Engadget's back to school guide: mid-range

Laura June Dziuban
L. Dziuban|08.20.09

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Engadget's back to school guide: mid-range
Feature Index | On the cheap | Money's no object

So you're off to college / university / whatever they call it in your neck of the woods, and you've got a bit of a budget, but you're still looking to lay down a nice bit of cash. Luckily for you, we've got a huge list of recommendations that won't break the bank, but still deliver where it counts. These items were chosen with price range in mind, but of we kept an eye on the specs and capabilities in order to give you the best range of options within this budget.


Dell Studio 15

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

The Dell Studio 15 is ultra customizable, both inside and out. With Windows XP and Vista options, as well as various color choices, this student-friendly laptop can be configured to match almost any budget. It's also got a great LED-backlit high definition display, which really shines when you're watching internet videos writing long papers.

Key specs: 2.4 Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB RAM, 15.6-inch high definition LED-backlit display, 320GB hard drive standard

Price: $799 from Dell

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Engadget's back to school guide midrange

HP Pavilion dv3t

A 13.3-inch tiny titan with Blu-ray options as well as a 9 cell battery that's estimated to last seven hours.

Price: $799.99 from HP

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

Apple MacBook

This 13-incher is a little more pricey than the others, but students love them -- and it's always nice to have something in white, right? Get the student discount and free iPod touch, too!

Price: $949 from Apple


ASUS Eee PC 1008HA Seashell

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

A more recent addition to the Eee PC line, the 1008HA Seashell from ASUS packs quite a punch into its 2.4 pound enclosure. It's got the run-of-the-mill netbook specs, but a slightly faster 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 that helps it outperform other similar netbooks. The keyboard is a real winner, and the multitouch trackpad is also a nice touch.

Key specs: 10-inch display, 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, 1GB RAM, 160GB hard drive, 4.5-5.5 hours of battery life

Price: $405 from Amazon

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Engadget's back to school guide midrange

Dell Inspiron 11z

A brand new 11-incher, it weighs 3lbs and is only 1-inch thick, has a 1.2GHz Intel Celeron 723 CPU, this one's a looker.

Price: $399 from Dell

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

MSI Wind U123

MSI builds on its Wind netbook line with the U123 -- which packs a 1.66 GHz Atom processor, a 10.2-inch LCD, and even a SIM card slot for3G WWAN.

Price: $329.99 from Newegg

Mobile phones

Palm Pre

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

A solid smartphone option with a palatable pricetag, the Palm Pre offers up the usual in terms of smartphone features and functionality, but the software is what really makes this device stand out. With webOS and Synergy, there's no way to lose track of your contacts -- whether they're from Facebook, Gmail, or Outlook. Also, with the slick notification system, you'll never have to wonder who's trying to get in touch on those crazy college nights.

Price: $199 on contract from Sprint

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Engadget's back to school guide midrange

T-Mobile myTouch3G

A slick piece of hardware combines with the hacker-friendly Android mobile OS to create the T-Mobile myTouch3G.

Price: $199 on contract from T-Mobile

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

BlackBerry Tour

One of the most compact BlackBerry devices ever, but with a keyboard and screen that do not disappoint.

Price: $199 on contract from Sprint or Verizon


Sony Reader Touch

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

Much like its name implies, the Sony Reader Touch is based around a 6-inch touchscreen display with e-ink technology for reading longer format works. It promises a fourteen day battery life, supports multiple file formats including PDF and Microsoft Word, and with expandable memory slots, you'll never have to worry about it getting filled up.

Key specs: 6-inch e-ink display, SD Card and Memory Stick PRO Duo slots, MP3 playback, freehand highlighting and annotation

Price: $299.99 from Sony Style

Dock / Alarm

iHome iP9

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

The iP9 from iHome -- a company well known for iPod docks / alarm clock thingamajigs -- might make it a bit easier for you to get up for those early morning lectures. It doubles as a charger for your iPhone or iPod, and offers dual alarms and an extra large backlit display. The included remote control is also handy for those impromptu jam sessions and when you just need to crank some tunes.

Price: $99 from iHome Audio


HP OfficeJet 6500 Wireless All-In-One

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

Print, scan, copy, or fax on HP's OfficeJet 6500. Connect it to your wireless network and never be confined by USB cords again. It also has some nifty features like automatic double sided printing and individual color cartridges so you can replace them individually as they run out.

Key specs: Print at 32 pages/minute black, 31 pages/minute color, built in 802.11b/g wireless, universal memory card support

Price: $149.99 (after $50 MIR) from HP

Digital Cameras

Canon SD780 IS

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

The Canon SD780 IS marries a compact point-and-shoot form factor with some professional level features. It's a 12-megapixel shooter that even has an HD movie mode that lets you shoot in 720p and output it via the built-in mini HDMI port. Oh, did we mention in also comes in four colors?

Key specs: 12.1-megapixels, 2.5-inch LCD display, mini-HDMI port, 4x digital zoom

Price: $210 - Shop now

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Engadget's back to school guide midrange

FujiFilm FinePix F70EXR

A .9-inch thick 10-megapixel shooter with a hefty 2.7-inch LCD viewfinder on the back.

Price: $279.95 from Amazon

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

Samsung SL820

Full featured 12-megapixel point-and shoot that boasts a 3-inch LCD and can shoot video in 720p.

Price: $229.95 from Amazon

Laptop Bag

InCase Backpack

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

InCase's Backpack is a laid back affair, with a dedicated laptop compartment, two storage compartments, and padded shoulder straps to help you out. We're really digging the fall colors, too -- plus the company offers a full line of accessories -- if you're the coordinating type.

Price: $99.96 from InCase


Vizio 26-inch LCD TV

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

Vizio is known for its high quality televisions at reasonable prices, and this 26-inch model will make even the most epic dorm room more awesome. And, with dual HDMI, component, composite, and RGB inputs, you'd be hard pressed to find a set top box that you couldn't hook up to it.

Key specs: 16:9 aspect ratio, built in tuner, 720p compatibility, Progressive scan

Price: $349.99 from Costco

Fun Stuff!

Slingbox SOLO

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

If the thought of missing all your favorite TV shows while you're at college is a major cause of sadness and concern, be sure to pick up a Slingbox SOLO. Hook it up to your TV at home and connect it to the internet, and you'll be able to catch those TiVo'ed episodes of "The Real World" and "Gossip Girl" from wherever you are at school. Just make sure no one else is watching that set at home, or it might mean a few more confused phone calls from your already confused parents.

Price: $179.99 from Sling Media

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Engadget's back to school guide midrange

The Sanctuary

Charge six devices simultaneously and never again worry about where you left your phone charging.

Price: $129.99 from BlueLounge

Engadget's back to school guide midrange

Sony Party Shot dock

360 degrees and tilts 24 degrees, automatically detects faces, adjusts composition and takes photos for you -- so you can party.

Price: $150 from Sony Style

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.