Back to School with Android

It's that time of year again, and whether you're packing to go back to school or packing someone else to send them off for some higher learning (and getting yourself a little peace and quiet in the bargain), you'll find Android is there ready to lend a helping hand.  Every student needs a way to connect with friends and family back home as well as tools to help them study, and Android has shaped up quite nicely and can provide both.  And you can even have a little fun with it while you're at it.  We've put together a nice little collection of apps, and the hardware we recommend to run them -- hit the break and have a look!

Some great apps to take back to school

Jared DiPane --

Android Central Let's face the facts, no one wants to be the dumb one in the college conversation. By keeping installed on your Android device you can simply launch the app, type the word, and find the definition, all while listening to the rest of what is going on. Sure you may laugh now, but I think you will thank me later. [Market Link]

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Andrew Melnizek -- Dropbox



When switching classes and juggling your after school assignments, the last thing you want to worry about is where you saved that sociology paper on Karl Marx. But with Dropbox, you can save all those papers, presentations, photos, and more to the cloud. Once uploaded to Dropbox, use the Android app to access all of your files on the go. Studying those last minuet presentations was never easier. [Market Link]

Chris Parsons -- Evernote




You're going to need it. You'll be taking plenty of notes in classes, and there's no better application to have then Evernote so that those notes may be accessible where ever you are. The syncing across devices and platforms is unbeatable. [Market Link]

Sean Brunett -- Google Docs

Google Docs

Google Docs

Being able to work on your essays and papers for class on any computer or device regardless of OS is essential in today’s world. The ability to work on them a little bit from your dorm room, have it auto-save, then without doing anything, log onto a computer in the library to continue on flawlessly is great technology I wish was around when I was in school. While it was being rolled outback then, the functionality wasn’t nearly where it is today. The Android app is great, too, because it allows users to check and edit their docs on-the-go where-ever they are. If you don’t use a cloud-based solution for your documents, I highly recommend getting started. The app is free, by the way in the Android Market. [Market Link]

Anndrew Vacca -- Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus

Hulu Plus

Let's get real here: you can't be productive ALL of the time, right? So during your daily English class nap time, check out Hulu Plus, where you can catch up on all the shows you missed during your study session the night before. And for those who think they can't pull off watching a full TV show during a class, I say this: for true slackers, where there's a will, there's a way. [Market Link]

Jason Bauman -- Springpad



One of the hardest things to do at school is keep track of everything. You have assignments, meetings, and research materials. And then you have your social life, and sports, and.. well, you get the idea. There's a lot, so keeping organized can be difficult. That's why my pick is Springpad. It will allow you to track practically anything you want. Not only that, but it gives you powerful tools to organize the information with, like categories and tags. Best of all, the app will sync with your computer thanks to a chrome extension so your information is always at your fingertips, and always up to date. Need to send some information to a classmate? No problem, it does sharing too. [Market Link]

Richard Devine -- Realcalc Scientific Calculator



Lets face it, who still uses a separate calculator when we all have one on our smartphones. But for school, the basic Android calculator app probably doesn't cut it. Enter Realcalc, bringing with it all the fancy functions of your old scientific calculator. Nice UI, with an excellent full screen mode, and available for free in the android market. [Market Link]

Phil Nickinson -- Wikipedia Encyclopedia



What? Don't look at me like that. While it's been more than a decade since I've been in school, I know how things go today. And if the kids are gonna use Wikipedia as their source for all things worth learning, we might as well make it easy on them. [Market Link]


Which smartphone should I take to school?

We went around the table discussing what the best Android smartphone for a student to take back to school would be, and our answers prove that having a choice is great.  Here's the phones we would choose, in no particular order.

Sensation 4G

HTC Sensation 4G

Great camera, perfect screen size and fast data speed -- if you're in a good T-Mobile area. -- Phil Nickinson


HTC Droid Incredible 2

Sure it may not be a 4G LTE-powered Android device, but that doesn't mean that it is something to look past. This device is a huge improvement over the OG Incredible, excellent battery life, nice large display, and solid build quality. -- Jared DiPane

Choosing a phone will depend on what works where you go to school, and/or which carrier you prefer. If you're on Verizon, I'd take a serious look at the Droid Incredible 2. No, it doesn't have dual core, and it's not on Verizon's blazing fast LTE network, but personally I'm not impressed with any of the LTE devices currently offered by big red. All these LTE devices seem to have some pretty serious trade-offs. With an amazing battery and beautiful screen, your Incredible 2 will be reading posts on android central long after your buddy had to stick his Thunderbolt on the charger. As a bonus, the Dinc2 has a lower full retail price, making it a lot easier on the wallet if you don't want to sign your life away on a contract. -- Jason Bauman

Galaxy S II

The Samsung Galaxy S II

Nice build quality, thin, lightweight and durable with good battery life. Plus, it looks pretty damn sharp as well -- you'll be stylin' and have a great device to boot. -- Chris Parsons

Samsung Galaxy S II. You see it, you want it. A mix of style and power in one slim attractive package. Brilliant screen, nice build quality, hard to top in the UK. -- Richard Devine

HTC Status

HTC Status

Spreading juicy gossip has never been this easy. With a respectable keyboard and unique form factor, you'll be able to hammer out texts to the entire student body in no time at all. With Gingerbread under the hood, you'll be able to reap all of the benefits of Android for a student budget-friendly $50. -- Anndrew Vacca

InfuseThe Samsung Infuse 4G

My weapon of choice. This thin Android phone is speedy, super thin, and offers great battery life for those long texting sessions with the girl in your art history class. Plus, you can impress her with the large 4.5-inch screen ;) -- Andrew Melnizek

Nexus S

Samsung Nexus S

I’m choosing the Samsung Nexus S, largely because of one reason: ubiquity. The Nexus S, the second Nexus phone to be released, is a great phone that offers a pure Google Android experience. It can also be bought on three of the four major wireless networks in the U.S.: Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. Chances are that students are on their family plans, so opening up to most carriers can obviously appeal to a lot of people. Feature-wise, the Nexus S has a gorgeous 4-inch screen, 1GHz processor and a 5 MP rear-camera as well as a front-facing camera.-- Sean Brunett



I know, I know, 3D is a gimmick. I heard it before I bought the phone and I still hear it now, but you know what? Ignore the 3D and you've still got a beast of a phone on your hands. It's fast, sleek, and slim, everything the cool kids on the block would want. 3D might be fun for some of those parties you'll surely find yourself at, and with a dedicated camera shutter button, you can at least know your pictures will come out good, too. -- Joshua Munoz

Optimus V

LG Optimus V

Yes, the Optimus V.  It will do anything you need it to do, is inexpensive, and super cheap unlimited plans on Virgin Mobile won't take too much of your beverage money. Yes, I remember school. -- Jerry Hildenbrand

What Android tablet should I take to school?

Our choices for an Android tablet that's perfect for a student ended up a little more unanimous than our smartphone picks did.  But even in a small group, it shows different hardware configurations are a good thing after all.

Tab 10.1

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Hands-down, the only tablet I'd carry around. It's light, it's thin, and it's powerful. And it's also stylish. Let's face it -- if it's not an iPad, people are going to look at you funny. But nobody looks down on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Nobody. -- Phil Nickinson

Lightweight, thin with a beautiful display.. couple it with wireless hotspot on your Android phone and you have a power house for either getting things done, or taking a well deserved break after some studies. -- Chris Parsons

Right now, there's no other option. It's sexy enough to envy, powerful enough to be productive, and light enough to throw in your backpack while running to the next class. And speaking of class, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is in one of its own. If you're going to buy a tablet, you might as well go for most stylish one on the market today. -- Anndrew Vacca

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. That is all. -- Andrew Melnizek

Galaxy Tab 10.1. Just launched on our shores, and left me looking down the back of the sofa for cash to buy one when i returned from the launch event. Slim, light, truly portable, and the new Touchwiz adds much needed functions to stock honeycomb. With 3.1 on board and its USB Device hosting ability, its also useful outside of watching movies and browsing the Internet. -- Richard Devine

Galaxy Tab 10.1. The android tablet market is quickly filling up with devices all running basically the same specs, so choosing one means you have to choose on something other than simply the processor speed or how much RAM it may be running. I recommend the Galaxy Tab 10.1, but not just because it's thin. Having a device that's so thin does help, but where this tablet really shines is the screen and build quality, as well as the improvements Samsung brought with Touchwiz. The Tab now has the fastest native browser, some really useful multi-tasking abilities (such as pulling up a calculator when taking notes) and comes pre-loaded with quick office HD, an excellent mobile office suite. Add that software to Tab's amazing form factor and you have a great mobile computing device. -- Jason Bauman

Toshiba Thrive

Toshiba Thrive

Sure, many would say you have to go with the iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 but I am going with the Toshiba Thrive. Not all of us are always able to connect to a charger, and not all of us want their device to look just like everyone else's who owns the same device. The Thrive has a removable battery, meaning you can carry a spare, and interchangeable battery covers in a variety of colors, so you can change it to match your outfit. -- Jared DiPane

We've heard it all before. It's thick. It's fat. It's unwieldy. As a matter fact, it's none of those! While everyone might be going for the thinnest and slimmest they can fit in their bag, I've got no problem carrying a tablet with a little more heft and grip to it. It doesn't feel like it's prone to breaking if I accidentally bump my backpack against something, plus, I really dig the grip textured back. And a replaceable battery? Guess I can leave my charger at home. -- Joshua Munoz

HTC Flyer

 HTC Flyer

The best back to school tablet, in my opinion is the HTC Flyer. Students want to be able to carry their tablets easily to class as well as use them for simple note taking. The 7-inch format of the Flyer offers portability and the stylus makes it ideal for taking notes in class. It runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) with the new HTC Sense and provides an excellent Android experience.  -- Sean Brunett

I have to go with the Flyer here.  The size is perfect, HTC Scribe could be very useful for taking notes or annotating documents, and while it's not rocking Honeycomb, HTC Sense makes it pretty darn functional.  -- Jerry Hildenbrand