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.
Related: Our guide to the best headphones for students, from kids to teens
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.
I would have loved to have had the
Livescribe Echo Smart Pen. Sometimes I still have trouble deciphering my notes and it has great reviews.
I think I’d like to play with the smart pen but for my boy? What he really needs is a printer and the very lame but very necessary surge protector.
Would of love a pair of Bose headphones!
I would like my son to have these noise canceling headphones. To cancel out noisy roomates so he can sleep. That’ll happen, right??!!! These got great reviews too.
Wow, I remember when I started college and sending email was a novelty. Now I’m teaching college students and have no idea how they keep up with all of the new technology! I’d definitely use a Best Buy gift card towards a new iPad.
I would have loved to have had an iPad! Heck, we barely even had computers back then! The Echo Smart Pen is pretty cool too!
I would love to buy ny son the myCharge portable battery (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/mycharge-amp-prong-portable-power-bank-black/5794107.p?id=1219657141232&skuId=5794107) so he can no longer tell me he didn’t know I called because his phone was dead.
it’s a tie between the smart pen and the Surface tablet!
That smart pen is awesome, but going to have to go practical with the printer.
Wish I had had a Surface tablet! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft-surface-3-10-8-intel-atom-64gb-silver/4967017.p?id=1219645630549&skuId=4967017
I sure wish we had computers back then. I would love to get the Microsoft Surface Tablet for my future Cum Laude! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft-surface-3-10-8-intel-atom-64gb-silver/4967017.p?id=1219645630549&skuId=4967017
Apple Air Pad 2 would be sweet for my cousin’s daughter starting her Freshman year at Indiana U!
The iPad is awesome! Can’t go wrong.
would have loved the ipad or headphones
The HP printer would have saved me in college!
This printer! Going to the “computer lab” back in the day was a pain!
I would have loved an I pad when I was in college!!
But when I was in college my cellphone was the size of a Victor Hugo novel!!! And I thought I was so cool for having it!! 🙂
I Wish I Would Have Had The Lenovo – Flex 3 2-in-1 11.6″ Touch-Screen Laptop – Intel Celeron – 4GB Memory – 500GB Hard Drive In College, Love That It’s A 2-in-1 Product And Touchscreen! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/lenovo-flex-3-2-in-1-11-6-touch-screen-laptop-intel-celeron-4gb-memory-500gb-hard-drive-black/7577037.p?id=1219680870003&skuId=7577037
I would have loved some good noise canceling headphones!! Those Bose headphones look perfect!
The myCharge – AMP PRONG+ Portable Power Bank – Black portable charger would be a great idea for my son! He’s forever looking for an outlet to charge his electronics. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/mycharge-amp-prong-portable-power-bank-black/5794107.p?id=1219657141232&skuId=5794107
I definitely would’ve loved the Livescribe smartpen. Then I wouldn’t have missed a thing my professors were saying in class!
I remember using a typewriter for my papers because the computer lab halfway across campus and was only for those writing a thesis. So the HP wireless printer would have been a dream come true (along with a laptop)!
Wish I had a Surface then and now
THe ipad would have been wonderful!
The printer definitely.
That smart pen is fantastic! I would have loved that!
I wish I had an ipad aire 2 … http://www.bestbuy.com/site/apple-ipad-air-2-wi-fi-64gb-space-gray/3313043.p
I would love to send off my college kid with an Apple iPad Air 2!
Thanks for the opportunity!
The wake up light would have been perfect for those terrible 8am winter semester classes!! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/philips-wake-up-light-off-white/9571097.p
That mini speaker is pretty cool!
Definitely could have used an iPad: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/apple-ipad-air-2-wi-fi-64gb-space-gray/3313043.p
A tablet, any tablet would have been awesome. But this bad boy would have made me drool.
The ipd air, definitely. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/apple-ipad-air-2-wi-fi-64gb-space-gray/3313043.p
Definitely the noise-cancelling headphones!
When I was in college I wish I had an iPad
Wish I had an ipad in college!
Wish I had an IPad. That would have been awesome.
The jam speaker would have been awesome! I would love one now!
What a great list! I don’t think I could decide. Thanks!
I would have loved the Sony – VAIO Duo 2-in-1 13.3″ Touch-Screen Laptop when I was in colege! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-vaio-duo-2-in-1-13-3-touch-screen-laptop-8gb-memory-256gb-solid-state-drive-carbon-black/1307520864.p?id=mp1307520864&skuId=1307520864
I would love to win this http://www.bestbuy.com/site/livescribe-livescribe-apx00008m-echo-smartpen-dot-paper-mac-pc-multicolor/1307706992.p livescribe pen for my son headed to college next year. I think it would really help him with his studies.
How different life would’ve been to have an ipad in college.
Wow- an iPad would’ve revolutionized my college experience!!
You can never have enough outlets, so I’d have the Belkin power strip high on my want list!
The live scribe pen looks really cool. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/livescribe-livescribe-apx00008m-echo-smartpen-dot-paper-mac-pc-multicolor/1307706992.p
Noise cancelling headphones would be perfect for those loud roomates. 😉 Here are a pair that look amazing! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/bose-quietcomfort-25-acoustic-noise-cancelling-headphones-black/8323098.p?id=1219323747659&skuId=8323098
I would have to go with the apple iPad air 2.
I would have loved a GoPro camera back in 1995. Each day a different person would wear it, sitting in our (way too early) 8:00 am Chem101 class and livestream it back to our dorm so the rest of us could watch the lecture right from our beds. It would be a win/win situation for all! #RealGenius2015
The Microsoft surface. If I had that in college the first time around I would not be getting my masters in my 40’s ?
The smartpen! My major had 3 hour long lecture classes.
I think a charger like this would be extremely useful in a dorm room: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/insignia-4-port-usb-wall-charger/8851631.p?id=1219371622746&skuId=8851631
I would have loved the livescribe smartpen! It would have made me stay more organized and less stressful taking notes during class! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/livescribe-livescribe-apx00008m-echo-smartpen-dot-paper-mac-pc-multicolor/1307706992.p?id=mp1307706992&skuId=1307706992
While all of these would be awesome for college – that belkin mini outlet/surge protector is a MUST for dorm rooms!
I would have loved the smart pen. I remember all those times I couldn’t read my own notes.
I would love the Bose earphones.
I would have wanted an iPad Air, for sure!
Would’ve love the smart pen! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/livescribe-livescribe-apx00008m-echo-smartpen-dot-paper-mac-pc-multicolor/1307706992.p
That Echo Smart Pen looks amazing! A tablet would have come in handy too!!
The myCharge Portable Power Bank is PERFECTION! I would love that for my device loving teen – and myself!
That smart pen would have been super helpful. So would a Microsoft surface!
i would have loved to have the Bose headphones during my college days.
iPad Air!!! With the HP printer! Would’ve made life SO much easier back then!
Wish I had the iPad Air back then, would have been so handy for taking notes and writing up papers!!
I wish I had the Livescribe Echo Smartpen back when I was in college in the 80’s. I used to record my lectures as I couldn’t usually write fast enough. However back then I had to use a bulky walkman or actual tape player/recorder that looked like this:
There was always background noise and shuffling of feet (as I would put it under my desk) and if I used the cassette tape too many times it would break or play too slow and then I couldn’t use it for re-writing my notes. Boy would I have loved to have that pen. It would have saved me so much time and aggravation.
Definitely that smart pen!
Id love the My charge portable power bank for my son so he can never use the excuse that his phone was dead when I try to reach him!
I wish I had an iPad in college. Would have been so helpful. My son definitely needs a iPad and HP printer. We will most likely need an iPad for my husband too since he’s going back to college as well!!
I would have loved noise-canceling headphones when I was in college…to block out the sound of my roommate calling her boyfriend “Pookie” on their 3 times per day phone calls!
Of course, I would have LOVED an Apple Watch when I was in college! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/apple-apple-watch-sport-38mm-silver-aluminum-case-blue-sports-band/4274402.p?id=1219733911836&skuId=4274402
(I think the smart pen would have been amazingly useful, too!) Thanks for the chance to win.
IPad Air, for sure!! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/apple-ipad-air-2-wi-fi-64gb-space-gray/3313043.p
It would have been awesome to have the noise cancelling headphones or the iPad Air 2 when I was in college. It was my sony walkman back then. No cellphones or tablets when I went to college back in late 80s early 90s.
Oops, think I just posted this on your other offer. But, again, I think this portable power source is great. My son is on his phone all day long, and I’m sure he would appreciate having this backup power with him at all times. I’d like one of my own, too!
i wish i had had a surface in college. or, you know, that they had existed then… http://www.bestbuy.com/site/microsoft-surface-3-10-8-intel-atom-64gb-silver/4967017.p?id=1219645630549&skuId=4967017
Definitely the headphones, especially the noise cancelling. Dorm rooms can be way too loud!
Noise cancelling headphones would have been perfect for dorm life! Alas, my college years are behind me! (sigh) But these would be really amazing for my hubby who is in law school (at night). It would make it way easier for him to study while the rugrats tear the house apart.
I would LOVE to buy my daughter the smart pen. Thanks.
The iPad would have been great. No piles of notebooks & binders to lug around!
Oops! Forgot the link before.
I would have loved an iPad back when I was in college–music, books, notes, etc all in one little place!
oh man, definitely the pen that records! http://www.bestbuy.com/site/livescribe-livescribe-apx00008m-echo-smartpen-dot-paper-mac-pc-multicolor/1307706992.p
The Pen would probably have been the most useful, but I’d probably have enjoyed the iPad the most ;).