Welcome to Engadget's Back to School guide! We know that this time of year can be pretty annoying and stressful for everyone, so we're here to help out with the heartbreaking process of gadget buying for the school-aged crowd. On the menu today are a handful of fun yet practical gadgets, but feel free to check out our Back to School hub for more recommendations in other categories.

It's a tough road ahead for aspiring students like yourself (yes, you!), but that doesn't mean one should abstain from any form of entertainment throughout the course. If anything, you'll be needing a few fun gadgets from our Back to School guide to impress your schoolmates -- it's not like your Facebook page will be automagically adding friends any time soon. But as the old saying goes, "work hard, play hard," so we've also thrown in a few picks that'll aid your study. When you're ready, click along for our latest list of awesomeness.

On the cheap

NIO 2.0 Bluetooth Security Tag

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It's that time of the year again -- the union bar and common room are buzzing with life, but sadly, they also make perfect loitering grounds for prowling thieves. Just to be safe, pair your phone up with a nio alarm tag, then throw the latter in your laptop bag, and neither gadgets will be able to travel far without your consent. Keep an eye out for our forthcoming hands-on.

Price: $59.95 from Tenbu Technologies

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Sharpie Liquid Pencil

Leaving aside the whole fuss over Sharpie's definition of "permanency," who can refuse the coolness of a liquid pencil? Broken lead and pencil sharpeners are so yesterday.

Price: $3.98 from Consumer Link

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Iomega Skin Hard Drive

What's the worst thing that could happen in college? Oh, just losing your entire coursework thanks to some drunken idiot knocking over your laptop. Seriously, always back up your work with an external drive, like this funky 500GB offering from Iomega.

Price: $79 from Amazon

Mid-range

Livescribe Echo smartpen (4GB)

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Human brains were never designed to cram in your teachers' every single word in class, so even the prettiest handwriting won't help if you misheard a few crucial exam tips. This is where the Livescribe Echo comes in -- it can capture up to 400 hours of audio while writing on some special dotted paper, and later on you can replay the relevant part of the speech by tapping on your scribble. Pretty amazing, huh? And don't forget that the smartpen can also store your written notes digitally.

Price: $169.95 from Brookstone

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Powermat

The last thing you need in an already cramped dorm is a bunch of charging cables cluttering up your desk. At the moment, Powermat offers almost flush wireless adapters for the iPhone 3G / 3GS, iPod touch, various BlackBerry devices, and Nintendo DS / DSi. More phones will be supported in the coming months.

Price: $99.99 up from Powermat

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TomTom Go 630

Somehow you're lucky enough to drive a car to college. Good for you. Now why not throw in a TomTom GPS unit to complete the package? Better yet, load it up with the Darth Vader voice pack from VoiceSkins to please your fellow Star Wars fanatics.

Price: $179.95 from TomTom

Money's no object

Parrot AR.Drone

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For those seeking to show off gadgets in front of schoolmates, there's nothing more eye-catching than a flying machine, let alone one that rocks four rotating blades and a camera. Even when you're alone, the AR.Drone's augmented reality shooting game on your iOS device will keep you entertained for a while. Just make sure you keep this aircraft away from your desk -- the teachers won't be buying the "my drone shredded my homework" excuse.

Price: $299.99 from Brookstone

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New Xbox 360 (250GB)

Not all parents believe this, but the occasional racing and first-person shooting game should keep your brain alert. What's more, when Kinect comes out in November, the new and quieter Xbox 360 will also keep you in good shape.

Price: $299 from Best Buy

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Optoma PK201 pico projector

There'll be clubbing nights, and there'll also be quiet nights. For the latter, why not microwave some popcorn, snuggle up in bed, and beam a movie using this pico projector?

Price: $289.99 from Amazon