SAN ANTONIO – Back-to-school shopping looks different this year as students prepare for reading, writing and remote learning.
Online schooling means families will be buying more tech. And because laptops cost more than notebooks and glue sticks, families are expected to spend more than ever for back-to-school supplies.
According to the National Retail Federation, the average spending by families with kids in grades kindergarten through 12th will be about $789, nearly $100 more than last year.
“Laptops are obviously the most important things kids are going to need,” said Samantha Gordon, deals editor for Consumer Reports.
Deals are out there, she said, as retailers discount some laptops, headphones, routers and more. And she offered a few recommendations based on product performance and price.
First, Gordon suggested the Lenovo Yoga C740-14 laptop as a good midrange computer. It weighs three pounds, has plenty of battery life and converts to a tablet. It has an Intel Core i5 processor, eight gigabytes of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive. On Monday, it was priced $650 at Best Buy, a savings of $150. It was also priced less than $700 on Amazon.
“Another laptop is the LG GRAM 14,” Gordon said. “It weighs 2.2 pounds. It’s one of the lightest out there, and it also has long battery life.”
On Monday, it was listed for $947 on Amazon and B&H, a savings of $250.
Gordon said the Netgear Nighthawk wireless AC1900 is a solid choice for a mid-sized home if you need a new router to handle the extra load. It was listed for $160 on Best Buy’s and Office Depot’s websites, a $30 savings.
“We really like this one because not only does it have solid performance, it has auto firmware updates, which helps protect you from security threats,” Gordon said.
A mesh router is recommended for larger homes.
A good set of headphones can be essential for concentration in a busy household. While there are many good options, she recommended the Microsoft Surface noise-canceling headphones listed for $57 off at Best Buy.
While not an essential, Gordon suggested the Google Home Mini Smart Speaker to enhance learning. Not only can students ask it questions, but it can be used to set timers and reminders. It was on sale for $29 at Office Depot and Walmart for a $20 savings.
“You can find that cheap at many retailers and add a nice little bit of tech to your home learning experience,” she said.
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