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Saturday, December 9, 2023

The 24 Best Back-to-School Deals on Laptops and Dorm Gear

All around the country, children are heading back to school. After years of remote learning, you may be eager to get back to the daily grind. However, as the Delta variant spikes, it might be wise to prepare for contingencies, closures, or future hybrid schedules. Whether you're entering high school or college, or you're a teacher getting back to things, there are sales on some of our favorite school supplies.

Don't see anything you need? Be sure to check out our roundups of the Best Laptops for Students, the Best Masks, or the Best College Dorm Essentials

Updated August 11, 2021: We've added the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 and tweaked prices.

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Laptop Deals

If your child's school has gone remote, they've hopefully provided them with laptops to use at home. College students, however, need their own.

MacBook Air 13.3-inch with M1 Processor for $900 ($100 off) 

We were shocked to see this MacBook on sale over the weekend. Sure, $100 is not a huge discount, but it's rare to see Apple computers discounted at all. This one has a battery that should last through a full school day. You can get it from B&H on sale as well. If you're a college student, you can also use your .edu email address for an additional discount (and a pair of AirPods). 

Google Pixelbook Go for $749 ($100 off)

If you're more of a Google fan, get the Pixelbook Go. This is one of our favorite Chromebooks, and it's right from the company that powers Chrome. The battery lasts all day, and it has a nice, tactile keyboard.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7 for $700 ($200 off)

The Surface Pro 7 offers the best of both the laptop and tablet worlds. Its lightweight tablet size is easy to carry and it gets great battery life, but it also runs Windows, which gives you access to all the software you're likely to need. This deal is on the 10th-generation Intel i5 model with 8 gigabytes of RAM and a 128-gigabyte SSD. Several other models are also on sale if you need more hard drive space. For college use, you definitely want the Type Cover keyboard, which is an extra $130 for a simple black keyboard cover or $160 for a fancier Alcantara-swathed version.

Asus Chromebook Flip C434 for $444 ($57 off)

The price of this Chromebook has fluctuated, but we typically see it hover around $500. If you don't mind a Chromebook made by a company other than Google, this is our top pick. You can use it like a laptop, a tablet, or with a stand for watching videos, plus it got nearly 11 hours of battery life in our testing.

Headphone Deals

Most college students will benefit from a decent pair of noise-canceling headphones to drown out roommate chatter while studying or to simply relax. You might want to check out our roundup of cheap headphones too. 

Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones for $280 ($68 off)

These are some of the best noise-canceling headphones we've tried—WIRED writer Parker Hall rated them a 9/10. They're sleek and have 30 hours of battery life, with better noise cancellation and audio upscaling than previous versions. The microphone is nice for Zoom calls too, if you're still doing virtual classes. 

Beats Studio Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones for $200 ($150 off)

Beats headphones are stylish, and these ones are plush and comfy on your ears. And, of course, they keep outside noise to a minimum. These are on sale at Target and Best Buy too. 

1More ColorBuds for $62 ($18 off)—Clip the Coupon

Clip the coupon on the page to see the full discount at checkout. These are our favorite inexpensive wirefree buds, and they're frequently discounted. They sound good, have six hours of battery life, and come with an assortment of ear tips for comfort. As the name suggests, they're available in cool colors like pink, green, and gold in addition to the standard black.

Backpack Deals

A good backpack is essential. No matter what grade you're going into, you need one that will fit all your things, feel comfortable on, and last you at least a few years. See our laptop backpacks guide for all our favorites.

Lo & Sons Hanover 2 for $179 ($59 off)

This is the most versatile of the bags we've looked at. It can take you from work to school to nights away from home. There's a compartment for a 13-inch laptop, plus a detachable insert with pockets so you can stow your planner and water bottle within easy reach. It's light, too.

Bellroy Duo Totepack for $199 ($90 off)

We love a multi-use product, including this bag that can go from tote to traditional backpack—the straps can be hidden in the back panel so you always have them with you when you need to switch it up. It holds laptops up to 16 inches. Some colors are discounted on Bellroy's site too.

North Face Isabella Daypack for $60 ($25 off)

This backpack is tailored for women, which isn't necessary but could be helpful if you struggle with finding bags that fit your torso and accommodate your hips. It's light and has a suspended 15-inch laptop pocket that's fleece-lined.

Dagne Dover Dakota Backpack for $104 ($71 off) with code REFRESH

A bunch of Dagne Dover products are already discounted, with an added 25 percent off for the new upgraded bags. The new neoprene bags have new logos and recycled lining, which we appreciate, considering neoprene is not environmentally friendly. However, the Dakota Backpack and Ryan Laptop Bag (now $101, $34 off) we tried are great, attractive bags worth getting on sale.

Rains Pencil Case with Backpack Purchase

If you don't need a bag, a free pencil case is not the reason to buy one. However, it's a nice add-on for a brand I really love. The Backpack Mini ($95) is my favorite. It holds a 13-inch laptop and a ton of other school or work accessories you might need. Plus, it's waterproof and it just looks damn good.

Desk Accessory Deals

Some of these picks are also great if you're aparent who is continuing to work from home. Our guide to laptop stands also has more suggestions.

Monoprice Sit Stand Riser for $100 ($20 off)

Laptop stands used to be relegated to full-time desk employees, but with Covid-19 pushing school online, home-bound students could also use one. A riser is cheaper than buying a standing desk, and this one is easy to operate, so you can sit and stand as many times a day as you need. You can get it for $90 from Monoprice's website too.

Lention C-95 Docking Station for $100 ($20 off)

If you have MacBook Pro or a laptop with an annoying lack of ports, a docking station lets you plug in an external keyboard, mouse, or printer. This one from Lention comes with ports for HDMI, VGA, and DisplayPort; SD and Micro SD card readers; one USB-C port, two USB 3.0, and one USB 2.0; Ethernet; and a 3.5-mm audio port.

Cushion Labs Pressure Relief Seat Cushion for $69 ($10 off)

Dorm desk chairs are uncomfortable. Adding a cushion can help. WIRED reviews editor Julian Chokkattu likes this memory foam one, which is comfy and has a washable cover.

Vissles-M Portable Monitor for $189 ($20 off)

If you're on a hybrid schedule where you're in school some days and remote others, a portable monitor will make it easy to get your work done from anywhere. We love the touchscreen model, but that's unfortunately out of stock right now.

Dell UltraSharp 27-Inch Monitor for $359 ($140 off)

If you need something bigger for your work, this monitor is a good option. It's slim, with a high pixel resolution (2,560 x 1,440) and support for HDR in select apps.

Anker PowerConf C300 for $100 ($30 off)—Click Coupon Button

We liked this webcam, but it wasn't worth the full price. This discount makes it a much better buy. 

Planner Deals

Staying organized and on top of all your assignments and upcoming exams is essential to keeping stress down and grades up. I'm a fan of paper planners myself.

The Happy Planner Warehouse Sale

A few WIRED Gear Team staffers are big fans of the Happy Planner. You can get horizontal or vertical layouts, plus mini sizes if you're limited on backpack space, as well as ones meant for teachers. There are pretty designs and the added little sayings in between months are not overwhelmingly corny. If you want to go all out and add stickers, the company has them too, plus extension packs if you want to keep your current Happy Planner but need a few more months. You can find Happy Planners discounted from Michael's and Amazon.

Recollections Celestial Spiral Planner for $15 ($15 off)

I needed a revamp in planners recently and went with this one after spending far too long browsing the aisles at Michael's. It has a vertical weekly layout, which I prefer, giving you ample room to log your classes and assignments. Plus, it keeps you on top of the moon phases, astrological explanations, and planetary retrogrades. The month dividers feature pretty astrological art too.

Dorm Accessory Deals

Dorm life is not all about laptops and headphones. Your room, however small and not private it is, should be comfortable. We hope these deals will help.

Instant Pot Duo Mini 3-Qt for $61 ($39 off) 

If your dorm allows you to bring small appliances, a mini Instant Pot is a great choice. You can make soups, yogurt, rice, or steamed vegetables when the dining hall is closed. This one is also on sale at Amazon

Casper 15-Pound Weighted Blanket for $161 ($18 off)

I'm not sure how I slept before I discovered weighted blankets. All students could use the sensation of being cradled every now and then. You can get this one in 10, 15, or 20 pounds, and it's about the size of a throw blanket, so it should fit well on dorm beds or futons.

Gravity Fleece Weighted Robe for $104 ($26 off)

In addition to a weighted blanket, I think everyone should own a robe, and this one gets you the best of both. It's fabric is soft and plushy, and it has a 3-pound insert in the collar. It won't feel like a ton of bricks on your shoulders, but more look a gentle massaging pressure.

Yeelight Smart Bulb for $20 ($10 off)—Click the Coupon Button

You can dim a smart bulb and turn them on and off with your phone. And some, like this one, have color options too. This is a very decent discount—we usually see the Yeelight bulb for around $30.

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