Best back-to-school gear for $ 100 or less in 2022


The 2022 school year is full of uncertainties thanks to the alarming rise in COVID delta variant. But whether the students in your life return to class full-time, stay away, or adopt a blended learning model, they’re sure to need essential school supplies and gadgets to help them work and play. And to help you out, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite gear. These are the back to school essentials under $ 100 that we warmly recommend.

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No, this EarFun is not identical to the Edifier TWS NB2 – this $ 100 model has a companion app, a “low latency” gaming mode and a nicer textured finish on its case. But it’s very close and costs a lot less if you factor in the extra discounts.

The EarFun Air stands out with a comfortable fit, decent (but not great) noise cancellation, and well-balanced sound, with good clarity and well-defined bass. These are soft sounding headphones.

Voice calls are also above average – the noise reduction outside was decent and callers said they had no trouble hearing me (there is a sidetone feature which allows you to hear your voice in the buds as you speak). Battery life is rated at seven hours with noise cancellation turned on and these have an IPX5 rating which means they are splash proof and are great for exercise (I ran with they).

While these are great value at $ 72 with an on-page coupon, they were closer to $ 60 in the past (with a discount code) and should be on sale again in the future. .

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This wireless speaker is a colorful alternative to the slightly more expensive Anker model below. It’s quite compact and sounds better and bigger than some of its thinner and smaller rivals. It can really float and also has better battery life than the original Wonderboom.

Read our first EU take on Wonderboom 2.

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The Hyperice Hypersphere Mini is a remote social alternative to a massage at the end of a stressful school day. About the size of a softball (3 inches in diameter), it charges with a micro-USB cable (a full charge gives over two hours of battery life) and does a great job of flexing your muscles, with three selectable speeds from. It also travels well and makes a great dormitory gift for a student.

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A great way for a college student to get out of that cramped laptop (or iPad) keyboard is with Logitech’s MX keys – arguably the smartest discreet Logitech keyboard I’ve used. It has “spherical” keys that cradle your fingertips, and the keyboard is responsive and tactile. In that sense, it’s similar to Logitech’s Craft keyboard, which costs twice as much.

The keys light up when your hands approach, and a sensor adjusts the lighting according to the lighting conditions. You can also turn off the light if you want to save battery. The dual layout is designed to suit Mac and Windows users, and the MX keys are compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android systems.

Using the lighting, you can get 10 days of operation on a full charge or up to five months with the backlight off. When it’s time to recharge, the battery indicator will glow red, and you can continue to use the keyboard while charging via USB-C.

Read our first take on Logitech MX Keys.

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Yes, that of Amazon Echo Show 8 is a fantastic smart display and a great gift for anyone with an Alexa household, but some of us prefer the Google Nest Hub. Amazon products are less likely to be displayed on the screen, on the one hand. In addition, the voice assistant is a bit more intuitive and there is no camera, so he feels more comfortable in the bedroom. This second generation model is new for 2021.

Read our review on Google Nest Hub (2nd gen).

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Know a student who always loses stuff on campus? In the locker room? Or just around the house? If they own an iPhone, giving them a set of AirTags might be the perfect solution. Once slipped into a backpack or jacket, these objects become traceable thanks to AirTags using each nearby Apple device as a rangefinder. Pick up a four-pack for just $ 99.

Read our AirTags practice.


Air fryers weren’t around when we were in school, but oh how we wish they were. We tested this compact cooker and it made amazingly crispy chicken wings, fries, dumplings and other college staples without any messy oil. The Magic Bullet is also smaller than most models and won’t clutter up your already crowded dorm or college apartment.

I was a fan of Logitech’s older MX Master and MX Master 2S mice, which shared the same design. For the MX Master 3, Logitech engineers made a few improvements to both the design and mechanics of the mouse, including the scroll wheel, which is driven by electromagnets and runs smoothly. It’s fast and quiet – you can cycle through thousands of lines in seconds when you switch from ratchet mode to free-spin mode. This sleek mouse costs just under $ 100, and it’s a nice upgrade for the student who wants to take a break from a stubborn trackpad.

Read our first take on Logitech MX Master 3.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Headphones are great, but if you’re buying for a student who prefers full-size wireless headphones, this model delivers solid sound for under $ 60 – and with passable noise cancellation and excellent battery life.

David Carnoy / CNET

Anker’s Soundcore Motion Plus is bigger than many mini Bluetooth speakers, but it’s still compact and manages to sound fuller than most of the competition for just over $ 100, with bigger bass, over $ 100. volume and better clarity. It’s also fully waterproof (IPX7 rated) and supports the aptX streaming codec to support devices like Samsung’s Galaxy phones. Battery life is rated at 12 hours at moderate volume levels. There’s even an app to tweak the sound. It’s great value for money and a fun addition to your school purchases.

Blue or red versions are available for an additional $ 5.

Read our Anker Soundcore Motion Plus review.

First published last year and updated periodically. Editor-in-chief David Watsky contributed to this story.


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