The Best Back-to-School Deals on Laptops, Backpacks, and Earbuds

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Summer is Fading away, and school is almost back in session (for some, it’s already started!). We scoured the internet for the best discounts on gadgets and gear for teachers, students, parents, and anyone else in the market for back-to-school fare. Be sure to check out our Best Dorm Gear guide for additional recommendations and gift ideas, plus the Best Student Discounts and Best Teacher Discounts

Updated August 18, 2023: We’ve crossed out deals and added new discounts on tech accessories, school supplies, and other gear.

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Apple MacBook Air

Photograph: Apple

This is the best MacBook for most people (7/10, WIRED Recommends). It has a bright and sharp LCD screen, slim borders for a sleek look, and enough power for everyday tasks. The webcam is 1080p, so you’ll look sharp in all your video calls, and there’s a MagSafe magnetic charging port, so if your roommate trips over the cable, the laptop won’t go flying (the cable will just detach). Read our Best MacBooks guide for more.

This older MacBook Air (9/10, WIRED Recommends) was the first to use Apple’s custom silicon, but it’s still plenty powerful for sending emails, writing documents, and browsing the web. It uses Apple’s older design, but that might not matter, considering the stellar price. Remember, you can also use Apple’s Education Store to score steeper discounts.

LG Gram SuperSlim

Photograph: LG

The LG Gram SuperSlim (7/10, WIRED Review) is stunning. The 15.6-inch screen belies just how lightweight and portable this super-slim laptop feels. While unfortunately, the performance doesn’t match up to the price tag, the $400 discount makes the value much better. If you need something powerful, pick another recommendation, but this should work just fine for tasks like homework, browsing, and streaming. 

We saw a better discount earlier this month, but this is still a solid price. This gadget is for anyone who wants to enjoy the comfort of a tablet with the productivity of a laptop. The Surface 9’s 12th-gen Intel chip is adept, and you have the option to add 5G connectivity if you want internet access wherever you go. You can read our in-depth thoughts about it here.

The Surface Go 3 is just powerful enough for simple tasks, like web browsing and writing, and it’s lightweight, which makes it great to tote around everywhere. Just remember that you need to buy the Type Cover, which is also on sale for $53 ($47 off), if you want the full experience with the keyboard (though you can also use any Bluetooth keyboard). This has dropped lower in price before, but you can still save some cash if you’re in the market. 

Dell G15

Photograph: Dell

This isn’t the prettiest laptop, nor is it the most portable, but it’s powerful enough for some gaming between coursework. The G15 has a 1080p screen with a 120-Hz screen refresh rate, does a good job with heat management, and doesn’t get too loud. The power brick is bulky though. Read more in our Best Gaming Laptops guide.

Want a Linux machine? This is a powerful laptop (8/10, WIRED Recommends) with a great selection of ports, and the default Pop!_OS is simple enough for newbies and experts. Read our Best Linux Laptops guide for more recommendations. You’ll automatically get $100 off the laptop after you customize it to your liking.

This discount may not be available near your location (or only might be available as “Open-Box.” Chromebooks run Chrome OS, so most of your work will be done within the Chrome browser. (You can still install Android apps.) This Acer Spin 714 has a 12th-gen Intel Core i5, which should make it powerful enough for most school and office tasks. It’s compact, despite the 14-inch screen, and you get all the ports, including two USB-C ports, an HDMI, a USB-A, and a headphone jack. Read our Best Chromebooks guide for more picks.

OnePlus Pad

Photograph: OnePlus

This promo nets you the magnetic keyboard cover for free ($150 retail value) when you purchase the tablet, and it runs through August 20. We really liked the OnePlus Pad when we tested it (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It’s an Android tablet, but there are a great many improvements in the software to make multitasking more efficient. The LCD screen is bright and sharp, and it has a 144-Hz screen refresh rate. It’ll get three Android OS updates and four years of security updates. 

The iPad Air (8/10, WIRED Recommends) has Apple’s M1 processor, giving it laptop-grade power to crush almost any task you throw at it. It has a 10.9-inch LCD screen, Touch ID built into the power button, and support for the second-generation Apple Pencil. We strongly recommend you pair it with a keyboard like the Smart Keyboard Folio or Apple’s Magic Keyboard.

Kindle Scribe.

Photograph: Amazon

The Kindle Scribe (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is expensive, but it hasn’t fallen this low in price before—even on Prime Day. It’s the best (and only) Kindle for taking notes. It can come in handy while note-taking during lectures or annotating text for a class. This model includes the basic pen and 16 GB of storage; larger capacity versions are also on sale, but their price drops aren’t quite as enticing.

This is the first and best price drop we’ve seen for the recently released Google Pixel Tablet (7/10, WIRED Recommends). The tablet itself performs well and looks great, and it doubles as a smart display thanks to the included charging dock. It also has solid speakers—a rare boon for a tablet. Pair it with a Bluetooth keyboard and you can do some work on it, though it’s intended more as a device for home use and play.

This is our favorite 2-in-1 laptop. The 3:2 aspect ratio means the screen is square, which makes the laptop especially great for productivity. It’s sleek and slim, with good specs, a nice stylus, and even a USB-A port.

If you want a Windows laptop straight from the company that manages Windows, we think the Surface Laptop 4 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is the best choice for most. The Ryzen 5 chipset can easily handle more than a dozen tabs in your browser of choice, and its 13.5-inch high-res screen looks nice. You get a USB-C port with a USB-A, plus a magnetic charging port. Read our Best Surface Laptops guide for more details.

Photograph: Moment

This is a camera bag, but you need to buy the camera insert separately. Without it, it’s still a perfectly great backpack. The rear pocket can fit a 16-inch laptop (barely), and there’s a stretchy side pouch to fit a water bottle. On the front, the vertical zippered pocket is great for storing smaller items, like chargers and battery packs. The Kodra fabric it’s made of is durable and has a double-layer waterproof coating. We’ve used it for more than two years, and it has held up well. 

Prefer a tote bag? This is the top pick in our Best Tote Bags guide. It distributes weight well, and there are tons of pockets for organization, plus a spot for a 16-inch laptop. There’s ample padding to protect all your gear, and the material is weatherproof recycled nylon. It zips closed to keep everything safe.   

Lo & Sons Hanover 2

Photograph: Lo & Sons

You’ll find this backpack in our Best Backpacks guide—and in our Best Recycled Bags guide, because it saves 22 used plastic bottles from landfills. It has a padded, detachable insert with four pockets inside, plus two water bottle pockets. 

It’s not the prettiest bag, but it’s lightweight, and the exterior is made of 100 percent recycled polyester ripstop with a water-resistant laminate. Even when it’s packed full, it feels slim. You can fit up to a 15-inch laptop in the suspended sleeve. 

Google Nest Wifi Pro

Photograph: Google

The Nest Wifi Pro (7/10, WIRED recommends) is one of those set-it-and-forget-it products. It’s super simple to set up and use with the Google Home app, where you can customize settings, set parental controls, and monitor network performance (if you even want to bother). This supports the Wi-Fi 6E standard, so it’s a little more future-proof, and the three-pack means you can set these around a large space (up to 2,200 square feet) to get balanced coverage (you can also just buy a single or two-pack). Read more in our Best Mesh Routers guide.

The Deco X20 is our best budget mesh Wi-Fi system pick. It has great parental control options, and while coverage and speeds are just OK, it was easy to set up the whole thing. It’s a dependable system and hard to beat at this price, especially on sale.  

This one from TP-Link is more powerful than the X20 and supports the newer Wi-Fi 6E standard. It’s easy to set up and delivers good performance, though the range can be limited. You can choose to go with the one-pack or three-pack as well, all of which are on sale. We have more details here.

Asus ROG Rapture GT6

Photograph: Asus

This router (yes, it’s a router) has LEDs on the side, because how else would anyone know you’re a gamer? This tri-band router is one of the best-performing mesh routers we’ve tested and has features that let you prioritize traffic to gaming devices so you can get the smoothest experience in fast-paced online games. The price was $20 lower a couple of weeks ago, but we still think this is a worthy deal.

This Asus is not a mesh router, but it’s the best overall Wi-Fi 6E pick in our Best Routers guide (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It has reliable performance and tons of customization options in the mobile app and browser interface, and it comes with parental controls and network security with no need for a subscription. 

Phone and Accessory Deals

Belkin 3-in-1 MagSafe Wireless Charger

Photograph: Belkin

This is our favorite MagSafe charger and one of the best wireless chargers on the market. I use mine every night and take it with me on every vacation. It can simultaneously charge compatible iPhones, AirPods, and Apple Watches. You can also purchase the stand version for the same price. The discount code (CHRGAUG23) will show automatically during checkout. 

The Pixel 7A (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is our favorite phone for most people. It has an exceptional camera system, flagship-grade performance, a nice 90-Hz OLED screen, IP67 water resistance, and super smart software that’s helpful. Plus wireless charging too! It’s hard to beat at its MSRP and this sale makes it even more of a steal. If you want to save even more, last year’s Pixel 6A is on sale for $299 ($50 off).

This deal was slightly better last week, but it’s still a great discount. The Pixel 7 Pro (8/10, WIRED Recommends) has more upgrades than the Pixel 7A, such as a larger, 120-Hz screen, a 5X optical zoom camera in addition to the primary camera and ultrawide, plus it has better battery life. The standard Pixel 7 is also on sale for $447 ($152 off) at Amazon and Target, and it shares many of the same features as the Pixel 7A with a slightly larger screen. Just know that a Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are expected to arrive this October.

Samsung Galaxy S23+

Photograph: Samsung

This is one of the lowest prices we’ve tracked on the Galaxy S23+ (9/10, WIRED Recommends). It’s one of the best flagship phones you can buy today, with a sharp and bright 120-Hz AMOLED screen, good battery life, tons of power, and a triple-camera system that can consistently capture great photos. The smaller S23 is also on sale for $700 ($100 off).

This is one of the best deals we’ve seen on the A54 (8/10, WIRED Recommends). It lacks features like wireless charging, but you do get a microSD card slot to expand storage, decent performance, and close to two days of battery life. 

Samsung Galaxy Fold5 and Flip5

Photograph: Samsung

The new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 (7/10, WIRED Recommends) is a fun little flip phone. This deal essentially gets an Amazon gift card. If you buy from Samsung directly, you can toggle on the Education Offers at the top for an extra 10 percent off, plus you’ll get upgraded to the 512-GB model. 

Along with the aforementioned Galaxy Z Flip5, Samsung also unveiled the new Z Fold5 (7/10, WIRED Recommends). This phone folds like a book and is great for multitasking. The deal is largely similar—you’ll get a gift card. Buy it from Samsung directly to nab it for $1,530 when you toggle on the Education Offer, and you’ll get the 512-GB model.

Sony LinkBuds.

Photograph: Sony

The Sony LinkBuds (8/10, WIRED Recommends) are some of our favorite wireless earbuds. The open design has a physical hole in the middle, which allows the wearer to hear what’s going on around them. That makes these especially good for activities like walking or riding your bike to class. 

These headphones regularly bounce between $279 and $329. They’ve dropped lower than this price before, but those deals are few and far between. This price is still decent, but if you wait you may be able to save a bit more in the future. The QC45 headphones are comfortable and have excellent noise cancellation. Find more recommendations in our Best Noise-Canceling Headphones guide.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series. 

Photograph: Google

This is a great price for our favorite wireless earbuds. The Google Pixel Buds A-Series (8/10, WIRED Recommends) have great sound, a comfortable fit, and Google Assistant built right in. We wish the battery lasted longer, but it’s hard to beat the value offered here. 

You can get 10 percent off one product or 20 percent off two or more when you enter code BTS23TG at checkout. We recommend a few different products from Casetify. There are phone cases, tablet cases, laptop cases, and other fun accessories available in a huge variety of styles and prints. One standout is the Snappy Cardholder Stand—we haven’t tested it, but it’s a kickstand that doubles as single card storage, perfect for student IDs or dormitory keycards. 

We recommend several OtterBox products in various buying guides. Right now if you buy two you’ll save 20 percent. The company sells more than just phone cases as well—you can pick up charging products, wall adapters, and other gear as part of this sale. 

Use code B2S20 to get 20 percent off Satechi’s accessories. Choose from chargers, cables, cases, and other tech peripherals. We recommend the tablet stand, wireless charging stand, and 3-in-1 charging stand to name a few gadgets. 

These are some of our favorite wireless earbuds (9/10, WIRED Recommends), thanks to the excellent noise-canceling tech and the dual dynamic drivers that deliver clean sound. The fit is comfy, and you get up to five hours of listening time with active noise-canceling turned on. The IPX7 rating means it’s fine to use these in the rain or during sweaty workouts.  

Logitech MX Mechanical Mini

Photograph: Logitech

The price has dropped even more on this understated mechanical keyboard with low-profile keys. It’s wireless, and the battery lasts for a really long time if you don’t use the backlighting to light up the keys. It’s also super comfortable to type on. You can pair it with three devices and switch between them with the push of a button. 

This is a solid discount on the Garmin Venu Sq fitness tracker (8/10, WIRED Recommends). A newer version of this watch is available, but this original model is still capable, especially for the price. Learn more about it in our Best Garmin Watches guide.

This model is similar to our top pick in our USB-C hub buying guide. It turns a single USB-C port into a multi-port hub with HDMI, an SD card reader, and even a headphone jack. It also supports pass-through charging. 

Apple Magic Keyboard.

Photograph: Apple

This is featured as the best keyboard for most people in our Best MacBook Accessories guide. We haven’t seen it fall lower in price before. The built-in Touch ID button lets you log in and authenticate purchases. It also has the same function row keys as M-series MacBooks, plus a dedicated Do Not Disturb button and a number pad.

We recommend this in our guide to the Best Work-from-Home Gear, but it’ll come in handy in a dorm room or first apartment too. It takes up a whole wall outlet, but it turns those two outlets into six. There’s also a USB-C port, a USB-A port, and an optional nightlight.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is one of our favorite streaming sticks for folks who don’t mind Amazon brazenly shoving its content into their face. Just plug it into the back of your TV and use the remote to scroll through a variety of streaming apps.

Enter code 200WIRED to see the discount at checkout. This is the best-looking robot vacuum, and it performs well to boot. It has an automatic emptying feature and built-in storage for the various included accompaniments. It also has reliable navigational skills and strong suction. Let this robot do the cleaning while you do homework. The j7+ Combo (5/10, WIRED Review) is also on sale for $799 ($200 off with code 200WIRED), but we like the non-mopping model much more.

If you plan on spending $100 at Apple anytime soon, this is an easy way to get an extra $10 for your trouble. Apple gift cards can be used in-store or online, but they can also be redeemed in the App Store and elsewhere. If you subscribe to Netflix through your phone, for example, you can apply this gift card to your membership. 

The newest Echo Dot With Clock is our favorite Alexa speaker for the bedroom. The built-in digital clock combined with the power of Alexa makes this speaker a particularly great nightstand companion. Alexa might even be able to help with your homework.

This is another deal that matches the prices we saw during Prime Day. The stylish Amazon Echo Pop speaker (7/10, WIRED Review) isn’t the best-sounding in the Amazon Echo lineup—but it’s probably the cutest. The front-facing design is fine for a desk or a nightstand. Just don’t expect this gadget to set the mood for your next house party. 

Outlet space can be an issue. This gadget can help. It’ll turn a single wall outlet into three AC outlets, plus two USB-A ports and a USB-C port. We generally like Anker’s gear, and while it frequently goes on sale, this extender doesn’t usually fall below today’s deal price. 

Monoprice 8-Outlet Power Strip

Photograph: Monoprice

You always need more power strips. This one has eight outlets, and each can rotate so that one bulky charging adapter won’t block the other outlet. Smart! 

I’ve never used these journals, but they have solid reviews and seem a bit like Moleskine knockoffs. Either way, $4 per notebook is a decent deal. There’s a little pocket on the inside cover, an integrated bookmark, and an elastic band closure. 

Prices start at 40 cents. Index cards, Crayola crayons, composition notebooks, and pencils are just a few of the things you can pick up for under a dollar. If you don’t have school-age kids, sales like this are an easy way to pick up supplies to donate to local classrooms or school supply drives. 

Happy Planners

Photograph: The Happy Planner

Happy Planners make our favorite paper planners. Several different options are on sale right now. You can choose between various layouts, cover styles, and lengths. Prices start at $7.

Target is offering discounts on throw pillows, with prices starting as low as $10. This includes floor pillows, which are great for adding seating to small spaces. I’ve purchased a few of them and they’re both comfortable and relatively durable.

Different colors are available at different retailers, so check another store if you don’t see the one you want. This itty-bitty Keurig takes up very little counter space, making it perfect for dorms or shared living spaces. I have one on my desk. It works exactly how you’d expect it to, though I prefer using an ecofriendly K-Cup and supplying my own coffee grounds. This price matches the deal we saw on Prime Day.

Cosori Electric Kettle

Photograph: Cosori

This kettle is featured in our guides to the Best Electric Kettles and the Best Dorm Gear. It boils water quickly, and the blue LED light shows you at-a-glance if your water is ready. Roommates will appreciate the lack of a shrill whistle.

This deal gets you a Costco Gold Star membership, plus a $45 Digital Costco Shop Card (which is basically a gift card you can redeem online or in-store). You’ll also get a coupon for $40 off an online order of $250 or more, but note that it expires in October. This deal is only valid for folks who haven’t had a Costco membership since at least March of this year. If you use the digital shopping card, this is essentially like getting a one-year Costco membership for $15.

Laundry detergent, toilet paper, dish soap, and other essentials are included in the massive selection of items. Choose at least $50 worth and you can save $15 with code 961FCE42. This deal is a great opportunity to save if you need to restock your frequently used items. 

Similar to the Amazon deal above, this is an easy way to restock essentials like cleaning supplies and health products. Your gift card will be sent via email once you place a qualifying order. Note that you need to claim the deal through Target Circle, which is free to join.

WIRED reviewer Brenda Stolyar swears by a similar water-filtering pitcher. It’ll filter impurities out of your tap water so you can cut back on single-use water bottles while staying hydrated. Replacement filters are pretty affordable as well. The pitcher might not fit in a mini fridge, but it should do the trick if you have a bit more space to work with. 

College students and teachers can get 20 percent off a qualifying purchase at Target through August 26. These deals are redeemed through Target Circle, which is free to join. Some items are excluded, but this is still an easy way to save on all sorts of essentials—especially if you’re placing a big order. 

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