What’s the best student laptop? We asked students

Laptop shopping can be stressful. The first time you or your child is learning online, it can be twice as stressful. Children of different ages have different laptop use cases and needs. And as the choices for the best laptops and the best Chromebooks evolve, so does the needs of our students. So I talked to some experts on the subject.

My recommendation here is to accommodate a wide variety of preferences and price points. However, they are not a complete list, they are a starting point. Every student is different. We recommend that you read the reviews and try the device yourself as much as possible before making a decision. We will do our best to keep this article up to date with the items in stock.

Best laptops for students

Google’s Pixelbook Go is perfect for kids with a solid battery life and easy-to-grip wavy base.
Photo from Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The best laptops for elementary school students

For younger students, touchscreen devices are easier to use than keyboards and touchpads, says Michelle Glogovac. Glogovac’s five-year-old son uses his iPad for Webex meetings in kindergarten class. He got the tip of it; Glogovac says that you have already learned how to mute and unmute yourself, a technique that “many adults are not familiar with.”

That said, if you go on the tablet path, it’s worth investing in a keyboard case. Glogovac has to enter his son’s meeting code and password, which can be cumbersome on the iPad’s flat screen.

As kids get older, choosing the best laptop for them will depend on their needs. As a parent, it’s important to keep in sync with what you and your child wants to use and the size of the program you want.

Kristin Wallace bought an inexpensive HP laptop for her daughter Bella, but didn’t know how fast the 9-year-old would fill up 32GB of storage. “It’s really slow and I don’t have room to play. I need a computer with more storage space,” said Bella, who uses a laptop to zoom with friends and takes virtual guitar lessons and math deepening classes. Wallace plans to buy Bella as a better device in the coming weeks.

Audio quality is an important consideration for children’s laptops. Elementary library media expert Lisa Mitchell says students use their devices to watch YouTube videos in addition to online classes. Battery life is also a plus for distance learners not far from the wall outlet. Bella loves using her laptop all over the house and doesn’t want to carry code with her.

Durability is also worth paying for, according to Mitchell. If you are using a tablet, bring a protective case. “If you have reasonably priced insurance or alternative insurance, it’s usually worth the extra cost.”

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Best Laptops of 2020: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet costs only $289, but it can run many tabs and apps without problems.
Monica Chin / The Verge’s photo

Best Laptop for Middle School

The middle school students I’m talking about don’t use laptops for more than web-based study and browsing. Don’t worry too much about the power. Prioritize machines that are comfortable and easy to use for your child.

“We’ve got the most basic Chromebook, and it’s completely perfect,” says Gabrielle Hartley, the mother and lawyer of three children taking in-person and online classes together. “The most basic Chromebook will meet all the needs of basic middle school students.”

User enters into the Acer Chromebook Spin 713.

A Chromebook like this from Acer is a good choice for students using Google Classroom.
Monica Chin / The Verge’s photo

Hartley’s son Max, in eighth grade, agrees. “I really need a gaming PC or gaming laptop that can connect to a monitor and run video games at 120 fps, but that doesn’t have to be,” says Max. “Most grade 8 students won’t run video games on their laptops or on software that requires a lot of power.”

Max mainly uses laptops for Google Classroom applications, including Gmail, Slides, Google Docs, and Google Sheets. He is very easy to use on his device. He describes it as a “plain Samsung Chromebook”. That said, if your kids are starting middle school this year, it’s a good idea to ask teachers to determine which operating system works best with the workflow. Swedish 9th grader Caspian Fischer Odén said there was a problem with her Chromebook because the school blocked app downloads from the Google Play store.

Even kids with more demanding hobbies think that a budget device can get the job done. “Most middle school students can do anything that any processor developed within the last two years can do,” says Sam Hickman, 8th grader in the UK who uses his laptop for photo and video editing. .

So, what to be Is it worth paying? Comfortable keyboard, several students told me. Many middle school children are not used to typing for a long time. Especially if you are preparing for a face-to-face school, you need to find a device that is easy to carry and compact. Shoot models from 11 to 13 inches. Definitely not bigger than 15 inches.

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Surface Laptop 4 15 inches viewed from above.

Surface Laptop 4 is the feature and nonsense laptop that many high school students want.
Monica Chin / The Verge’s photo

Best Laptop For High School

Laptop requirements for high school students may vary depending on their interests, but most do not need a powerful machine with a lot of bells and whistles, especially if they have flaws or serious drawbacks that can hinder their studies. Miles Riehle, a student at Laguna Beach High School, uses the advanced Surface Pro 7 but I think it’s overwhelming. “There are so many other things that I don’t use often,” he said. “Something simpler can be a little simpler.”

The best operating system may depend on your child’s familiar environment. Aryan Nambiar, a Barrington High School student in Illinois, has an iMac at home and enjoys using an iPad for his studies. Riehle says he prefers a Chromebook because he has an Android phone and uses Google services frequently.

But almost all of the students I talked to agreed that the most important feature of a high school laptop is portability. Children attending face-to-face classes can carry their devices with them all day, along with other piles of books. Look for a 13-inch or 14-inch screen, or a lighter 15-inch to 17-inch model.

Students also recommend something sturdy. Moses Buckwalter, a student at Penn Manor High School, said, “Most high school students I’ve seen don’t bother too much and will put their laptops in their bags. Backpacks can also be pushed in the hallway. Distance learners can still have problems at home. “Anything can happen,” said Aadit Agrawal, a high school student from India. “My brother scratched my laptop with his fingernail.”

Battery life is another key feature. “Finding a place to recharge during class can be really tough,” said Cas Heemskerk, a sophomore from the Netherlands. Unlike college students, many high school students don’t take frequent breaks to charge their devices, so look for something that can last all day long.

Many students recommend a touch screen with a stylus. Nambiar uses this feature in her biology class to do a lot of visual modeling. “The touch screen is always a bonus for drawing diagrams,” says Nambiar, but if you’re using a laptop, it’s going to be the whole process of submitting a drawn diagram. Riehle uses Surface Pen to fill out school forms and annotate PDFs. Agrawal finds it useful to take notes on the same screen as the online lecture.

Depending on the broadband situation in your area, you may want a laptop with multiple connectivity options. Agrawal’s online classes are sometimes interrupted due to power outages, so the LTE model is recommended. Matej Plavevski, a sophomore at Yahya Kemal College in North Macedonia, recommends looking for an Ethernet port if a meeting is interrupted due to a slow connection. It’s hard to find on a small laptop, but there are plenty of inexpensive dongles and docks to consider.

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Best laptops of 2020: HP Envy x360 13

For college students looking for an inexpensive laptop, HP’s Envy x360 performs just like some expensive competitors.
Monica Chin / The Verge’s photo

Best laptops for college

College students are justified to spend slightly more money than other age groups. Some (especially STEM courses) can be expected to do fairly tricky tasks. Assad Abid, Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Pakistan, needs to run simulation software for the assignment. Aakash Chandra, a student at New Horizon College of Engineering in India, does a lot of coding in addition to his creative work and games in Premiere Pro and Photoshop. Students also said it was worth buying a laptop that would last for years after graduation. This means you don’t have to worry about finding and financing your next device until you (hopefully) settle in your workplace.

However, for devices with high-performance features, there are still many options. Students stressed that college laptops should be light. You can take it between classes, meals, meetings, the library and other places on campus. Haseeb Waseem, a senior at Villanova University, said, “It’s a huge plus to be able to carry your laptop and some laptops with you without feeling like you’re carrying too much for six hours a day.

The Dell XPS 13 comes in a variety of configurations. Students with low workloads may prefer the base model, but gamers and creatives can add GPUs.
Monica Chin / The Verge’s photo

Another universally recognized feature: battery life. Waseem, who uses HP Specter, says that all day juice gives him “the flexibility to study in a variety of places and outside”.

Speakers and webcams are often overlooked even on high-end devices. But students say that if you start college this year, it’s worth finding something good. Zoom will be a big part of college life this semester. Many kids attend virtual classes and other students will still meet with clubs, study groups and professors, and hang out with friends online. Waseem wasn’t happy with the laptop’s audio and picture quality, which made it difficult to pay attention to class and interact with other students.

Many students need to invest more in areas that fit their interests and academic needs. The laptop Chandra dreams of includes a stylus and a touch screen for his creative work and a high-end GPU. Using his laptop for a variety of activities, including streaming, coding, social media, video chat, and Microsoft Office work, Waseem prefers to prioritize the big screen to track his multitasking.

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