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8 graduation gifts that will trump the diploma

Summer is right around the corner; the days are long, the temperatures are high, and there’s a sense of excitement in the air. Why? Graduation season is upon us. While the feeling of finally completing and receiving their degree is nigh unbeatable for grads, you may feel like showing them you’re proud of their accomplishments by giving them a gift that will help their transition from school to whatever goals they set their sights on next. Here are eight great gift ideas for your grad (or for yourself), that will make those first steps into the real world a little easier.

Dell XPS 13 laptop ($894)

Dell XPS 13 laptop

This slim laptop might be pricey, but it packs an impressive punch, especially considering it’s lightweight design. That’s exactly what your new grad needs, no matter if they’re headed to college for the first time, grad school, or entering the job world. The capable laptop sports a 13-inch touchscreen display touting 3,200×1,800-pixel resolution and an Intel Core i5-5200U processor designed to cover all your grad’s computing needs, along with 8GB of RAM and a 128GB solid-state drive for adequate storage and quick app performance. It’s not exactly a graphical powerhouse, per se, but the latest iteration of the Dell XPS 13 is an affordable and well-rounded laptop that can go toe-to-toe with anything in Apple’s arsenal. Read our full review.

Available from:

Amazon Microsoft Newegg Best Buy

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7 ($100)

Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7

One would not be faulted for assuming that, after spending years cramming through massive textbooks, the last thing a recent grad would want to do is read. However, the freedom that comes after graduating to read what and when you want is exhilarating to say the least. A tablet like Amazon’s Fire HD 7 makes catching up on novels easy, too, providing you with quick access to a wealth of books in addition to Android apps, music, movies, and games. The tablet also comes with a built-in camera and photo-editing capabilities, not to mention excellent Dolby sound and a battery that pushes 11 hours of running time. The free, unlimited cloud storage is only a plus. Read our full review.

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Samsung NX500 interchangeable lens camera ($700)

Samsung NX500 interchangeable lens camera

After graduation, it’s always fun to indulge in new hobbies and activities — especially in the time between school and the next step. While the Samsung NX500 isn’t going to win any awards when compared Canon and Nikon’s higher-end DSLR cameras, this entry-level camera is powerful and simplistic. The specs are respectable, and it features intuitive touchscreen controls that make taking selfies a breeze. But perhaps the most impressive feature of the NX500 is the ability to shoot in 4K HD video, so not only will your grad have a great camera to learn the ins-and-outs of photography, but videography as well. Read our full review.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy B&H

PS4 The Last of Us Remastered bundle ($400)

PS4 The Last of Us remastered bundle

Sony’s latest home console, the PlayStation 4, is one of the fastest selling devices of its kind. It’s got everything you’d want from a home console: high-end graphical power, robust online features, and video streaming apps such as Netflix and Hulu. More importantly, it allows you to play smash titles like The Witcher 3 and The Last of Us Remastered, as well as a treasure trove of popular and lesser-known indie titles. The PlayStation 4 makes a perfect gift for hardcore gamers, and frankly, a great choice for anyone looking for a well-rounded entertainment machine. Read our full review.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy newegg

Gregory Baltoro 75 pack ($240)

Gregory Baltoro 75 pack

Taking time to travel and explore after completing school is something all grads should do. Whether it’s a trip across Europe or merely a trek through the nearby wilderness, a sturdy and reliable backpack is a necessity for the adventurous grad. Finding the perfect pack is easy with Gregory Packs, too, given the company’s award-winning high performance backpacks come in an assortment of sizes and weight capacities. Our personal pick? The Baltoro 75. The suspension straps and frame not only give the wearer support, but are adjustable to fit their waist, shoulders, and back, and decrease seams and hot spots while wearing the pack for prolonged durations.

Available from:

Amazon backcountry L.L. Bean REI

Audioengine A5+B speakers ($400)

Audioengine A5+B speakers

We all want deep, powerful audio quality from a sound system without taking up an excess of space — something most new grads are lacking. For them, it makes sense to invest in bookshelf speakers that won’t crowd a bedroom or living space. Opting for smaller, form-factor speaker doesn’t mean they can’t have superior sound quality, though. Audioengine’s A5+B bookshelf speakers feature 50-watt amplifiers and rich bass that won’t blow out the sound, rendering them a great pick when space is of the essence.

Available from:

Amazon B&H

Marshall Mode EQ M headphones ($100)

Marshall Mode EQ M headphones

A solid at-home sound system is one thing, but in today’s world, most of us do our listening away from home. Bus rides to work, daily workouts, or just lounging around outside all call for a great playlist — and a great pair of in-ear headphones. Marshall’s Mode EQ M earphones are a great choice. They’re designed to stay in the ear while remaining comfortable, even after long listening sessions. The earphones also feature a few different EQ modes that allow to bring out a crisper high-end, or a more meaty low-end. Read our full review.

Available from:

Amazon Best Buy newegg

Vizio M322i-B1 32″ TV ($329)

Vizio M322i-B1 32" TV

This 32-inch, 1080p LED television from Vizio is a great addition for smaller living situations. It’s not a massive screen, but it’s still big enough that watching from a few feet away won’t be an issue. Plus, the 1080p resolution and a 120HZ refresh rate means that whatever your grad is watching — movies, TV, or video games — will look crisp and clear, while multiple inputs means they can connect several devices at once. If you’ve got some extra cash to spend on your grad, there are even larger options ranging up to 80 inches in size with numerous other sizes thrown in between.

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Blue Apron meal subscription service (from $60 per week)

Blue Apron meal subscription service

Let’s be honest, living on a college budget doesn’t turn students into world class chefs. They might have some pretty creative ramen recipes and know how to pair snack food with cheap beer, sure, but we doubt they’re going to be able to whip up a fancy meal on their own. Blue Apron’s meal subscription service means your grad will receive fresh ingredients and recipes delivered directly to their door three times a week. Moreover, the service caters to allergies and those with particular dietary needs (i.e. vegetarians), so there’s no need to worry when you dish out $10 a meal on behalf of your grad. It’s not cheap, but neither is eating out every night.

Available from:

Blue Apron

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