HotHardware's 2010 Back To School Shopping Guide

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Peripheral / Accessory Shopping Guide

Now that you've stocked up on the essentials, there are a few things to consider just for fun. You know, something to spend all of that high school graduation gift money on. Any freshman will tell you that a set of earbuds is essential on campus; whether you're zoning out in a boring lecture or just trying to listen to a lecture podcast without disturbing others in the library, it's a product that'll definitely come in handy.

Sleek Audio's SA1 earbuds are decidedly mid-range, but for $80, they offer quite a nice feature set. They ship with custom tuning heads for tweaking the sound, and they provide outstanding audio quality for the money. In order to find any better, you'll need to pay over three times as much. $80 isn't cheap, but considering the features and sound quality, we think they're a solid value.

If you're buying a desktop replacement notebook, you may get frustrated by having to re-attach your mouse, keyboard, LCD monitor, etc. to your laptop each time you return from class. To solve that, you'll need a docking station. Few machines actually ship these days with proprietary docking stations, but Toshiba has just released a new universal one that's full of useful features for students.

The Dynadock V is a compact USB docking station that works with any laptop that has a USB port, and it allows for up to 4 USB 2.0 devices to be connected, Ethernet, a 3.5mm audio jack and even a VGA display with up to 1920x1080 resolution. The $119.99 price isn't cheap, but the convenience of never having to re-plug everything in is invaluable.

Recommending a mouse to an incoming college kid is too easy. But how about a mouse that's different than any other mouse out there? The Swiftpoint mouse isn't exactly made to be used like the rest; it's designed to be used on your notebook's trackpad surface, so you can have the functionality of a mouse without requiring the extra space that a mouse generally requires.

This finger-led device just started shipping, and if you get a larger notebook with a larger palm rest, this may solve your issues with having to rely on a trackpad for everything. It's easy to recharge, easy to travel with and has the potential to really improve your productivity. At $69.95, it's not cheap, but it's not bad for something so revolutionary.

We know, it's all probably a bit overwhelming. School, classes, a social life... not to mention social networking. But hopefully our recommendations here have given you a solid foundation to work from, and with a few clicks and a some dings to the credit card, you should be well on your way to passing each and every course that comes your way. Of course, tech can't do all of the work for you, but at least you'll have taken some steps in the right direction. Isn't that right, Mr. PhD?

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