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Five must-have tech gifts for the college bound

Buying a gift for the college-bound student can be a challenge, whether it’s a high-school graduation present or a back-to-university purchase. While most young people would likely welcome a technology gift, it can be difficult to know what they’ll find most useful-especially if they already have nearly every gadget imaginable.

If you’ll be buying for a college kid this summer, here are five tech gift ideas that can help make their college careers easier, more fun and more memorable:

1. Make it a Mac – Chances are, he already has an iPod he treasures and she couldn’t get through the day without her iPhone. And a laptop is an essential tool for everyone in college these days. The MacBook Pro’s durable hardware, appealing design and ability to run Windows make it a great choice for students. It will work seamlessly with other Apple gadgets, and can even run Windows applications – all on one computer.

2. Making a Mac play nicely with Windows programs – Challenges with running Windows software on Mac machines may have caused some users to shy away from Apple products in the past, but those issues can be resolved easily. Parallels Desktop 7 for Mac allows users to run both Mac and Windows apps at the same time on their Mac, without the need to restart the computer. The software allows users to copy, cut and paste between Windows and Mac apps, and run other systems like Google Chrome or Windows 8 Consumer Preview. It also works with the Parallels Mobile app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch so users can access and run everything on their Mac from anywhere. A free trial is available for download at www.parallels.com/desktop.

3. Mainstream and reliable – Even if they have a Mac, your college student can still use Microsoft Office for Home and Student 2010 for Windows. This essential productivity software includes many of the basic software that most businesses depend upon, including Excel, Word, PowerPoint and One Note. It includes features such as creating a Pivot Table Chart in Excel that are not in the Mac version of Office, so go for the PC version and pair it with Parallels Desktop for Mac to get all the features students need to succeed at school and work.

4. Storage and backup options – College students create, move, use and save volumes of data every day, whether it’s downloading music, uploading video or submitting work assignments via online portals. The sheer amount of data they work with means that storage and backup capabilities are essential. Hardware like USB flash drives or SD cards can provide plenty of extra storage for moving data. Most importantly, to back up valuable data and work assignments, students will benefit from an external backup drive or even a subscription to an online backup service so they don’t lose everything on their computer if it crashes, is lost or stolen.

5. Don’t forget the fun stuff – Higher education is all about schoolwork, and a busy social life is a vital part of the experience for many college students. Technology gifts that enhance the fun aspects of school will be a welcome addition to any student’s stable of gadgetry. A new digital camera, satellite radio or TV service, or even a new MP3 player can all help students tap into the fun of college life.

Finding just the right gift for your graduate or rising college student can be simple and satisfying when you mix a bit of creativity with usefulness – and opt for the gift of technology.

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