We need to purchase a computer for our two older children to use for homework. They frequently have assignments that involve the use of Google Docs, as well as PowerPoint and Excel. I’m a Mac user, but we’re thinking we’ll go with a PC for them (due to cost). Can you make any recommendations? I’m overwhelmed by the options! -Kristen, via email.
We hear you, Kristen. There are so many great options for good computers out there and it can be hard to wade through them and figure out what works for the students in your family. Value, functionality and portability are priorities for us when it comes to choosing a laptop for kids, and I have a few options for new computers below that I think fit the bill quite nicely.
By the way, you can also look at a refurbished computer like our publisher Kristen did. However with great quality computers being so affordable these days, it may just be worth making the extra investment to buy new. Especially because so many of the laptops nowadays come with tablet functionality too. I love 2-for-1 deals!
With that, here are a few computer recommendations for students (and families) at different price points that will be great for the school year.
Convertible Laptop Recommendations for Students
It’s hard to believe that you get so much for the money with this machine (seen above). Not only does the 10-inch screen completely detach and act as a separate tablet, making it a true hybrid, it also offers touchscreen capabilities and an 11-hour battery life, trumping others in this category. Another huge bonus? Microsoft Office is included, saving the additional expense of buying the software you need.
Since the keyboard fully unhinges, it definitely feels lighter and offers a smaller typing landscape, but what it lacks here, it makes up for in functionality and portability. The ASUS Transformer Book T100 gives you huge bang for your buck and is perfect for students looking for a reliable 2-in-1. (Starting at $369.99, comes in red as well)
The Flex 2 falls into the convertible laptop category, meaning the screen can flip all the way back but doesn’t detach – it’s a laptop! It’s a tablet! It’s a laptop again! (That will keep the kids entertained for the first few days.) This option features an AMD A6 processor (read: it’s fast), 500 GB of storage, a large 15″ touchscreen and yet it’s only an inch thick. But it’s on the heavier side at 5.5 lbs if it will be carried around a lot. That certainly adds to the backpack load when crammed in with textbooks, but it’s a great choice if it will live at home more often than not. (Starts at $499.99)
Another great convertible laptop is the HP Pavilion. The 360 degree swivel adjusts the laptop into regular, tent and tablet modes and it also comes with 500 GB of storage. The main difference between this and the Lenovo is that the HP features a quad-core AMD A8 processor making it even faster and more powerful, which explains the price difference. It’s also more compact, with a 13″ touchscreen and weighs less than 4 lbs. But what might push this option to the top of the list for your kids is the BeatsAudio speaker and the snazzy red color. (Starts at $619, also comes in black)
Desktop and Laptop Computer Recommendations for Students
If you’re making the big splurge on a shiny new piece of machinery, what about something that the whole family can use? This gorgeous, super slim, and space-saving desktop will complement any kitchen decor. The big screen means you can keep an eye on what your kids are doing online, which is always a plus. And, the extra investment buys you a lot more power and storage: with one full terabyte. Yes TERA. Plus it offers a 23-inch touchscreen and all the bells and whistles you could ever need in a family PC. (Starts at $899)
For a super fast, super affordable laptop for your kids, I think the Acer 720c is a serious contender. As the name implies, the laptop is powered by the Chrome operating system, which means it’s all Google, all the time. Now that’s not great if you need heavyweight programs like Office or Photoshop, however there are thousands of Chrome apps at your disposal, leaving the hard drive uncluttered and fast; hence, the 7 second start-up. Just note that parental controls are limited with this one, so I’d recommend keeping a close eye on online activity. (Starting at $299.99)
You said that you’d probably prefer a PC due to costs because as we all know, Apple computers are more expensive. But a round-up of computer recommendations isn’t complete without at least a look at the gorgeous Macbook Air. Pricewise, the 11″ is comparable to Dell Inspiron desktop, and the benefit of any Mac is that it’s less prone to viruses than PCs. And being a self-proclaimed Mac user yourself, you can’t be beat the multi-device syncing with the other iOS devices in your family. The Air is the thinnest of the Mac laptop bunch and offers incredible battery life – nine hours for the 11-inch and twelve hours for the next size up. Plus as the name suggests–light as air. (starts at $899)
Another alternative for Apple diehards is to find an older model that has been refurbished. Just make sure to purchase an Apple Care protection plan for insurance.
And of course, when it comes to kids and computers, be sure to keep them protected when they’re online. Use secure passwords, download protective software like Net Nanny and talk to your kids about smart tech usage! Early and often.