best Chromebooks and Windows laptops

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Screen size and quality: Your child is likely to spend a lot of time staring at the screen, so we advise you to aim for Full HD quality (1920 x 1080 pixels), which gives a very clear image and will be perfect for work and play. Some of the models on our list have a slightly lower resolution, but these are generally smaller screens that won’t suffer too much from a pixel drop – and are generally a bit more affordable. We think screens between 11 and 14 inches strike a good balance between usability and portability for a school laptop, but you can go up to 15 inches and more if you want more space (just be aware that it can be more difficult to carry in a backpack).

Parental control: There is a lot of content on the Internet that is not intended for children, so it is very important to set clear rules on how and when your child can use their laptop, while taking full advantage of the parental controls offered. You will typically set up an account for your child and then limit what they have access to on the device or filter adult websites from search results, set screen time limits, prevent them from purchasing apps or browse privately, and set up activity reports to see what your child is doing on the computer. Here are the controls for Windows, ChromeOS, and Mac.

Portability: Will your child be carrying the laptop between your home and school? You want to make sure it’s not too big and not too heavy. The lightest options are 2-in-1s and Chromebooks, especially models like the Surface Go 3 and Lenovo IdeaPad Duet which have detachable keyboards and can also be used as tablets. These typically weigh less than 1kg (about a standard bag of granulated sugar), but larger full-featured laptops often reach between 2.5lbs and 3lbs. The heaviest on our list weighs 1.75kg – about the same as a steam iron – but it has a much larger 15.6-inch screen. It’s about as big and heavy as we’d recommend lugging it outside.

Price: How much you want to spend on the laptop is a personal choice, but we advise sticking to a lower budget when buying a device for kids. Only one of the models on our list costs over £400 to buy (the Surface Go 3 due to the keyboard add-on), and we’ve included plenty of options for under £300 if your budget is tighter.

Manufacturing quality: If you’re buying a device for a child, there’s a good chance it’ll break, tip over, or drop unexpectedly. That means we didn’t recommend any high-end models on our list (but we love the Apple Macbook Air M2 and the Dell XPS 13 if you feel like spending big) and stuck with Windows and ChromeOS. Young children are best suited to a cheaper laptop with added protection, like the Asus C202 on our list, which has a rubber casing and spill-resistant keyboard.

Operating system: Here is an overview of your options: Windows 11 from Microsoft is a “traditional” PC experience that gives you plenty of customization settings and allows you to download software from anywhere on the Internet. Windows S Mode is a more limited version that locks down downloads from the Microsoft Store. from google Chromium OS powers Chromebooks – they’re fast, efficient, and often affordable because they’re built around Google’s cloud services (Docs, Sheets, Gmail, etc.) that you access through a Google Account. Chromebooks, which only let you download from the Play Store, are easy to use and lightweight – and generally our favorite option for young children.

Battery life: You’ll want a battery that will last a full day of use without needing to be recharged. Aim for 10 hours, as this will take over the whole school day, but how long it’s still depends a lot on laptop usage. All of the models on our list have decent batteries, although the HP Pavilion 15 has a little less juice due to its large 15-inch screen size and full Windows operating system. Models that consume less power, such as the HP Chromebook, can last over 15 hours.

Storage: Laptops come with built-in storage that lets you save and keep files, photos, and documents on the device, which is great if your child has to save a lot of projects or essays on the go. home. The models on our list range from 32 GB to 128 GB – the larger the number of GB or gigabytes, the more space there is on the laptop. For comparison, 32GB stores around 7,000 digital photos and 128GB stores around 30,000, but remember that apps, downloads and programs also take up space, so aim for 64GB of storage if possible. ChromeOS is perfect for school because most of its apps are cloud-based, so your child’s work is saved in real time and linked to their Google account – and it’s accessible as long as there’s a connection. WIFI connection. If you need more space, you can purchase a portable hard drive.

Connectivity: The laptop has everything your child needs to start school, but if they need to add extra gadgets like a Bluetooth mouse, full-size keyboard, or a pair of wired headphones or headphones wireless, consider available ports. Most laptops have a few USB ports (although hybrid tablets may be limited to one!) so you can plug in a phone to charge or add a set of external speakers. Some models have an HDMI port so you can connect monitors, projectors, or displays, and others have a specific port for an additional microSD storage card. For video calls, you will often have a webcam and microphone built into the device. Not all laptops have them, but connecting wired headphones usually requires a 3.5mm jack.

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