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Back to school 2020: the best tech deals in Australia to fill a backpack

A new school year is on the horizon for students, so parents – it’s time to start ticking off your back-to-school shopping list. 

To save you from panic buying at the last minute, and spending a small fortune in the process, the TechRadar team has handpicked the best tech deals currently on offer from the most trustworthy retailers to get your family back-to-school ready.

Whether it’s a big purchase like a laptop, or something as simple as a power bank, we’ve scoured the internet to ensure you get the best buy, and set your kids up for a fantastic year ahead.

HP Envy 13 | i5 / 8GB / 256GB | AU$1,199.20 (RRP AU$1,499; save AU$299.80)

Our colleagues over at Laptop Mag recommend the HP Envy 13 as the best laptop for students, so it’s a purchase that will go the distance, and take them through university studies as well. This particular configuration comes with an 8th-generation Core i5 chip and 8GB of system memory to keep schoolwork running smoothly. The laptop can run for up to 11 hours on a single charge, so it’s unlikely your child will find themselves caught out with a dead machine. So save yourself 20% with the use of the code SCHOOL20% on HP’s online store.View Deal

HP Pavilion 13 + 1 year accidental damage protection | i5 / 8GB / 256GB | AU$799 (RRP AU$998; save AU$199)

A great deal if your kid is a little more… accident prone. This configuration has an 8th-gen Core i5 processor and enough storage onboard for all their assignments. Included in the deal is a one-year accidental damage protection, which means HP will repair or replace the machine if it’s been damaged from accidental drops or spills. This laptop is a steal at AU$799 – no code needed.View Deal

Jabra Elite 65t | AU$179.30 (RRP AU$249; save AU$69.70)

Kids these days go crazy for the AirPods, but the Jabra Elite 65t gives Apple a run for their money. They are some of the best true wireless ‘buds you can buy, thanks to a reliable connection and a long battery life – 5 hours on their own and the charging case adding an extra 15. Get them in titanium black from Amazon Australia for just AU$180.View Deal

Garmin Vivofit Jr 2 | from AU$91 (RRP AU$129; save up to AU$38)

This fitness wearable is designed for kids aged four to nine. It tracks your young one’s steps, sleep and basic activity, while also gamifying chores by giving virtual coins for completing tasks that you assign. It comes in a bunch of fun designs from Spiderman to Disney princesses, so you’ll be sure to find something your kid likes on Amazon.View Deal

Canon Pixma Home TS5160 | AU$59 (RRP AU$79; save AU$20

An affordable all-in-one option that can do more than just print off their school assignments – it can also copy, scan and print photographs. It allows you to print wirelessly, and the ‘auto duplex’ feature helps ensure there’s little waste by automatically printing on both sides of paper. We recommend this printer in our back-to-school buying guide, so this deal on Amazon is worth checking out. Prime members can get it for an even cheaper AU$53.10.View Deal

Epson Workforce Pro WF-4720 | AU$161 (RRP AU$299; save AU$138)

A big saving on a very efficient printer. Epson promises high-speed printing, with a large 250-sheet paper capacity in a compact design. It can copy, scan and fax, and has the ability to print wirelessly through Epson Connect. There’s also an automatic two-sided printing option, so this little beauty could be a nice addition to your home office. Amazon Prime members can get this printer at a further discount, down to just AU$144.87.View Deal

Kindle Paperwhite (8GB) | AU$179 (RRP AU$199; save AU$20)

What makes the Kindle Paperwhite a great ereader for kids is the waterproof design and affordable price tag. The 8GB of storage means there’s enough space for all their books, and yours too if you want to borrow it on the weekend. While 8GB itself can store thousands of ebooks, there’s a larger 32GB storage option available if you’d like to add thousands more for a slightly higher price of AU$219, saving you AU$30.

If you think your new ereader will also need some protection, Amazon will take 50% off a protective cover when you buy a Kindle.View Deal

Antler Kenilworth backpack | AU$48 (RRP AU$99; save AU$51)

This backpack by Antler combines both style and substance. Inside is a padded sleeve that promises to fit most 15-inch laptops, plus an internal organiser with dual slip pockets. It’s a small backpack, with a capacity of 19 litres, and its water resistant base will come in handy in case of drink bottle spills. This school essential is now 52% off at Peter's of Kensington, and comes in black, grey and red.View Deal

Pacsafe Slingsafe LX400 anti-theft backpack | AU$129.95 (RRP AU$179.95; save AU$50)

If you’ll be kitting out your kid with tech gear, you’ll want to ensure their valuables stay safe. This backpack from Pacsafe has made every effort to keep their belongings secure. The straps are made with slashguard material, and come fitted with a turn-and-lock security hook. There’s zipper security, and inside is a padded 15-inch sleeve for keeping their laptop protected. Available in red, denim or camo from Bagworld with a 28% discount.View Deal

Belkin Pocket Power 10K | AU$40 (RRP AU$59.95; save AU$19.95)

The slim design of this portable charger is designed to easily slip into a pocket, making it a perfect addition to your child’s school backpack. The 10,000mAh capacity is plenty to recharge a smartphone a couple of times, plus It’s inexpensive and comes in a number of colours including black, silver and rose gold.View Deal

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020 | AU$35 (RRP AU$70; save AU$35)

This is our number one rated antivirus software, and the massive 50% discount currently available only sweetens the deal. This offer is only available for the Windows operating system, and you can protect up to three devices for one year.View Deal

Back to school shopping tips every parent needs

Back-to-school season can send both parents and students into a tizzy when hunting for the best hardware, peripherals and tools to help them in their studies.

While buying a lot of new items that need to go into a school backpack can make this time of year an expensive one, there are a number of shopping tips you should know to make sure you get the best possible deals on the hardware and gadgets that you – or any student you know – need to make studying at school, college or university, as easy and as fun as possible.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of eight back to school shopping tips that every parent needs to know while searching for back to school sales.

1. Know what you’re looking for

Before you hop frantically between online stores, buying all sorts of gadgets and gizmos for students, you can save yourself a lot of time, money and energy by making a list of the essentials they need to buy.

A student’s needs will vary depending on their age, the academic institution they are attending and the courses they are taking. So it is worth making sure you know what they need before you buy. Talking to teachers or lecturers, and studying any information you or the student have been sent about their course, will help you draw up a list of essentials.

2. Make use of our guides

Not to toot our our own horn (well, OK, maybe a little bit), but we have some excellent back to school guides that can help you find and buy the perfect back to school devices.

If you’re thinking of buying a laptop for yourself, or a student you know, and are not sure where to begin, check out our guide on how to buy the perfect back to school PC for any student.

Then there’s our list of 10 best laptops for college for a rundown of the very best selection.

If you’re looking for a bargain, then check out our best laptop deals page for a constantly-updated list of the very best offers.

We’ve even got a list of the best power banks you can get to make sure your kids’ devices are charged up.

3. Don’t just get flashy devices

We’re all guilty of going for devices with stylish designs that boast tons of features that we’re not realistically going to use, but when buying a laptop – or any other device – for students going back to school, restraint in this area is essential.

As much as we all love to have gorgeously-designed devices we can pull out and wow people with, it can add costs to the overall price of the gadget, and it’s not a priority for students. With laptops being slung in bags, carried around campus and left under piles of clothes, those beautifully-designed bits of hardware won’t look very good for long, so you’d be better off going for something that’s built more robustly.

Having glitzy and glamorous-looking hardware can also make them more appealing for thieves as well.

4. Take advantage of student offers

One of the best things about being a student (apart from all the parties) is that you’re eligible for many money-saving offers, so when back to school season rolls around, make sure you make the most out of these.

For example, Microsoft, Lenovo and Dell offer discounts for students. So if you’re looking for a Windows laptop or a tablet from one of these manufacturers, make sure you out their websites before making a purchase. It could save you some serious cash.

Apple offers discounts for students, so if you’re looking to get a Mac or iPad for school, make sure you check out our guide on how to get a student discount on Apple products – it could save you some serious amounts of cash.

With more student discounts available in the US, Australian students can apply for an International Student Identity Card, giving them access to a number of special deals, even via the Unidays website. Australian students can also check out Student Edge for deals.

5. Don’t be scared of second hand or refurbished kit

You can bag yourself a serious bargain by looking at second hand kit – especially refurbished hardware. This is hardware that has been professionally repaired and often comes with a warranty, so you can buy with confidence that although it is second hand, it is still as good as new.

We’ve partnered with eBay to bring you a guide on why refurbished buying is the perfect way to replace your old laptop.

6. Refresh old hardware

Speaking of old hardware, if you have an ageing laptop that’s not being used much anymore, then it could find a new lease of life as a back to school laptop. If it’s running Windows and feels a bit slow, follow our guide on how to reinstall Windows. This is a great way to give an older machine a new lease of life.

You could also look into upgrading the hard drive to a solid state drive (SSD), which can give the laptop a much needed speed boost.

Finally, you can help prolong the life of an old laptop by replacing Windows with a lightweight Linux distribution. These are operating systems that have been specially designed to run on older hardware, which means you’ll still get a fast and responsive experience no matter the age or power of your machine. Many Windows programs have Linux versions – or there will be (free) alternatives to use. Check out our list of the best lightweight Linux distros to help you choose.

7. Shop on Black Friday or Boxing Day

If you can make a list by November, you can save yourself some serious dosh on back-to-school supplies when the big Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Boxing Day sales roll around at the end of the year, as shops – both online and traditional stores – cut prices for a huge range of products.

8. Use free software alternatives

Buying software, such as office suites and photo editors can be expensive. While specialist programs needed for certain courses may not have free alternatives, but many common programs do.

So, if you or the student you know needs a word processor, or has to create spreadsheets or presentations, instead of splashing out on Microsoft Office, you could consider installing the excellent free alternative LibreOffice, which has many of the same features. For more choices, check out our best free office software guide.

For students who need to make a lot of presentations, head over to our list of the best free presentation software.

While students are away from home, you’ll want to make sure they – and the devices they use – are fully protected from internet threats, and there are some great free security applications out there.

You’ll also want to make sure that any important coursework is properly backed up – as losing months of hard work and studying can be catastrophic, so make sure you visit our best free file recovery software roundup to help recover any missing files, and our best free backup software list.