HotHardware's 2011 Back To School Shopping Guide

Must-Have Accessories

Logitech G35

7.1-channel surround sound--on your head? Yup. It's possible with Logitech's G35 headset. While dorm living may sound fun, keeping quiet during study hours is bound to be crucial. Of course, you could just study with the rest of your classmates, but if you've already got the material embedded in your brain, you'll need a nice set of cans to keep the noise-level down for those around you. This headset is capable of doing just about anything you'd need one to do. High-powered audio, a folding boom microphone, and a USB input. Heck, you can even use it to Skype with mom back home.

Cyborg R.A.T. 7

It's the only kind of mouse allowed to enter into a dorm room. It's your gaming mouse, and you might as well go with one that'll last right on through your dissertation years. While your options are nearly endless, the Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. Albino Edition is the newest rat to leave the bag. The new Cyborg R.A.T. Albino Gaming Mouse is definitely one of the slicker, wilder looking mice to surface this year, and it looks the part for hardcore gamers who love to tweak their input devices.

The futuristic-looking mouse ships with a 6400DPI sensor, improved tracking capabilities and a matte Albino white finish. There's an adjustable thumb rest, adjustable height, a thumb scroll, DPI on-the-fly adjustments, a precision aim button, weighing system, and plenty of other things to tinker with. At $99.99, it's hardly inexpensive, but it's not everyday users can find a mouse that looks like it came straight out of the future. It'll work on PC and Mac platforms, too. And if white's not your thing, the standard black R.A.T. 7 is available for a few bucks less.

NOOK Color

Here's the best of both worlds. On one hand, the Barnes & Noble NOOK Color is a great learning device. You can pop literature on there and read until your heart is content. It's great for studying, and it's great for expanding your mind with works of literary art. But when play time comes around, it can morph into a Froyo-equipped Android tablet capable of playing Angry Birds.

The software update delivers Android 2.2 (Froyo) to the NOOK Color. With that, the NOOK Color now has access to Adobe's Flash 10.1 too. The update does not, however, add the general Android Market to the device. However, customers can use the new NOOK Apps store. There are approximately 125 apps available, all of which are customized for the NOOK Color. Although that sounds like a small number (and it is), at least Angry Birds is among those, as is the Pulse news reader.

Canon's PowerShot S95 was announced a few weeks into the school year in 2010, so it's well-seasoned for use this time around. And we've also had time to soak in the reviews in the meanwhile. In short, it's really, really good, and if you've only got the coin for one camera to take off to school, this one's a good bet.

The S95 is Canon's first camera to offer an in-camera HDR scene mode for shooting scenes with very dark tones and bright highlights. When used in combination with a tripod, this mode will take three sequential images with various exposures and then combine them into a single image. The PowerShot S95 also features Canon's Hybrid IS technology for macro shooting to compensate for angular and shift camera shake.

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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