What to Look for in a Student Laptop

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Posted 02/25/21 7:45am by Prim

With schools and colleges going virtual, more and more parents are looking for laptops for their child. If your child is attending school online this year, having the right equipment will make their learning experience more effective while giving you one less thing to worry about.

If you already have a great laptop for your child, you can sit back and relax. Otherwise, it’s time to go shopping for a new laptop. But what do you look for when buying a laptop for a student?

Here are some key factors to consider when looking for a student laptop.

Operating System of the Laptop

The first thing you should do is to check with your child’s school to see if they recommend a particular type of laptop or operating system. Depending on the particular school and curriculum, some schools may even offer their own specific type of laptops tailored to their classes.

The three most popular operating systems are Microsoft Windows OS, Apple Mac OS and Google Chrome OS. As there is no one operating system that is perfect for every student, it is important to choose the right one for your student.

Chromebooks are great for younger kids and teen students who can do all their work on a web browser or apps. While a Chrome OS laptop (Chromebook) has some advantages in terms of price, portability, and long battery life, it also has disadvantages. These laptops are primarily intended to be used while connected to the internet and they are unable to run many popular software that Windows or Mac OS laptops can run. You can check out this article on the differences between a Chromebook and a laptop for a more detailed comparison.

For most students, especially those in high school or college, we recommend a Windows or Mac OS laptop. Some of the more advanced classes may require the use of certain specialized software not available on Chromebooks.

Battery Life of the Laptop

It’s important for students to have a comfortable and quiet place to study and attend virtual classes. That spot may or may not have an electrical outlet nearby.

When buying a laptop for a high school or college student, long battery life is an absolute must. When shopping for a laptop, take a close look at the battery life rating. Do not take those figures as gospel however. The good news is that due to improvements in technology, you can actually get some good deals on excellent laptops with great battery life.

As mentioned above, Chromebooks typically offer long battery life and are an excellent choice for younger students. For high school or college students who need more versatility, Apple MacBooks are known for their excellent battery endurance and many of the Windows OS laptops also have excellent battery life depending on the particular brand and model.

The battery life a laptop experiences will also depend on a number of factors, including the type of programs are running, type of files being accessed, battery/power settings on the laptop, and more. There are also certain ways to extend the battery life of a laptop while running it, such as turning down the brightness of the screen or turning off certain features not being utilized such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Weight and Portability

If you are buying a laptop for a homebound elementary or high school student, the weight of the laptop may not be much of a factor.

But if you are shopping for a college student who will be lugging the laptop from class to class, weight could be a deciding factor.

Keep in mind that a lighter laptop will probably also be a smaller laptop, with a tinier keyboard and screen. A lighter weight may also mean less battery life unless you are willing to spend more for the higher end laptops that are lightweight but also have great battery life.

Students will need to weigh the pros and cons carefully to strike the right balance between weight, size, features and battery life.

Storage Capacity

Online students will need to save their work, so storage capacity is definitely a factor when buying a new laptop. The new generation of laptops come with a variety of storage configurations, from tiny built-in hard drives augmented by generous cloud storage capacity to larger hard drives with a smaller capacity for online storage.

If you have a stable and fast internet connection, storing documents in the cloud could be the best choice. If your home or outside Wi-Fi or internet is spotty, having the ability to save documents locally will be critical, so look for a generously sized hard drive as you shop.

Durability of the Laptop

The portability that makes laptops so useful also leaves them vulnerable to unexpected drops and other damage. Students can be especially hard on the equipment they use, so durability is a must no matter what kind of laptop you plan to buy.

Many consumer organizations perform drop tests on popular laptops, so you can use the results of those tests as a guide. You can also read online reviews that mention durability or drops to get an idea of how much pressure various models will be able to withstand.

You can increase the protection of your new laptop with a sturdy case. Backpacks designed for use with laptops are perfect for students – just make sure the laptop compartment is secure and properly sized.

As online and virtual classes become more common and prevalent, having a great laptop will be more important than ever for a student. If you know where to look, you can find many cheap deals on laptops with excellent features. Now that you know what to look for, you can shop for the perfect laptop that your student can use for years to come.

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