back-to-school season is officially here. Whether you’re heading back to a physical or virtual classroom, starting a new school year calls for stocking up on new notebooks, folders, pens, and more. It’s also a great time to upgrade your tech to help make those study sessions easier on the brain. Naturally, investing in fresh supplies and gadgets isn’t cheap, but we’re here to help. Below, we’ve rounded up all the best deals on various gear, from laptops and noise-canceling headphones to laptop stands, planners, and portable monitors.
Updated August 17, 2022: We’ve added new deals and removed expired ones.
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Table of Contents
Laptop, Webcam, and Tablet Deals
Apple released a new version of its MacBook Air last month, complete with a new processor and design. But we still really love the 2020 model with the M1 chip (9/10, WIRED Recommends), especially if you’re on a tight budget. It’s more than capable for student tasks. It’s also lightweight, so it’s not annoying to tote around campus, and the all-day battery life means you won’t be searching for an outlet halfway through class. Apple’s Education Store pricing brings this MacBook down to $899, so this is the better deal.
This holds the title of Best Overall in our Best Chromebooks guide for its power, price, and features, and it’s ideal for anyone that can work completely off of the Chrome browser. The 14-inch, 1080p display is bright and sharp, the battery will last you all day (we got 11 hours in testing), and its build is versatile. As a 2-in-1, you can use it in laptop mode to get homework done during the day and switch to tablet mode to stream Netflix before bed. The Core m3 chip isn’t the most powerful, so it’s best suited for anyone who doesn’t need to have more than 20 Chrome tabs open at any given time.
We haven’t tested this model yet, but based on specs alone (and our previous history with Lenovo’s Duet line), it’s an affordable laptop running Chrome OS (just make sure the software you need will work fine on the Chrome browser). As a 2-in-1, it comes with a detachable folio keyboard case, a 13.3-inch touchscreen OLED display, and up to 15 hours of battery life (according to Lenovo, so knock down a few hours for a more realistic number). It’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 7c Gen 2 ARM chip, which isn’t as powerful as Intel processors, but it’s certainly capable.
The Surface Laptop Go 2 is an excellent student pick, especially if you’re looking for an affordable alternative to the pricier MacBook (and you like Windows). WIRED UK reviewer Adam Speight says it has one of the best keyboards for typing essays, and a capable 11th-generation Intel Core i5 chip with 8 GB of RAM. It doesn’t have the best battery life, but this Surface “is an absolute joy to use.”
Microsoft’s Surface Pro 8 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is our favorite 2-in-1 laptop. Each configuration has an 11th-generation Intel chip, a refresh rate that can be set to 120 Hz, and a 1080p webcam. We also highly recommend adding the Microsoft Type Cover as you configure the laptop, which pairs well with the built-in kickstand, for the full tablet-laptop experience. If you’re wondering what the difference is between the Evo Core i5 and the standard Core i5, well, Evo just certifies that the laptop passed a few key benchmarks. You’re still getting the same performance. If you can, we recommend upgrading to 16 GB of RAM.
The iPad Mini (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is super compact, making it a great on-the-go slate on days you’re going back and forth between classes and the library. It packs a large 8.3-inch display (with slimmer bezels than its predecessors), the latest A15 Bionic processor, upgraded cameras on the front and back, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. When iPadOS 16 rolls around later this year, it’ll make this slate even more useful for light work.
Looking for a cheaper iPad alternative? The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is a solid choice for both work and play. It has a nice LCD screen, impressive speakers, and battery life that should last you through a typical school day, though performance can be a bit sluggish if you try to do too many things at once. The S6 Lite comes with an S-Pen that attaches magnetically to the tablet. This model is two years old, but it’ll still get Android 13, enabling all the new improvements coming to Android tablets. However, it will be the last OS update this tablet will receive. The 128 GB model is also on sale for $330 ($100 off).
We haven’t tested this Wacom tablet, but reviews around the web are pretty positive. Wacoms are great for anyone studying graphic design, photo editing, animation, and other creative professions. The One by Wacom is super portable, compatible with MacOS and Windows, and is Chromebook certified. It dipped to this price back in May, but it generally rarely goes on sale.
If you like to wind down with a good book, Amazon’s latest Kindle Paperwhite (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is our favorite suggestion for most people. It comes with a 6.8-inch display (complete with adjustable warm lighting) and it’s waterproof. It dipped to $95 during Prime Day, but this is still a good deal. This model comes with lock-screen ads, but you can purchase the version without them for $130 ($30 off). You might even be able to find your textbooks on your Kindle, so you won’t need to lug heavy books around from class to class.
A high-quality webcam is essential. Razer’s Kiyo X is the best for most people. It shoots 1080p-resolution video at 30 frames per second, which will ensure you look sharp in virtual classes. The Kiyo X doesn’t have an integrated ring light like the original Kiyo, but its automatic white balance, improved image processing, and better color saturation work so well that you don’t even need it.
We recommend the Bose Noise Cancelling 700 for the office, but they’d also make for a great accessory to use at the library for those late-night study sessions—especially to block out any whispering or clackety laptop keyboards nearby. Thanks to advanced signal processing and four microphones built in, which limits any sound around you, they’re also great for Zoom calls.
These are currently our favorite earbuds (9/10, WIRED Recommends), especially if you regularly hit the gym before or after classes. They work with both iOS and Android, have great sound, decent mics, good noise cancellation, and a comfortable fit. Apple’s proprietary H1 chip means you’ll get a few additional perks if you connect them to an iPhone.
The Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds are also excellent for workouts. They’re super comfortable, fit a wide range of ear sizes, and feel stable in your ears—there’s a grip on the outside to keep them in place. These buds also pack great sound and mic quality, along with noise-canceling tech. This is the lowest price we’ve ever tracked too.
Clip the coupon button on the page to see the discount at checkout. If you enjoy gaming after a stressful school day, the HyperX Cloud Alpha headphones will make a great addition to your setup. These received a very rare 10/10 in our review for their crazy battery life. WIRED reviewer Eric Ravenscraft hit 325 hours of listening time before having to recharge them (they’re rated for 300 hours). In addition to insane battery life, they also have great sound, a sufficient mic, and good built quality.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) has some of the best noise-canceling tech you’ll find in a pair of earbuds. They’re a bit chunky, but you get great music quality, the power to tune out the outside world, and the earbuds will even detect when you are speaking and will auto-pause.
Accessory and School Supply Deals
If you need to replenish your collection of sharpies, pens, glue, and more, you can save $10 off select school supplies when you spend $30 at Amazon. The offer will automatically be applied at checkout.
It’s no secret that the cost of school supplies adds up, fast. Walmart is offering a variety of back-to-school essentials for under $1 or less. You’ll find everything from folders and notebooks to paperclips, glue sticks, crayons, and more.
The second-gen Apple Pencil works with nearly the entire iPad lineup (not the base iPad). It’s a great tool for drawing and taking notes, as well as marking up or signing documents. With handwriting support in a variety of search fields on iPadOS, you can now manually write in your query instead of switching to the keyboard. Additional features include the ability to switch between tools with a double-tap, wireless pairing and charging, tilt and pressure sensitivity, and more.
Clip the coupon button on the page to see the discount at checkout. This USB hub not only offers extra USB ports and 4K HDMI output, but it also comes with an external M.2 solid-state drive enclosure. That way, you can insert an internal SSD card (like this one) you can easily access whenever you plug it into your computer.
Samsung’s T7 Shield is a great option if you need extra storage on the go. With a rubberized exterior, it’s also super durable, so you can just throw it in your backpack without having to worry about accidentally breaking it.
If you frequently run hot sitting in a chair, then this all-mesh office chair will help cool you down. It’s very adjustable and while the seat isn’t as comfy as pricier mesh chairs, it does the job well.
Clip the coupon button on the page to see the discount at checkout. This is our favorite laptop stand if you prefer working from your bed or couch. The stand’s height isn’t adjustable, but you can raise the base to position it at the best angle for typing, sketching, or watching a movie on a tablet. It also comes with extra space for your coffee mug and a small drawer.
Skip the TV in your dorm and just get a portable monitor. That way, you can take it with you to class or to the library and be more productive than if you just had your tiny laptop screen. This one comes with a kickstand case and the necessary cables, plus it’s an OLED panel, so you’re getting rich blacks. It’s worked well with our Windows laptops, and MacBooks, and can even hook up to a Nintendo Switch for large-screen Smash Bros. games.
If your laptop bag or tote is on its last legs, it might be time for a new one. The Incase ARC Tech Tote is compact but has room for all your daily essentials. Inside, you can fit a 13-inch laptop, small headphones or wallet, and a water bottle. There’s also a front zipper pocket where you can store a tablet or Kindle. The handles are small, but you can use the adjustable and removable strap to carry it more comfortably. It dipped lower to $68 in April, but this is still a great deal.
Regardless of whether you’re in a dorm or at home, you can never have enough outlets for all your devices. We particularly love Monoprice’s surge strip because its outlets sit on a rotating wheel, which can fit all types of chunky plugs on one strip—you no longer have to pick and choose.
Moleskin’s Pro Planner is a cult favorite in our roundup of the best planners. The Moleskine Pro Weekly Vertical allows you to subdivide the page layouts into daily tasks and category to-dos, making it a great option for those with busy schedules.
The Happy Planner is a good first planner for those who don’t typically use them but want to start. WIRED reviewer Louryn Strampe says it comes with a few bells and whistles, but doesn’t feel overwhelming. You’ll also find cute divider tabs—some of which include quotes and phrases that don’t feel corny.
Electric Bike and Electric Scooter Deals
An electric scooter is a great way to travel around campus, especially if you’re not a fan of bike riding. If you’re looking for a reliable option, Niu KQi3 Pro is currently our top pick in our Best Electric Scooters guide. WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu says it offers some of the best range for its price—he managed to get 15 miles out of it—but you can probably get about 18 to 20 miles depending on your height. It also goes up to 20 mph and its 9.5-inch tubeless tires make for a comfortable ride. However, it’s worth noting that at 45 pounds, it’s not super easy to carry. A similar deal is also available on Amazon (if you clip the coupon).
The Propella 7-speed (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is the best affordable bike we’ve tested. It’s easy to ride, lightweight, and goes as fast as 18 mph. It’s also made of reliable parts, complete with a Samsung battery and Shimano disc brakes. However, because it ships direct-to-consumer, it might be hard to find repair shops in your area if you damage it.
The Lectric XP 2.0 is our favorite affordable folding bike. It has a 500-watt rear-hub motor, fat tires, a front-wheel suspension, mounting points for racks, wide handlebars, integrated front and rear lights, and IP65 water resistance–all of which make for a smooth and comfortable ride. But at 64 pounds, it’s heavy, so we don’t recommend it for schools or dorm buildings with multiple flights of stairs.
Smart Display and Smartwatch Deals
The school year is a busy time, and a good smart display can keep you up-to-date on class assignments, calendar events, reminders, and more. The Nest Hub Max holds the top spot in our buying guide. It offers a large 10-inch touchscreen display, good speakers, a camera that can be used for video calls (you can purchase a webcam cover for privacy), along with a simple design that can blend into all types of interior decor. It fluctuates in price, and it dipped even lower, to $169, last month, but this is still a good deal.
The Google Nest Hub (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is a great alternative to the Nest Hub Max, especially if you don’t need a camera. The smart display also packs technology that tracks your sleep cycle throughout the night (including REM, light, and deep sleep) and offers tips on how to improve your sleep quality.
Whether you’re a student-athlete or hitting the gym after class, a smartwatch is an easy way to keep track of your metrics. For iPhone users, we love the Apple Watch Series 7 (8/10, WIRED Recommends). Compared to its predecessor, it has a larger display with stronger glass, and it’s more water- and dust-resistant. It’s worth noting that Apple will likely launch its next-generation smartwatch in September, but this is still a great choice if you want to save money.
Clip the coupon button on the page to see the discount at checkout. Mobvoi’s TicWatch E3 received an honorable mention on our roundup of best smartwatches. It doesn’t have the best battery life—you’ll likely have to charge it in the morning after tracking sleep—and its build feels a bit bland and cheap. But it does offer accurate fitness-tracking results and will receive Wear OS 3. So, it’s a solid option if you’re looking for an affordable smartwatch to keep an eye on notifications and health metrics throughout the day.