HotHardware 2016 Back-to-School Tech Shopping Guide

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Accessories, Gadgets, and Gears

NVIDIA SHIELD Pro With Plex Media Server: Starting at $199.99 USD

Are you looking for a console that can stream games from your PC too? Do you want to show off photos from your semester abroad on the big screen and maybe stream a little Netflix? You should definitely check out the NVIDIA SHIELD Pro With Plex Media Server. The console and app combo smoothly plays HD videos and is a quiet device that will not wake up roommates. The NVIDIA SHIELD Pro With Plex Media Server even includes an internal 500GB hard drive which can store a ton of TV shows, movies, videos, and pictures. Our full review and experience with the setup is here for your viewing pleasure

shield plex media server


34-inch Acer Predator With G-Sync
 - $1199 now at Amazon

When you are in dorm room or other small living space, it is important that your devices can multi-task. The 34-inch Acer Predator With G-Sync (full review) is a gorgeous display that can perform double duty as a computer monitor and a television screen. The 100 Hz overclock setting, 34-inches of beauty and G-Sync is ideal for gaming, while the display obviously large enough to turn any device or PC attached to it into a reasonably good sized streaming home theater. You might want to give the Acer Predator a look, if you can afford the "Benjamin's" and you are interested in a multi-purpose capable curved display. It is one of our favorite PC panels ever. 

Acer Predator X34 Front


Samsung Portable SSD T3: Starting at $99.99 USD 

School means assignments and assignments means media, files and more that require storage. The Samsung Portable SSD T3 offers up to 2TB of external USB 3.1 storage. In our tests the device handled large, sequential transfers and 4K transfers at low queue depths incredibly well for an external drive. It also includes USB Type-C connectivity. The Samsung Portable SSD T3 is sure to effectively and quickly transfer your materials and other critical deliverables, and keep them all safe and sound.

samsung t3 ssd 1


Suissewin Geneve Laptop Backpack: $39.99 USD At Amazon


How are you going to carry that HotHardware-recommended laptop, tablet, or 2-in-1? The Suissewin Geneve Backpack holds up to a 15.6” inch laptop notebook. The backpack comes with plenty of compartments to organize all of your school supply needs and keep them separated from your device. It even comes with a ergonomic back padding with an air flow system. The backpack is roughly the same price as others and is great at protecting devices.
suissewin geneve laptop backpack

Amazon Echo Smart Assistant:  $149 - $179.99 USD At Amazon

The Amazon Echo Smart Assistant is a pretty innovative device if your are looking for a smart speaker for your dorm room or apartment. The Amazon Echo doubles as a digital assistant and home entertainment device. You can ask “Alexa” about the weather or traffic, add items to a shopping or to-do list, reorder products from Amazon, and listen to music and audiobooks. The Amazon Echo is a highly versatile and responsive smart speaker that is worthy of consideration as an information resource, entertainment device or organization tool.

AmazonEcho lifestyle


Top WiFi Routers

Let’s be honest - many schools have terrible WiFi. A WiFi router could come in handy in a dorm and these days is absolutely necessary for an apartment or home office. If you are looking for an inexpensive router with good warranty and performance, the Trendnet AC3200 Tri Band Router TEW-828DRU ($188.95 USD) is a solid bet. The Netgear Nighthawk X6 R8000 ($268.69 USD) and ASUS RT-AC3200 Tri-Band Wireless Gigabit Router ($199.95 USD) are both high performance, well-rounded routers. The D-Link AC3200 Ultra Tri-Band Wi-Fi Router ($234.35 USD) is accompanied by an easy-to-use web interface. The Asus RT-AC88U AC3100 MU-MIMO ($292.95 USD) also includes an excellent interface and is one of the overall fastest routers we have tested. Finally, the Netgear Nighthawk X8 R8500 AC5300 ($387.97 USD) is one of the priciest options, but provides a ton of flexibility with a 4x4 configuration on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands as well as amplified antennas. Any of these routers will provide the necessary Internet connection and copious bandwidth to complete any critical assignment, binge session or gaming throw-down. 

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Thanks for checking out our back-to-school guide. We hope that this guide will help you navigate through what can appear to be an endless list of products and specs, or at least give you a few ideas for key buying decisions on critical or just nice-to-have gear. These best of breed products will have you ready for back to school or an office or home office upgrade, the HotHardware way.

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