Hit Refresh With These Tech Essentials For Fall

Whether you're going off to college for the first time, returning for grad school, or just looking for a fall upgrade, there's one thing to keep in mind: Despite all the supply lists out there, you don't actually need many of the gadgets that are recommended.

Forget about the printer and e-reader, hold on the TV, and you can probably skip the tablet, too. Instead, spend your money on a highly rated laptop (which you'll use for everything from streaming shows to writing term papers), and invest in a few other tech essentials: a quality Bluetooth speaker, portable battery, and backup hard drive. These aren't necessarily sexy devices, but they are the ones you'll use the most.

Ahead, we've rounded up the eight tech items you need this fall. Come exam time, the only thing you want to worry about is feeling prepared, not whether or not your laptop will turn on.

The Laptop: MacBook Pro, starting at $1,249, available at Apple.

Why It's A Good Deal: Apple laptops are known for setting the industry standard on battery life and reliability, so if you're going for something that will survive all four years (or more) without giving you trouble, this is your best bet. The 13-inch model weighs in at just over three pounds, so you can take it everywhere with ease. Plus, the wide color gamut makes for a far better streaming experience.

Now, let's get to the free stuff. In addition to getting a one-year warranty and up to 90 days of free technical support by phone, you get a pair of BeatsX, Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones, or Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones at no charge. The MacBook Pro isn't cheap, but when you consider you get a pair of $300 headphones for free, the cost is easier to stomach.
The Extra Battery: Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL, $149.95, available at Mophie and Apple stores.

Why It's A Good Deal: Keep your laptop cord in your room and carry around Mophie's new portable battery instead. If you're anticipating spending all day in the library or visiting friends for a weekend, it will keep you powered up, giving your MacBook more than one full charge.
The Wireless Speaker: Beoplay P2, $169, available at Beoplay.com.

Why It's A Good Deal: Skip a smart speaker with too many bells and whistles, and opt for one that you can toss in a bag and take anywhere. At less than one pound, the voice-activated, Bluetooth-enabled Beoplay 2 fits the bill. You can play music for up to 10 hours, wirelessly pair it with other speakers in the room, and preset party playlists via the Beoplay app to keep end-of-exam celebrations going all night long.
The Powerstrip: Allocacoc PowerCube Original USB, $13, available at B&H.

Why It's Worth It: Those clunky, long white powerstrips you're used to can't even compare to this little fella. It packs four Type-B sockets and two USB Type-A ports into a four-inch cube so you can plug in all your devices at once.
The Backup: Seagate Backup Plus Slim 2TB Portable External Hard Drive, $69.99, available at Amazon.

Why It's Worth It: Knowing you should back up your files and actually backing up your files are two very different things. Seagate's super slim, portable hard drive lets you schedule an automatic back up of all your documents, social media accounts, and music, so you don't even need to think about it.
The Backpack: The North Face Rucksack, $150, available at North Face.

Why It's Worth It: A tote bag might be fine for carrying around your books and laptop in the fall, but as the weather worsens you'll need something with a little more heft. Enter the Rucksack. This water resistant, year-round pack has a laptop sleeve and three additional side pockets for storing chargers, cords, and your wallet. The leather details are a stylish finishing touch.
The Note Taker: Evernote, Free, available on the App Store and Google Play.

Why It's Worth It: Evernote provides much more flexibility than your standard pad of paper. Download both the free app and desktop service to seamlessly sync notes between devices. Then, when you're ready to take notes, choose how you want to do so: There's an audio function for when you want to record a lecture, a way to clip and highlight articles you've found online, and even a built in scanner to seamlessly upload handouts or handwritten notes.
The Cord Organizer: BlueLounge CableDrop Adhesive Cable Clips, $9.99/package of six, available at The Container Store.

Why It's Worth It: Whether you're living in a tiny dorm or an apartment, having tangled cords piled up can mess with your aesthetic. These small cable clips are self-adhesive, so you can stick them to the side of your desk to help keep things in line. If your cords run behind your desk, the clips will keep them from falling to the floor. You stay powered up, and your room looks just a tiny bit neater: It's a win-win.
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