, how long until you get there and will even warn you of those pesky speed cameras.

As always, if you’re looking for something diffierent or if you think of more student tech dilemmas, our EXPANSYS team will be more than happy to help you solve them. We’re never too cool for school over here 🙂

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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