Back to School


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By Jennifer McFee FortheFreePress T echnology is at the top of the back-to-school shopping list for many students this fall. From tablets to printers to cellphones, electronic gadgets are musts for students of all ages. St. James Street Future Shop sales manager Jason Malik says cellphones are now considered an essential item at many schools. "They're becoming more and more of a necessity in the classroom — and not just from a social aspect," Malik says. Some teachers are assigning homework using cellphone apps, providing parents with an alternative tool to oversee their kids' progress. Tablets are another hot item for students on the go. "The emergence of tablets, like the new Microsoft Surface and the new Galaxy Tab 3, has been just phenomenal. People are almost asking for them the moment they walk through the door," Malik says. "The Surface has got the built-in case that has the keyboard attached to it, so it immediately is a space saver." The Ultrabook is another must-have item, since it is thin, portable and powerful. "It was really designed for the student. For those that want to use their laptop anywhere in school, battery life was always an issue. I remember five or six years ago, if you had a 15-inch laptop, your battery wasn't lasting more than two and a half hours," Malik says. "Now you have ones that last up to 10 hours of battery life." Future Shop's Elliott Chun says technology also provides a cool factor for kids heading back to class. "Students definitely still have that feeling of wanting to look and feel cool. Clothing used to be that No. 1 item when you went back to school. Now we're in an era where today's students are more focused on tech," Chun says. "They don't want to only study smarter, but they want to look smart with their tech." To add a personal flair, students can dress up their electronic devices with colour-coordinated accessories, including a wide array of cellphone cases and a rainbow of hues for headphones. Claudia Schmid, general manager of Staples on Pembina Highway, says many schools require headsets and USB keys this year. "Even some kindergarten classes now request a USB for them to save their data," Schmid says. Kids can personalize USB sticks by choosing novelty characters such as Einstein, R2-D2, Ugly Dolls and Batman. For headsets and earbuds, back-to-school fashions include fuzzy coverings and Monsters Inc. designs. And Staples has a stylish selection of backpacks and sleeves to tote laptops and tablets to class. HP Canada offers several new products, including new hybrid tablets for Android and Windows, spokesperson Monique Daniel says. Many families are opting for the Slate tablet due to its affordable $150 pricetag. "It's on Android. It's seven inches, so it's pretty compact. This one is really good for kids in school and for first-time tablet users because it's a low price point," Daniel says. HP also combines function and fun with the new Envy Rove. "This is a very interesting mobile desktop PC. It's 20 inches and it has Windows 8 on it. The cool thing about this one is you can lay it flat and you can play games on it, so it's like a pen-point touch screen," Daniels says. "It's kind of like a high-tech board game. It's an all-in-one PC, so you can actually get work done on it. It has a keyboard and a mouse, but it can transform and be really cool for a family game night or something fun like that." Last but not least, every student needs a reliable printer. "We have a wireless printer with ePrint. With that one, you can print from your phone. You can scan directly to your phone," Daniel says. "It's an essential item for homework assignments and for being mobile at the same time. Everything is super convenient for today's busy families and students." Pencils, notebooks and other old- school supplies are ahead of the colour curve this September. Brightly coloured homework desks, chairs and accessories — from organizing boxes and noticeboards to mini lamps and clocks — are among the back-to- school decorating options at IKEA. And bold, neon colours are the hot trend in everything from scissors to lunchkits at stores like Walmart and Staples. "There's a lot of neon this year. There are some really bright colours — the blue and the lime — in binders and portfolios," says Claudia Schmid, manager of Staples on Pembina Highway. "They actually tie in with matching backpacks and lunch kits." Animal prints are another eye-catching option in Hilroy notebooks, backpacks and zipper binders. "There are also some really funky zebra prints and leopard backpacks and lunch kits, which have got a lot of attention already," Schmid says. "It's actually really refreshing and new." Students can create a sense of personal style with locker accessories such as magnets and shelf kits that include mirrors, pencil cups and dry-erase boards. Neon Sharpies are tailor-made for doodling in binders and personalizing notebooks. And gadgets such as a mini- stapler shaped like a pencil appeal to all age groups. "We can cater to your entire family, from the young child who would like the licensed Mickey Mouse stuff to the teenagers who would just like a zipper binder," Schmid says. "Everything seems to be really bright and fun this year. You can really cater to your individuality a lot." BACK TO SCHOOL / MUSIC & DANCE ŵ SUPPLEMENT TO THE WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ŵ SATURDAY, AUGUST 17, 2013 BEGINNING ON PAGE 5 Find local programs that make the mind-body connection to keep you and your child engaged and active! NoveltyUSBsticks andversatiletablets andlaptopsaddfun tofunction. Photoscourtesy ofStaplesand HPCanada Bright ideas start with bold colours. Photos courtesy of Ikea

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