• How We Tested

  • HP Envy x360

  • Jackery Bolt 10050mAh

  • HP VH240a

  • Sony WH-1000XM3

  • Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones

  • Amazon Echo (Third Generation)

  • Apple iPad (2019)

  • Roku Ultra

  • Eufy Robovac 11S

  • Anker Soundcore 2

  • Apple Watch Series 5

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

How We Tested

Every product in this lineup has been physically tested by Reviewed tech experts. We've gathered these from our roundups of the best products, so the expertise of editors, staff writers, and contributors is represented in this article. We can confidently recommend these as the very best back-to-school tech products you can buy right now.

HP Envy x360 2020 Hero
Credit: Reviewed / TJ Donegan

With its snappy performance and its 2-in-1 form factor, the HP Envy x360 is a great laptop for students.

Best Laptops for Students
HP Envy x360

Thanks to its excellent battery life, powerful performance, and sophisticated appearance, the HP Envy x360 takes the crown as the best laptop for students. This laptop outperforms its much pricier competition, such as the Macbook Air and Dell XPS 13, and it comes in a 2-in-1 form factor for everything from handwriting to watching Netflix.

The Envy x360 also comes with an outstanding keyboard that's perfect for late-night essays and instant messaging. You'll be the, ahem, envy of your classmates when they notice the nearly bezel-free display and the luxe gray chassis. It's not the cheapest laptop out there, but it's by far one of the best laptops for the money, and it's future-proof enough to get you through 4 years of school. If you're looking for something more affordable, you can check out our second top pick, the Asus Chromebook Flip C434T.

Pros

  • Great battery life

  • Impressive performance

  • Powerful processor

Cons

  • Nothing we could find

Jackery Bolt
Credit: Reviewed / Richard Baguley

The Jackery Bolt is a compact powerhouse of a battery.

Best Portable Battery Pack
Jackery Bolt 10050mAh

It’s no secret that students attending in-person classes rely heavily on their smartphones throughout the day, which is why a portable battery pack is extremely useful to keep their devices charged up.

The Jackery Bolt is a small, USB battery back that holds enough power to charge an iPhone XR three times. It’s portable enough to fit in a back pocket for easy transport around the house or campus, and it comes with a built-in LED flashlight and charging cables as well as a charging meter that shows how much battery life remains.

Pros

  • Built-in cables

  • Holds multiple charges

  • Compact

Cons

  • Slow to charge when multiple devices are connected

HP VH240a
Credit: Reviewed / Lee Neikirk

The HP VH240a is the best computer monitor under $200 for most people.

Best Computer Monitor Under $200
HP VH240a

Using a second monitor won’t make school work go twice as fast, but it will certainly help students be more efficient. The 24-inch HP VH240a is a great option for students as it's one of the only monitors at its affordable price point that offers a combination of panel tilting, adjustable height, and portrait rotation. This makes it a particularly great choice for creative students who might need portrait orientation for viewing documents or photographs. It also features built-in speakers and a virtually frameless screen.

Pros

  • Adjustable stand

  • Portrait rotation

  • 1080p resolution

Cons

  • Nothing we could find

Related content

Best-Over-ear-wireless
Credit: Reviewed

Sony's WH-1000XM3 are our favorite wireless headphones for their comfort, great sound, and excellent noise-canceling

Best Wireless Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM3

No matter where your student will be learning during the school year, a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones is a must, especially for those in noisey workspaces. Here at Reviewed, we’ve tested our fair share of the best wireless headphones over the years, and Sony's WH-1000XM3 are our top choice. Multiple Reviewed staff use these headphones, and all of us absolutely love them.

Combining excellent sound quality, all-day comfort, powerful noise-canceling, and a stylish design, the 1000XM3 are an outright win for students looking to focus on their work, and jam out in the process. They connect both wired and wirelessly, and have an excellent, built-in mic that's great for video calls.

Can’t afford the Sony 1000XM3? Th WH-CH710N headphones, also from Sony, offer many of the same great features, including good sound and noise cancellation, in a much more affordable package.

Pros

  • Great sound

  • Very comfortable

  • Excellent ANC

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Complicated UX

  • Finicky controls

Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones
Credit: Reviewed / TJ Donegan

The Puro BT2200 headphones look good, sound great, are durable, are well-designed, and have effective volume limits.

Best Headphones for Kids
Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones

From classroom computer learning games to video chats with the whole class, kids also need a quality pair of noise-canceling headphones to get their work done. Out of the nine child-friendly headphones our editors tested, the Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones came out on top as the best headphones for kids, offering great sound and volume limiting to keep their hearing safe.

Though volume-limiting headphones are critical for protecting your child's hearing, the recommended max of 85dBA isn't very loud. These headphones help solve that by further cutting down ambient sound with noise cancellation.Headphones that cost around $100 (or higher) can be pricey for younger kids who are likely to forget them somewhere (or simply break them), but for an older kid wanting nicer headphones, these are worth the investment.

Pros

  • Cuts ambient noise with no technical issues

  • Safe for up to 8 hours

  • Tangle-free

Cons

  • Very expensive

Echo third-generation
Credit: Amazon

The third-generation Echo is the perfect blend of affordability and versatility.

Best Amazon Echo Smart Speaker
Amazon Echo (Third Generation)

Need a hands-free way for your child to easily keep track of their class schedule? The Amazon Echo is our recommendation for the best Echo smart speaker. This speaker is full of more than 100,000 Alexa skillslike calendar management and reminders that can help your student on task this semester.

Alexa can also help with homework, play games, set timers, and create more fun for kids. While every Echo smart speaker has access to the same Alexa skills and features, the third-generation Echo offers the best blend of quality, performance, and value.

The Echo has great sound quality, so your kids can listen to music while they study, thanks to Dolby audio, a 3-inch woofer, and a 0.8-inch tweeter. It also has auxiliary input and output as well as Bluetooth connectivity for streaming music from another device. You can also use it to make calls to your student if they’re away at college, or use it as an intercom system within your home.

For a smaller, more affordable Echo speaker, check out the Echo Dot (third-generation) or the Echo Dot Kid's Edition. For those who prefer Google Assistant, the Nest Mini is a compact, easy-to-use smart speaker option.

If you’re looking for a smart speaker for students that comes with both Google Assistant and Alexa, we’d point you to our favorite smart speaker, the Bose Home Speaker 300.

Pros

  • Amazing sound

  • High performance quality

  • Great value

Cons

  • No screen

The Best Tablets
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

We found that the 2019 iPad (128GB) is the best tablet, for most people.

Best Tablet
Apple iPad (2019)

Every back-to-school tech setup needs a tablet that can do it all, and the Apple iPad (2019) is the best tablet for most of us. Its crisp 10.2-inch Retina display is large enough to provide a generous on-screen keyboard that’s easy to use for younger kids and teens alike. There’s no shortage of high-quality educational apps and games to use with this tablet. Plus, with a built-in front-facing camera, they can stay in touch with friends and family by making video calls.

For those looking for the ultimate tablet (and possibly a laptop replacement), we recommend stepping up to the iPad Pro 2020. While it’s not cheap, it’s the best tablet we've ever tested. It offers a speedy processor, killer design, and can be a workhorse for all sorts of projects—especially if you add Apple’s Magic Keyboard.

However, if you’re looking for a tablet made just for kids, we’d suggest the all-new Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition. Although we’re still testing the newer model, we loved the previous version because it’s easy to set up, simple to use, and comes with so many pre-installed apps and videos it would take some time for your child to grow tired of it.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality

  • Wide assortment of apps to choose from

  • Performs almost as well as more expensive iPad Air 3

Cons

  • Older processor

  • Base-level storage too low to be useful

Roku Ultra
Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan

The Roku Ultra offers everything we want in a streaming box for just $100.

Best Media Streaming Device
Roku Ultra

No dorm room would be complete without a way to watch every major streaming service. The Roku Ultra is our favorite streaming device because it offers access to virtually every streaming service you can think of. It also supports 4K content, comes with Roku’s most advanced remote, and has a button on the box that will force your remote to make a noise when inevitably it gets lost under the bed or behind the desk.

The remote comes with two personal shortcut buttons that can be assigned to whatever apps your student pleases. It also offers voice control, quick access buttons, and a headphone jack so they can plug in and listen without disturbing others—perfect for late-night binge sessions after a full day of classes.

Pros

  • 4K content

  • Advanced remote control options

  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Nothing we could find

eufy 11s
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

When we tested, the 11S picked up around 11.6 grams of dirt per run, more than what most iRobot models manage.

Best Value Robot Vacuum
Eufy Robovac 11S

This robot vacuum has dual purposes for parents and students. If your son or daughter is going off to college this fall, help them keep their space clean with the Eufy Robovac 11S, our favorite robot vacuum for the money. The Robovac can also be a lifesaver for caregivers and parents who need help keeping their home tidy when the kids are home all day due to distance learning.

This robot vacuum is quiet enough to use during Zoom or Google Hangouts calls with classmates, and it picks up plenty of dirt to keep the home or dorm fresh and clean.

Pros

  • Very affordable

  • Slim design allows it to clean more areas

  • Good dirt pickup performance

Cons

  • Can get caught on throw rugs

  • Clean cycles can last up to two hours long

Anker Soundcore 2
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The very affordable, very practical Anker Soundcore 2 is one of the most valuable Bluetooth speakers on the market.

Best Portable Speaker Under $50
Anker Soundcore 2

The Anker Soundcore 2 will easily be a favorite back-to-school tech item for any student. It’s our favorite portable Bluetooth speaker as it offers solid sound, it’s super portable, and it comes in a variety of colors. It features a sturdy rectangular design with big, easy-to-push buttons and a very tightly sealed set of inputs for USB charging and a 3.5 mm input. Between the low price point and the wide array of colors, it's a very clear value pick as far as portable speakers go.

Pros

  • Easy to use

  • Portable

  • Affordable

Cons

  • Nothing we could find

Apple Watch 5
Credit: Reviewed/Simon Hill

The Apple Watch 5 is the best smartwatch on the market.

Best Smartwatch
Apple Watch Series 5

The Apple Watch Series 5 smartwatch is our favorite smartwatch on the market. Its wide range of features, understated design, and brilliantly intuitive interface make it an excellent choice for students. A wide array of free apps can help students stay active, study, track sleep, handle phone calls and messages, order food, and more, all controlled by elegant and intuitive software.

The Apple Watch comes in two case sizes (40mm and 44mm) and in a wide array of finishes and bands. Setup is a breeze, and the watch is a perfect partner for an iPhone. Since the Apple Watch Series 5 only pairs with iOS devices, we recommend Samsung's Galaxy Watch Active 2, for Android users. Similarly to the Apple Watch Series 5, the Galaxy Watch Active 2 can play music, make calls, send messages, track fitness insights, and more.

Pros

  • Always-on display

  • Great fitness tracking

  • Excellent health features

Cons

  • No Android support

  • Battery needs daily charging

Meet the tester

Reviewed Staff

Reviewed Staff

Contributors, Writers, Editors

@revieweddotcom

The Reviewed staff is based in the heart of Cambridge, MA. Backed by our knowledgeable writers and rigorous test labs, we're working hard to make sure you can make the right decisions about what to buy.

See all of Reviewed Staff's reviews

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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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