The start of the academic season is around the corner, which means someone in your family or someone you know is (probably) preparing to join a university in the next couple of months. If you've been looking to get them something that simplifies or makes their life better tech-wise, here's a guide that could help.
Note: Prices are accurate as of July 6, at the time of writing.
1. A wireless speaker
For occasions when people are having a few friends over, or for their personal entertainment in the shower, you can't go wrong with the UE Roll. It's waterproof, fits even in a small bag and has good sound quality to match. It can also be paired with another UE Roll for stereo sound. You can pick one up at Rs. 8,495 in India, or import it from the US starting at $84.98.
(Also see: Logitech UE Roll Review)
If your budget is substantially higher, consider the Bose Soundlink Mini II - at Rs. 18,000 / $179 - or the UE Boom 2 - at Rs. 15,990 / $179.72. They are both louder, which makes them better suited for a dance party or a backyard barbecue. Plus, the Boom 2 now supports Siri and Google Now, which the Roll cannot as it doesn't have a mic.
2. A portable battery back-up
With our personal electronic devices having more and more value in daily life (and also getting thinner), you can never go wrong with a battery pack. It's important to find the right one that suits the kind, and number of devices to be charged. One option is the EasyAcc 6000mAh Ultra Slim Power Bank, which has a built-in micro-USB cable along with a second output and a flashlight to boot. It's available for Rs. 3,051 in India and $19.99 in the US.
If you need something beefier, the Limefuel USB External Battery Pack Aluminum 20,000mAh is a great choice. It's got excellent standby times so you won't find it drained even if you get it out of the bottom drawer after weeks. And its massive capacity means there's juice for everyone in the house. You can pick one up at the official website for $49.99 (approx. Rs. 3,375) with worldwide shipping. If you're looking for one with similar capacity that has a USB Type-C port and supports Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0, consider the slightly more expensive RAVPower 20100mAh Power Bank. It costs Rs. 4,735 / $55.99.
3. An ebook reader
There are still quite a few options in this category, but the Kindle remains the best pick. The company recently announced a new version as well, which means it's now available in both black and white colour options. It's also 11 percent thinner and 16 percent lighter, though we doubt that's going to be noticeable to most people. Plus the battery can last for multiple weeks, because the device has no backlight. Though, since it has no backlight, you should probably include a clip-on light to accompany the Kindle as well. It's not just useful for reading books either - the Kindle can actually find use in day to day work by helping stay on top or articles and reading material.
(Also see: How to Use Your Kindle as a Read It Later Device)
The new Kindle will cost you Rs. 5,999 in India, and $79.99 in the US. If you're looking to splurge a little more, choose from the Paperwhite (Rs. 8,999), Voyage (Rs. 16,499) or Oasis (Rs. 23,999) - all part of the Kindle family. To help you decide, here's our review of the Kindle Paperwhite, Voyage and the Oasis.
4. A pair of headphones
Students can't always play music loudly, especially if they are going to be living with someone. That's where a pair of on or over-ear headphones come in to help. The wireless Jabra Move is a sound pick, and comes with a mic so they can make calls as well. It's got wonderful sound reproduction and is light on the bass, for those who prefer it that way. The Move costs Rs. 4,987 in India, and $68.50 in the US.
A good upgrade pick is Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7BK, over-ear and wired, mind you. It come with three different cables, two standard 1.2m and 3m ones, and one 1.2m cable with in-line controls and microphone. Costs Rs. 12,599 / $244. If you're looking to gift noise-cancelling headphones, Sony's MDR-100ABN h.ear on - coming in at Rs. 19,790 / $348 - is what you should go with. It's even got support for Hi-Res Audio and NFC, in addition to the usual Bluetooth.
5. A smartwatch
While most college-goers already have a smartphone, not many of them will have a smartwatch. There are genuine reasons for that, primarily owing to their price and a proven lack of use-case. But if they have expressed an interest towards the growing platform, the Pebble Watch is a great starting point.
It supports both Android and iOS devices, and while it may not provide as much functionality as Android Wear devices or the Apple Watch, it counters that argument by starting at just Rs. 5,999 / $72.95. If you're looking to gift something that's fashionable at the same time, consider the Pebble Time - at Rs. 9,999 / $99.99 - or the Pebble Time Steel - at Rs. 15,999 / $203.71. It also rocks a silent alarm, so that's like two devices in one, really.
6. An Apple Music or Spotify membership
What can be greater than giving someone the gift of all the world's music (except Prince and a few others)? Apple Music and Spotify are two of the leading music streaming services, and both cost the same where they are available - $9.99 per month in the US. India only has Apple Music for now, and you can gift a subscription with iTunes Gifts - either through iTunes or by using an iOS device via the App Store. For an annual subscription, you'd need a gift card value of Rs. 1,200.
7. A smart notebook
College means a fair share of note-taking, but why have your notes only available on paper? That's where Moleskine's Smart Writing Set comes in. The notebook is made up of the quality paper the company is known for, but with the added benefit of some special technology that works with the companion smart pen to recognise where each pen stroke is being made. Plus, the app can transfer your notes and illustrations to your device in real time, according to Moleskine.
8. A USB wall charger
While the smart devices we use have tended to increase over the years - phone, watch, speaker, fitness tracker and more - wall plugs have stayed the same, offering a traditional socket when what you really want is a USB one. Replacing those with USB plugs doesn't really make sense, when you can get a multi-port USB wall charger, like the Anker 40W PowerPort 4.
It offers four slots, provides 2.4A per port, sports a compact design, and an 18-month warranty. It costs Rs. 1,765 in India and $25.99 in the US. If you are looking for something that's a little bigger, consider the iClever BoostCube 50W 6-Port USB charger. It's available for Rs. 3,413 in India and at $22.99 in the US.
Have any other ideas? Leave them in the comments below.