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American consumers will spend nearly $20 billion dollars on Back to School tech and accessories – here are the top 10 things they’re buying.

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It’s back to school time and you know what that means – in addition to the #2 pencils your kids need, they will also need some tech. It could be something as simple as a new phone case or a subscription to Dropbox.

Here are the top 10 items consumers plan to buy, according to the Consumer Technology Association – the same folks who put on CES each year.

10. Smartphone

This is a must have, depending on how old your child is. For a budget model, check out the Moto G5 Plus or OnePlus 5. There are deals on the iPhone and Samsung S8 right now since there are two new models about to launch. Watch for the iPhone 8 and Samsung Galaxy Note 8 to launch next month – they might be worth waiting for.

9. Tablet

In this category, iPads still rule. You get the biggest selection of fantastic tablet apps with Apple’s flagship product.

8. Wireless mouse or keyboard

7. Portable Power

There’s no excuse for running out of juice! I like the wallet friendly Anker Powercore 10,000. You can grab one for under $35 and use it to recharge your phone or tablet wherever you are. Otherwise, check out Mophie’s brand new Powerstation USB-C XXL, which can charge the latest laptops and devices with USB-C connections.

6. Carrying or Protective Case

We spend LOTS of money protecting our phones and tablets. I like cases from Tech21, Incipio and Otterbox.

5. Software or Subscription

Spotify, Dropbox and Microsoft Office 365 will all make a student’s life easier. Netflix isn’t essential but it’s a nice thing to have when the homework’s all finished.

4. Laptop

Mac, PC or Chromebook is the million dollar question here. Go Mac if you have an iPhone and want the most compatibility. A Mac laptop is also perfect for creative tasks like editing video and photos. Otherwise, I love the Microsoft Surface Laptop, which is brand new for this school year. It comes in 4 fun colors so you can stand out. A Chromebook will do the trick is most of what you do is online – web surfing, typing papers and watching YouTube. Just keep in mind you can’t install specific apps and software on Chromebooks that you can on Mac and Windows laptops.

3. Headphones

I’m all about Apple’s AirPods. They are convenient, work with a wide range of devices including laptops and phones (Androids too!) and the battery lasts forever. They are expensive at $160 and still tough to get, but you will truly appreciate their simplicity. Otherwise, my other favorites are usually whatever comes in the box of my smartphone.

2. Basic Calculator

Yep, students still need something basic since most of the time you’re not allowed to use a cell phone in class during tests.

1. Portable Memory

Memory stick, flash drive, thumb drive – these go by lots of names, but the bottom line is that portable storage is a fast and easy way to transfer large files between computers, print out documents or keep a large project organized. My advice is to look for a drive that is USB 3.0 so you get the fastest file transfers. The Cruzer Glide USB Flash Drive is a good choice.

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