Notebooks and pencils are expected to take a backseat to tech during this unusual back-to-school shopping season, and retailers are ready for it.
"Lots of laptops and headphones and speakers and even wireless routers, which are going to be really essential for distance learning this year," said Consumer Reports Deals Editor Samantha Gordon.
She's been scouring the internet looking for the best sales on CR-tested and recommended products.
"We're seeing lots of laptop deals already," said Gordon. "If you're in the market for a new laptop this year, the LG Gram 14 is a really great option. It's available for $1,050. at Amazon, B&H Photo and Walmart. It has a 20-hour battery life, so you can use it a couple of days at a time without needing to recharge it, without needing to be stuck at a desk. You can work wherever you're most comfortable in your house."
Gordon also recommends the Lenovo Yoga laptop, which is available at Amazon for about $700 right now.
"This laptop is a really great mid-range option," said Gordon. "It has an Intel Core Wi-Fi processor and eight gigabytes of RAM, which means it's going to be able to run all the different applications that your kids are going to be using day to day."
With parents and kids working and learning from home, you want to make sure everyone has the best possible access to the internet. If you're looking for a router, you can get one at a good price right night now.
"If you have a smaller mid-sized home, the Netgear Nighthawk Wireless Router is a really great option," said Gordon. "Right now, it's $160 at Best Buy, Office Depot and Walmart. It's great in terms of performance. It did really well in all of CR's lab tests, it also has a built-in firmware updates which will help keep families protected from cyber threats."
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Gordon says retailers are also cutting prices on headphones. She recommends the Microsoft Surface Noise-Canceling Headphones on sale for under $200 at Best Buy.
"Retailers know that families are home and they need a way to get away from each other a little bit and get some personal time," said Gordon. "Headphones can be a really good way to do that, especially if you have the noise-canceling feature. That's going to be really paramount during the school year so kids can really concentrate on their work."
Smart speakers aren't traditionally back-to-school products, but they may enhance the learning environment at home and can be useful for setting reminders and alarms. CR recommends the Google Home Mini Smart Speaker, which you can find for $30 right now at many of the major retailers.