Your kids are heading back to school and you’ve armed them with the latest laptop. Ah, if only it were that simple! For them to get the best out of their computers they’ll need certain accessories, and STACK is here to help with some of the most typically necessary extras to help their learning flow.
Most modern laptops contain an SSD – Solid-State Drive – which is brilliant, as it allows super-fast access to files. But there’s a downside – they’re expensive, so those inside most computers only offer small amounts of storage. Add video files, MP3s and one or two games – they’ve got to have some fun – and the drive will be full.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution in the form of external storage. This can take several forms, ranging from the USB flash drive to external SSD drives and classic external hard disk drives.
Each has advantages – a flash drive, such as the handy 128GB SanDisk Ultra USB 3.0, is the cheapest option, it’s small and can be popped into a pocket for easy computer-to-computer transport. The downside is that it offers the smallest amount of portable storage.
An external SSD is the speediest option. Most laptops gain double the storage should you plug in one like Seagate’s 500GB OneTouch Portable, or you can really up capacity with Samsung’s rugged 1TB T5 Portable SSD. Being solid state means no moving parts, so these are up for pretty much anything that a student can hurl at them.
If you’re after monster storage, a traditional hard disk drive is the go. They’re cheaper and offer huge storage options from 1TB to 5TB for portable drives like Western Digital’s MyPassport range, and up to a massive 10TB for desk-based options such as Seagate’s Backup Plus Hub Desktop Hard Drive.
Ultimately, you need to consider the benefit of price versus durability – if your budding student is a rough and ready type, then investing in an SSD is definitely the safest option.
With laptops getting slimmer and more portable, corners have been cut to reduce size and weight. This usually means that connections are reduced, or even omitted. Most devices connect via USB nowadays, but what if your lappy only has two USB ports? You need a USB hub, or perhaps a multiport dock.
A USB hub is the simplest option if you have several USB connectors to connect, but a lack of ports to receive them. It takes up one laptop USB port, but delivers several more in return. So, if you add an external mouse and keyboard, that’s two laptop ports gone… add external storage, printer, graphics tablet, external Blu-ray drive… you get the picture. Instead of constant plugging and unplugging, a hub handles everything. JB stock an impressive range of USB hubs, from such names as Belkin, Satechi, Bonelk and Targus, with options to suit any price range.
A step up is the multiport dock. Most new laptops only connect to the internet wirelessly, and some may not let you connect a monitor. You can solve several connection issues at once by adding a multiport dock to your student’s workspace. Taking up a single USB connection, they add extra USB ports, plus options like wired internet (generally more reliable than wireless), memory card readers plus external monitor and audio device connections.
The space grey Bonelk 8-in-1 USB-C Multiport Adaptor is a smart option, or if you wish to go all-out then check out Alogic’s twin USB-C 10-in-1 Superdock. Either will make the transition from schoolroom laptop to home computer a breeze. Best of all, they’re compact and light, so can easily be popped into a laptop bag if extra connectivity is required away from home.
While laptops come with power supply blocks, they’re not always very portable. Many laptops also may not pack the battery life needed for a hard day of scholastic endeavour. However, as always, there are tech solutions.
Portable power banks are brilliant. Big capacity batteries, they’re small, light and easily transported. Apple acolytes should look at the Cygnett ChargeUp Boost 12W 10K Portable Power Bank, which has dual power outlets to keep everything from tablets to mobile phones going. Or, the Belkin 12W 10K Charging ‘Stand & Play’ Portable Power Bank doubles as a stand for your phone.
Sometimes, keeping things powered is as simple as having the right cable. You can never have too many cables, but some are handier than others.
A spare lightning cable for your Apple device never goes astray – how often have you been asked where the charging cable is, like you’re the magical cable oracle? Top brands like Belkin and Cygnett offer reliable options, from the former’s two-metre BoostUp Charge Lightning to USB-A braided cablle (braiding adds durability) to the latter’s sturdy two-metre Armoured Lightning to USB-A cable.
Beyond the Appleverse, no collection of USB-A to Micro-USB cables can be too big, and with USB-A to USB-C becoming more common, it’s worth having spares available. Again, Belkin and Cygnett are your friends, with a vast range available at your local JB.
Not only are spare cables important, but having chargers on hand is always wise. Kids can be rather carefree with their chargers, but will always expect you to pluck one from the ether. So, be prepared with Belkin’s BoostUp Charge Wall Charger – it even comes packing a spare USB-A to Micro-USB cable!