Back to school shopping season is upon us, and alongside general school supplies, book bags, and more, there’s one product that stands out above the rest: what kind of laptop should you buy for your child?
The answer can be quite complex. The first step is to consider what type of laptop best suits your child’s needs. To give a simple solution to this potentially complicated problem, I can tell you that investing in the best Chromebook for your child’s school level would be the perfect option from both a parent’s and a child’s point of view.
First, Chromebooks are perfect for those who aren’t sure what to look for in a laptop. When it comes to a Windows laptop, whether it’s a 2-in-1 or an ultrabook, there’s an incredible amount of options to consider due to the vast differences in CPU, GPU, RAM, and storage configurations , whether it’s for a creative use, or gaming, etc. However, Chromebooks tend to be fairly uniform in their specs, meaning there’s a lot less consideration from parents.
Another important reason is that unlike Windows and even Apple devices, Chromebooks are inherently incredibly secure devices despite being regularly connected to the internet. So regardless of age, there is very little risk of a Chromebook being compromised by a single wrong click.
But how do you decide which Chromebook is right for your kid? We’ve covered plenty of Chromebooks over the years, so we’re here to break down which type is best for which level of education, to make the choice as easy as possible.
Middle school/elementary school and younger
Since this is the youngest category of kids and kids aren’t particularly known for tending to delicate electronics, buying the best student Chromebook that’s decently rugged and basic in specs is a top priority.
In that case, buy something along the lines of an 11.6-inch Chromebook with limited memory and storage, like 4GB RAM and 32GB eMMC storage. The specs are more than sufficient to handle school programs and interact with their teachers via voice and video chats.
There’s also the added benefit of low RAM and storage, which doesn’t leave much room for games, apps, and other distractions, while still being able to handle Google web apps like Google Docs hosted via cloud storage. The latter is especially helpful for children to do homework and share with each other.
Touchscreens are a feature that can be hit or miss when choosing a Chromebook. While the screen makes it easier for a child to interact with websites and other learning aids, many school lessons don’t require a touchscreen to remain accessible to other non-touchscreen kids, so you can skip the touchscreen and save some money here.
junior high school or high school
Once your kid hits high school, their Chromebook needs to come with more freedom for web research, cloud storage, and even running mid-range Android apps. At this point, you have a lot less control over your child’s Chromebook usage, so you might as well make sure they have all the tools they need to be successful in and out of school.
The most important feature of any high schooler’s Chromebook is its battery life. High school kids spend most of their day outside the home, and often there are few outlets, which means a Chromebook with long battery life is worth its weight in gold. Luckily, long battery life is a hallmark of most Chromebooks, with some even surpassing the 12-hour mark. If you’re looking for specs, then at most 8GB RAM and a 64GB SSD, the latter of which offers better performance and larger storage capacity, and at most an Intel Core i3 CPU for faster processing speeds.
After all, this is a tumultuous time for your child, with their peers watching their every move, waiting to pounce on a faux pas. So make sure the Chromebook you buy looks good. Don’t embarrass the poor kid.
university and beyond
College is the time your kid will get a fully featured Chromebook as they need a laptop with plenty of room for apps and other documents. Get one with beefier specs, including at least 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, and at least an Intel Core i3 or an AMD Ryzen 3 processor.
It may be tempting to brag about something like that HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, you don’t have to spend as much money as there are many other options that are much cheaper. Regardless, you should still expect to spend more than you’re used to if you’ve bought cheap Chromebooks for your kid over the past few years. The benefit is well worth it though, and something like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 strikes a good balance of performance and price.
A solid Chromebook can run pretty much any Android app or Google-based application and is an excellent machine for jotting down notes or doing research, while remaining incredibly light and thin for easy portability.
And some of the premium options come with a Core i5 or even a Core i7 CPU, which is more than enough to carry your child through a full four-year university course.