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The turn of the season means we no longer bemoan the hard luck of having to stay indoors, for others, it's time to go back to school. But no matter what, as the summer dwindles away, we can all agree on one thing: It's a great time to go shopping. This year, we've compiled a list of the 10 must-haves for the 2011 school year, making the chore of heading back to the grind that much easier.

1. Laptop: MacBook Air 

Apple’s MacBook Air started out as an overpriced luxury product but has since blossomed into the best laptop for the money. If you want to take notes in class or finish up some work on the plane ride to spring break, no laptop is more powerful and portable. Starting at $949 US for students, all MacBook Airs feature an HD camera, backlit keyboard, SSD hard drives for fast startup times and the new high-speed Thunderbolt port, which can achieve speeds 20 times faster than USB 2.0. Currently, there are no Thunderbolt accessories for purchase, but this fall hard drive manufacturers are all promising high-speed hard drives that support the new technology. There are 11- and 13-inch models available, configurable with up to 4 GB of RAM, and up to 256 GB worth of flash memory space. All of that comes in a package weighing in at under 3 pounds depending on which model you get (the 11-inch weighs only a scant 2.38 pounds; the 13-inch is 2.96 pounds). This little machine is fast enough to do heavy duty tasks like some photo and video editing. Apple also touts battery life of up to 7 hours on the 13-inch models plus an astounding 30 days of standby time when the machine is asleep. All of these facts combined make it the perfect machine for the new school year.


2. Tablet: iPad

Apple’s iPad has matured so much since its introduction in 2010, students may find themselves leaving the house with nothing else. The iPad 2 weighs an astonishing 1.33 pounds, meaning it will hardly weigh you down while trekking across the quad to class. There are loads of apps available for taking notes, managing a schedule and keeping up with all social feeds. Some publishers are even making textbooks available for the iPad. Since it’s also a great e-reader, featuring apps for every major online bookstore like Amazon’s Kindle Store, you’ll be able to load it up with the classics they make you read in Freshman English courses. The iPad starts at $499 with wifi only.

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