8 Back-to-School Tech Gadget Must-Haves 2016 (for Under $75)

I am trying something new with this blog. To celebrate the back-to-school season for 2016, and inspired by many new tech gadgets that came out, I am compiling these budget must-have tech essentials under $75.

Whether you are a student, a young professional, or an established executive, these curated tech gadgets list will be helpful to you. I am picking the top essential tech that I think will help you get the groove to start this back-to-school 2016′ new season.

Here are the list of the 8 Back-to-School Tech Must Haves for 2016 under $75.



1. Google Chromecast (2nd Generation)$35 falls under the entertainment category, but boy is it a good bang-for-the buck little entertainment gadget you’ll ever buy. This device connects to your TV’s HDMI cable and WiFi connection.

Using either your laptop or phone as a controler, this media streaming device that could can play such awesome services as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBOGo, FX, Epix, and many other TV network apps like HBOGo, MaxGo, Comedy Channle, etc. You can watch all this in your living room’s big screen TV.

If that’s not enough you can also download the Google Chrome Cast plug-in into your browser and do a “cast” of your browser into your TV enabling you to pretty much watch whatever is playing in your browser (and complete with the audio) to your TV. You can also play most video files through your browser and do a cast uing the Videostream plugin.

I have owned the original Google TV, the Roku, an Apple TV but nothing is as satisfyingly awesome as the Google Chromecast, this thing is cheap and affordable and quite possibly the most useful media streaming gadget you’ll find. And at $35 this is a no-brainer.


2.  UE Roll 2 Bluetooth Speak Retails for $80 but can be had for less than $70 or less.


enlight8-com-ueroll2If you’re looking for a clear sounding and loud speaker, look no more. This awesome bluetooth speaker is one of my favorites! Not only is it chic but it is also shockproof and waterproof! Throw this in your bag any day of the week and bring it anywhere from the picnic to the beach.
What’s most surprising is the clarity and loudness that this speaker brings. I’m still pretty surprised when I hear it. It  performs way better than most bluetooth speakers in the market at this price range.
This thing has a 65 ft. Bluetooth range and has addition features such as pairing — basically if you have two of these things you can set them to play together for extreme loudness and set them as a stereo speaker. Pretty impressive.



Additional Recommendation


Higher Price: UE Boom $99 or (much less if bought refurbished)

If you can pay for a bit more, I would seriously consider the older generation UE Boom whether you get this new or refurbished it can get pretty cheap. I own this amazingly loud speaker. Although the newer generation is fully waterproof, the older generation still holds its value fairly well. And if you can afford to, with the prices dropping to less than $99 it is still an amazing deal! I would re-buy it in a heartbeat.


Low Budget: Nude Audio M $22 (down from $69)!

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, but more compact bluetooth speaker without compromising the sound quality, this is currently on sale! I initially bought this for $60, this now down to $22. What to love? This thing is compact, can be held in the palm of your hand. It gets loud (not as loud as my recommendation), and it’s also water proof. If you’re a student in a budget and need a great compact speaker, this is a steal at the moment at $22!




3. Symphonized NRG Wood Headphone$20 on sale now!

If you’re looking to upgrade your stock iPhone earphones (you totally should), I recommend the Symphonized NRG Headphone. Love the price as this is currently on sale for $20 (down from $99). This is an amazing value. Let’s first talk about the sound quality on these, it’s pretty exquisite.
For an in-ear earphone at this price, the clarity of sound and the depth is something you would hear from earphones costing a hell of a lot more. Perhaps because these earphones are made of natural wood that carries the acoustics so well. Don’t worry though, although these are made of wood it feels pretty solid and well-made. I bought the one with the in-line microphone in red and I’m pretty happy with it. Ditch the plastic! Get this earphone, I highly recommend it.

Additional Recommendation


Noise-Canceling: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23

Try the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 retailing on sale at $47. These are a great value if you travel a lot and need to cancel out those airplane noises. It works fairly well with the known Audio Technica sound quality, the price is affordable with the noise-canceling feature. I’ve been happy with these so far and recommend it for the value.



Over-ear Headphone: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

If you have more money to spend around $99 to $139 new, and need the over-ear comfort there is no competition with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50X. These are my go-to for over-ear headphones. Whether you’re using this to do some sound monitoring if you’re mixing music or just enjoying a beautiful record, this will give you an industry standard well-balanced and beautiful sounding cans.





 4. Timbuk2 Parkside Laptop Backpack – $50 retail.

I love messenger bags, but let’s face it — for school and work I prefer a backpack bag. First of all, I’d rather not walk with a limp. And second of all, backpack bags are better for your posture overall. If you want to save your back, use a backpack. The dilemma however is this: it’s a little tough to find a pretty stylish backpack.


Lots of backpacks are awfully ugly. However, as a techie who also loves fashion —  here is my curated list of the sleekest backpack bags that also looks great.


The Timbukt2 Parkside Laptop Backpack have enough room to hold your laptop, external hard drives, book, and anything else you want to transport. It’s sturdy and have enough pockets for easy access for anything you need to each for easily while commuting. In addition, it looks pretty great.

Additional Recommendations

Higher Price:

Just in case you want more options with style and needs — check out the Incase Icon Backpack. Beautifully styled, but a bit on the expensive side retailing at $126.





Lower Price:
If you need another cheap alternative but stylish, check out the Zumit Laptop Backpack at $58. It can fit a 15′ laptop with enough style and finesse for business travels.





 5. Leuchtturm1917 Medium Plain Notebook  $17-19 retail.


For your work or school notes, to-do lists, gratitude journaling (more on this subject later), etc., one must rely on the best of the best notebooks out there. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheap notebooks — but nothing motivates me more than a beautiful notebook at hand. I have been using Moleskine for many years now and I have often thought it was the best out there. That is until I discovered the awesome Leuchtturm1917 notebooks.


Why is the Leuchtturm1917 all kinds of awesome? I have gotten influenced by facets of Bullet Journaling lately and have used some of its features to add an index page into all my notebooks. Goodness how this changed my life — with notebook indexing one can quickly recall what you wrote, when you wrote it, and on what page of the notebook fairly easily. In order for this to work, the notebook should have an index page and contain page numbering (unless you love numbering your pages then go you). The Leuchtturm1917 has all of these features built-in, making it the perfect bullet journaling notebook. If ever the Moleskine suddenly adds the indexing and page numbering features, I will switch back.


However, I still recommend both of these notebooks for your school and work needs. Get a great notebook that will inspire you to write well and recall the information you wrote from work, school, and any of your journaling/ideas archiving needs!


Additional Recommendation


Moleskine Notebook Plain – $13



6. Amazon Echo Dot (2nd Generation – 2016) – Retails at $50enlight8-com-echodot2.

Turn your home or dorm into a smart home. Or at least adopt yourself a friendly smart friend named “Alexa.” Amazon’s initial release of Amazon Echo, its smart speaker, voice-activated smart hub — it out-competed Siri into many smart homes. This $180 device was a fairly ok speaker (but seriously can’t compete with the UE Roll or Boom though) but it was quite pricey.

This week, Amazon released the second generation Echo Dot, the smaller brethren of the original Amazon Echo which also enables you to bring your own Bluetooth speaker for pairing with it, just in case you kinda don’t like the Echo’s speaker capability. The awesomeness of this release is, it costs $50 for Amazon Prime right now! I snatched myself one and cannot wait to try it. Get one of your own, and bring an awesome smart friend named Alexa to your home!




 7. – Nook Simple Touch Reader $59 (or cheaper used).

enlight8-com-nook-simpletouch2I’m an avid reader. An ebook reader is an awesome tool to take a whole lot of books with you. It’s also a great device for reading books, less strain to the eyes and more comfortable for the long haul of enjoying a book. Although I love to still buy actual books, my reading habits have heavily involved my ebook reader coupled with actual paper or hardcover books.


How I Read Books:

In order to maintain a minimalist and less cluttered life, I have adopted the Marie Kondo KonMari method — and that is keeping only the books that are the ‘best of the best’ in my opinion. Only my favorite books remain in my bookcase. And the way a book lover can do that is through an e-book reader. I use my e-book reader to read books and if I love it enough, it may deserve a place in my bookcase, then at that point I buy it used.

My favorite recommended ebook reader is still the Nook Simple Touch, bar none. Even though most have bought the Kindle ebook reader, I still stick to the Nook Simple Touch for the actual right and left page turning buttons. It also has a simple interface and the ability to use a microSD card to expand the storage size. Only the 1st Generation Kindle had this feature and it was taken out after. I have had my Nook Simple Touch for almost five years now and it still works great! I am hoping it will last for many years to come — here’s to hoping Barnes and Noble keeps this device line running for a long time.




8. Evernote – Free (or Premium $35/yr)

For any note-keeping and ideas archiving, nothing beats Evernote. It also integrates with every popular browser as a plugin, it has the ability to send emails directly into it for notes storage, and it supports all popular OS and mobile devices for accessibility. If you have never used Evernote, I recommend trying it ASAP. You can try it for free, but a paid Premium subscription — will gives you more features such as offline access of your notes, 10GB more of upload storage (actually their free 1GB storage is more than enough for me), the ability to search into PDFs, Presentation mode, more annotation features.


If this doesn’t appeal to you, do the free version. You may upgrade once your needs surpass it. Another great way to try it also is to buy the Evernote Moleskine (free 3 months Evernote premium) notebook. Apparently Moleskine partnered with Evernote to give you three free months of subscription for buying this notebook which is a great way to start!


For work, school, personal uses — nothing really beats for notes, journaling, ideas archiving. I highly recommend it!



Additional Recommendations


Pilot G2 Premium Gel Ball Pen – $11 for 12-pack.

If you need a pen, my go-to pen is the Pilot G2 Gel ball pen. It is very affordable and provides an excellent writing experience with beautifully smooth ink quality. If you need to write on your notebooks, you seriously need to use these high quality pens and never go back. I’m a pen addict, but the G2 is my go-to if you need a pen anywhere. I recommend the .5mm or the .7mm ones for note taking and personal journaling.



I hope you enjoy this list! Feel free to comment and click for your support.

Happy Back-to-School 2016!




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