Choosing a laptop for Secondary School students
School has certainly changed over the last few years. Textbooks are being replaced with online resources while exercise books are slowly being replaced by laptops and tablets. While some primary schools may require your child to use some sort of tablet device in middle to senior grades, by the time secondary college comes around, the majority of schools have a requirement that every student supplies their own laptop. Which model should you buy? Should you go with Windows or Mac (https://www.briter.biz/mac-vs-windows/)? Here is a guide to help you select the best device for your child to use for Secondary College.
Always check your school’s BYOD policy before purchasing anything
BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. While your school will likely require you to supply a laptop, each school is different in what device they expect you to bring. Some schools will be more relaxed and will allow any device to be used at school. Others may require that you have to purchase a particular model which has the School’s own software and image pre-installed. Some Schools do not allow Macs while others won’t allow devices that are tablets with a keyboard such as a surface or iPad. All of this information can usually be found in your school’s information pack or on the school’s website. If you are unsure, ALWAYS talk to the school first. A laptop is a costly investment. You don’t want to spend all that money only to find out that you have a device you paid for that the school cannot support and won’t allow your child to use at school.
Where possible, purchase through the School’s BYOD Portal
A lot of schools that allow you to choose which device you want to use will have an agreement set up with a preferred supplier. It means they may recommend a certain model be purchased by their preferred supplier who in return offers a discount. One of the benefits of this is they usually have a warranty agreement with the school as well. This means that if anything happens to the device and it needs to be repaired, the school can often organise this for you and it is done onsite. If you provide your own device that you have chosen, it is usually then up to you to take care of any repairs needed. This can usually be done by contacting the support number that is on the back of the laptop, or contacting the point of purchase. They may direct you to take it to the nearest service centre for repair – if it is still under the warranty period which brings us to the next point.
Always buy the extended warranty.
While you may feel a couple of extra hundred dollars isn’t needed for an extended warranty, most manufacturer warranties will only cover a fault with the device for 1-2 years. For example, if you have a Hard Drive failure or the keyboard stops working and it is out of the warranty period, you will have to pay to have this repaired. In some cases, the cost of parts and labor are so high, that you are better off just buying a new laptop. The extended warranty period is money well spent and, more often than not, people end up having to use it at some point. Of course, while general faults with the machine are covered under the warranty, wear and tear or accidental damage is not.
Take out accidental insurance cover
It is inevitable at some point that your child will drop or damage their laptop, especially in a school environment. While some damage can be minor, in other instances it can render the device unusable. From a smashed screen to the device literally falling apart, in some cases you may have to replace the entire unit. Some warranties allow you to take an accidental insurance policy which allow you to get things like a broken screen replaced for a small excess.
Invest in a good quality laptop bag to protect your device. Everki is a great brand and one of the leaders in the laptop bag market. We love the Glide backpack as it can double as a laptop bag and school bag that can be worn while riding a bike of having to commute on public transport.
Laptop Backpack, fits up to 17.3-InchWith its slim profile, durable materials and quality construction, reflective strips for safety and the added security of integrated laptop corner guards, the Glide is the perfect compact backpack for the daily commuter.
What to avoid
There are some devices such as Notebook PCs that only have 32gb of storage. After the Operating System (OS) is installed, you don’t really have enough room to install programs or save your work without some sort of external storage device. Where possible, you want a device that has at least 256 GB of storage. The more storage the better.
Chromebooks are quite popular and are often sold for a really competitive price. Instead of running a Windows operating system, it runs an Android based OS and works using Apps. While some primary school’s use these devices for their school programs, many Secondary schools are unable to support Chromebooks, so please check with your school first.
Here are some devices that schools typically recommend
- 1.1GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 processor with Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
- 256GB storage
- Touch ID
- • Retina display with True Tone
- • 1.1GHz dual-core 10th-generation Intel Core i3 processor
- • Turbo Boost up to 3.2GHz
- • Intel Iris Plus Graphics
- • 8GB of 3733MHz LPDDR4X memory
- • 256GB of SSD storage¹
- • Magic Keyboard
- • Touch ID
- • Force Touch trackpad
- • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
LENOVO THINKPAD E490
- 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U (4C, 1.6 / 3.9GHz, 6MB)
- 14″ FHD (1920×1080) IPS 250nits Anti-glare
- 8GB SO-DIMM DDR4-2400
- 256GB SSD M.2 2242 PCIe NVMe
- 65W USB-C
- Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
- 720p Camera
- Touch Style Fingerprint Reader
ACER TRAVELMATE SPIN B3
• Model: Acer B311
- Windows 10 Pro Education
- Intel® Celeron® N4120 processor Quad-core 1.10 GHz
- Intel® UHD Graphics 600 shared memory
- 11.6″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) 16:9 IPS Touchscreen
- 4 GB, DDR4 SDRAM
- 128 GB Flash Memory (We recommend either upgrading to 256GB or investing in an external HDD for extra space)
The change from primary school to Secondary college is an exciting and scary time. Some students adapt to the change well, while others may take some time to get used to a new way of doing things. One of the struggles students tend to face is the reliance on being expected to operate a laptop independently. While they will be shown things like how to connect to the School network etc, they will be expected to be able to navigate their laptop, print documents and complete work with software such as Microsoft Word. While students may have learnt some of these basics during primary school, it is beneficial to try and familiarise your child with the basic functions of a laptop or desktop computer. Even if you are a Mac based family, it is good to teach them how to navigate a Windows environment as they will likely have to do so at some point during their time at school and even after school in the general workforce.
In the end, if you are unsure what to buy, speak to your school’s IT department. They would rather you contact them and ask the question as opposed to bringing a device to School that they cannot support. Always keep your receipt and encourage your children to seek help from the IT department if they have any issues or questions. They are always happy to help!