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Stretch Your Dollar: Back to school tech gadgets

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High tech toys such as phones, computers, and calculators could be considered as necessities for your student. To get these items, you don't have to spend a fortune. High tech toys such as phones, computers, and calculators could be considered as necessities for your student. To get these items, you don't have to spend a fortune.
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High tech toys such as phones, computers, and calculators could be considered as necessities for your student. To get these items, you don't have to spend a fortune.

Tech and consumer guru Richard Warner says the three main things parents are looking for around back to school time are phones, tablets, and laptops. When it comes to cell phones, Warner says the first step is deciding what your child really needs. 

"If they need to be able to send texts or surf the web, then you want to buy one that can do that credibly. But it's ok for little kids to have a flip phone to be able to call mom or dad in case of an emergency. And those are really cheap," said Warner.

The newest gadget isn't always best, says Warner.

"If you think about electronics of any kind, they decline in value and price faster than anything, even cars," said Warner.

Warner says the iPhone 4S is great, but "it's going to be replaced in 60 days or so with something even cooler."

Warner says when it comes to students, buy cheap. Before you decide on a phone, you should factor in the contract terms and monthly charges. A prepaid plan might help keep the monthly bill low.

If your student has their eye on an iPad, don't forget about other tablets. You could save a lot less money.

"An iPad is a better experience but [other tablets] offer tremendous savings," said Warner.

One way you could potentially save hundreds of dollars is to check with your child's teacher to see if students need a scientific calculator, or if they can download a free app on their phone.

A laptop will probably be the most important purchase for a college student. Prices on laptops are getting better and better.

"They've come way down in price. You can get a very good laptop for around $500 or $600. You can get a previous generation laptop on eBay and pay even less. So if you're trying to save money, you can really get away with spending a few hundred dollars on a very good laptop, even if it's not the most recent version," Warner said.

Warner is a big fan of eBay for great deals on laptops and tablets. But he says make sure you check out the seller. Look at their feedback rating, and pay attention to the shipping costs. They could add a lot to the total price. Also, unlike most products, Warner suggests buying a protection plan for laptops and tablets because those items are more likely than desktop computers to be dropped and broken.

Links:

http://www.ebay.com/

http://www.whatsupinteractive.com/whats-up/

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