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Back-to-school tech deals and recommendations for virtual learning

Posted at 4:16 AM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 07:36:40-04

ROCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — Back-to-school shopping this year seems to be less about clothes and more about Chromebooks.

13-year-old Daniel Frans of Rochester is already trying out his new classroom digs at home!

He’ll be attending Hart Middle School online on September 1.

Daniel’s dad Michael Frans said their family’s focus shifted from buying backpacks to technology.

“So, we bought the microphone. We bought the camera. We got a spare desk,” said Michael Frans.

He spent $110 total on the two tech items after finding online deals on Amazon and Dell.

“We bought a microphone. It looks more impressive than it is. But it plugs into a USB port. It takes the microphone off the headset for the kids. It’s a bit more comfortable and conversational. We decided to get a mobile camera that can work on any machine," said Mr. Frans.

LOOKING FOR DEALS?

“The biggest movers you see are laptops,” said John Williams, Assistant Sales Manager at the Allen Park Best Buy store.

William said Best Buy is offering bargains in-store and online.

Visit Bestbuy.com, click on “Deals," scroll down to “Student Deals,” then sign up for free with a valid email, coupons will then be coming your way.

Which products have some of the best markdowns?

“The laptops," said Williams. "Saving $100 to $200, being able to get a pretty good machine for $500 is pretty solid.”

CONSUMER REPORTS RECOMMENDATIONS

But before you buy a laptop, check with your school. That's because technology recommendations might be different this year.

”For most school-aged kids, a Chromebook is fine. Pretty much any Chromebook. That’s because students are going to be using web-apps, and you don’t need anything special to run these apps," said Nicholas De Leon, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.

Consumer Reports recommends:

  • Google Pixelbook Go
  • Lenovo Chromebook
  • Macbook Air

If you prefer a Windows computer, then Consumer Reports recommends the Lenovo Flex 15.

If you don’t want to listen to the sound of classroom instruction all day, then make sure you add a pair of headphones with a built-in microphone.

And good news...

“This is one of those situations where you don’t need to spend extra money for audiophile sound quality,” said De Leon.

Consumer Reports recommends the Monoprice headphones for under $50 or for in-ear headphones, try the affordable Panasonics.

Good luck shopping!

What does Mr. Frans think about the new tech-focused shopping list this year?

“I think I should get some for me as well. I mean, but, you know, kids first, right?!” Michael Frans chuckled.

If now’s not the right time to buy a new computer, you may want to look into free software that can turn an outdated laptop into a chromebook. Here is the link to the the step-by-step instructions from Consumer Reports.