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7 Essential Back-to-School Items for 2014

The end of summer is fast approaching and that can only mean one thing for students: back-to-school frenzy. But before you go shopping, be smart about your purchases, especially if you're on a budget. Luckily, we’ve come up with a crash course list of gadgets and gifts perfect for any student.

Adobe Ink and Slide - $199

The Adobe Ink and Slide bundle is a stylus writing device designed for the artist in you. Further, it’s one of the more fascinating tools you can use with your iPad. 

The stylus, which Adobe called the "cloud pen," is a fine-tipped, pressure sensitive device that feels surprisingly natural when you put pen to tablet. For example, the more pressure you put to the iPad, the thicker your lines become, thus making your brush strokes seem more realistic. Meanwhile, the slide device, which almost works like a T-square, helps you trace all sorts of lines and shapes perfectly. Ideal for any creative design or architecture class.

Why we love it? The possibilities are limitless. Great for students striving toward a career in a creative field.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite - $119

There’s plenty of e-readers on the market, but Amazon’s latest Kindle Paperwhite is, quite simply, the best. The newest model offers a 25% faster processor, a next-generation built-in light, a better text-to-background contrast, and a more responsive touch screen, especially when compared to the original Kindle Paperwhite. You can browse over 2 million titles and even subscribe to your favorite newspapers and magazines. 

Why we love it? Amazon’s latest e-reader has limited web browsing capability, which sounds like a drawback, but it isn’t. For the most part, Amazon’s web browser is made to access text-based sites like Wikipedia, Dictionary.com, as well as blogs and news sources, leaving your child with a nearly distraction-free device.

13-Inch Toshiba Chromebook - $299

The Toshiba Chromebook is one of the most popular laptops in schools this year, amassing more than one million units sold last quarter alone. The reason? It’s cheap. Very cheap. The 13-inch Chromebook model comes in at a reasonable $299, making it one of the most affordable laptops on the market. 

The Chromebook’s success can also be attributed to its wide array of functionality. Google’s expansion into a number of different products and services — such as Google Docs, spreadsheets, slideshows, mail and a full library of downloadable Chrome OS apps — help students with an array of work. Our favorite app goes to Pixlr, a solid alternative to Photoshop. Bonus: it’s free. 

Why we love it? While we love all the functionality that comes with the Chromebook, it’s best feature is the 9-hour battery life, which is comparable to that of the Macbook Pro. But you’ll be saving more than $600. 

Hoover Air Cordless - $299

They say a cluttered room is a cluttered mind. So set your kids up for success and teach them the value of cleanliness. 

The Hoover vacuum comes with two removable 25-minute runtime lithium ion batteries, a battery charger, a reusable filter, a swiveling dusting brush, a dusting-crevice tool combo, and an extra brush roll made specifically for non-carpet floors.

Why we love it? The Hoover Air Cordless ushers in a new, hybrid vacuum category that combines mobility with cleaning power. The result is the cordless upright — a model that let’s you clean every entire inch of your house without plugging into an outlet. That makes cleaning faster and easier, an easy sell for a lazy kid. 

Vertuoline Nepresso - $299

If you want to make sure your kid gets to his 7 a.m. lecture alert and on-time, the Vertuoline Nepresso is one of the top single-serve coffee and espresso makers on the market. It offers premium taste with its proprietary selection of barcoded “Grand Crue” coffee and expresso pods, and a simple one-touch design for all its functionality. Voila.

Why we love it? What separates the Vertuoline Nespresso from its competition is Nespresso's signature "crema layer," which adds an exceptional gourmet look and taste to your daily dose of caffeine.

Tylt Energi 10K Battery Pack - $99

A battery pack might not look like a flashy back-to-school gift. But the Tylt Energi 10K is a perfect gift for any student. With its three universal USB ports, it can power a cellphone, tablet, and laptop simultaneously. When fully charged, it packs 2,000mAh of power, which equates to around three full iPhone 5s charges. 

Why we love it? The Tylt Energi 10K Battery Pack gives you peace of mind when your portable gadgets are running low. I can’t count how many times I skipped out on class when my laptop died. 

Alite Ochiba Pack (Backpack) - $105

The Ochiba Pack is a multi-use backpack that can be used for hiking, a day at the beach, or lugging your computer and textbooks around campus. It is made of lightweight, water-resistant waxed cordura. It's both easy on your back and durable enough to get through every occasion. There are two large pockets, a laptop sleeve, a nifty pocket organizer and even a luggage-style grip handle for your travels. 

Why we love it? Alite’s biggest selling point is a lifetime warranty.