2015 Back-to-School Tech Tools Guide – Part II

2015 Back-to-School Tech Tools Guide – Part II

Editors Note: Our man Chris Rauschnot found so many great Back to School Tech Tools, that we decided to break his massive missive up into two parts! WHEW! Part I is available here.

Heading back to school, starting as a freshman or a graduate student? These tech tools, gadgets and backpack should get you through a full day of learning, updating, participating and letting off some steam afterwards.

Booq Cobra Squeeze Backpack $195

Backpacks are essential to carry books and the tech needed to get through the day. The Cobra squeeze is for you. It is comfortable to wear with its wide shoulder straps, has many pockets in a contoured design and can fit a 15” version of the MacBook Pro.

The cool factor is strong with the gray Cobra squeeze. At 47% recycled PET and 53% cotton, the exterior of the backpack is weatherproof and smooth. Water beads nicely off of the top and a breathable mesh on the back helps to vent heat away. Booq integration of YKK zippers last longer than normal versions and they run smoothly.

If the bag is ever lost, there is a chance it could be returned via Booq’s Terralinq lost-and-found service. They will help to recover the bag if it separates from you.

Visit the Booq Website

Linksys EA8500 AC2600 MU-MIMO Smart WiFi Router $279.99


This four adjustable antenna, dual-core 1.4 GHz CPU, 4×4 Wireless AC hotspot router delivers four streams of data, USB 3.0 and eSATA USB 2.0 ports, MU-MIMO, beam forming, simultaneous dual band 2.4GHZ and 5GHZ that delivers speeds up to 2.53Gbps.

If your new device supports it, this Qualcomm MU-MIMO 802.11ac enabled WiFi router, can stream data directly to it sans a slowdown from other wirelessly connected gadgets. Otherwise, it operates much like any other router for the exception of the Smart WiFi admin app.

With a Linksys account and this router, you can keep an eye on connectivity from anywhere. It should offer speed and performance for a few years, as MU-MIMO is an up and coming wireless technology.

Visit the Linksys Website

WD My Passport Ultra 1TB $75.98


One of the largest drawbacks with solid-state drives is their size to price ratio. A dependable and fast 1TB SSD can cost hundreds of dollars. That kind of money can be better utilized at the bookstore, rent or a quick weekend trip to Las Vegas. Save money and get a large drive at the same time with Western Digital’s My Passport Ultra.

The newly engineered drive comes in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB and 3TB sizes. They are all bus powered, which means the USB 3.0 port supplies all of the juice it needs. Worried about dropping it or being jostled in your backpack? Purchase the My Passport Ultra Grip Pack too. Inside you get another USB 3.0 cable and a bumper that fits around the entire drive. This is the first drive company I have seen offer a rubber bumper for their portable hard drives. Each drive size comes in four colors and the Grip Pack comes in five colors.

Buy the WD My Passport Ultra 1TB at Amazon.com

Fusechicken Titan Loop $30


The Titan tough cable from Fusechicken comes in a shorter version that works well as a keychain. Bring it everywhere you might need a USB cable with a lightning tip that is compatible with iPhones and iPads. If you have inquisitive pets that like to chew on expensive gear, Fusechicken Titan Loops and the Titan are your go to cables. Are you driving or thinking about driving for Uber, Lyft or other ride sharing services? This company makes the Bobine Auto that will not fray at the end after months of use.

Visit the Fusechicken Website

TYLT QUIK Quick Charge 2.0 $39.99


The TYLT QUIK car charger adapter is one of a few Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 enabled devices on the market. It intelligently detects what the fastest charge rate for your smartphone or tablet is, no matter what company it is from. With devices that have Quick Charge 2.0 included, the QUIK can charge it up to 75% faster than smartphones without it. Apple gadgets can power up at around 2.4x faster than normal 1A car chargers. It comes in a few colors and has a y split design.

Visit the TYLT Website

TYLT FLYP-DUO Reversible micro USB Cable With Lightning tip $24.99


There have been many micro USB and lightning cables produced over the years. There are only a small few that I have which still work. TYLT has figured out how to make cables that do not fail or break apart. A rubber circular piece holds onto the lightning tip when the micro USB part of the cable is being used. Plug in the standard USB side of the cable any which way you want, it is reversible. It comes in four colors and two lengths of 1ft or 3.3ft. This cable would be a good companion purchase to the TYLT QUIK car charger.

Visit the TYLT Website

Twelve South Compass 2 $39.99


Keeping a full sized iPad Air tablet upright and in a locked position is difficult when flipping pages of a large book around or when trying to watch a show on Netflix. That is where Twelve South’s Compass 2 does the best job. It looks like an art easel when fully deployed. Comprised of heavy gauge steel with a rubber coating in all of the right places. A smaller leg stand in the back of the Compass 2 flips out for a typing mode. The Compass 2 comes in two colors and allows iPads to be viewed in portrait plus landscape modes.

Visit the Twelve South Website

Twelve South PlugBug World $44.99


Taking your MacBook overseas on a backpacking trip, a family vacation or spending a semester abroad? The Twelve South PlugBug World should be on your must have list. Along with multiple power plug connectors in the box, the PlugBug itself has a full sized USB port. The output charging power from the included USB port is 2.1A and can properly accommodate iPads and iPhones. Need additional length to power your MacBook? The standard Apple extension cord works with the PlugBug too.

Visit the Twelve South Website

Incipio OFFgrid Galaxy S6 & Galaxy S6 edge Battery & Memory Case $89.99


Incipio makes some of the most versatile cases and accessories for the hottest smartphones on the market. They have stepped up with the OFFgrid Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge case. How can one case work for both phones with radically different form factors? Two swappable bumpers designed for either are included in the box.

Once the phone is fit into the case, it can charge the S6 or S6 edge fully one additional time via an internal 3,700 mAh battery. But that is not all. A micro SD slot can accommodate up to 128GB of storage. A switch on the side makes it easy to flip from memory mode to charge mode.

While Qi wireless charging is disabled with this case, it does allow for Fast Charge and wireless NFC purchases. There are many pros to the case and one drawback in which its audio port requires a passthrough cable to use corded headphones. Thankfully, there are many high quality Bluetooth headphones available, including the M3 from MiPow.

Visit the Incipio Website

Zagg Pocket Keyboard $69.99


Keyboards built into cases have been around for a few years, but now new types are coming to market. One of the most innovative and currently shipping designs I have seen is from Zagg called the Pocket Keyboard. Named because it easily fits into standard sized pockets.

The strong magnets inside automatically turn on the Bluetooth wireless connectivity when opened and turn off the keyboard when it is closed. Once folded out, it is about 85% of a normal keyboard. I found it easier to type with this than on the new super thin MacBook keyboard. The internal battery is rated to last up to two months on a single charge.

Visit the Zagg Website

Trident Electra Power Base 6000 $89.95


The Electra Power Base 6000 comes with 6,000 mAh of backup battery power. Four LEDs on the front show its charge level. To start charging a device via its Qi power technology, tap the on button and place the device on top. 6k mAh is enough power on reserve to charge a standard smartphone several times. The full sized USB port on the side offers 1A of charge to power most other medium ranged gadgets.

Visit the Trident Website

TYLT BAND for Moto 360 Android Wear Smartwatch $29.99


My Motorola Moto 360 Android Wear smartwatch came with a nice genuine leather band. I immediately wanted to find a new band to replace the leather version, as leather could get marked up after being worn for a while. I also live in a hot environment and leather is not the best material for a wrist. That is why I am happy to see that TYLT came out with a Moto 360 watch BAND. I picked black and it fit well with my large wrist. Its connective clasp and buckle hardware is made of stainless steel. After months of everyday wear, the BAND has faired well.

Visit the TYLT Website

Long lasting portable tech and accessories for your active lifestyle is what quality products is all about. Everything on this wish list is under $300, which should save you some money for a few books or a nice weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Disclosure: I have been sent the products above at no cost for review. I have not been compensated for the review roundup. All thoughts and opinions are mine.