The #BacktoSchool Gift Guide 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — for parents. Just as the Back to School shopping begins, The World’s Most Popular Podcast™ finds the coolest gadgets for kids of all ages. This year we pulled out all the stops with a national media tour showing off what we’ve got:

What amazed me the most about the wireless SteelSeries Artcis Pro high resolution headphones was how light the whole unit is. You could wear this on your noggin for hours without discomfort. The cans boast high-res capable speaker drivers with DTS Headphone:X v2.0 surround sound and what they boast is the best mic in the gaming business today. The ClearCast mic retracts into the headset when you don’t want to look like a McDonald’s Drive-Thru drone and the easy-to-reach controls behind the ear give you easy access to volume and mute.

The headset lasts for several hours on a single USB charge. I didn’t run them out in a single sitting once. And if you ever win one of those online e-sports tournaments where they give away the side panels as a badge of honour, you can easily swap-out yours for ones that showcase your lEEt status.

If you’re looking for a nice pair of headphones that are as comfortable to wear both on public transit and an intense online firefight, check out the Arctis Pro by Steel Series.

These headphones aren’t cheap, but as a veteran radio guy, I know the value of a good quality pair of cans.

Retail Price: $239.99
Availability: Best Buy

As a child of the 1970s, I was the last generation able to buy an actual chemistry set with actual dangerous chemicals. And I almost burned down my house. Aimed at kids 8 and up, Professor Maxwell’s 4D Chemistry Set by Spicebox keeps the insurance deductible low by offloading anything remotely dangerous to an immersive augmented reality headset.

The 30 page board-book style manual walks you through the experiments with step-by-step instructions through the hands-free AR googles that work with your existing iPhone or Android device. Kids can work through more than 10 different experiments — with all the materials included or virtual.

Retail Price: $39.99
Availability: Costco, Mastermind Toys, Shoppers Drug Mart, specialty stores

I have never seen a monitor quite like this. The LG 38″ 21:9 UltraWide monitor is so big, they curved the QHD+ IPS display so you can look directly at all the pixels way over there on the left and right head-on.

It’s perfect for a graphic design or film student who needs both the resolution and the High Dynamic Range (level 10) that comes with the screen. It works great as a regular display for splitting the homework on the screen with research on the left and the essay on the right, too, going so far as to trick the computer into thinking it has two independent monitors connected via either HDMI or USB3.

And after a hard day in the dorm room, you can kick back and watch Netflix movies like they’re meant to be seen — in 21:9 aspect ratio. Michael Bay’s lens flares never looked better (or worse).

Get over the sticker shock — it’s probably the last monitor you’ll ever buy.

Retail price: $1899
Availability: Select LG retailers

Everyone has that person in their life who swears up and down by the Blackberry keyboard. If it’s you or the student you know, you’re going to love how they updated the KEY2 keyboard with it’s built-in fingerprint reader. It’s now 20% larger without sacrificing form factor.

And no more strategically placed chargers throughout your life: fans of Blackberry’s legendary battery life will be relieved to know the Blackberry KEY2 can run for up to two days on a single charge.

It’s still powered by Android, so frustrated touchscreen typists won’t have too worry about losing all their favourite apps. And those social apps will take advantage of the dual-camera with portrait mode for the perfect selfie.

But just because it’s powered by Android doesn’t mean it loses Blackberry’s legendary security. The enhanced privacy protection is all there.

Retail Price: $829.00
Availability: Your smartphone service provider or unlocked at online at Amazon, Bestbuy, Walmart, Staples, Blueshop.ca, Vision.ca

If you’re a Dad like me, and I know I am, you’ve got boxes of abandoned Legos in the basement. Haul them back out because your kid is going to love playing with those bricks all over again.

E-Blox Circuit Builder-120 helps teach your child the fundamentals of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) using a variety of compatible bricks, including Lego. You can bring those creations to life with lights, sounds and motion. It’s also wireless.

The kits come in a variety of sizes depending on how big your kid’s imagination is.

Just be careful of Kid Traps. E-Blox-ified Lego still hurts when you step on it.

Retail price: $46-$79
Availability: Robotshop, Amazon.ca

File this under “don’t forget the batteries.” Sure you dropped a bundle on your kid’s laptop, but that university student is going to be experimenting with wild and unknown WiFi access points while you’re not around and you want them to be protected, not infected.

ESET Internet Security works seamlessly in the background the way security software is supposed to be. Not only does it prevent unauthorized access to a Mac, PC, or smartphone, it also regularly scans your network for vulnerabilities. You can keep the router clean, see who’s connected, and boot freeloaders.

And if you move to a new computer, you can take ESET Internet Security with you.

It may be boring, but when it comes to this kind of software, boring is good. And important. Surf safe.

Retail Price: $59.99
Availability: Best Buy, Staples, eset.ca

Disclosure
The items above were provided by a public relations firm at the request of the companies involved. They backed a big truck up full of money to get Michael to talk about these gadgets. He had one condition: he would veto anything he didn’t like. G&B policy is to not review items that suck because we’re rather lazy and would prefer to put our energy into things we do like. We hope you’re okay with Michael using his geek brain to put food on the table.
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