Here’s TIME’s list of recommended e-readers, cameras, photo printers, handheld game systems and more to make any academic year complete. All prices listed are MSRP. (And don’t miss our picks for the best back-to-school laptops and tablets.)
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
There’s nothing as back-busting as the first week of class book-buying ritual, when you have to lug dozens of books from the campus store back to your dorm room. Forget the heavy lifting and pick up a Kindle Paperwhite, which can store all the books you’ll need for the semester at a mere 7-ish ounces. With highlighting and note-taking features, the Paperwhite is a great study buddy, too.
Whether at the gym or on your way to class, Apple’s AirPod wireless earbuds are reliable, comfortable and offer more than adequate audio fidelity for casual listening. There’s no need to dig into your iPhone’s settings menu to check whether they’re connected, because the AirPods automatically sync with your phone as soon as you pop open their case. They’re a breeze to use, too, since they can detect whether they’re in your ear and pause audio accordingly.
Everyone needs extra plugs, and surge protection can be a gadget-saver in case of split-second brownouts (minor dips in power) or unexpected electricity spikes. Belkin’s cordless SurgePlus USB Swivel Charger adds up to a cost-sensible mix of both with USB perks in the bargain. It offers 918 joules of device protection (you generally want above 600), two powered USB charge ports (2.1 AMP combined) for tablets or smartphones, a 360-degree rotatable plug with four lockable positions, plus it’s small enough to drop in a tote for on-the-go plug expansion and device safeguarding.
It used to be that in order to take DSLR-quality photos, you needed to lug around a bulky camera. That’s no longer the case, thanks to the rise of high-end “mirrorless” alternatives like the Canon EOS M6. Sporting a 24-megapixel sensor, dual pixel autofocus and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, the M6 can deliver photos that’ll blow your Instagram followers away, then comfortably disappear into a backpack or purse.
HP Sprocket Photo Printer
Smartphones may be replacing point-and-shoot cameras, but that doesn’t mean printed images are obsolete. Photo printers like the HP Sprocket turn your smartphone’s snaps into tangible glossies for decorating your dorm room or hanging on a fridge. HP’s Sprocket is light and portable enough to toss in your bag, and you can peel the back off to turn your photo into a sticker as well.
Logitech Slim Folio iPad Keyboard Case
If you use your iPad to take notes, you’ll probably want a good keyboard case. Logitech’s Slim Folio is a great option for those who own a 2017-issue iPad, because it comes with a row of iOS keyboard shortcuts for features like Siri and search, and its replaceable coin cell battery should last up to four years. If you’re rocking the much larger iPad Pro, consider Logitech’s Create Backlit Keyboard Case—it’s less cramped than Apple’s official accessory, and works with the iPad’s Smart Connector, so you don’t have to go through the Bluetooth pairing process.