What’s the best student laptop? We asked students

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From kindergarten to college, the best laptops for students are listed below.


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Students were polled. What is the best laptop for students?

One of the best laptops for high school and college students is the Dell XPS 13.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Children of various ages have a variety of laptop use cases and requirements. As far as the options for It can be stressful to shop for a laptop, especially if you or your children will be learning online for the first time. best laptop and best ChromebookAs technology advances, so do students’ needs. As a result, I spoke with some subject experts: students.

Before making a decision, make sure to read reviews and, if possible, try out devices for yourself. My suggestions here are meant to appeal to a wide range of tastes and budgets. I’ll do my best to keep this article updated with available items. They are, however, a starting point rather than an exhaustive list: each student is unique.

Best laptop for students

The Pixelbook Go from Google has a long battery life and an easy-to-grip rippled base, making it a good choice for kids.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Best laptop for elementary school

Glogovac’s five-year-old son holds Webex meetings with his kindergarten class on an iPad. According to Michelle Glogovac, a touchscreen device is easier to use than a keyboard and touchpad for younger students. Glogovac says he’s gotten the hang of it, and he’s already learned how to mute and unmute himself, which he describes as “a skill that many adults aren’t familiar with.”

If you go the tablet route, you might want to consider investing in a keyboard case. Glogovac must type her son’s meeting codes and passwords for him, which is difficult on the iPad’s flat screen.

As a parent, it’s critical that you and your child agree on how they plan to use the device and the size of the programs they want. As children grow older, the best laptop for them will change depending on their requirements.

Bella, who uses the laptop to Zoom with friends and take virtual guitar lessons and math enrichment classes, said she needs a computer with more storage space. In the coming weeks, Wallace intends to purchase a better device for Bella. “It’s extremely slow, and there’s no room for games. Kristin Wallace bought a low-cost HP laptop for her daughter Bella, but she underestimated how quickly the nine-year-old would use up the 32GB of storage.

In addition to their online classes, Lisa Mitchell, an elementary library media specialist, says her students use their devices to watch YouTube videos. When it comes to laptops for kids, audio quality is crucial. Even for distance learners who are close to a wall outlet, battery life is a plus. Bella likes to take her laptop with her wherever she goes, and she doesn’t want to bring the cord with her.

“It’s usually worth the extra expense if a reasonably priced insurance or replacement policy is available.” According to Mitchell, durability is also worth investing in. Get a protective case for your tablet if you’re using one.

Check out:

Best Laptops 2020: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is only $289, but it can handle a lot of tabs and apps.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Best laptop for middle school

Don’t be concerned about power; instead, look for a machine that is comfortable and simple to operate for your child. The students I spoke with in middle school don’t use their laptops for much more than web-based schoolwork and browsing.

“We just got the most basic Chromebook, and it’s perfect,” Gabrielle Hartley, a teacher, says. attorney “The most basic Chromebook meets all of the requirements of a typical middle school student.” and the mother of three kids who alternate between in-person and online classes.

A user types on the Acer Chromebook Spin 713.

For students who use Google Classroom, Chromebooks, such as this one from Acer, are a good option.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Max Hartley, Hartley’s eighth-grade son, agrees. “I really want a gaming PC or gaming laptop that can plug into a monitor and run video games at 120 frames per second,” Max says, but he doesn’t need one. “Most eighth graders aren’t going to be playing video games or using software that requires a lot of processing power on their laptops.”

Caspian Fischer Odén, a ninth-grader from Sweden, told me that downloading apps from the Google Play Store is difficult on his Chromebook because his school prohibits it. They’re simple to use on his device, which he refers to as a “regular Samsung Chromebook.” If your child is entering middle school this year, check with their teachers to see which operating system is best for their workflow. Gmail, Slides, Google Docs, and Google Sheets are among the Google Classroom applications Max uses most frequently on his laptop.

Even kids with more demanding hobbies believe that a low-cost device will suffice. “For most middle schoolers, any processor developed within the last two years will be able to handle any tasks they can throw at it,” says Sam Hickman, an eighth grader from the United Kingdom who uses his laptop for photo and video editing.

So, what is Many middle school students are unfamiliar with typing for extended periods of time. Is it worthwhile to pay for? Choose a model that is between 11 and 13 inches in length, but not more than 15 inches. Several students told me that the keyboard was very comfortable. You should also look for a device that is small and portable, especially if they are preparing for in-person schooling.

Check out:

The Surface Laptop 4 15-inch seen from above.

The Surface Laptop 4 is a capable, no-frills laptop that many high school students are looking for.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Best laptop for high school

“Something a little more straightforward might be something a little simpler.” Miles Riehle, a senior at Laguna Beach High School, owns a high-end Surface Pro 7, but says it’s too much for him. “There’s a lot of other stuff I don’t use very often,” he explained. 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 serious drawbacks that could interfere with schoolwork.

Because Riehle has an Android phone and frequently uses Google services, he says he would prefer a Chromebook. The best operating system for your child may be determined by his or her previous experience. Aryan Nambiar, a Barrington High School student in Illinois, has an iMac at home and prefers to do his schoolwork on an iPad.

In-person students may be carrying their device around with them for the majority of the day, along with a stack of other books. However, almost every student I spoke with agreed that portability is the most important feature of a high school laptop. A 13- or 14-inch screen, or a lighter 15- to 17-inch model, are the best options.

“With his nails, my own brother scratched my laptop.” Aadit Agrawal, an Indian high school student, says, “Anything can happen.” Even when learning from a distance, problems can arise at home. Moses Buckwalter, a Penn Manor High School student, says, “Most high schoolers I’ve seen will throw their laptop in their bag without too much care.” Something sturdy is also recommended by students. Backpacks can also be jostled in the corridor.

Another important feature is the battery life. “Finding a place to charge while in class can be a real struggle,” says Cas Heemskerk, a sophomore from the Netherlands. Many high school students, unlike college students, do not have frequent opportunities to recharge their devices, so look for something that will last the entire day.

A touchscreen with stylus support is recommended by many students. “The touchscreen is always a bonus for drawing diagrams, whereas submitting a diagram you drew on a laptop would be a whole process,” Nambiar says. Riehle fills out school forms and annotates PDFs with a Surface Pen. Taking notes on the same screen as his online lessons is beneficial to Agrawal. Nambiar makes extensive use of the feature in his biology class, where he does a lot of visual modeling.

On smaller laptops, that’s difficult to come by, but there are plenty of inexpensive dongles and docks to consider. Because power outages can disrupt Agrawal’s online classes, he recommends an LTE model. Matej Plavevski, a junior at North Macedonia’s Yahya Kemal College, suggests looking for an Ethernet port in case slower connections cause meetings to be disrupted. You may also want a laptop with multiple connectivity options, depending on the state of broadband in your area.

Check out:

Best Laptops 2020: HP Envy x360 13

HP’s Envy x360 performs just as well as some more expensive competitors for college students looking for a low-cost laptop.
Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge

Best laptop for college

College students have a right to spend a little more money than other age groups. That means you won’t have to worry about locating and financing your next device until you’ve (hopefully) found work. For his assignments, Assad Abid, a Pakistani electrical engineering student, needs to run simulation software. Aakash Chandra, a student at India’s New Horizon College of Engineering, does a lot of coding in addition to doing creative work in Premiere Pro and Photoshop and playing video games. Students also mentioned that paying for a laptop that will last for a few years after graduation is worthwhile. Some students (especially those in STEM courses) can expect to work hard.

“It’s a blessing that I can carry my laptop and some notebooks for six hours a day without feeling like I’m carrying too much,” says Haseeb Waseem, a senior at Villanova University. However, there is still a wide range of options among high-end, capable devices. Students emphasized the importance of a light college laptop. Expect to take it with you to class, meals, meetings, the library, and other campus locations.

Best Laptops 2020: HP Envy x360 13

Students with light workloads may prefer the base model, while gamers and creatives can upgrade to a GPU-equipped model. The Dell XPS 13 is available in a number of different configurations.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Another feature that is universally praised is the battery life. Waseem, who uses an HP Spectre, says the all-day battery allows him to “study in a variety of locations, including outside.”

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. However, if you’re starting college this year, students say it’s worth looking for good ones. Even in high-end devices, speakers and webcams are frequently overlooked. This semester, Zoom will play an important role in university life: many students will take virtual classes, while others will continue to meet with clubs, study groups, and professors, as well as hang out with friends online.

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. For his creative work, Chandra’s ideal laptop would include a stylus and touchscreen, as well as a high-end GPU. Many students will need to put more effort into areas that are specific to their interests and schoolwork requirements.

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