What to consider when buying a school kid’s laptop?

Different schools have different ages when a child can bring a laptop to school, Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD). Some starts in secondary school (12 – 13 yrs old), some starts in Year 5 (10 – 11 yrs old).

Limitations

The school will set out its BYOD policy (example below).
  • Form Factor: require physical keyboard attachment
  • Max screen size: 15″
  • Max weight: 2kg
Device TypeWindowsMacWindows Tablet
Operating systemWindows 7 Windows 8.1 Windows 10OS X 10.7 or newerWindows 8.1, Windows 10
WirelessYesYesYes
Min screen size11″11″10″
Min storage (SSD or HDD)64GB64GB64GB
Min RAM4GB4GB4GB
Min battery life6hrs6hrs6hrs
Device egLenovo 11e11″ MacBook AirMicrosoft Surface Pro

Key Considerations

  1. Ensure laptop is not too heavy & bulky, as child will have to take it to school in their backpacks with books, etc. Avoid the 2kg laptops and big ones ~ 34 x 24 x 2.37 cm.
  2. Ensure the screen is not too small to avoid straining a child’s eyes. Avoid the 11″ displays
  3. Ensure the laptop is performant, not too slow where child spends ages waiting for computer to respond. For budget laptops ~ $350, may have to consider eMMC (cheap flash drives like SSD, but not SSD) for better performance compared to spinning hard drives (HDD).

Recommendation

  1. Personally, I’d prefer a laptop so kids can learn to touch type. Though possible to get a tablet with attachment keyboard
  2. Get a light & compact device, aiming more towards ~ 1.2kg, 31.7 x 21.5 x 1.82 cm (if laptop)
  3. Get a larger display, aiming more towards 13.3″. Bonus if you can find a FHD resolution (eg 1920×1080) compared to standard HD (1366×768). Can’t get too large, as max size could be 15″
  4. Get a performant computer. Best to check before you buy that typical 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC performs ok
  5. Get a soft protective case to protect the laptop

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