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(ARA) – Preparing for school is more than just buying pencils and notebooks with today’s tech-savvy students.

Here’s a back-to-school technology checklist for high-school and college-bound students to help make their school year more productive. From “must-have” staples to “nice-to-have” gadgets, students are taking some pretty pricey gear with them to school and they need to know how to use it as well as how to protect it.

Get It: Laptop Computer

The laptop computer now plays multiple roles in a student’s life – typewriter, library, stereo, television, telephone, etc. Dell, HP and Gateway all have laptops for under $1,000.

Protect It: Laptop tracking and recovery software, Computrace LoJack for Laptops

A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds in the United States. Computrace LoJack for Laptops from Absolute Software can help track down and locate lost or stolen machines, and with the help of local authorities, return it to you. Don’t forget the anti-virus, anti-spyware, encryption and firewall software as well as a good cable lock as a visual theft deterrent.

Get It: MP3 Player

Today’s MP3 players offer much more than just music. Some have recording functions that allow you to digitally record a lecture and play it back for studying. Didn’t have time to read the book? Get it in digital format and listen to it before your test. These nifty gadgets are also portable storage devices. They can hold and transfer files when you are not carrying your laptop.

Protect It: Cases, screen protectors and identification tags  

Most MP3 players need more protection from their owners than would-be thieves. A good soft or hard case and screen protector can keep your MP3 player safe from falls, spills and everyday use. A number of companies make ID tags for gadgets like these so good Samaritans can return items to their rightful owners. iPods can also be engraved with your personal information.

Get It: Portable Gaming System

These devices are compact and durable and offer plenty of playtime for kids – and kids at heart. The latest gaming systems offer much more than child’s play. Applications for the devices include music, video, photos, Internet and wireless connectivity.  

Protect It: Common sense and a locked cabinet

Portable gaming systems are a lot of fun, but losing one is no joke. Use common sense if using the device in public. (You wouldn’t play with three $100 bills on the subway, would you?) And, when back in the dorm room, keep it in an inconspicuous place when it’s not in use. It’s a good idea to have a locking cabinet to keep your gaming devices and other valuables locked up when you are out of the room.

Get It: Cell Phone, Camera Phone or Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)

Today’s cell phones help students communicate and collaborate on all fronts: via phone, email, text message, IM and, in some cases, video. Although using the devices in the classroom may be controversial, parents and friends certainly appreciate being able to communicate with students at a moments’ notice. Plus, if you can store files or receive emails on your phone, you catch some extra study time no matter where you are.

Protect It: Passwords, contact information and insurance

Many cell phones and portable computing devices can be password-protected to keep nefarious users out of your address book. If you have sensitive data, personal information or pictures on your phone that you don’t want anyone else to get their hands on, using the devices built-in security can offer some protection. You might also want to label the phone, externally or through a locked screen saver, with your personal information so it can be returned to you. Finally, if you invested in a $500 iPhone or Blackberry, pay the few extra dollars for the service plan to replace it if lost or stolen.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Author: Andy