The Amazon Back to School Deals That Are Actually Worth BuyingAmazon's Gold Box deal today is a back-to-school blowout, full of robust discounts on everything from backpacks to... portable scanners. Okay, so maybe it's not quite the cornucopia of delights you might have hoped for. But for every iPad speaker dock in the bunch, there are a few gems you genuinely need.

Worth It

The Amazon Back to School Deals That Are Actually Worth BuyingToshiba Canvio 500 GB Slim Portable External Hard Drive

You're in school. That means you don't have money. That means you can successfully rationalize piracy in ways that the rest of us can't. Which in turn means your laptop's hard drive is going to fill up mighty fast with Torchwood episodes. Put 'em on this instead. It looks nice, it's USB 3.0, and it's a legit bargain. [$50]


The Amazon Back to School Deals That Are Actually Worth Buying

Wenger Backpack by SwissGear

There's a good chance you've forsaken traditional backpacks in favor of some sort of fancy messenger back, in which case enjoy your life of slouchery and shoulder pain. For the backpack traditionalists, the Wenger has a solid build, positive reviews, and room for a 17-inch laptop (also: don't buy a 17-inch laptop). [$50]


The Amazon Back to School Deals That Are Actually Worth Buying

Transcend JetFlash 750 32GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive

Transcend is already on the more affordable side of the storage spectrum, so when you take another 62% off the list price you're looking at a steal. You'll need this for the same reason you needed that external hard drive (sharing is caring!) and for the opportunity to use the word "dongle" in casual conversation. [$19]


The Amazon Back to School Deals That Are Actually Worth Buying

Kensington ClickSafe Keyed Laptop Lock

Make no mistake; you're entering a den of thieves. It might seem excessive to lock down your laptop everywhere you go, but remember that your entire digital life—the stuff that's not in the cloud, anyway—lives on that machine. Besides, if there's one life lesson worth learning at this point? It's better to spend twenty bucks now than a thousand next year. [$19]


The Amazon Back to School Deals That Are Actually Worth Buying

Belkin N900 Dual-Band Wireless N Router + Gigabit

Here's how this works: You and your future roommates will start an email thread (Facebook thread? I'm old) divvying up who's bringing what next year. Let other people grab the mini fridge, the Blu-ray player, whatever. Do not leave the router to chance. This is your router. It is badass. it will accommodate the dozens of connected devices to which you and your roommates are addicted. It is super cheap today. It will make your collegiate life better in ways both quantifiable and obscure. Do it. [$100]


Don't Bother

Epson Expression Premium Photo XP-800 Small-in-One Wireless Color Inkjet Printer, Copier, Fax, and Scanner: In fairness, school is probably the last time you'll ever actually need access to printed material on a regular basis. But most schools also provide access to printers (and ink, and paper) gratis. Take them up on it. Also, small-in-one oh my goodness no.

Rosetta Stone Spanish Levels 1-3: Don't spend hundreds of dollars to take a less-personalized version of a course you (or your parents) are already spending thousands of dollars on. Just... don't. This is a pretty good deal if you're not already in a language class, though! Also available in Japanese.

Brother DS-600 DSMobile Scanner: No.

Kyocera Hydro Prepaid Android Phone: A terrible prepaid Android phone is going to make your life harder, not easier. Pony up for something decent, or better yet, cling with all your strength to your parents' family plan for as long as humanly possible.

ION Road Rocker Compact Portable Speaker System: The sound quality on this thing might be amazing (although reviews hint that it's not so much). But no matter what kind of output you're getting, you'll always be the guy who brought a mini-amp-shaped iPad speaker dock to the party. Don't be the guy who brings a mini-amp-shaped iPad speaker dock to the party. You're welcome.

There are plenty more in-between deals you can scour here. Happy shopping, and my deepest sympathies that summer is almost officially over.