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9 Cool Back-to-College Gadgets and Gear From Amazon

July 26, 2016
Holiday Tips & News, Shopping, Shopping News
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

As college students get ready to head back to campus, online marketplace Amazon will likely play a big part in those preparations.

In fact, an estimated 74% of millennial back-to-college shoppers expect to make online purchases from Amazon for the new semester, according to a consumer survey by Branding Brand.

While you’re browsing for the obvious office supplies and textbooks, we found a handful of not-so-obvious gadgets and gear to make your college life easier. Here’s what you can add to your Amazon back-to-college shopping list, in order from least to most expensive:

Bedside storage

Dorm rooms aren’t exactly spacious. That makes storage all the more crucial, and what better than bedside storage for those times when you don’t want to get up to grab something? This six-pocket bedside storage caddy (three deep pockets and three mesh pockets) can hold your textbooks, notebooks, folders and even your TV remote. Just hang it from your bed. It costs $6.10 from Amazon.

Smartphone walletsmartphone-wallet

College students have enough to tote around from class to class, and adding a purse or wallet on top of that already large stack of books can seriously weigh you down. Cut your load with a smartphone wallet that attaches to your phone. We like the self-adhesive CardNinja version that’s just $7.95 from Amazon. Secure the durable elastic sleeve to the back of your smartphone and you’ll be able to carry up to eight cards and cash.

» MORE: The do’s and don’ts of back-to-school shopping

Phone car charger

Do the math on this: Social media savvy millennials plus incessant smartphone usage equals constantly low batteries. Make sure you never lose a charge with a phone charger that plugs directly into your car. The Maxboost car charger is $9.99 from Amazon. Its dual USB ports work with a variety of popular mobile devices, including iPads, iPhones, iPods, HTCs, Galaxys, BlackBerrys, MP3 players, digital cameras and more.

Party Bluetooth speaker

Bluetooth speakers make it easy to listen to your favorite tunes without any messy wires, but we found a portable speaker that takes it up a notch. The ION Party Starter portable Bluetooth speaker with built-in light show starts at about $19 from Amazon. It wirelessly streams music from iPads, iPhones, Android devices and more. That’s standard. But it also projects multicolored lights on the walls and ceiling, allowing it to double as a party centerpiece.

Donut warming mugdonut-mug

You’ll likely start the semester responsibly, but we know that by the time finals come, you’ll have more than a few late-night cram sessions and nearly missed morning classes. In case you don’t have a chance to eat a full breakfast in between, invest in the $24.95 donut warming mug from Amazon. It’s shaped like a normal coffee mug, but features a built-in lid that acts like a warming plate. Set a donut or muffin on top of the mug and use the heat of your coffee to keep your morning treat warm.

» MORE: What to splurge (and skimp) on for back-to-school

Projection alarm clock

The Mesqool projection alarm clock eliminates any excuse for sleeping in past your alarm (but maybe that’s not such a good thing). The $29.99 clock from Amazon has a 1.8-inch ultra-large LED time display, making the time of day hard to miss. Plus, it boasts a built-in 180-degree projector that displays the time onto your walls or ceiling. Besides telling the time, this clock can charge your phone via a USB cable and features a digital AM/FM radio.

Kindle e-reader

Opting for digital textbooks on an e-reader won’t just make your backpack lighter. E-books can also be considerably more affordable than traditional paperbacks. The standard Kindle model starts at $79.99 from Amazon. Weighing just 5.7 ounces, this e-reader has a 6-inch screen, a 167 ppi resolution, 4GB of on-device storage and a battery life that lasts for up to four weeks between charges for plenty of reading time.

Powerbag backpackpowerbag-backpack

This next product from Que is more than just a backpack. It’s a powerbag. Sold for $79.99 from Amazon, it has a built-in charging station, Bluetooth speakers and thermal lunchbox. Your friends will be wondering how you can use your backpack to carry your school supplies, play your music, charge your phone and keep your lunch cold. Pick between pink or gray color options.

Mobile printer

Bring your Instagram photos to life with the Polaroid Zip mobile printer, a compact device that can print directly from your smartphone or tablet. It’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices and can print 25 2-by-3-inch prints on a single charge. It’s available for just under $130 from Amazon and comes in white, blue, black or red.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.