A school supply list nowadays is more than just paper and pencils. The tablet your student wants is more likely electronic than the spiral-bound kind of which you're thinking. So how do you know what type of laptop or tablet your child needs?
Consumer Reports compiled a list of the five best laptops and tablets for back to school.
If you've got a middle or high schooler, the magazine recommends the Lenovo U430 Touch. The laptop has a 500-gigabyte hard drive and 11 1/2 hours of battery life. It usually sells for $600, but since Consumer Reports made the recommendation, the device has sold out. Lenovo's website says it is "temporarily unavailable."
If you can't wait around for new inventory, website Engadget shows the next best thing is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It has a smaller processor and it costs $200 more than the Lenovo, but you'll have it in time for school.
The faster Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with an i5 processor is actually Consumer Reports' pick for college students and it will set you back $1,000.
Want to get your elementary school student comfortable with a computer? Consumer Reports says for $200, the Acer C720-2848 will get the job done. It's just 2.7 pounds, has more than 10 hours of battery life and it lets you set up a supervised user account that won't let your child access adult content on the web.
For kids not quite ready to type, kindergartners can easily touch and swipe tablets. The Samsung Galaxy Tab Kids is $200. It comes with a protective bumper and allows parents to set playtime limits.