Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about ourreview process here.We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.The RundownBest Monitor:Acer R240HY Monitor at Amazon"A computer monitor that'll help with homework, but that's also ideal for use as a TV when streaming movies."Best Smartwatch:Apple Watch Series 6 at Best Buy"Packs a ton of fitness and healthy tracking functionality and is the best tracker for Apple users."Best Dell Laptop:Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 Laptop at Amazon"Gives students a tablet and a laptop in the same bundle."Best Portable Battery:Anker PowerCore 20100 at Amazon"The top portable battery on the market."Best Earbuds:Symphonize NRG 3.0 Earbuds at Amazon"The perfect happy medium between earbuds that look cool, but are also universal enough to take on a run."Best for Keeping Track of Belongings:Tile Mate - Key Finder at Amazon"Cue up a GPS pinpoint of exactly where anything is."Best Bluetooth Speaker:Vizio Crave Go Wireless Speaker at Amazon"A small portable speaker that also packs a punch."Best for Downloading Music:Spotify Gift Card at Amazon"With access to tens of millions of songs, Spotify is the industry standard for streaming."
Best Monitor:Acer R240HY bidx 23.8-Inch IPS Widescreen Monitor3.8 Buy on AmazonAcer R240HY Monitor Review
In a dorm room, space is limited. Most students won't have room for both a computer monitor and a TV. That's why the Acer R240HY is the perfect gift: It's a computer monitor that'll help with homework (you know, the reason they're actually at school), but it's also ideal for use as a TV when streaming movies. Why? Well, for starters, the super vibrant 1920 x 1080 resolution display will rival most HD sets. And the screen affords almost a full 180 degrees of viewing angles for those late nights crowding around flicks with friends.
Best Smartwatch:Apple Watch Series 64.5 Buy on Best BuyBuy on AppleWhat We Like
Robust health/fitness tracking
Bright, always-on display
Appealing new color options
Speedy and responsive
Fun, diverse watch facesWhat We Don't Like
Modest upgrade over Series 5
Still need to charge daily
No third-party facesApple Watch Series 6 Review
The Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the best smartwatches and fitness trackers to get. As Apple's latest and greatest, it's loaded with robust fitness and health tracking features including a blood oxygen sensor, ECG, fall detection, and more. You'll also get sleep tracking, step tracking, and GPS functionality to track your runs and routes when you're on the go. With its focus on overall wellness, the Series 6 is a great option for those who want more than just fitness tracking features. There are plenty of third-party apps supported, a solid operating system with reliable updates, and options for music controls and notifications.
Hardware hasn't changed dramatically, but you have some new color and style options. The screen is as bright and colorful as ever, and the performance is slightly improved with the new dual-core S6 chip. However, if you have the older Series 5, the upgrade likely isn't big enough to warrant the splurge. But otherwise for iPhone users, the Apple Watch Series 6 is one of the best devices to get.
"Series 6 is the best Apple Watch to date, but also the one that provides the least incentive to upgrade if you already have last year's model."— Andrew Hayward, Product Tester
Best Dell Laptop:Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 Laptop3.8 Buy on AmazonBuy on WalmartBuy on DellDell Inspiron 7370 Review
Laptops occupy a difficult tech landscape to navigate, and by many accounts, the Apple range dominates the student world. But $2,000 is a steep price to pay for the laptop, even if it is essential to students' success. The Dell Inspiron 7000 gives students a tablet and a laptop in the same bundle. Here's a quick rundown on the specs: an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 256 GB solid-state drive, and a convertible touchscreen with a 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution. In other words, this thing is the perfect entertainment-meets-schoolwork machine at a pretty stomachable price.
Best Portable Battery:Anker PowerCore 20100Buy on Amazon
It's not always easy to find an outlet in a crowded library or coffee shop. Make sure your favorite college student doesn't have to worry about their phone dying by getting them this portable battery from Anker. The Anker PowerCore 20100 is the top portable battery on the market. Despite its relatively high cost, it is worth the investment for its high speed charging capabilities and simultaneous charging of two devices. Additionally, its ultra-high capacity means the block can charge an iPhone 8 battery seven times over despite its compact size.
Best Earbuds:Symphonize NRG 3.0 EarbudsBuy on Amazon
To go with the bigger phones up there, it's a good idea to toss in something a little more compact, at a price point that you won't lament if they're left behind at class. The Symphonize NRG 3.0 buds are super unique, hand-crafted wood headphones with a tangle-free cable, goldplated jack and noise-isolated sound. They're the perfect happy medium between earbuds that look cool, but are also universal enough to take on a run. Six pairs of custom fit silicone tips will provide optimal comfort, while the in-line microphone makes it easy to adjust volume, skip tracks, activate voice control and answer phone calls in a jiffy.The 10 Best Earbuds of 2021
Best for Keeping Track of Belongings:Tile Mate - Key FinderBuy on AmazonBuy on Best BuyBuy on Home Depot
The thing about college is it's a brand new experience for most students – the first time they're stepping out on their own and almost certainly learning how easily they lose their important belongings. For a cool twenty bucks, you can gift them the peace of mind to not lose their keys, wallet, etc. Just slip the Tile Mate onto a keyring, into a wallet, or into the back of a backpack and you'll be able to cue up a GPS pinpoint of exactly where that thing is. Too bad it doesn't remind them to call home every once in a while.The 9 Best Key Finders of 2021
Best Bluetooth Speaker:Vizio Crave Go Wireless SpeakerBuy on Amazon
When space is at a premium in dorm rooms, you'll need a small portable speaker that also packs a punch. But, so many of the Bluetooth speakers out there are either overpriced or under-quality. The Crave treads a really nice line, offering up to 88 dB of sound and bass as low as 75Hz. Plus, the thing connects via both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so no matter where they are on campus, they'll definitely be able to connect and bump some tunes. Finally, the thing comes with plenty of app functionality, including Chromecast, built right in.The 7 Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2021
Best for Downloading Music:Spotify Gift CardBuy on Amazon
A huge part of fitting in at school is what music you're listening to, and what better gift to give a new student than, well, basically all of it? With access to tens of millions of songs, Spotify is the industry standard for streaming, and a premium subscription unlocks ad-free listening and the ability to download songs onto any device for offline use. It's the perfect add-on to pretty much any gift on this list.
What to Look for in Gifts for College Students
Price - Price is a major consideration when it comes to buying a gift for anyone. Are you purchasing this gift for your own child or for someone who isn't as close to you? It's very easy to spend $200 on a gift like this, when your budget might be more like $20. That's why it's important to set your price range in advance.
What they need - It's important to customize your gift based on the person you're buying for. Are they forgetful? A Tile key finder to help them keep track of their belongings might be helpful. Or, if they're trying to reach fitness goals, an Apple Watch could be a great gift.
What they want - In addition to thinking about what they need, it's important to think about what the college student in your life might want. What gift might excite them? What are their interests? If they love music, then a Spotify subscription or set of headphones might be a hit. Or, if they've got all the devices they need, a power bank for charging might be a thoughtful gesture.