Must Have Back to School Gadgets

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For today’s college go-ers, technology is all about mobility. Whether you’ve outfitted your co-ed with a laptop, smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, or all of the above, here are some essential accessories for mobile college computing.

Hand held devices such as tablets and smartphones are great for taking notes, capturing photos and compiling research from the net, but what do you do when you want to get data off a mobile gadget and into the hands of your teacher, or onto your PC? Traditional USB flash drives offer additional storage in an uber-portable device, but they aren’t particularly useful for getting stuff and off a device that doesn’t have a USB drive.

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Flash Drive (, $50 for 64GB) beautifully marries the portability of a flash drive with the data accessibility of a WiFi enabled hard drive. It looks just like a traditional USB flash drive, but there’s a power button on the side. Press the button and the Connect Wireless begins broadcasting it’s own WiFi network that up to eight in-range devices can connect to, no Internet required. The drive can simultaneously stream data to up to three devices, so you can share class notes, photos and videos with classmates, roommates or your study group. Any devices that can connect to a WiFi network can get to the data. Just remember to passcode protect the Connect’s network to limit who can see your stuff.

One of the biggest challenges to the usefulness of mobile devices is in their limited battery life. For power users, it’s a coup just making it through to the end of the day before your phone or tablet shuts off from lack of juice. One of the top names in portable battery charging, Anker, has a compact portable charger that can keep all your gadgets humming the whole day – and night – though. The Anker Astro E7 compact portable charger (, $80) can charge just about anything in your arsenal quickly and it offers a huge capacity for it’s small size – about 6.5 inches by 3 inches.

You could charge an iPhone 6 from dead up to ten times before needing to recharge the Astro E7, and it can power up just about anything with a USB-based power adapter (which covers most mobile devices). There are three ports for simultaneous charging, and the best part is that the Anker identifies the device that you plug in and automatically sets the charging speed to the fastest that your device can safely handle.

There are never enough outlets in the coffee house or library to accommodate the laptops of your study group, if there are any up for grabs at all. Come packing your own power strip and suddenly sharing the juice from limited outlets isn’t such an imposition on your classmates. With a Quirky “Pivot Power” Flexible Surge Protector Power Strip (, $20-30), you get six surge-protected outlets in a colorful, flexible strip. Not only can you make the best use of available space (wrapping it around a table leg, weaving it around your couch), but you can also customize the shape to accommodate more of those bulky laptop power bricks.

You’ve got a great playlist of study tunes on your phone, but the broadcasting capability of mobile devices typically lack dimension and depth. Anker’s Portable Bluetooth Speaker (, $40) is about the size of a Rubik’s cube but delivers some serious high-definition sound. Quickly connect any Bluetooth-enabled device to stream audio files, or plug in with the included 3.5mm audio cable. The speaker runs on a long-life rechargeable battery, so it’s great on the go. And its tiny size makes it easy to pop in your bag and take along to your friend’s house or to your next outdoors study session.

Powering through schoolwork at the library or coffee shop is all fine and good… until you have to go to the bathroom. Do you load up all your gear and lose your prime table by the window? Or do you risk leaving your laptop unattended on the table? Argh!

The Kensington ClickSafe Combination Laptop Lock (, $35) is like a bike lock for your laptop. The steel-composite cable runs about 6 feet long so you can wrap it around a nearby sturdy object, and it attaches to your computer’s Kensington Security Slot, a nifty plug-in slot found on 99% of notebooks. The locking mechanism itself is a combination lock, so you don’t have to stress about losing the key. In addition to letting you lock down your laptop when you’re on the go, it lets dorm residents secure their devices back at home. It’s compatible with a wide variety of desktop PCs, monitors, printers and even some tablets.

Finally, Sounddot’s Blackloud Wireless Bluetooth Speakers (, $60 on Amazon) are cordless ear buds that offer impressive range and sound quality with some nifty bonus features like long battery life (you just charge them when you charge your phone) and cool magnet tips that keep them safe around your neck when you aren’t using them. The biggest selling feature for me is never again yanking my phone out of my pocket when I snag my headphone cord on a passing countertop or drawer.

Whatever mobile devices you pack along to school or work, make room for some accessories to help you get the most out of your gadgets.

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at

Video Transcript

Marianne: Ryan Eldridge again, and some of the essential accessories for mobile college computing.

Ken: Nerd alert. Nerd alert. Not just Ryan, but also the nerd in training. Who is this distinguished young gentleman here?

Ryan: Who are you, Jackson?

Jackson: Jackson.

Ryan: Yeah.

Ken: Good morning. How are you? You all right? You know the best thing about this is?

Jackson: What?

Ken: You’re rocking this. It’s called a pocket square. That’s awesome. You keep doing that, man, you’re gonna be a step ahead of everybody, forever. Also, if you listen to your mom and pop about electronics and tech stuff, you’ll always be a step ahead. This is all about keeping college students on the go, able to do their work anywhere at any time.

Ryan: Yeah. Toss all this stuff in your backpack and you’ve got college mastered. No problem.

Ken: Really? Do tell.

Ryan: So, we’ll start with this first. So let’s talk about, a lot of times you’ve got thumb drives, right? You’ve got a ton of thumb drives. This is a great little thumb drive. It’s 64GB, but there’s a secret. There’s a little on/off switch which creates it’s own wireless network, so you can wirelessly transfer things to and from your PC. Up to three users can use it at once, so you can store your movies and music on there.

Ken: That’s huge.

Ryan: And so you don’t have to worry about carrying a big hard-drive around, or if you’ve just got a Microsoft Surface or something or a tablet or a phone you can get to all your files in an instant, which is kinda great.

Ken: I like it.

Ryan: This is from Anker. This is a charging station. This is called the Anker Astro E7. The great thing about this is you can plug an iPhone into it, a tablet into it, or even a laptop into it and charge it. This’ll charge an iPhone 6 up to 10 times before it needs to be recharged. It’s about $80.

Ken: And I assume it goes a lot faster than when you put it and attach it to your computer. It takes a lot longer to charge that way.

Ryan: Yeah. It has some technology in it that figures out what kind of device is attached to it and charges it as fast as it can handle safely, which is kinda nice.

Ken: Oh. Nice.

Ryan: So this is kind of cool this is called, by Quirky. So we always get those power strips, or we don’t have enough plug-ins in the classroom or in our dorm room. This is pretty cool because it’s flexible, and see you can wrap it around things. Or if you have a really bulky charger that goes right in the middle, you can mess with it. It’s kinda neat.

Ken: And, you know, it’s an awesome necklace as well.

Ryan: That’s only $30 and it’s from Quirky.

Ken: All the kids…jealous of you, man.

Ryan: Looking good, bud.

Ken: That is swag Jackson. That’s what they call swag on the streets young man.

Ryan: So we all need to listen to music when we’re at school. Everybody knows this. This is also by Anker. This is a Bluetooth speaker, but it’s got batteries in it. It’ll last about 20 hours, and it’s got high def sound. So it’s one of the best Bluetooth speakers that I’ve heard, outside of Bose, and this runs only about $40. That’s pretty cool.

Ken: Nice.

Ryan: Now if you’re also, if you’re doing school, lot of time you’re in Starbucks. You’re not in a secure location. “Oh! I need to go to the bathroom” or I need to go pick something up at the printer. This is the Kingston Lock Safe. You can attach that to your laptop or monitor. There’s a little switch on the side where you can attach it to, and that way you can lock it down to a table leg and nobody can just run off with your laptop. And that runs about $35.

Ken: And then I need you to talk about this. I received this as a gift for Father’s Day, and they’re awesome. I just don’t know how to use them yet.

Ryan: Well, they’re Bluetooth, and the nice thing is, all you gotta do is, when you first turn it on, hold that down. There’ll be a little light that’ll turn red and blue, red and blue, red and blue. Set up your phone to pair with it, and it’ll just connect. And the nice thing is, there’s a little battery indicator on your phone that’ll tell you how much battery life you have left. So these are wireless Bluetooth head phones.They’ve got a great little magnet there so you can wear it around your neck when you’re not using it. It’s also sweat-proof and slightly water-proof, so if you are working out or running, you’re gonna have no problem at all keeping ’em on and not worry about damaging them. Very cool.

Ken: I like it. Great information. You know you carried the show again, Jackson. You carried it again brother. You did a great job, a wonderful job.

Ryan: You nailed it. You nailed it.

Ken: Seriously, wear that necklace all day. All these items are gonna be linked to our site at Always good see you.

Ryan: Hey. Good to see you.

Ken: It’s always been great information, and you brought your friend with us.

Ryan: Yeah. He did a good job.

Ken: I like that. And back to you.

Marianne: All right. Very good. Always good stuff with the Nerd On Call.

Video Transcript

Jeff: Okay, Tom, thanks. With school back in session, it’s time to start stocking up on school supplies. And for today’s college-goers, technology is all about mobility, whether you’re outfitted…you’re a college student with a laptop, smartphone, tablet, mp3 player, or all of the above. We’ve got a nerd in here. And he’s not offended…oh, me?

Ryan: You’re kind of nerdy, too.

Jeff: We’re both nerds. Ryan Eldridge, co-founder of Nerds on Call here with some essential accessories. Ryan, we go way back.

Ryan: We do.

Jeff: For years.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jeff: This guy and I did a lot of segments together in Sacramento, and I love having you on. So glad you made it to Las Vegas because you have the latest and greatest technology. Today’s first day of school for kids.

Ryan: Yeah, first day of school.

Jeff: So if these kids don’t have it already, what are we looking at here?

Ryan: All right, so let’s start with something that’s super cool. I love this thing right here. This is called the SanDisk. I don’t know if we’re going to get a close-up on it or not. I’ll try to hold it here nice and still. This is the SanDisk. This looks like a normal flash drive. It’s 64 gigabytes. But if you take a look real closely you’ll see it blinking every now and then. That’s because it starts up its own wireless network.

Jeff: Really?

Ryan: That way you can connect to it wirelessly. Get all your photos, videos, all that kind of stuff.

Jeff: Wow.

Ryan: You can have up to eight devices connected to it at once. You can stream video to up to three devices, in HD quality. This is pretty fantastic.

Jeff: I’ve never seen anything like that before.

Ryan: Yep, and If you’re a mobile guy and you’ve got like your iPad or something, and you got limited storage, you can store all your stuff on there and get it or send it directly to your professor.

Jeff: Okay. The kids will love that.

Ryan: This is 50 bucks for 64 gigs.

Jeff: Okay. What else do we have here?

Ryan: So let’s say you also got your iPad or iPhone, and you’re in the library, and everybody’s got all of the outlets taken.

Jeff: Right.

Ryan: This is by Anker. This is 80 bucks. This will charge an iPhone 6 up to 10 times. It has three USB ports on it, so that way you can connect extra devices. It’ll also charge up an iPad or a laptop.

Jeff: You know what? That could also come into play at the airport because the outlets are always taken up at the airport. So that’s another option as well.

Ryan: That’s called the Anker Astro E7.

Jeff: And how much is that?

Ryan: That’s about 80 bucks.

Jeff: Eighty bucks, okay.

Ryan: All right.

Jeff: What is this?

Ryan: Now we’re talking about outlets. This is called the Quirky. This is pretty cool. So you can put all your different outlets on there, and it’s adjustable in size, so you can wrap it around different things, or if you’ve got a really large brick on there, you can kind of just expand it out. Is that pretty cool? That’s about 30 bucks.

Jeff: Well, I mean yeah, you can use it for that or, you know, a necklace of some kind. I guess if you want to walk around…

Ryan: If you’re going out to a rave, you’re going to need something cool to differentiate yourself, and that’s the way to go.

Jeff: It is Vegas. Anything goes.

Ryan: This is nerd bling, right here. That’s very [inaudible 00:02:36].

Jeff: That’s nerd bling.

Ryan: Okay, so there’s a million Bluetooth speakers out there. This is also by Anker, the same one that makes the charger. The great thing about this is, it’s got HD quality sound. It’s a 20-hour battery life. So if you take that and you’re in a dorm and you want to have a quick party or something, hook this thing up. And it’s Bluetooth connected, so that way you can connect any Bluetooth device, but there’s also a 3.5 inch cable, one of those little auxiliary cables, so you can plug your phone directly into it.

Jeff: Nice.

Ryan: And get great HD quality sound, 40 bucks.

Jeff: That’s just 40 bucks?

Ryan: This thing will compare with the Bose. I was at Costco and I put this next to the Bose, and this sounded just as good.

Jeff: Okay.

Ryan: But 40 bucks instead of 200 bucks.

Jeff: That’ll be popular this year. What else are we looking at?

Ryan: One of our last one’s the King Safe Lock for your laptop. This is kind of weird. You connect it to a little port on your laptop, and you wrap it around like your desk or whatever. Or if you’re at Starbucks and you’re getting their free Wi-Fi, you can wrap your laptop around this thing–

Jeff: Oh, that way if you step up and grab a drink, you don’t turn around, and your laptop’s gone.

Ryan: Yeah, nobody’s going to just grab it and run because it’s locked down.

Jeff: Think of it as a bike lock for your laptop.

Ryan: It is. It is exactly that.

Jeff: Okay.

Ryan: So last thing here. This is called the Soundot. This is by Blackloud. I love these. These are Bluetooth headphones. And one of the coolest parts of these is, if you’re into working out and stuff, you usually get the cord caught on you as you’re like running on the treadmill or whatever. Well, these are totally wireless, and they got this cool magnet here that just connects them together.

Jeff: Oh, okay.

Ryan: So you can wear it as a necklace, when you’re not…just put it under your shirt nobody knows you’re wearing it and then pull it out and put it on your ears.

Jeff: How much are those?

Ryan: These are about 80 bucks if you get it on Amazon. If you go direct to the manufacturer they’re 200 bucks.

Jeff: Okay.

Ryan: And they sound great. They don’t have the little buzz that most Bluetooth stuff have. And they’re not waterproof, but they’re water-resistant so if you sweat a lot, you’re not going to have a problem.

Jeff: All this stuff is great. Ryan, with Nerds on Call, real quick your website is…?

Ryan:, or you can call us at 800-919-NERD.

Jeff: Thank you, nerd for coming on and talking to us.

Ryan: You’re welcome.

Jeff: And Crystal, we’ll send it back to you.

Crystal: From one nerd to another, in a good way though, I want that nerd bling. Can you bring that over here?

Jeff: I’ll bring you a necklace.

Crystal: I liked it. I loved it. Great interview, guys. Loved it, loved–