If you’re looking for a cool but practical tech gift for your favorite grad, we’ve got you covered. Better yet — all online! (Hey, we’re busy!)
Whether you’re shopping for your own first-time freshman, or a lucky niece, nephew or grandchild, we’ve scoured the web and picked some of our very favorite tech gifts for grads, to send them off for what they need. And of course, keep an eye out for sales online — there are so many this time of year.
We think anything on this list will make an amazing high school graduation gift — or hey, a perfectly practical back-to-school gift for college students of any age.
Updated for 2023
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For blocking out the roommate with a snore to wake the dead: Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Sony WH1000XM5 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones ($399.99, Best Buy) Between the fantastic sound quality and outstanding noise-cancelling abilities of these headphones, this may be the number one most helpful purchase for any college student who’s trying to cram with a roommate four feet away — or just trying to get some sleep.
For the student who doesn’t get a pair of fancy noise-cancelling headphones until those first 4.0’s start rolling in: Slightly more affordable options.
JBL – Live FreeNC+ True Wireless Noise Cancelling In-Ear Earbuds ($67.99, on clearance) Hey, it gives them something to work toward.
For the student adapting to life in a room the size of the bathroom back home: A solid portable mini speaker
JBL Flip4 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker ($79, Amazon with frequent price drops) When shelf space is at a premium, this little speaker packs a nice punch in a small space, whether your kid is more inclined to rock out to the local college station on Saturday night, or chill to NPR on Sunday Morning. It comes in cool colors, too.
For the student with the professor who talks faster than anyone can type: A smartpen that records sound
Livescribe Symphony Digital Smartpen ($87.99, Amazon) It not only takes notes, it records everything you hear or say while linking that audio recording to the notes on the Livescribe Paper. In other words, when you can’t read your own scribbles, you can play back exactly what the professor was saying at that very moment with a tap of the pen, or through your computer or mobile device.
For the dorm room that never has enough outlets: A top-rated surge protector
Belkin Powerstrip Surge Protector ($27.99, Amazon) We own this surge protector and it’s perfect for college dorms — and roomies with tons of devices that need charging. Plus it will protect those super expensive new laptops. Note that it does not include USB ports, but you can always add an affordable USB dual port charger.
For the student who’s always texting…er, studying on the go: A portable power bank
Zendure Portable Power Bank ($59.99, Amazon) A portable battery is a must, if you’re even thinking about taking notes on your tablet, recording a lecture hall with your phone’s mic, or just staying out extra late and need to keep your phone charged. This one is great looking, gets high marks for performance, comes in great colors, and it’s the size of a credit card — clearly small enough to tuck into a backpack, jacket or handbag.
For the student who’s getting creative in class: A tablet as powerful as a laptop
Apple iPad Pro (from $799, Apple, or save some money getting a refurbished model): The new iPad Pros are something else. Between the ample storage, super speedy processor, great graphics, and durable frame, the iPad Pro (shown at very top) can be a brilliant substitute for a MacBook, especially for kids who are studying art or design, architecture, media, film. In fact, add a Smart Keyboard Folio and it’s perfect for typing notes in lecture halls, too.
For the student who’s burning the midnight oil: A coffee maker for one.
Keurig K-Mini Single Serve Coffee Maker ($69.99 on sale, Target.com) Gorgeous colors, a convenient size, and easy to use — even on two hours of sleep. And because Gen Z is leading the way in caring about the environment, be sure to add a reusable K-Cup ($10.99) that they can refill with their own favorite ground beans.
For the student who will know the perfect tech gift when he or she sees it.
A gift card to their favorite tech retailer : Check Best Buy, your favorite shop, or even your local drugstore or Target and grab a gift card to Target, Best Buy, Amazon…or hey, Nintendo, Playstation or Xbox. Hard-working college kids need to unwind on the weekends too.