With the school year is back in full swing, your kids likely have a sense of the gear they really need. And there are still lots of bargains to be found at retailers.

Here at CNET, we’ve rounded up our favorite back-to-school picks for 2019. Have a look.

Roku Streaming Stick Plus

CNET rating: 5 stars out of 5 (spectacular)

The cost: $5o at roku.com

The good: The Roku Streaming Stick Plus delivers 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price. Its dead-simple interface puts every streaming service on a level playing field. Roku has more 4K HDR apps and better search than competitors. Its responses are lightning fast, its video quality as good as any streamer, and its remote can control your TV’s volume and power.

The bad: The menus can seem dated compared to rivals, and some apps use old-school layouts. Voice search and control is worse than some competitors.

The bottom line: With its simple design and focus on features you’ll actually use, Roku’s affordable 4K HDR streamer is one you should get.

Sony WF-1000XM3 Noise-Canceling Headphones

CNET rating: 4 stars out of 5 (excellent)

The cost:$230 at sony.com

The good: The WF-1000XM3 sound excellent for true-wireless headphones, with a premium look and feel. They have effective active noise cancellation, decent battery life and USB-C charging (with a quick-charge feature).


The bad: Not sweat-resistant; not as discreet looking as some competing models; call performance could be a little better.

The bottom line: Despite some small drawbacks, the Sony WF-1000XM3 is among the best true wireless headphones of 2019.

Lenovo Smart Clock

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (very good)

The cost: $60 at lenovo.com

The good: The Lenovo Smart Clock is an affordable and attractive way to put Google Assistant on your nightstand. You can choose from a variety of clock faces, and the alarms are highly customizable. The sunrise alarm feature is particularly neat.

The bad: The touchscreen is much more limited than other smart displays — you can’t watch videos, access a smart home control panel, look at pictures or use the touchscreen for anything beyond a few prescribed functions. At night, the clock doesn’t hit the right balance of visibility and minimal glow.

The bottom line: While not perfect at any one task, the Lenovo Smart Clock does a lot of things well enough to be a helpful addition to your nightstand.

AmazonBasics Microwave

CNET rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 (very good)

The cost: $60 at amazon.com

The good: Alexa voice commands add some convenience and give you some additional hands-free time in the kitchen. The popcorn replenishment feature is handy if you’re really into popcorn. Amazon says it can add and improve features via software updates.

The bad: You’ll need to adjust recipes and settings for prepackaged food to account for the 700-watt power rating. Some of the preset cooking commands via Alexa produce poor results.

The bottom line: Using your voice to control a microwave is a natural fit, and Amazon’s competitive pricing essentially puts no premium on the Alexa-powered smarts. Even if you never use the voice commands, this microwave is a low-risk investment for one or two people in a smaller living space.