So you bought a laptop and phone to take with you to college. But hardware is only as useful as the software it runs, right? Included in our 2018 back-to-school guide are the apps and services that will make students' lives a bit easier. If you need to access your notes across devices, Evernote is a particularly flexible option: It can sync typed text with audio recordings and even scan text in photos of, say, books and other class materials, to make them searchable. Artsy majors should consider subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud for Students to get the company's editing suite at a discount.
So you're headed off to college in the fall. What are you going to use to help you focus when you're on deadline? To tune out the rowdy partiers down the hall? Whether you need a pair of earbuds, a set of sound-cancelling cans or just a pair of budget headphones that don't suck, our annual back-to-school guide has you covered. If you can only afford one pair, Jabra's Elite 65t wireless earbuds are our go-to recommendation.
We're now about midway through summer -- ergo, it's time to rain on your beach party and talk about the upcoming school year. Don't worry, though: With most US colleges opening their doors in late August, and public grade schools waiting until after Labor Day, you have plenty of time to stock up for the semester if you haven't begun shopping yet. For this year's back-to-school guide, we decided to go in a different direction. Earlier this year we announced that Engadget would mostly focus on three main coverage areas -- gear (consumer electronics), gaming and entertainment. So it made sense, then, to organize our back-to-school shopping advice in a similar way.
Though our back-to-school guide includes plenty of headphones, we threw in just as many speakers. Whether you intend to host a few parties or just want the convenience of a smart speaker, we found a number of models that we feel earn their space in your dorm. As you might expect, our list of nine picks include plenty of smart speakers, including usual suspects like the Apple HomePod, Google Home and Sonos One. Our feeling is, if you're going to invest in bookshelf or desktop speakers, you may as well have the option of using voice commands. That said, nearly half of our recommendations are portable, with highlights from JBL, Bang & Olufsen and the category leader, UE.
For some of you, picking up a MacBook like the rest of your peers just won't do. If you're willing to trade portability for power, desktop computers are the way to go. Since it's probably the biggest-ticket item you'll buy for your apartment throughout college, it's important to choose the right one for your needs (and budget). This goes double for those of you spending a little more on a machine that will get you through graduate studies and beyond. Our 2018 back-to-school guide includes six desktop machines, each with their own perks and quirks.