Welcome to Engadget's back to school guide! Today, we're serving up a selection of accessories -- head to the back to school hub to see the rest of the product guides as they're added throughout the month. Be sure to keep checking back; in early September, we'll be giving away a ton of gear, including some of the picks in our guides.
While you've been fretting over the more essential items for your return to school, we've been out on a bit of a field trip of our own. The mission? To dig out the most essential (and, we'll admit it, fun) accessories to see you through your next academic year. Of course, we've got all the big hitters covered in other sections of our annual back to school guide, so we've hit the books -- er, websites -- to find those items that could help tip your work into the next grade. So, whether you're a biologist, a computer scientist, a music major or just love gadgets, dive past the break for our accessory essentials.
On the cheap
Griffin No. 2 Pencil Stylus and SeeSaw iPad workstation
Whether you're retro or just too young to remember a time when pencils ruled the roost, what's not to love about this nostalgic take on the capacitive stylus? Of course, you'll likely want to keep your tablet stable while you doodle on it, and the SeeSaw iPad case -- also from Griffin -- has this covered. Write, draw and research while listening to tunes? Perfect.
Key specs: Built-in stylus holder, works in landscape and portrait modes, carrying handle, full access to tablet ports (SeeSaw), capacitive tip (Pencil Stylus).
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Raspberry Pi Set-up kit
If you're savvy enough to have picked up a Raspberry Pi already, you might be interested in this starter kit to go with it. It comes with a laundry list of cables and input devices along with a memory card (with a Linux distro onboard). You're good to go, whether you end up hacking the device, or just using it to write your dissertation.
Price: £29.99 (about $45) from ModMyPi
Nokia Fatboy Wireless Charging Pillow
Keeping charged up all day is essential, but fiddling with cables can be a pain. This wireless charging pillow can stay put on your desk, freeing your charger up to use in another room, or to throw in your bag. Nokia's Fatboy pillow is fully Qi-compliant, and we like the five bright color options, not to mention the soft material finish.
Price: about $50 on Amazon
Patriot Aero 1TB Wireless Mobile Drive
Hey, we know that half of the college experience is about the downtime, and Patriot's 1TB Aero wireless hard drive is perfect for storing all your movies, music and photos while on the go. An app (iOS, Android and Kindle Fire) lets you use your mobile device to view your media, effectively giving you 1TB of storage you can use with multiple devices.
Key specs: 1TB capacity, wireless streaming capability for up to five devices at a time, apps for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire, battery charge level indicator.
Price: about $180 on Amazon
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Twelve South HoverBar
Referring to those notes you scribbled down in class (see our "On the cheap" suggestions) is going to be a cinch with the HoverBar from Twelve South. Clip in your tablet, attach to your PC or desk and you've got yourself a comfortable second screen. Of course, once you're finished with your notes, you can clip it somewhere else to watch movies, surf and so on while your arms take a well-earned break.
Price: about $70 on Amazon
Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor
The Koubachi WiFi Plant Sensor could be your shortcut to an A grade in biology. The plant sensor keeps an eye on the soil moisture, temperature and light levels of your prized geranium (or whatever you're growing at college) and alerts you via an associated app when it might need attention. You also get the ability to care for multiple plants, plus indoor and outdoor options.
Price: $129.95 from Apple
Money's no object
Whether you're recording some notes, laying down your latest roommate-bothering guitar lick or speaking to family over Skype, Blue's Spark Digital is a great all-arounder. The desktop USB mic is iOS-friendly, has a headphone jack for monitoring plus an onboard volume control and LED meter. The bundled cloud production software should help get your recording career started, too.
Key specs: iOS-compatible; USB connectivity; headphone jack; controls for volume, gain and instant mute.
Price: about $195 on Amazon
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Sky WiFi SmartPen 8GB ProPack
When we reviewed the Livescribe, we were unabashedly fond of this quirky pen-cum-cloud-based note taking gadget. For the tech-savvy student, it's the perfect marriage of technology and functionality. Recording audio snippets is cool, but having all your notes automatically uploaded to Evernote is the real clincher here.
Price: $219.95 from Livescribe
Veho VMS-005-LCD USB Microscope
The microscope is a science stalwart, so it's only natural that it gets a 2013 revision. The VMS-005 from Veho has everything you'd expect from a modern gadget: USB, a live-view screen, Lithium-ion battery and onboard storage. Just as good for checking squished bugs as for making sure your ID looks legit.
Price: $299.95 from Veho