Back to school 2017: the best tech deals to fill the backpack

Sandwich, drink bottle, laptop

January is just about wrapping up – a month, some would agree, loathed by both parents and kids alike for the same reason: the new school year is about to start.

These days it’s not enough to just get a shiny new calculator if you want your child to get ahead in class. Even as early as primary school, your child may need some pretty advanced tech just to keep up with the ever-changing academic focus and teaching method.

With the new term just around the corner, there’s a couple of days left to tick off all the items on your back-to-school shopping list, and we’re here to help, bringing together all the best deals on classroom tech to give your kid the upper edge.

Best back-to-school laptops and 2-in-1s

  • Acer Aspire R3 131T: This slim 11.6-inch laptop is perfect for slipping into a shoulder bag. Weighing in at just 1.5kg, the Aspire R3 is convertible, with a touchscreen that folds back a full 360 degrees to create a Windows 10 tablet. It comes in two variants, but the model with 4GB RAM and 32GB eMMC SSD is currently available at Bing Lee for $299, as opposed to its usual $399 RRP, saving you $100.
  • Acer Aspire E5-523G: The Acer Aspire E5-523G may be larger than some of the other back-to-school options, but the extra space houses a rare DVD drive. This laptop features an AMD A9-910 dual-core CPU, 8GB of DDR3 RAM and 1TB mechanical HDD. It also has a 2GB Radeon R5 M430, which is in par with the better built-in Intel graphics. While this normally retails at $799, you can save $105 by buying this at Harvey Norman for just $694. This deal ends on 30 January.
  • Dell Inspiron 15 3000: This 15.6-inch laptop features an efficient but slightly older Intel Core i3-5005U processor, 4GB RAM and a 1TB mechanical HDD. The keyboard and trackpad are quite good, and there’s even a numpad! This Dell Inspiron is currently on sale at JB Hi Fi for $423.30, giving you a saving of $74.70.
  • Microsoft Surface devices: These little powerhouses are Microsoft’s premium range of 2-in-1s and the company is currently offering up 15% off on select models if one is bought using a student email address. That’s a saving up up to $742 for the Surface Book with an Intel Core i7 processor.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E560 (Core i5): With nearly eight hours of battery life and a comfortable keypad, this 15.6-inch laptop is hard to ignore. Sporting an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, this ThankPad is now available for $799, saving you a neat $200. This deal is only available until 9pm, 3 February.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 460 (Core i7): Lenovo is offering a whopper $909 off as Student Savings on the higher-specced model of this 14-inch, 1.8kg laptop-cum-tablet — this one runs an Intel Core i7 processor, with 8GB memory and 256GB SSD. This means you pay only $1,490. This offer ends Friday, 3 February at 9pm AEST.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad E560 (Core i7 with 2GB graphics)There’s a $400 saving to be had on this Lenovo ThinkPad running the Intel Core i7 processor and featuring 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD, along with a 2GB Radeon R7 M370 graphics card. That means you pay only $1,049 as opposed to the original price of $1,449.
  • MacBook Air (13”, 2016)Apple’s 2016 MacBook Air is familiar, reliable and more than up for the task of keeping up with a growing mind. By shopping at Officeworks, you can save $163 on the 13-inch MacBook Air, meaning you pay $1,386. It featuring an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, Thunderbolt 2 and up to 12 hours of battery life, remaining a solid all-rounder for the desk-bound or for getting those assignments done while on the move.

Best back-to-school tablets

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 (16GB): With a compact 8-inch screen size, this is the perfect middle-ground for comfortably browsing and studying without having to lug around too much bulk or fussing with a tiny screen. While retailing for $299, you can get a neat $50 off by shopping at Bing Lee which makes the already affordable Galaxy Tab A 8.0 even more appealing at $249.
  • Apple iPad Mini 3 (16GB, refurbished): Although Apple are no longer manufacturing or selling the iPad Mini 3, you can still pick up a refurbished unit for some serious savings. A snazzy 7.9-inch Retina display and a 10-hour battery life will give you at least a school-day’s worth of crisp viewing, and it only weighs a third of a kilogram. While stock may vary, at only $359, this refurbished iPad Mini 3 is $10 cheaper than the iPad Mini 2, and a whopping $210 than a brand new iPad Mini 4.
  • Lenovo Tab 3 A10 Premium 10.1 inch (32GB): If you’re after a slightly bigger screen, the Android-powered Lenovo Tab 3 A10 has a lovely 10.1-inch screen and still only weighs 500g. You can save a bit over $100 if you buy the Tab 3 at Good Guys for $297, but you’ll have to hurry because the sale ends 31 January.

Best back-to-school smartphones

  • Motorola G4 Play: The G4 Play may have the lowest specs among it’s G4 range, but for the price, you’re getting an incredibly capable phone – a bright Full HD display, all-day battery and water resistance help make it a reliable pocket companion. You can save $50 on the Moto G4 Play when you shop at Good Guys, bringing it down to a ridiculous $229, but you’ll need to jump in before the sale expires on 29 January.
  • Huawei GR5: The GR5 boasts an impressive 5” screen and other top-tier features like a fingerprint scanner and 13MP camera, but doesn’t come close to the price of certain top-brand phones. If you grab the GR5 from JB Hi-Fi, you can save $50 on the already cheap handset and take it home for an incredible $298.
  • Sony Xperia XA (16GB): With a crisp 5-inch HD display, a powerful 64-bit Octacore processor and a curved glass screen, Sony’s Xperia XA is a stylish and simple handset for an incredible price. Bing Lee is currently taking $50 off the phone, bringing it down to $249, and if you order it before 31 January, you get 12 free movie downloads as a bonus.
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 16GB: If you’re not so fussed about having the very latest phone, you can still get the luxury of owning a Samsung Galaxy S5 but at almost a third of the cost of the current models. If you go through JB Hi-Fi, you can grab a 16GB Galaxy S5 for only $367, which is a saving of around $40 compared with most other stores, but a massive $332 lower than the official Samsung Store… yikes.
  • Apple iPhone 6s (16GB): There really aren’t that many options when it comes to a cheap iPhone, but if you can’t do without that Apple feel, by far the most bang-for-buck option would have to be going for a refurbished iPhone 6s, which saves you a neat $80 and weighs in at only $449. Just remember to keep checking Apple’s Refurbished Store for availability.

Best back-to-school accessories

  • Jabra Move wireless headphones: Designed by one of the world’s leading audio companies, these wireless headphones have flawless Bluetooth connectivity, long battery life and surprisingly great sound quality for a budget price. But instead of paying the usual $159.99, you can nab these headphones online for just $78 from MSY.
  • Samsung Portable SSD T3: Save assignments and back up the entire year’s academic progress by getting the 250GB portable external hard drive from Mwave for $179, saving you $20 on the RRP. The Samsung T3 portable SSD is appealing to look at with great performance and a very neat price to boot.
  • Belkin MIXITUP Power Pack: This portable battery pack from Belkin is able to charge two devices at once and, with it’s 6600mAh charge, has more than enough juice to top up your devices on the go. The device itself charges quickly via a micro-USB port, and a handy LED light indicator lets you know how much charge is left in the Pack. Kogan currently has $20 off on the Pack, bringing it down to a reasonable $59.