It can be frustrating to shop for a laptop, especially if you or your children will be learning online for the first time. Children of various ages have a variety of laptop use cases and requirements. Students’ needs change as the best laptop and best Chromebook options grow. As a result, I chatted with some subject experts: students.
My suggestions below are aimed to appeal to a wide range of tastes and budgets. They are, however, a starting point rather than an entire list: each pupil is unique. You should study reviews and, if possible, try various devices yourself before making a decision. I’ll do my best to keep this article current with available items.
BEST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LAPTOP
According to Austin, a touchscreen device is easier to operate than a keyboard and touchpad for younger pupils. For Webex meetings with his kindergarten class, Austin’s five-year-old son utilizes an iPad. Austin claims he’s gotten the hang of it and has already learned how to mute and unmute himself, which he describes as “a skill that many grownups aren’t familiar with.”
If you take the tablet way, you might want to consider investing in a keyboard case. Austin must input her son’s meeting codes and passwords for him, which is difficult on the iPad’s flat screen.
As children grow older, the best laptop for them will change depending on their requirements. As a parent, it’s critical that you and your child agree on how they want to use the device and the size of the programs they desire.
Wallace bought Bella a low-cost HP laptop, but she underestimated how quickly the nine-year-old would use up the 32GB of storage. “It’s extremely slow, and there’s no room for games.” Bella, who uses the laptop to Zoom with friends and take virtual guitar lessons and math enrichment classes, said she needs a PC with greater storage space. In the next weeks, Wallace intends to purchase a better device for Bella.
When it comes to computers for kids, audio quality is crucial. In addition to their online classes, Lisa, an elementary library media specialist, says her kids utilize their gadgets to view YouTube videos. Even for distance learners who are close to a wall outlet, battery life is a bonus. Bella likes to carry her laptop about the house and avoids bringing the cord with her.
According to Mitchell, durability is also worth investing on. Get a protective case for your tablet if you’re using one. “It’s usually worth the extra money if a reasonably priced insurance or replacement policy is offered.”
- A bright, speedy tablet with kid-friendly entertainment, the Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition ($139).
- The Lenovo Chromebook Duet ($229) is a compact 10-inch Chromebook with a detachable keyboard.
- The Apple 10.2-inch iPad ($329) is a fantastic cheap tablet that works with the Apple Pencil.
- The Microsoft Surface Go 2 ($399) is a good Windows tablet with a kickstand built in.
- A solid touchscreen Chromebook, the Google Pixelbook Go ($649)
MIDDLE SCHOOL’S BEST LAPTOP
Middle school pupils I spoke with only utilize their laptops for web-based academics and browsing. Power isn’t as important as comfort and ease of usage for your child.
Helly, an attorney and mother of three children, says, “We just got the most basic Chromebook and it is completely great.” “Even the most basic Chromebook can meet the demands of a typical middle school student.”
Max, John’s eighth-grade son, agrees with his father. “I’d love a gaming PC or gaming laptop that can link into a monitor and play video games at 120 frames per second,” Max says, “but I don’t really need that.” “Most eighth-graders won’t be playing video games or using software that takes a lot of processing power on their laptops.”
Gmail, Slides, Google Docs, and Google Sheets are among the Google Classroom apps Max uses most frequently on his PC. On his device, which he characterizes as “a run-of-the-mill Samsung Chromebook,” they’re quite simple to use. If your child is starting middle school this year, check with their instructors to discover which operating system will work best for them. Odén, an English ninth grader, told me that he is having problems with his Chromebook since his school has forbidden him from installing apps from the Google Play Store.
Even kids who have more difficult interests believe that a low-cost equipment will suffice. “For most middle students, any processor built within the previous two years will be able to handle whatever job they can throw at it,” says Sam Hickman, an eighth grader from the UK who uses his laptop for photo and video editing.
So, what is it that makes anything worthwhile to pay for? Several pupils said it was a comfortable keyboard. Many middle school students are unaccustomed to typing for extended periods of time. If they’re preparing for in-person education, you should also search for a device that’s small and easy to bring around. Choose a model that is between 11 and 13 inches in length, and not more than 15 inches in length.
- The HP Chromebook x360 ($309) is a budget-friendly Chromebook with a long battery life.
- The Lenovo Flex 3 Chromebook ($379) is a compact but durable laptop designed for students.
- The Lenovo 300e ($329) is a solid 2-in-1 with a stylus.
- The Acer Aspire 5 ($561) is a portable solution for kids who require a 15-inch display.
- Microsoft Surface Notebook Go ($399) is a thin and light Windows laptop with a stylish design.
THE BEST LAPTOP COMPUTER FOR HIGH SCHOOL
High schoolers’ laptop requirements vary depending on their hobbies, but most don’t require powerful machines with a lot of bells and whistles, especially if they have bugs or major drawbacks that could interfere with education. Riehle, a High School student, owns a high-end Surface Pro 7, but finds it overwhelming. “There’s a lot of other items I don’t use very often,” he explained. “Something a little more straightforward might be simpler.”
The appropriate operating system for your youngster may be determined by his or her previous experience. Arya, an Illinois high school student, owns an iMac at home and prefers to do his coursework on an iPad. Because he has an Android phone and frequently utilizes Google services, Arya thinks he would prefer a Chromebook.
However, practically every student I spoke with agreed that portability is the most critical aspect of a high school laptop. In-person students may be lugging their gadget around with them for the most of the day, along with a stack of other literature. A 13- or 14-inch screen, or a lighter 15- to 17-inch model, are the best options.
Something durable is also recommended by students. Mos Buckwalter, a student at High School, says, “Most high schoolers I’ve seen will throw their laptop in their backpack without too much care.” Backpacks can also be jostled in the corridor. At home, kids might get into mischief as well. “Anything might happen,” Aadit, an Indian high school student, adds. “With his nails, my own brother scratched my laptop.”
Another important characteristic is the battery life. “Finding a location to charge while in class may be a big effort,” says Cas, a sophomore from the Netherlands. Many high school students, unlike college students, do not have numerous opportunities to recharge their gadgets, so look for something that will last the entire day.
A touchscreen with stylus support is recommended by many students. Nambiar makes extensive use of the feature in his biology lesson, where he does a lot of visual modeling. “The touchscreen is usually an advantage for sketching schematics,” Nambiar explains, “whereas submitting a diagram you produced on a laptop would be a complete process.” Riehle fills out school forms and annotates PDFs with a Surface Pen. Taking notes on the same screen as his online classes is beneficial to Agrawal.
You may also want a laptop with numerous connectivity choices, depending on the state of broadband in your location. Because power outages often disrupt Agrawal’s online lessons, he proposes an LTE model. Matej Plavevski, a junior at North Macedonia’s Yahya Kemal College, suggests looking for an Ethernet connector in case slower connections cause sessions to be disrupted. On smaller computers, that’s difficult to come by, but there are plenty of inexpensive dongles and docks to consider.
- Acer Chromebook Spin 513 ($369) is a convertible Chromebook that offers all-day battery life.
- The Apple iPad Air ($599) is a powerful tablet with a stunning display.
- The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 ($699) is a great Chromebook that isn’t too expensive.
- The Dell XPS 13 ($979) is a good clamshell laptop. Laptop with Windows
- The Surface Notebook 4 ($799) is a great, light laptop that’s easy to use.
MOST EFFICIENT COLLEGE LAPTOP
College students have a right to spend a little more money than other age groups. Some students (especially those in STEM courses) can expect to work hard. For his homework, Assad Abid, a Pakistani electrical engineering student, needs to run simulation software. Akash, a student at Bangladesh’s New Engineering Student, conducts a lot of coding, as well as artistic work in Premiere Pro and Photoshop and gaming. Students also mentioned that investing in a laptop that will survive for a few years after graduation is worthwhile. That means you won’t have to worry about locating and financing your next device until you’ve (hopefully) found work.
However, there is still a large range of possibilities among high-end, powerful gadgets. Students emphasized the importance of a light college laptop. Expect to take it with you to class, lunches, meetings, the library, and other campus venues. “It’s a blessing because I can carry my laptop and some notebooks for six hours a day without feeling like I’m carrying too much,” adds Waseem, a University senior.
Another characteristic that is universally praised is the battery life. Waseem, who uses an HP Spectre, says the all-day battery allows him to “learn in a variety of venues, including outside.”
Even in high-end devices, speakers and webcams are sometimes disregarded. However, if you’re starting college this year, students think it’s worth looking for good ones. While many college students have returned to in-person classrooms, others will continue to meet with groups and attend events through the internet. Waseem is dissatisfied with the audio and video quality on his laptop, which he claims has made it difficult for him to pay attention in class and interact with other students.
Many pupils will need to put extra effort into topics that are specific to their hobbies and educational requirements. For his artistic work, Chandra’s ideal laptop would contain a stylus and touchscreen, as well as a high-end GPU. Waseem, who uses his laptop for a variety of tasks such as streaming, coding, social media, video chatting, and Microsoft Office work, would prefer a larger screen to help him keep track of his multitasking.
- The Acer Swift 3 ($629) is a thin and light notebook with good performance.
- Dell XPS 13 ($979): a robust clamshell Windows laptop
- HP Envy x360 13 ($1,049): a speedy and attractive 2-in-1
- The Surface Notebook 4 ($799) is a great, light laptop that’s easy to use.
- The HP Spectre x360 14 ($1,099) is a high-end convertible with an impressive battery life.