If your kid needs more grunt than a Chromebook, tap into the versatility of a PC built to travel.
Laptops have long been a constant for mobile computing. But they’ve had to evolve in recent years because of stiff competition from portable (usually cheaper) Chromebooks and sometimes similarly priced tablets. Generally speaking, you can expect laptops to boast plenty of storage, speedy CPUs to run more demanding software, and enough RAM to let you effortlessly multitask.
Compared to Chromebooks and tablets, laptops are also where screen sizes start to get bigger. You can stretch as far as 17-inch screens, but hanging around the 13-inch to 15-inch mark is a great midpoint between portability, price and plenty of screen real estate to see what’s going on. It also helps that there’s a trend towards minimalist screen bezels, which means bigger screens in smaller chassis.
Screen resolution is an important consideration alongside screen size, too: the higher the resolution, the easier it is on your pupil’s pupils. Just be sure to get your kid to tweak default icon sizes and zoom levels in display settings if things are looking a wee bit too small on high-res screens. Another key consideration is screen brightness, which makes everything easier to see, as well as detail clearer in darker areas, but bear in mind that the brighter you make the screen, the more it drains the battery.
Despite boasting the latest Intel CPUs, this trio of laptop choices are still reasonably priced. For starters, the HP Pavilion 13-BB023TU has an Intel Core i3 CPU that offers a good mix of speed and battery life, built atop a Full HD (1920×1080) 13.3-inch BrightView screen, which is aurally matched with Bang & Olufsen dual speakers. The 256GB SSD is a healthy amount of internal storage for a faithful study companion, while the 8GB of RAM allows for straightforward software switching.
While the Full HD resolution and RAM count are the same, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 is a mid-range upgrade for a few hundred dollars more. It has a slightly bigger 14-inch anti-glare backlit LED screen and noticeably beefier innards: double the storage space with a 512GB SSD and a speedier Intel Core i7 CPU.
To make things even easier on your student’s eyes, consider the Lenovo Yoga S7 Carbon 13-00G. The 13.3-inch screen boasts a Quad HD (2560×1600) resolution that makes long study sessions easier to manage. There’s a good balance of power, too, with an Intel Core i5 for a mix of speed and battery life, alongside a dependable 256GB of internal storage.
Thankfully, laptops don’t have to cross the $1,000 threshold, as these affordable options prove. The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 1 is a Windows-based laptop in a Chromebook-sized body.
There’s 64GB of internal storage to handle the basics alongside 4GB of RAM. And it’s built with ultimate portability in mind, with an 11.6-inch tablet-sized HD (1366×768) display, alongside the connectivity perks you’d hope for: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB, and even an HDMI port for an external screen.
Nestled between the Slim 1 and Spin 1 is a laptop option that’s sure to impress any budding Minecraft-obsessed student: the Minecraft 14-inch 402 HD.
This Minecraft-branded looks the part with a green design, Minecraft stickers, and a copy of the game. And it has respectable innards, too. There’s a 14-inch HD (1366×736) screen, an Intel quad-core CPU, 64GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM. The crafty cherry on top is a 12-month subscription to Microsoft 365, which offers a great suite of productivity tools.
Alternatively, have a gander at the similarly sized and specced Acer Spin 1 SP111-33-C3YD. Like the Lenovo IdeaPad, the Acer Spin 1 has 64GB of internal storage and 4GB of RAM as well as a bright and colourful 11.6-inch HD display. As a 2-in-1, you can rotate the screen around for a keyboard-less view of the touchscreen, too.
Climb above the $500 budget and Lenovo returns with the tidy Ideapad S145. This 14-inch HD laptop is built for a mix of performance and longevity, with 128GB of SSD storage and 4GB of RAM. It’s also built with portability in mind, and the Intel Core i3 dual-core CPU is great for entry-level computing.
The HP-15EQ1048AU is also worth a look, especially for those after a bigger screen. This HP laptop has a 15.6-inch HD BrightView display, with 25GB of SSD storage and 8GB of RAM. At around 1.6kg, it’s still portable despite the larger screen size, and you can take it from dead to 50 percent battery in just 45 minutes.