The best back-to-school gear for Aussie kids

by admin January 15, 2020 at 6:58 am

It’s the same old story every January – the new year ushers in a time loathed by both kids and parents alike, thanks to a new academic year rearing its intimidating head. Kids are reminded to put away their Christmas presents so they can get ready to hit the books, while parents stress out trying to find the best back-to-school supplies to give their child an  over the competition.

While some back-to-school supplies haven’t changed – like the reliance on heavy textbooks and the need for stationery – constantly evolving technology has changed the way our kids are taught at school. Laptops and tablets are becoming bare essentials in a backpack these days, and not just for uni students.

Sending your kids off to school means that, after a certain age, you’d want to keep tabs on them, so they’re going to need a mobile phone. Even wearables for kids are becoming popular these days.

With so much tech to choose from, it can get overwhelming for parents to make the right choice. So we’ve listed a few tech essentials here to help you narrow down your search for the best back-to-school supplies. And it’s not necessary to spend too much money either – we’ve listed one premium option and one budget one so you can decide what might be the best choice for you and your children.

Best back-to-school laptops

(Image credit: Future)

1. Dell XPS 13

The flagship laptop to go the distance

It might be an expensive proposition but the XPS 13 has been topping our best laptop charts for years for a very good reason. It’s a powerhouse and, with each new iteration, it only just keeps getting better. We admit this might be an option that caters more for the uni students, but it’s a superb option for high school as well, and it will stick around till your child has graduated from uni a few years down the line. There’s a new model from 2019 that would be the latest option but that also means you’ll be able to find an older iteration for less.

Read our in-depth Dell XPS 13 review

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Microsoft Surface Go

The tablet that makes the perfect 2-in-1

This rather good-looking device might fly under the radar if you happen to be searching for a laptop, but don’t overlook the Microsoft Surface Go. It’s one of the best Windows tablets available today – all you need to do is add a keyboard to make it a convenient and very portable 2-in-1. It might have some low-cost innards but don’t let them fool you: Microsoft has engineered this device to take on the load of schoolwork and more. Being one of the most beautiful devices on the market, it’s a great balance between style, cost and performance.

Read our in-depth Microsoft Surface Go review

Best back-to-school Chromebook

(Image credit: Future)

1. Acer Chromebook Spin 13

A premium option with a convertible design

Chromebooks were designed for education, running on a lightweight Chrome operating system. However, if you think your schoolwork is going to need a tad more from what a basic Chromebook can offer, then this 13-inch Acer is the way to go. Powered by an 8th-gen Intel Core i3 – i5 U-Series chip and coming with either 4GB or 8GB of system memory, there’s some serious grunt under the hood. It’s also a rather sleek device, with its aluminium body and QHD display.

Read our in-depth Acer Chromebook Spin 13 review

(Image credit: Future)

2. HP Chromebook 14

Balancing value and design

If just for browsing the internet and getting assignments done is the main aim for purchasing a back-to-school laptop, then the HP Chromebook 14 will see your kids through the school year with ease. It’s one of the few Chromebooks that’s officially available in Australia and comes at an affordable price too. You will need to keep in mind that battery life and performance won’t match the likes of a regular laptop, but it’s definitely one of the best Chromebooks currently available Down Under.

Read our in-depth HP Chromebook 14 review

Best back-to-school tablets

iPad 10.2

(Image credit: Future)

1. Apple iPad 10.2

The best tablet for schoolwork

For researching assignments and getting some other schoolwork done, the 2019 iPad 10.2 is the perfect choice. It replaces the 9.7-inch 2018 model, meaning there’s a slightly bigger display at a decent price point. Admittedly it’s not as powerful as the latest Pro versions of Apple’s tablet, but its chipset is very capable. Out of the box, it will run iPadOS which offers all the latest features the tech giant has to offer, plus it works with both the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. Battery life is pretty good, too, with up to 10 hours on a single charge.

Read our in-depth Apple iPad 10.2 (2019) review

(Image credit: Future)

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 (2019)

In 2019, Samsung refreshed the Tab A line with a brand new model with a 10.5-inch screen. Its Snapdragon 450 chipset isn’t as powerful as the one found on the iPad mentioned above, but it does have enough power to keep on top of homework or assignments. It runs on Android, so the user experience will be different as compared to an Apple product, but it’s cheaper than getting the 2019 iPad 10.2. There’s no fingerprint scanner on the Tab A, instead security will depend on the user’s password and, unlike the iPad, doesn’t support doodling or writing directly on the screen with a stylus.

Best back-to-school smartphone

Apple iPhone XR

(Image credit: TechRadar)

1. Apple iPhone XR

An ‘affordable’ premium phone

It’s incredibly fast and ships with both a USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cable in the box, so it doesn’t matter what kind of laptop your kid uses. The Samsung T5 series of portable SSDs come in different colours and in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB flavours. With average read speeds of about 500MB/s and write speeds of about 350MB/s, it’s one of our favourite storage solutions. If there’s any sensitive information that needs to be stored on the device, or if your kids just want to keep their homework away from prying eyes, the SSD can be password protected if needed. It’s incredibly portable, measuring just 74 x 57 x 10.5mm and weighing only 51g, but all this incredulity comes at a steep price.

Read our in-depth Samsung Portable SSD T5 review

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile

(Image credit: Future)

2. G-Technology G-Drive Mobile

If you’re willing to sacrifice speed for space, then you can snag a G-Technology G-Drive Mobile portable hard drive for under AU$150 for a 1TB option. The G-Drive Mobile also comes with both a USB-C and USB-A cable, so can be plugged into any PC or laptop. Keep in mind that the device has been designed to work with Macs out of the box, but it can easily be formatted to work with a Windows machine without any loss in speed. While not quite as fast as an SSD, it does offer up to 130MB/s speed, which is quite respectable and plenty for schoolwork.

Read our in-depth G-Technology G-Drive Mobile USB-C portable hard drive review

Best back-to-school headphones

Bose SoundLink Wireless II

(Image credit: Bose)

Bose’s signature sound at a more affordable price

While it doesn’t have the noise cancelling abilities of the more premium Bose QC35 II or the newer (and rather strangely named) Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless is wonderfully comfortable to wear for long periods of time and offers the same soundstage as its more expensive siblings. You’ll get up to 15 hours of playback on a single charge, and all the controls needed for music and phone calls can easily be operated by feeling for them. There’s a really nice carry case for toting them around as well, so your kids won’t ruin the earpads getting the cans in and out of their backpacks.

(Image credit: Jabra)

2. Jabra Elite 65t

Cut the cables and still get superb sound

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