Tuitions may be rising, but the prices of digital tools and toys keep dropping. From ultralight laptops to Net-connected digicams, we pick innovative, feature-rich devices that won’t impoverish you.

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Carry a Charge

If you’re hauling your gadgets around all day, take advantage of the sunshine to charge them up. This solar backpack powers cellphones and media players, and sells for about $100 less than competitors. V-Dimension Helius $130;

Rock and Talk

This Bluetooth stereo headset connects to cellphones like the BlackBerry Bold [below] and music players like the Cowon A3 (via an adapter). It’s sealed against rain and sweat. JayBird JB-200 From $130;

Play Nice

Digital audio and video comes in dozens of formats, and the A3 plays virtually all of them. Watch flicks on the four-inch, high-resolution display, or plug into a TV and catch high-def clips at home. Cowon A3 $440;

Type Lightly

Sporting a roomy 10-inch screen, the 2.6-pound Wind handles work and Web surfing as well as heftier, pricier laptops do. Intel’s powerful yet power-sipping Atom processor allows five and a half hours of battery life—enough for a full day of classes. MSI Wind $500;

Speak Freely

A little extra cash buys the features that the iPhone left out, such as video recording, stereo speakers, and wireless stereo-headset support. BlackBerry Bold $300–$400;

Snap and Share

Get your candid shots online before you leave the party. With built-in Wi-Fi, this 0.8-inch-thick cam uploads pics to the photo-sharing Web site Flickr. Nikon Coolpix S52c $280;