Back To Work & Back To School shopping guide

by W. Andrew Powell

Hello, September! It’s time to get back to work, or head back to school, and to help make the rest of your year as productive as possible, I’ve put together some of my top gadget and tech suggestions.

Featured products include: Google Pixel 3A XL, Amazon Fire 7, Lenovo Yoga 730, and Google Nest Hub, Belkin’s BoostUp Wireless Charging Stand, Roku’s Streaming Stick+, Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e, Drobo 5N2 or 5D3, Solgaard Hustle Backpack, and to help you rest at night, the Sleep Country GelCool Pillow.

Google Pixel 3A XL | From $549

Google Pixel 3A XL

Google’s Pixel 3 is a fantastic phone, but if you’re looking for similar specs at a better price, the Google Pixel 3A XL is a great alternative starting at a very impressive $549.

For hundreds of dollars less than the Pixel 3, you get the same camera, a headphone jack, bright 6″ display, fantastic 3,700mAh battery, and 64 GB of storage space. Overall, the 3A XL is very hard to top considering the price and features.

Amazon Fire 7| $79

Versatility meets portability and durability in the new Amazon Fire 7 tablet, with 16 GB of storage space, a 7″ IPS display, and expandable memory thanks to a microSD slot. The tablet is great for reading Kindle books, browsing the web, playing games, or watching Prime Video on the go.

Compared to previous models of the Fire tablets, the new Fire 7 feels a lot faster, and more responsive thanks to the new processor, and Amazon Prime members will feel right at home with all their favourite features a click away, including Amazon Alexa.

Lenovo Yoga 730 Laptop | From $949

Until September 8, Lenovo’s Labour Day sale is offering up to 60% off regular retail prices, and the Lenovo Yoga 730 is one of their best options for anyone who needs a good, versatile laptop.

Sporting a touch-screen, and weighing just 4.2 lbs, the Yoga 730 is light and speedy, with the option of an i7 processor, or the Lenovo Active Pen 2 that opens up a world of creativity, whether you draw, or design.

Google Nest Hub | $169

Google Nest Hub

Take all the best qualities of a smart speaker, add in a fantastic touch screen, and you’ve got the Google Nest Hub, one of my favourite smart devices available in Canada today.

Like other Google smart speakers, you can ask the Google Assistant to help answer questions, and control other smart devices, but you can also use the Nest Hub to play YouTube videos, show the forecast, and a number of other very clever features made just for the 7″ screen.

Play music, use it as an alarm clock, or just bask in the glory of your favourite Google Photos; it’s a marvelous device that adjusts to fit right into your space thanks to ambient lighting and a great overall design.

Belkin BoostUp Wireless Charging Stand | $69

Charge up your smartphone without plugging it in, thanks to the new Belkin BoostUp Wireless Charging Stand that can offer up to 10-watts of wireless charging for your iPhone, Samsung, Sony, or LG phone.

You can charge in either landscape or portrait mode, without removing your phone’s case, and still use your device while it charges. The stand has also been optimized for Qi smartphones, for faster charging compared to most wireless chargers.

Roku Streaming Stick+ | $89

Roku app and Roku TV remote
Roku app and Roku TV remote

Take your entertainment with you–to school, to work, on the road, and home again–all with the easy-to-use Roku Streaming Stick+. Just plug the Streaming Stick+ into your HDMI input on your TV, and use the app to connect it to Wi-Fi for access to all your favourite streaming channels, including Amazon Prime Video, The Roku Channel, DAZN, and Netflix.

The Streaming Stick+ also supports 4K video, HDR, and you can use the app just like a remote for private listening and voice search.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e | $549

Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e

At $549, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e is a lightweight, affordable tablet with an excellent display, and incredible sound thanks to quad rotating speakers that adapt to how you’re holding the device.

The sAMOLED display makes videos, movies, and games look gorgeous, and if you’re already a Galaxy user you can use the tablet to answer calls to your phone.

You can also easily use the Tab S5e for work or school reports thanks to an optional keyboard cover and the easy-to-use Samsung DeX for a laptop-like desktop experience.

Drobo 5N2 & Drobo 5D3 | Starting at $500

Drobo 5N2

For anyone who needs to store a lot of large files–from photos and videos, to music or large documents–the Drobo 5N2 or 5D3 are going to make your life a lot easier thanks to BeyondRAID technology, impressive apps, and simple expansion options.

Working on a network? The Drobo 5N2 is fast, secure, and dependable for your data, with options to retrieve files remotely. Other apps cover remote backups, media streaming, and so much more.

For local users, the Drobo 5D3 connects with a USB-C/Thunderbolt connection, and offers exceptionally fast access to your files, with the same BeyondRAID technology keeping your files safe.

Solgaard Hustle Backpack | $145

Solgaard Hustle Backpack

The Hustle Backpack by Solgaard is a great-looking, functional, comfortable, and most-importantly, secure bag for anyone on-the-go with their laptop.

The bag features magnetic closures, an anti-theft lock, and space for up to a 15″ laptop that also protects it from drops. And you can use an integrated cable to connect a charger to your phone, and discreetly store away a credit card in one of the bag’s secret pockets.

Sleep Country GelCool Pillow | $129

Does it count to call a pillow technology? It does it you’re talking about Sleep Country’s GelCool Pillow, that features cooling memory foam so you won’t overheat while you’re trying to get some rest. The pillow also has a washable cover, and ensures good air flow while wicking away moisture.

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