I work from home with my five kids and wife and review everything from gag gifts to men's collectibles and computer hardware.
When Christmas comes around, it's no secret that college students want tech-related gifts. I, for one, don't blame them. Technology not only makes their work at college easier, but it can also make it more enjoyable.
As someone who's been following the computer and tech industry closely for years, here are 14 gift ideas any college student would be glad to have.
1. Fitbit Flex
Get Rid of the Freshman 15
We've all heard about the "freshman 15." For some, myself included, it was more like 20.
This year Fitbit, the company that released the extremely popular Fitbit One activity and sleep tracker, released Fitbit Flex, a smaller, more flexible version of the first.
One of the problems with the previous model is that it was a bit more difficult to wear. The Flex takes up very little arm space and is a good way for college students to keep track of how many calories they've burned and how well they are sleeping.
Better yet, it'll even act as an alarm to wake them up.
Wireless Syncing Is Easy
Once data is received, it's synced to your iPhone or Android device.
From there you can keep track of the food your eating, calories you're taking in, and your weight goals and progress on Fitbit's website.
The Fitbit Flex is probably my favorite product in this category but it's not the only one. If you prefer a different style or want different software, then consider the UP by Jawbone.
2. Macbook Air
When I first got a laptop for school it weighed 10 pounds and had a whopping two hours of battery life.
With Intel's latest 5th generation of processors or Broadwell, you get up to 12 hours on a device, like the MacBook Air that weighs only three pounds.
What Type of Processor Should You Get?
Most people don't take the time to think about what processor they're getting before they purchase a laptop. In years past getting a good deal on a laptop from the previous year might have been a good idea.
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In 2017 overlooking this small aspect could mean a huge drop in battery life for laptops you might think you're getting a good deal on.
Ideally, you should look for an Intel Broadwell. These 5th generation CPUs have up to twice as much battery life as some older processors.
How Do I Find the Processor?
In the specifications for the laptop, it will be listed as Intel i3, i5, or i7. The number that follows corresponds with the generation of processor. Thus, you should be looking for a laptop that has a "5" in front of the CPU model.
3. Samsung Chromebook
For an inexpensive option that has long battery life, go with a Chromebook. These devices certainly aren't made for gaming, but with Google Docs you're giving your college student plenty of options to make spreadsheets, documents, and a super-fast way to browse the internet.
Battery Is Everything
Even more importantly, they have incredible battery lives. This makes them ideal for taking to campus each day.
4. Asus Transformer Book Touchscreen Laptop
Another good option under $300 is the new Asus Transformer Book, which is a convertible touchscreen laptop that comes preinstalled with Windows 10. It's thin and lightweight at .72 inches and just 2.28 pounds.
5. Google Chromecast: Cheap and Good Media Streaming Option
Google's new Chromecast device makes it easy for you to stream what you're watching on your tablet or smartphone right to your TV. With additional support for YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, ESPN, MLB.TV, Vevo, and many other applications, it's changing the way that people watch their media.
The Chromecast is great, but if you don't understand its limitations, you can get frustrated. What you're purchasing is a $30 option to allow you to stream from your mobile device.
It requires a dedicated internet connection and for both devices to be on that wireless connection in order to function.
It is not in itself an entertainment device. Without the support of a mobile device, it won't replace the functionality of a more expensive device like the Roku 3.
6. Kinivo ZX100
College students love their music, but carrying a speaker system with you to college is impractical. Enter the Kinivo.
Compatible With Any 3.5mm Audio Socket
This inexpensive device allows you to hook up your iPhone, iPod, Android device, laptop, or MP3 players to an external speaker that puts out amazing sound for the money you pay.
Want more sound? Another thing I really like about this device is that you can purchase multiple Kinivo speakers and daisy chain them together for additional sound.
Overall this is a really great gift idea for right under $20. There are other better performing devices on the market, but most of them are not as reasonably priced. The OontZ Angle is another good option at around $40.
7. Anker Backup Cell Phone Charger
If you're in class all day long, then the last thing you want to worry about is your cell phone running out of power.
Anker: Go For Something Small
This lipstick-sized device will recharge their cellphone while they're on the go and make sure they never run out of power.
But why this particular model? There are other bigger and more powerful options on the market, but this is the one I'd recommend simply because of its size and price.
Anything bigger than this and they won't want to carry it around.
8. Garmin Forerunner 110
Monitoring your heart rate, times, and distance helps to improve performance for both professional and casual athletes.
If your college student likes to walk or bike as I do, then a GPS watch would be another good idea. I personally like the Garmin Forerunner models because of their functionality and ease-of-use.
9. Agloves Touch Screen Gloves
College students walk a lot, so if they're in a colder area, they'll be wearing gloves a lot of the time. The frustrating thing about wearing gloves is not being able to effectively use your cell phone while they're on.
Agloves has remedied this problem by providing touch screen gloves that work with all touch screens.
It's not a perfect solution. The gloves aren't for bitter cold climates and they wear a little tight. That being said, it's a great alternative to taking your gloves on and off while you're walking.
10. Google's Nexus 7 Tablet
Google and Asus really know what they're doing when it comes to search, applications, and computer hardware, Putting them together to make the 2013 Nexus 7 was a perfect move . . .
Released mid-2013, the Nexus comes with a quad-core processor, 2GB of ram, and a choice between a 16 or 32GB hard drive. Now, in 2017, it's half the price they were selling for retail back in 2013.
Vs the Previous Nexus 7
I'd say this version just feels a lot more smooth and the screen is better overall. If you're happy with the performance of last year's model, then you'll probably be fine with it; however, if you've noticed any lagging with your apps, then it's well worth it.
I can't say enough good things about it. It's probably the most brilliant screen I've used and applications are seamless. For $150, it's one of the best tablets on the market for the money in 2017.
11. Roku 3
Devices like the Roku 3, in conjunction with the Google Chromecast, are changing the way people watch TV every day. While you could go pay $100 a month for your cable or satellite TV, the Roku 3 is free or will stream optional pay services like Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime streaming.
Even if you paid for these three services a year, you'd still save nearly $1,000 a year. There are lots of other options as well. Pay for what you need and save money.
I use the Roku 3 on my main TV upstairs and a streaming stick downstairs along with Plex. It's a great way to get all my favorite ways to watch TV in the same place. If you have a 4k TV, you'll want to go with the Roku 4 rather than the 3.
12. SanDisk Cruzer Flash Drive
There's nothing new about the flash drive. They still fit in your pocket and make your most important files extremely portable.
Lately, they've gone up in capacity and come down in price. That's a win-win for those looking for a gift.
I personally like the SanDisk Cruzer option, which is an affordable option with good quality.
13. A Good and Rugged Camera
College is an amazing time and while your student will be using their camera phone, for the most part, having a nice rugged camera to take with them is a good idea if they like to get outdoors.
The most popular rugged camera in 2017 is the Panasonic Lumix which takes fantastic pictures, video, and is waterproof up to 25 feet.
14. A Budget Smart TV
Many college dorm rooms don't have TVs installed in them. The UN32EH5300 from Samsung is a good and cheap option that has built-in Wi-fi that allows them to easily connect to services like Hulu and Netflix.
It's not Skype-compatible, but if they've got a laptop or smartphone, then most likely they've already got that option covered.
Now Give a Great Gift
Hopefully this list will help you find something to give the college student in your life. I'm here to help, so if you have any questions, be sure to ask them in the open discussion area below.
© 2013 Brandon Hart
Nick on November 16, 2018:
Great useful content!
charleswdavis on September 04, 2018:
Any student needs this kind of gift! I personally need Roku 3. I dream about it every night. I even wrote an article about it at https://oceanessay.com/ and I hope that you will like it.