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5 Top Tech Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Could Afford

Cool-Tech-Gadgets-For-StudentsAmericans spend the equivalent of 17 percent of their monthly rent or mortgage payment on technology, according to the American Institute of CPAs. That figure goes up for people who download songs, apps and other products. If your budget is tanking every time a new gadget comes out, you’re not alone. But it could be time to reevaluate your purchases.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go on a gadget strike. There are plenty of tech gadgets that don’t break the bank and give you the functionality you’re looking for. It also doesn’t hurt that these gadgets will give you plenty of street cred with your friends. Here are five tech gadgets you didn’t know you could afford.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Just because the latest, cutting-edge smartphones aren’t cheap doesn’t mean you need to settle for less. The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge features a 5.5-inch Quad HD Super Amoled screen and is water- and dust-resistant. While the full retail price is $799.99, you can get it for less. Opt into a payment plan for 24 months at roughly $30 a month from T-Mobile instead of forking over your entire paycheck.

AMPware Rechargeable Smartphone Case

Although the AMPware case was inspired by dead batteries during Hurricane Katrina, it’s useful when your phone is dead between classes. Pick up the AMPware case for under $80, and keep your phone charged at all times. The concept is an old-school, crank-style generator that is packaged into the modern sophistication of a smartphone case. Crank the handle for about 10 minutes and power up your phone for two hours of regular use.

Divoom Voombox Outdoor

Kick off your next dance party or impromptu jam session with the ultra portable Voombox. With a list price hovering under $80, the Voombox is a compact, wireless Bluetooth device that’s durable enough to use outside. With 12 hours of battery life, you can set this up as a speaker at your next party and let it go through the night. The device is also water-resistant, making it less likely to fry if someone spills their drink or it gets pushed into the pool.

Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse

Wearable tech is all the rage, but it comes at a steep price for monitoring your heart rate and number of steps walked on the Fitbit and Apple Watch. Fortunately, there are other wearable fitness options, like the Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse, which retails for around $20. Track your steps, heart rate and pulse to get motivated to get back in shape. Xiaomi Mi Band also tracks your distance and estimates the calories and grams of fat you burned.

iPad Mini 2

Apple does not have the reputation of being inexpensive or affordable. However, you can pick up an iPad Mini 2 for under $270 and enjoy all the bells and whistles you want from an Apple product. Choose between 16GB and 32GB of space in either silver or space gray. Load it up with your favorite apps, listen to iTunes, watch shows online via Netflix and take photos around campus to create a slideshow.

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SWISSGEAR Backpack Scholarship and Giveaway!

About The Scholarship!

For a number of years the good people at have been equipping college students for success with their abundance of travel gear and backpacks. So, it seems only natural that they would establish the Ultimate Backpack Scholarship program to support students through the financial aspect of their college experience. SwissGear is providing financial support to students this year in the form of three scholarships – one is for $5,000 and the other two are for $2,500. These scholarships are available to incoming freshman in addition to currently enrolled graduate and undergraduate students! To be considered for the scholarship, all you have to do is submit an application and a brief essay (500 words or less) that describes the perfect backpack. The application deadline is August 31st. The scholarship submission form along with additional information can be found here.


About The Giveaway! is pleased to share that is providing a special giveaway for one of our readers! Up for grabs is the SWISSGEAR 6752 SCANSMART LAPTOP BACKPACK! This backpack represents a successful blend of style and functionality. Whether you are on the go at campus, work, or the airport, the SWISSGEAR 6752 is an excellent companion to protect and carry all your essential gear! Want to learn more about the backpack? Check out the specs here!

The following represent the many different ways in which you can submit an entry into the giveaway:

Each of the methods above will give you an entry into the giveaway. So, you could potentially have up to five chances to win the free SCANSMART LAPTOP BACKPACK from!

This giveaway will close on Thursday March 10th at midnight (Eastern Standard Time). I will randomly select a winner (using the wonders of technology – from the entries and announce the lucky recipient on this article. The winner has a week to contact me and arrange for delivery of the backpack. If I don’t hear from the winner, I will randomly select an alternate.

Hope you enjoy this giveaway. If you know of any deserving people that could make good use of a free backpack, please feel free to utilize the “share tab” to pass this information onto them.



Congratulations to S. Kaiser!! She is the winner of the SwissGear Backpack!  Enjoy!!


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Cloud-Based Software Solutions That Won’t Cost You a Dime

cloudbasedtoolsAs a college student, the last thing you need is another expense. Between rent, food, books, your phone bill and Friday night pizza and soda, your budget is already strained to its breaking point. Fortunately, when it comes to software, these cloud-based programs won’t cost you a dime. Consider these three:

Google Docs

Rather than shelling out money for Microsoft Word or Excel, Google Docs is a free program that you can access from your mobile device or computer. Google Docs lets you create a new document, or work on another one that was started on by someone else. One of Google Docs’ coolest perks is its collaboration feature that lets you invite others to see what you are doing. For example, if you are working on a group project for Psychology 101, you can share your work and confer with your classmates on a document at the same time—all from different locations. Everyone will have their own unique cursor in the document so you can watch as they type in additions and edits to the project, and you will all have access to the latest version of your work. Since Google Docs automatically saves things as you go, you won’t ever experience that sinking feeling that comes with lost work. Google Docs also features some nifty editing and styling tools including images, tables, and thousands of fonts.


If you are looking for an easy-to-use and free cloud-based storage system, you can’t go wrong with Dropbox. Dropbox gives you access to your school work and other files from any computer or mobile device, and it comes with 2GB of free space. Instead of emailing yourself important term papers that you are working on—and running the risk of your work being lost in cyberspace—you can instantly find your files. Dropbox is limited on storage space, however, so if you find that you need more storage space, choose a different cloud service provider that offers a larger amount. Compare providers at, a site featuring in-depth reviews and pricing info on 10 reliable cloud storage services.


Pixlr is a free cloud-based online program that includes plenty of tools, photo editors and photo sharing abilities. Pixlr can transform your computer, smartphone, or tablet into a mean, lean photo editing machine. Once you download the Pixlr program, you can transform your photos into works of art by cropping, rotating, and adding in borders and overlays. Once you create your free account, additional premium content will become available; this includes Auto Contrast and Double Exposure features. It will also help you create a professional looking photo collage with proper spacing and backgrounds, and if your photo is dark or washed out, the Auto Fix feature will improve the colors. The program also allows you to channel your inner artist by transforming your selfies into pictures that look like watercolors or pencil drawings. It even allows you to remove that alien “red eye” look that is common in photos. When you are finished editing your photos, they can easily be shared on social media sites.

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5 Cheap Ways to Upgrade Your College Style

collegestyleWhat do Ramen Noodles, care packages and free events have in common? They’re all very appealing to college students, particularly those who are financially strapped. And for those who are fashion savvy, affordable apparel is equally important. But after tuition, fees, books and living expenses are paid, there’s little left for shopping.

Fortunately, there are ways to upgrade your style on the cheap. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:


Protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful rays as you walk to class with a stylish pair of sunglasses like Oakley or Ray Ban. After you invest in a quality pair, you can maintain them by changing out scratched lenses from a reputable online retailer that offers replacement lenses, such as Revant Optics, instead of buying a new pair.

Versatile Apparel

Who said you had to have an abundant collection of tops and bottoms to be stylish? Money’s tight, and so is dorm closet space, so the idea here is to keep it simple with your selection so it’s much easier to mix-and-match garments. Instead of purchasing those colorful or funky patterned jeans, go for traditional blue denim. Sounds boring, but you’ll have many more outfits to choose from as they work well with either casual and fancy tops or sweaters.

Speaking of which, stay away from items that are poorly made, like thin tops, sweaters that can be picked apart easily or cheap jeans. Reasoning: after a few trips to the washer and dryer, you can kiss those pieces goodbye!

Formal Wear

Ladies, don’t forget to get your hands on a little black dress for formal events. Not only does it complement your figure, but it can be worn on several occasions. All you have to do is switch up the accessories.

Gentlemen, stick with dark-colored suits and solid shirts. You can always swap out jackets and ties to create a completely different look.

Dress the Part

It’s not necessary to dress like you’re heading to a job interview, but it helps to be presentable enough to be perceived in a positive light and respected y others, including your professor. The last thing you want to be known as is the sleep walker who proudly parades around campus in his or her pajamas. By doing the latter, you could miss out on a career opportunity (since you never know who’s watching) or even worse, meeting the man or woman of your dreams.

A few tips:

  • Cover it up. Extremely tight fitting or baggy clothing that expose your personal assets should be avoided.
  • Upgrade your shoe game. Flip-flops are cheap, but not very stylish.
  • Pop your collar, well not literally. Ditch the worn tee for a collared shirt.

Don’t Go Overboard

Unless you’re getting the deal of a lifetime, steer clear of designer labels. While the garments and handbags may catch your eye, there are several other cost-efficient alternatives that will get the job done.

Last but not least, don’t forget to stick to your guns while shopping. If you only have $30, make a list of what you’re looking for, check it twice and leave the bank and credit cards at home. And if the items you’re considering aren’t flexible or exceed your budget, kindly place them back on the rack and move on.

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4 Winter Wardrobe Essentials For College Students

collegeclothesThe weather is getting colder and those shorts and T-shirts are not keeping you warm anymore. That means it’s time to start thinking about a winter wardrobe that will look great and go easy on the budget. Fortunately, many winter clothes can play double or even triple duty. Or, in other words, they can be worn casually for class or be dressed up a bit for job interviews and holiday dinners. Consider the following four cold weather necessities and accessories:

A Carpet Skirt

A carpet skirt is a great addition to any college winter wardrobe, claims The Refinery. Unlike more formal and often itchy wool skirts, the carpet skirt features bold prints and is usually made with a more comfortable blend of cotton and polyester. They aren’t terribly expensive either; Topshop sells a Kirada Jacquard Midi Carpet Skirt for just under $100. This skirt can be worn for many occasions from class to an intern interview, making it well worth the money.

Dark Rinse Skinny Jeans

One of the great things about skinny jeans is that they look great on all body types and sizes. They also work well with a variety of tops, allowing you to keep your own personal style with the staple piece. Furthermore, skinny jeans can be dressed up with a nice shirt and some accessories for holiday meals with grandma, or they can be paired with a long sleeved T-shirt for grabbing pizza with friends. Skinny jeans also are easy on the budget –  American Eagle Outfitters sells a variety of dark rinse skinny jeans for men and women for less than $40.

Colored Contacts

For college students who wear contact lenses, it can be fun to mix it up a bit during the winter months with color contact lenses. This can easily add some oomph to your winter fashion choices and give you the change you’re looking for. This change also can bring more attention to your eyes and face, so try changing up your makeup routine to match the new color. Vision Direct stocks colored contact lenses in hues like Brilliant Blue or Gemstone Green – the blue contacts can complement the icy winter and the green can match your holiday decorations.

Dressy Sweatshirts

Sweatshirts are not just for the gym or lounging at home. In fact, many retailers sell sweatshirts that are nice enough to layer with casual and dressy outfits. LL Bean sells attractive and budget-friendly sweatshirts for both men and women. And the best part is how comfortable you will be these crewneck ultrasoft sweats for women are made of French terry that is super smooth on the outside and soft on the inside. The sweatshirt also features a more feminine cut, which means it can easily be paired with skinny jeans and a nice scarf or necklace to complete a cute, comfortable look.

No matter what winter staples you purchase this winter, be sure they can be worn multiple ways in multiple settings. This will help you save money and vary your look with minimal effort. Happy shopping!

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Technology Money-Saving Tips for Students

dollar-cuttingYou’re in college and it’s a great position to be in – the world respects you as an adult, but cuts you some slack when it comes to things adults are responsible for, because hey, you’re still learning right? One of the biggest changes you’re probably experiencing in your young, wild and free years is having to manage the money you spend on technology necessities in your home away from home such as cable, wireless, electricity bills, etc. Here are some technology money-saving tips for students new to the game we call life.

Get a Roku

Since you can basically almost watch anything using the almighty internet, forego the cable and invest in a Roku player. A Roku is capable of housing all your guilty-pleasure viewing platforms like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon and HBO without having to connect to a computer. You end up saving money watching shows you actually choose to subscribe to as opposed to paying for expensive cable that you may only use five channels of.

Save Electricity

When you live with roommates, it can be hard to adjust to their living habits. Some may not turn off the lights to save energy, and it’s tough to tell someone you barely know how to live. Purchasing something like a Belkin Energy Saving Power Strip could do the trick without the imposition. With all the accessories that accompany a college student’s entertainment center – X-box, DVD, TV, Sound System, that’s a lot of energy-sucking devices plugged in. The strip automatically shuts off power for accompanying electronics once you switch off the TV, thus energy is conserved, lowering your electricity bill.

Socialize for Less  

College is a time dedicated to exploration, therefore making commitments are extra challenging – the same goes for contracts through wireless service providers. T-Mobile is defying the more pricey norm of restrictive data plans, becoming known as an “uncarrier” by offering the best monthly rates compared to other large wireless providers, no-contract phone plans, and free 4G LTE data so you can use as much Instagram and Spotify you want, wherever and whenever. Additionally, if you fly home from school for breaks, take note that T-Mobile is the only wireless company whose customers can text and send pictures, during flight. This is economically the best choice of wireless network (un)carrier financially and socially, both uber important for a student’s well-being.

Refurbished is the New “New”

Technological devices like laptops, tablets and phones are advancing at such a rapid pace these days, it’s almost impossible to consistently have the latest and greatest at an affordable price. And when you’re on a Ramen noodle diet, strapped for cash, it’s especially difficult to even afford “new” anything. Buying refurbished electronics is a smart alternative that helps you save money while still getting a quality product. As long as you do your research (reading reviews on sellers and such), purchase a refurbished device from a reliable retailer and it’ll feel like brand new. You probably won’t even have it for long before the next hot thing comes out making it really the best way to ball on a budget. Your peers won’t even know the difference – they’ll just think you have the newest generation iPhone out there.

You may have taken for granted having easy access to endless “free” web surfing that the ‘rents took care of, but now, you get it. By implementing a few of these tech money-saving methods, you’ll be one step ahead of the game in this exciting new chapter of the real world.

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Tech Tools: What You Need to Succeed in College

Male University Student Using Digital Tablet In LectureCollege is expensive. The tuition is bad enough—you haven’t even considered all of your tech related expenses. You go to class, and everybody there has an iPad, tablet or laptop and you have seventeen boxes of number two pencils because that’s all you can afford. While that last part might not be true, tech-outfitted classrooms aren’t rare. Here are three gadgets that will help you keep up.

Virtual & Portable Keyboard

You can’t get a laptop, tablet or iPad because they’re too expensive, and you don’t want to take on a third job. So who needs one? Just use your phone. With the Celluon Epic* you can turn your favorite device into a laptop. Just flip the switch, pair it with your phone (or any of your devices) via Bluetooth, and you’re good to go.

The Epic* is a small device (seven ounces, two inches tall) that you can sit on any flat surface, and it will laser-project a virtual full-sized keyboard onto that surface. It has a mouse feature that tracks your finger’s movements; with certain gestures you can right-click, zoom in and out, and go forward or backward.

Take Notes

Toss your notebooks and binders, and simplify your note taking with some help from your smartphone. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (equipped with a 5.7-inch HD screen) is perfect for students because it features an innovative note taking platform. Use a stylus or S Pen to take notes, during lecture or use Action Memo to write down your to-do list. This tool can even convert what you write into an email or text with the “link to action” feature.

This tool will be crucial during your first few weeks at college. Between meeting new people, learning about clubs and organizations, or rushing a fraternity or sorority, this tool can help you keep connected and take notes on the fly.

Charge up with Solar

College students don’t just go to class and back to their dorm room—they go everywhere. The library for study sessions, the student union to grab a bite to eat and then it’s off to that job. And you can’t bet on the assumption that these places are going to have charging stations or power supply available. In today’s technology driven world, where lectures are hosted online, e-books are read, and course communication is accessed on the Web—when you go to campus you have lug around all of your tech stuff and that backpack can get heavy, fast. Ditch your chargers and cut some of the weight of your backpack by investing in a wearable portable solar charger, like a backpack.

The SolarGoPack is not just a backpack, it’s also a charger for all your devices. It has a detachable solar panel on the outside surface so that you can charge your devices using the sun as your power source. In direct sunlight it takes three hours to charge the lithium ion battery. When it’s fully charged, it can charge your phone in less than a half an hour. It comes with an eight piece charging kit so that you can charge multiple devices too.

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Affordable Tech Gadgets for College Students

These days, back-to-school sales are more likely to feature discounted tablets than discounted No. 2 pencils. That’s good considering that high school and college students in particular will probably fill their brand new backpacks with more gadgets and fewer books. It adds up and can even become a real budget buster when different professors have different technology requirements.

From their point of view it makes sense. According to one Pew Research Center survey, a majority of teachers think that tech in the classroom and at home can make students better researchers and more independent learners. But when you’re the one shelling out the cash for a school supplies list a mile long, you need to make smart decisions.

College students already spend about $1,200 on books and supplies each year according to the College Board. Lucky for you it doesn’t take a Master’s Degree to find the gadgets that are as useful as they are affordable. Here are some top pics for affordable student tech gear that will take you from now until graduation day.

A Truly Affordable Tablet

Try the Galaxy Tab 3 from Samsung. You get a powerful multimedia device that fits in your hand and the smaller phablet version rings in at under $150 when you shop around. Besides free 50 GB worth of Dropbox Storage, there are other ways to save. Carrier T-Mobile offers some free 4G LTE data for tablet customers and has affordable rate plans that are perfect for college students.


A Noise Canceling Solution

For under $60 you can snag Creative HN-900 noise cancellation headphones that will make studying that much easier thanks to decent noise cancellation and good balance. The best part – beside the student-friendly price tag – is that the thing most likely to break on over-the-ear headphones (the cable) is detachable so you can replace it without having to spring for new cans.


A Backpack That Does Double Duty

Great backpacks don’t come cheap anyway so spend a little extra for one that does more than just hold books. The Voltaic Converter Solar Backpack will run you about $150 but will save you endless headaches thanks to its ability to charge phones, tablets, cameras, and other gadgets. It’s also light, waterproof and built to handle college life. Plus it’s an easy way to make your walk to class feel more productive.


A Portable Keyboard

Make that a very portable keyboard. The Cube Laser Virtual Keyboard connects wirelessly to laptops and most mobile devices to broadcast a full QWERTY layout that projects onto any flat surface. It is also small enough to stash in your pants pocket, which is why at about $99 it wins out over less expensive roll up keyboards and more expensive iPad case and keyboard combos.


A Backup Plan

Not the kind of backup plan that you turn to when you can’t hack it in your major but rather the kind you turn to when your laptop dies a hideous death. The WD My Passport 1TB portable external hard drive will set you back $60 but remember that the comfort of knowing your dissertation will still be there no matter what is priceless. It’s ultra compact, you can password lock it and it even automatically backs up software.


A Better Way to Take Notes

Still recording lectures while you take notes (or not)? Why not do both? Livescribe’s Echo smartpen automatically records everything you hear or say while you’re writing on Livescribe’s paper. Tap your notes to replay the audio, send your notes to a mobile device, social profile or app, and never miss another word of the most essential courses in your discipline.


So, there you have it! These affordable tech gadgets are for sure going to be a hit in the hallways this year at campuses around the world. Do you have a favorite gadget that you can’t live without?

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Jessica Oaks. She is a freelance journalist who loves covering technology news and the ways that technology can make life easier. Follow her on Twitter @TechyJessy.

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