Technology

30 Best Back-to-School Deals on Laptops, Headphones, and More

back-to-school season is officially here. Whether you’re heading back to a physical or virtual classroom, starting a new school year calls for stocking up on new notebooks, folders, pens, and more. It’s also a great time to upgrade your tech, to help make those study sessions easier on the brain. Of course, investing in fresh supplies and gadgets isn’t cheap—but we’re here to help. Below, we’ve rounded up all the best deals on various gear, from laptops and noise-canceling headphones to laptop stands, planners, and more.

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Laptop and Tablet Deals

Asus Chromebook Flip C434 

Photograph: Asus

This holds the title of Best Overall in our Best Chromebooks buying guide for its power, price, and features. The 14-inch, 1080p display is bright and sharp, the battery will last you all day (we got 11 hours in testing), and its build is versatile. As a 2-in-1, you can use it in laptop mode to get homework done during the day and switch to tablet mode to stream Netflix before bed. The m3 chip will also power you through standard tasks like web browsing, word processing, and video calls.

The Surface Laptop Go 2 is an excellent student pick, especially if you’re looking for a solid and affordable alternative to the pricier MacBook. WIRED UK reviewer Adam Speight says it has one of the best keyboards for typing essays and a capable 11th-generation Intel chip. While it doesn’t have the best battery life, he says, the laptop “is an absolute joy to use.” If you have room in your budget, we recommend upgrading to 8 gigabytes of RAM.

If you’re a fan of iPadOS, we recommend the iPad Air (8/10, WIRED Recommends) for getting work done. Packing the same M1 processor as the iPad Pro and MacBook Air, it’s the most powerful tablet for its price. With support for the Smart and Magic Keyboards, along with the second-generation Apple Pencil, you can also use it as a laptop, notebook, or sketchpad. The higher-resolution 12-megapixel sensor is also ideal for virtual classes.

Apple iPad Mini (2022)

Photograph: Apple

The iPad Mini (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is super compact, making it a great on-the-go slate on days you’re going back and forth between classes and the library. It packs a large 8.3-inch display (with slimmer bezels than its predecessors), the latest A15 Bionic processor, upgraded cameras on the front and back, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. When you opt for the cellular model and plan, you’ll also be able to take advantage of the sub-6 5G connectivity.

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is our favorite 2-in-1 laptop. Each configuration has an 11th-generation Intel chip, a refresh rate that can be set to 120-Hz, and a 1080p webcam. We also highly recommend purchasing the Microsoft Type Cover (which pairs well with the built-in kickstand) for the full tablet-laptop experience.

Looking for a cheaper iPad alternative? The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a solid choice for both work and play. It has a nice LCD screen, impressive speakers, and battery life that should last you through a typical school day. The S6 Lite also comes with an S-Pen that attaches magnetically to the tablet. While this model is two years old, it’ll still get Android 13—enabling all the new improvements coming to Android tablets. That said, it will be the last OS update this tablet will receive.

We haven’t tested this Wacom tablet, but they’re great for anyone studying graphic design, photo editing, animation, and other creative professions. The One by Wacom is super portable and also compatible with MacOS and Windows, and is Chromebook certified. It dipped to this price back in May, but since it rarely goes on sale we consider this a great deal.

Smart Display and Smartwatch Deals

Google Nest Hub Max

Photograph: Best Buy

The school year is a busy time, and a good smart display can keep you up-to-date on class assignments, calendar events, reminders, and more. The Nest Hub Max holds the top spot in our buying guide. It offers a large 10-inch touchscreen display, good speakers, a camera that can be used for video calls (you can purchase a webcam cover for privacy), along with a simple design that can blend into all types of interior decor. It fluctuates in price, and it dipped even lower, to $169, last month, but this is still a good deal. 

The Google Nest Hub (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is a great alternative to the Nest Hub Max, especially if you don’t need a camera. The smart display also packs technology that tracks your sleep cycle throughout the night (including REM, light, and deep sleep) and offers tips on how to improve your sleep quality.

Lenovo’s Smart Clock 2 is one of the smallest smart displays out there, making it easy to squeeze onto a compact nightstand. The 4-inch LCD touchscreen is great for checking the time, looking at the weather, or playing news headlines while getting ready for class (the front-firing speakers are a great touch too). This version also has a wireless charging dock built in, so you can charge your phone throughout the night.

Apple Watch Series 7

Photograph: Apple

Whether you’re a student-athlete or hitting the gym after class, a smartwatch is an easy way to keep track of your metrics. For iPhone users, we love the Apple Watch Series 7 (8/10, WIRED Recommends). Compared to its predecessor, it has a larger display with stronger glass, and it’s more water- and dust-resistant. It’s worth noting that Apple will likely launch its next-generation smartwatch in September, but this is still a great choice if you want to save money.

The Apple Watch SE (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is the best option for most people—particularly those who don’t need advanced features like an SPO2 sensor or ECG monitor. It’s an entry-level tracker that offers standard smartwatch features like step count, heart rate monitoring, and workout modes. But it also packs an S5 chip (making it faster than the Series 3 and Series 5), increased memory, and fall detection. 

Headphone Deals

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Photograph: Samsung

The Galaxy Buds Pro (9/10, WIRED Recommends) are our top pick for Samsung phones. They’re less than the price of the AirPods Pro but offer better battery life, excellent microphone quality, and a wireless charging case. In terms of sound, WIRED associate editor Parker Hall says these buds have some of the clearest and cleanest bass he’s heard from wireless earbuds.

These are currently our favorite earbuds. They offer great integration with both iOS and Android, along with great sound, decent mics, noise cancellation, and a comfortable fit. Apple’s proprietary H1 headphone chip ensures that they work like AirPods with an iPhone, but these also play nice with Android—allowing you to customize controls and perform a fit test for proper bass. 

Clip the coupon button on the page to see the discount at checkout. If you enjoy gaming after a stressful school day, the HyperX Cloud Alpha headphones could make a great addition to your setup. These received a very rare 10/10 in our review for their crazy battery life. WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft hit 200 hours of listening time before having to recharge them (they’re rated for 300 hours). In addition to insane battery life, they also have great sound, a sufficient mic, and good built quality. 

The Sony WF-1000XM4 (9/10, WIRED Recommends) is our pick for the best overall headphones in our buying guide. They come with an ergonomic design, 30 hours of battery life, and top-tier sound quality. Sony also improved the call quality from its predecessor with new microphones and better processing, which makes them great for Zoom classes.

Webcam and Accessory Deals

Razer Kiyo X Full HD Webcam

Photograph: Razer

In 2022 a high-quality webcam is essential. Razer’s Kiyo X is the best for most people. It shoots 1080p-resolution video at 30 frames per second, or 720p resolution at 60 frames per second. The Kiyo X doesn’t have an integrated ring light like the original version, but its automatic white balance and color saturation work so well you don’t even need it. With its improved image software, we actually prefer this to the ring light version.

Anker’s B600 received an honorable mention in our Best Webcams buying guide. It has excellent video quality, and if your computer is powerful enough, it can stream up to 2K resolution. We recommend it for a monitor though, since it’s too heavy to hang from a laptop screen. It dipped to $175 last month, but since it’s an expensive webcam, we consider this a decent deal.

The Apple Pencil now works with the entire iPad lineup. It’s a great tool for drawing and taking notes, as well as marking up or signing documents. With handwriting support in a variety of search fields on iPadOS, you can now manually write in your query instead of switching to the keyboard. Additional features include the ability to switch between tools with a double-tap, wireless pairing and charging, tilt and pressure sensitivity, and more. 

Photograph: Samsung

Samsung’s T7 Shield is a great option if you need extra storage on the go—1 terabyte of storage to be exact. With a rubberized exterior it’s also super durable, so you can just throw it in your backpack without having to worry about accidentally breaking it. 

Clip the coupon button on the page to see the discount at checkout. The one downside to high-end iPad models is that there’s only one USB-C port, which can get annoying if you want to plug in an accessory but also need to charge the tablet. The StayGo Mini from Twelve South fixes that—simply plug it into the USB-C port and you’ll have a headphone jack, HDMI output, USB-A port, and an extra USB-C port. Before hitting the buy button, it’s worth double-checking that your iPad has a USB-C port and not a Lightning port.

Clip the coupon button on the page to see the discount at checkout. This USB hub not only offers extra USB ports and 4K HDMI output, but it also comes with an external M.2 solid-state drive enclosure. That way, you can insert an internal SSD card that you can easily access whenever you plug it into your computer.

If your backpack is on its last legs, it might be time for a new one. We love Monos’ Metro Backpack for various reasons, one of which being its detachable front pouch. You can use it to store things like your tampons, makeup, pens, or your wallet. It can definitely hold both a laptop and tablet—there’s also a 15-inch laptop pocket inside—with room for other essentials like notebooks and folders. The vegan version is also on sale for $167 ($48 off).

Nnewvante Laptop Stand

Photograph: Amazon

Clip the coupon button on the page to see the discount at checkout. This is our favorite laptop stand if you prefer working from your bed or couch. The stand’s height isn’t adjustable, but you can raise the base to position it at the best angle for typing, sketching, or watching a movie on a tablet. It also comes with extra space for your coffee mug and a small drawer.

If you’re looking for an affordable laptop stand for your desk, this is our go-to pick. Made of particleboard, it’s capable of holding both a monitor and laptop. It also has three sections (two adjustable sides and one middle piece) that you can collapse and remove entirely. There’s even room underneath for storing a keyboard, notebooks, and more. 

Moleskin’s Pro Planner is a cult favorite in our roundup of the best planners. The Moleskine Pro Weekly Vertical allows you to subdivide the page layouts into daily tasks and category to-dos, making it a great option for those with busy schedules. 

The Happy Planner is a good first planner for those who don’t typically use them but want to start. WIRED reviewer Louryn Strampe says it comes with a few bells and whistles, but doesn’t feel overwhelming. You’ll also find cute divider tabs—some of which include quotes and phrases that don’t feel corny.

School Supplies and Gift Card Deals

Photograph: Javier Zayas Photography/Getty Images

If you need to replenish your collection of sharpies, pens, glue, and more, you can save $10 off select school supplies when you spend $30 at Amazon. The offer will automatically be applied at checkout. 

It’s no secret that the cost of school supplies adds up, fast. Walmart is offering a variety of back-to-school essentials for under $1 or less. You’ll find everything from folders and notebooks to paperclips, glue sticks, crayons, and more.

If you’re looking for a gift for that student in your life, a DoorDash gift card is a great choice. There’s no better way to help fuel those late-night cramming sessions than ordering in. 

Looking for more deals? You’re in luck. Best Buy is currently holding its anniversary sale until August 14. Be sure to check out our full roundup for all the best deals, including more laptops, tablets, and headphones, along with TVs and soundbars.

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