It’s almost back to school time … wait, already? Where in the world did the summer go? It’s perfectly normal to be feeling a little (er, a LOT!) of stress about all the things you have to do — and buy — for the kids before the start of the new school year.
My daughter starts middle school this year, and now needs to have her own laptop, so that’s been on the brain as I figure out what hand-me-downs and test units are lying around. Of course I’m also looking at the newest and best, and weighing all the different types of laptops and tablet out there. There are so many good options for school laptops that are affordable, lightweight and full-featured… it’s just a matter of fit. If you’re in the market for recommendations, here are some of my favorite school laptops and tablets for students of all ages.
Chromebooks are Google-powered laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS (instead of Windows 10 or macOS) and store data in the cloud (instead of on the machine itself). They’re generally budget-friendly (compared to most other laptops), durable, have a long battery life and are easy to boot up and use — all of which makes them a smart option for your student. Here are some solid picks:
Acer Chromebook 11
This laptop is small, slim and lightweight, making it ideal for toting to and from school. And at around $180-$200, it’s an incredible value for the money, with tons of storage (16GB) for school files, photos and a few Netflix movies. 9 hours of battery life should keep up with you for most of the day, unless there’s a late-night study sesh in your future. Shop here.
If you’re looking for a larger screen and sleeker experience, the HP Chromebook may be a good option. It’s more expensive than the Acer, but even with the quad core Intel Celeron processor upgrade it’s still still budget-friendly, and stylish in sky blue. Shop here.
This device has all the power of a laptop and all the convenience of a touch-screen tablet, all in a handsome all-metal body. Access to millions of apps in the Google Play store, and the ability to run multiple programs, thanks to it’s Intel processor . Plus, the 360-degree rotating touchscreen and built-in digital pen for writing and drawing will impress even the most tech-savvy student. Shop here.
If you were intrigued by the hybrid-design of the Samsung, you’ll be happy to know that there’s actually a whole category of devices — 2-in-1 laptops, specifically — that serve as both a laptop and a tablet thanks to the 360-degree flip-and-fold design. It’s so nice to only have to worry about one device instead of two, especially if you’re traveling or trekking back and forth from school.
HP 2-in-1 Touch Screen Laptop
An ultra bright HD display flips to wherever suits you, transforming from a laptop to a notebook in moments. Built around a 7th Generation Intel Core i7 processor, this HP ENVY x360 convertible laptop handles memory-hungry programs easily. Lightweight, fast and powerful, this 2-in-1 also wins points for its backlit keyboard, high quality screen and excellent sound. Shop here.
Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 13″ Touch Screen Laptop
Like many 2-in-1 laptops, this one has a flash-based solid state drive (SSD) instead of a hard drive — which means faster start-up times and data access, reduced heat production and no noise. Users also like this model for its impressive color and clarity. It runs Windows 10 OS, and has a whopping 1TB of storage space. Shop here.
I know I don’t have to convince you of how versatile and flexible a tablet can be for, well, pretty much anything — and school is no exception. Just make sure you choose one with a keyboard that you can snap on or clip into so your child can type just like he or she would on a traditional laptop. These three models fit the bill.
iPad Pro 10.5″
If you’re an Apple user, you’re out of luck when it comes to 2-in-1s and Chromebooks. The iPad Pro could make you forget about both of those categories— the bright and beautiful retina screen works beautifully as a note-taking device with a sold-separately pencil, and runs a million iOS apps ready for everything from word processing to lots of fun. All-day battery life and a separate keyboard make it a workhorse that’s lightweight and portable. Shop here.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Thanks to a built-in kickstand, full-size USB port, a more comfortable keyboard and faster performance, this device is actually more similar to a traditional laptop experience than the iPad Pro. That, and it’s pen is among the most responsive and pen-like in the category. Shop here.
Samsung Galaxy Book
This tablet includes a S-Pen digital pencil (unlike the ones for Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro that are sold separately), and it never needs charging (bonus!). Switch from writing to touch to type with a keyboard that connects much like the others. The compact size is ideal for students who are constantly on the go. Shop here.
Can’t seem to part ways with your traditional laptop? Totally understandable. They’re becoming more lightweight, faster and you know they’ll always get the job done. Just be sure to get a shockproof case — these are kids after all!
Lenovo Yoga 720 13″ Touchscreen Laptop
Laptop speed and processing power. Flippable 13″ HD touchscreen. Solid state hard drive and Windows Ink pen for note-taking. To say this beauty from Lenovo has all the bells and whistles is an understatement. Plus, users are most impressed by its lack of noise and the fact that it doesn’t heat up. Shop here.
This slim model is the lightest Macbook EVER, weighing in at only 2 pounds. It’s super light and compact — and yet it has all the power you’ve come to expect from a Mac notebook. It’s blazing 1.2GHz dual-core 7th-generation Intel Core m3 processor turbo boosts up to 3.0GHz, and the all-day battery can keep up with wherever you’re headed. Shop here.
HP Spectre x 360 4K Ultra Touch Screen Laptop
It’s an HP that thinks it’s a Ferrari: Screaming fast Intel processor, 16GB of RAM, dedicated video memory, a stunning HD display and gorgeous design. That’s all geek speak to say that whether you’re using it to watch movies, create digital art or play video games, this device is best of class. Shop here.
Are you shopping for a laptop, or daydreaming about a new tablet? What are your must-have features? Let me know in the comments.