This article is a bit different than our usual. This time, we’re breaking down a combination of calculators, tablets, and other electronics that are going to set your student up for success when they return to school.
As our world grows increasingly digital, it can be tough for parents to keep up to date. Don’t stress- we’ve done the legwork and research for you. We break down the pros and cons, and outline which items are must-haves. As a bonus, we’ve made sure that everything we talk about here is found on Amazon for your shopping convenience.
Updated: July 31th, 2017
What’s here: An assortment of tech, ranging from simple calculators to terrific tablets. We’ve focused on the best in class to help your children do their best in class (we love puns, can you tell?).
1. First Up, a Helect 12-Digit Solar-Powered Calculator
2. Get Scientific With the Texas Instruments TI-30XS
3. Today’s Gold-Standard: the Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus CE
4. Grades 3-5: Amazon Fire HD-8
5. Grades 6-9: Samsung Galaxy Tab E Wifi
6. Grades 10-12: Samsung Galaxy Tab S
7. HujDenj Metal 256GB USB 2.0 Flash Memory Drive
8. XY3.1 Item Finder
9. Folding Bluetooth Keyboard
Starting Off: Three Calculators Made for Students
This sleek piece of kit kicks off our list. We opted to select this Helect over other brands, including more recognized name brands, because it’s everything that the a student that’s not yet in high school will need.
Of course it’s solar powered, so wherever there’s light it’s powered up. Then again, sometimes you work in the dark, so the optional AA backup battery ensures continuous function. Most notably, the 12-digit display is perfect for making large calculations- most others in this category max out at 8-digits.
Available in four colors – black, green, red, and white – this Helect is basic, not boring. Most importantly, at under $8, it’s a great value. Perfect for kids in kindergarten through grade 6.
Another solar-powered calculator in our top-10 list, who’d have thought? This beauty is a great value and an underappreciated gem. It can display fractions and equations, allowing your student to tackle complicated math problems with ease. Not only that, but at just $15, it packs a lot of calculated punch for a great price.
We love that this calculator breaks down step by step fraction simplification, doing the heavy lifting while showing students the steps it took to get there. This helps them learn important concepts while still doing the job quickly.
This is the perfect “bridge” calculator for students that need something more powerful than the basic calculator listed above, but aren’t quite reading to up the ante to a graphing calculator. Ideal for students in grades 3-8.
Available in an assortment of colors – black, white, red pink, green, blue, and grey – this graphing calculator is a real treat to use. It’s built for high-school students, and many textbooks and courses are actually written around using this calculator. Go-figure.
The built-in rechargeable battery is charged via USB, so keeping it powered up is a snap. The crisp color display is also easy on the eyes and easy to read, which is ideal for those long late-night study sessions.
One of the best parts of the TI-84 Plus is the ecosystem around it: your student can grab a protective case, customized case, travel pouch, additional chargers, USB chargers, and more. It really is the calculator meant to power their high-school (and college) math careers.
Next Up: Tablets
Okay, okay, everyone has an opinion about tablets. However, in our experience, a good tablet can be a powerful educational tool. Lighter and more affordable than a laptop, a tablet is a great solution to improve productivity and enhance educational opportunities.
We’ve broken down tablets by age: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-9, and Grades 10-12.
This affordable tablet comes packed with practicality: 16GB of storage, a great battery that provides up to 12-hours of continuous use, and integrated parental controls to make it easy to ensure your child stays where they should.
We love the Amazon Fire because of its small form factor, making it perfect for young hands, and its speedy responsiveness. Kids love it, too, because it can run the latest apps, watch videos, surf the web, and natively integrates with the Kindle store. With literally tens of thousands of educational eBooks a quick download away, the Kindle Fire is a rock-solid choice for a young student.
At well under $100, they’re also affordable. If your budding student breaks one, as unfortunate as it is, the hit the wallet is much less compared to a more expensive tablet like an iPad or Samsung Galaxy.
For kids that aren’t quite in high school, but need a it more horsepower than the Kindle HD, we recommend the Galaxy Tab E. In particular, we recommend the Wi-Fi only model because it’s affordable (at under $180) while still being powerful.
The integrated 5 megapixel camera is pretty good, and its 1.2GHZ quad-core processor is super-snappy when running today’s latest apps. This tablet runs on Android and can access millions of apps included in the Google Play app store.
It also includes integrated parental controls, but because many apps on the Android ecosystem try to circumvent those controls, parents should be a bit more careful when their students are using them. Despite this one minor setback, the Tab E is a great tablet overall.
The big brother to the Tab E, the Tab S is a real powerhouse: a 1.9GHZ quad-core processor makes it ultra fast, and its 8 megapixel camera keeps its pics look fresh. In addition, it runs a super-crisp AMOLED display that runs at 2560×1600 resolution- it is simply stunning.
This model has LTE capability, meaning that your student can access the internet wherever they go. It’s slim and compact, too, meaning it will easily fit into a laptop bag, backpack, or purse.
We would have chosen an iPad Air 2, but at under $330 on Amazon, the Tab S is simply a way better bargain.
Odds and Ends: Other Electronics to Boost Productivity
Power Banks RAVPower 2200mAh Portable Charger
Never worry about your son or daughter having a dead-battery again. This $40 portable battery pack is able to charge a smartphone or tablet. In fact, it can charge the latest iPhone 7 times before running out of juice.
It’s capable of charging 3 devices simultaneously and is so easy to use that it will quickly become an essential item. Simply plug the USB charging cord from your phone or tablet into the device, and BAM- charging.
It’s also fast-charging capable, meaning devices will recharge ultra fast. It’s a real life-saver.
The integrated key ring keeps this USB flash drive from getting lost, and its astounding 256GB of storage is perfect for storing literally tens of thousands of documents, tens of thousands of photos, or dozens of HD movies.
Utilizing USB 2.0, it can read/write extremely fast and makes transferring data a snap. Download entire albums or libraries of data in seconds!
Oh, and at under $30, it’s a great deal, too.
Kids lose stuff: that’s a reality every parent knows all too well. With these handy item finders, lost items are a thing of the past. Using low-energy bluetooth, simply clip one of these devices onto a bag, keychain, or whatever else you want to keep track of, and you’ll never lose it again.
Get auto-notified when the tracked device is out of range of your phone. Already out of range? Use the GPS map to see its last known location. They come with replaceable batteries and are water-resistant; these locator devices are a real gem.
For $30 you can dramatically improve productivity when using tablets or smartphones. Thanks to its ultra-compact design, you can tuck this keyboard away nearly anywhere and take it with you. Perfect for hotel-room assignments, friends-house paper writing, or wherever else your superstar student needs a keyboard.
The build-in battery is great, charging in under 30 minutes and lasting for hours once charged. Integrated volume control and other handy features make this bluetooth keyboard a great expansion to any tablet.