The best back-to-school tech supplies for students in New Zealand

Razer Kiyo webcam, Apple MacBook AIr 2020, Samsung T7 portable SSD, Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+, Sphero Bolt and Canon Pixma printer on red and black background
(Image credit: Future)

The school holidays will be over before you know it, and it won’t be long until the kids head back to school for the 2024 academic year. Whether you’re sending littles ones off for the first time, or supporting senior students in their studies, this time of year can be stressful for parents, teachers and students alike – especially when it comes time for the dreaded back-to-school shop.

So we’ve compiled this guide of the best technology for students so they can ace their studies throughout the year. Long gone are the days of chunky textbooks – technology and the internet have paved the way to help make life easier for school kids and, hopefully, keep their backpacks a little lighter.

Of course, stationery and notebooks are a mainstay, but things like laptops, tablets and even web cameras have become classroom essentials in the last few years, and there’s an overwhelming amount of them to choose from. We’ve tested most of the products in this back-to-school guide, so you can be sure they’re great in their own way, plus we’ve made sure to cover different budgets, so you, and the students in your life, can ease back into the school year without a worry.

Best back-to-school laptops

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a MacBook Air M1

(Image credit: apple)

1. MacBook Air (M1, 2020)

The top choice for flexible budgets

Reasons to buy

+
Fast, responsive macOS Big Sur
+
Great battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Fanless design could affect performance

Even in 2024, an Apple MacBook Air offers students an affordable experience built into a sleek and lightweight package. While you might be tempted to opt for the 2022 Apple MacBook Air with the M2 chip, you can save quite a bit by picking up the 2020 model instead – and its affordability and performance helps to keep the M1 model ranking in our best student laptops list. There’s a few other compromises aside from an upgraded chipset – the 2022 model has a whole new design including a larger screen, as well as longer battery life, but outside of that, you’re not going to be missing much with the 2020 Apple MacBook Air. It’s a strong all-rounder for students who prefer MacOS over Windows, and will even support the latest updates – right up to MacOS 14 Sonoma – to keep your MacBook chugging along smoothly while you’re working on homework, assessments and presentations – or while you relax with a good show after a long school day.

Read our in-depth MacBook Air (M1, 2020) review

Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3

Premium Windows machine

Reasons to buy

+
More base storage and memory
+
Small and light
+
Fingerprint reader

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than the Surface Laptop Go 2
-
No design changes

Microsoft makes a solid range of laptops to suit any students, and if you want a light-weight all-rounder, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 will keep you running. Promising a 15-hour battery life, plus more base storage and memory than what was on offer from the Surface Go Laptop 2, you'll be able to use this machine through the whole day, with Windows 11 to keep you going. Having only come out in 2023, it packs in a 12th-gen Intel Core i5 chip at the base model, so it'll keep students up to speed with other laptops for years to come.

Read our in-depth Microsoft Surface Laptop Go 3 hands on

Best back-to-school webcams

Razer Kiyo Pro

(Image credit: Razer)

1. Razer Kiyo Pro

Only the best to look darn good

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth 1080p/60fps
+
HDR feature
+
Great in low light

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
No ball-joint swivel

Admittedly this is the best choice for anyone interested in streaming, but it's exactly those features that makes the Razer Kiyo Pro the best webcam money can buy. Uni students can experiment with streaming content in 1080p at 60fps, while younger kids can be in the spotlight as this webcam works quite well in low light too thanks to the ultra-sensitive light sensors it boasts. There's even HDR capabilities here, and that 60fps frame rate is buttery smooth. It's important to note that this Razer webcam requires a USB 3.0 connection, but this 2021 model breathes life into a stagnating webcam market where some of the best choices, like the Logitech StreamCam (our pick here for 2020) and C920 are now ageing.

Read our in-depth Razer Kiyo Pro review

Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000

(Image credit: Microsoft)

2. Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000

Affordable and dependable

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Good companion software

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 720p
-
Difficult to mount on some displays

If you really don't want to spend a lot of money on a webcam, then this option from Microsoft might suit your needs. It's not the sharpest tool in town, being just a 720p camera, but it is perfect for everyday use. Thanks to Microsoft's LifeCam software, there are filters and effects that can be applied if you or your kids want to jazz things up a little, and you can even take stills using the software that get saved directly to your computer's hard drive. The LifeCam can be mounted on a tripod if needed and, more importantly, it is quite affordable.

Best back-to-school tablets

2022 10.2-inch Apple iPad in silver colourway

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple iPad 10.2 (2022)

The best tablet for schoolwork

Reasons to buy

+
Updated design
+
22-hour battery life
+
Faster performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Reflective screen
-
Lacks support for newer accessories

Apple’s entire standard iPad range has provided solid devices for students, especially in the last five years, though some of the older models are getting harder to find brand new. If you have the cash to splurge though, the 2022 Apple iPad 10.2 is readily available across the web, and comes in a few bright colourways that appeal to a younger crowd, as well as the traditional silver look if pink, yellow or blue aren’t your schtick. This time around, it’s packing in Apple’s A14 Bionic chip, so it offers fast and snappy performance and the ability to run multiple applications at once without dropping in speed. Plus, budding videographers can take advantage of the 12MP rear camera with support for up to 4K at 60fps, and there’s a great range of accessories to support note-taking, though you’ll have to use the first-gen Apple Pencil if you prefer to handwrite notes over typing.

Read our in-depth iPad 10.9 (2022) review

Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+

Budget tablet, premium functionality

Reasons to buy

+
Great multi-tasking capabilities
+
Expandable memory

Reasons to avoid

-
LCD display
-
Cameras are beaten by other tablets

Have a student who’s not keen on Apple? Samsung has a range of affordable Android tablets, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+ being the latest in the series. We haven’t tested this one out, but if it’s anything like the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8, the multitasking capabilities are fantastic. The latest Android OS allows for up to three apps on screen at any time, and the Galaxy Tab A9+ should keep its speedy and smooth performance while in this state, so students can listen to lectures, take notes and conduct research without having to exit out of apps or swap between screens.

Samsung’s budget tablets might only feature LCD displays, but these slates have Apple beat in one key department – physical storage. You can choose between a 64GB or 128GB internal capacity, but both models let you add up to 1TB of extra storage in the form of a microSD card, so students will have plenty of room for videos, photos, notes and any other documents right on the Samsung Galaxy Tab A9+.

Best back-to-school smartphone

Apple iPhone SE 2022 in black on white background

(Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple iPhone SE (2022)

An affordable iPhone

Reasons to buy

+
Powerful for its price point
+
Lightweight and compact

Reasons to avoid

-
Weak camera setup
-
Modest battery life

Kids are big on brands these days – and Apple is still extremely popular in 2024. Unfortunately, the latest iPhone flagship can set you back a pretty penny, but Apple does make a range of cheaper handsets in the form of the iPhone SE – and there’s a lot to love about this affordable iPhone beyond its price tag.

The 2022 iPhone SE comes equipped with the A15 Bionic chipset, bringing with it a speedy performance. Plus the iPhone SE is a little smaller than other iPhones on the market, making it more comfortable for smaller hands. However, the battery life leaves a lot to be desired, especially if you have a student who’ll spend their lunch break or the daily commute on their phone, but this can be solved with a simple portable charger.

Battery woes aside, the iPhone SE sports a stunning Liquid Retina screen, so you’ll get a display that’s worthy of a more expensive iPhone as well.

Read our in-depth Apple iPhone SE (2022) review

Realme 6

(Image credit: Realme)

2. Realme 6

Keeping it real, and within budget

Reasons to buy

+
Fast 90Hz display
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Photo quality is mediocre

Far from looking like a cheap handset, the Realme 6 has some very premium looks and features. It runs Android 10 and, matched with 8GB of system memory, it’s a brilliant performer. Then there’s the 90Hz refresh rate for the display, which is arguably the handset’s standout feature that makes scrolling and gaming smooth and buttery. However, an LCD display instead of an AMOLED screen tarnishes the lustre a little, but costs had to be kept down somehow. However, a 4,300mAh battery means there’ll be plenty of juice to last the school day. There’s also a side-mounted fingerprint scanner for security, although the quad-camera array is a little disappointing when it comes to image quality. Overall, though, the Realme 6 is very good value for money.

Best back-to-school portable storage

Samsung T7 Portable SSD Drive

(Image credit: TechRadar)

1. Samsung Portable SSD T7

The best backup solution money can buy

Reasons to buy

+
Great build quality
+
Fast transfers