How to Pick the Best Laptop for Homeschooling
This year, with the “new normal” we all have to think about, 43% of parents considered homeschooling their child, instead of sending them off to school.
Homeschooling has been an increasing trend for decades. You might be surprised at the high quality of education you can give your child compared to public school. But, COVID-19 is accelerating this trend as never before.
If you’re a parent schooling your child or considering it, no doubt you struggle to keep up with the myriad of educational apps and technologies for homeschooling. It’s impossible to test, search, and look at reviews for the hundreds and hundreds of devices available for education.
We’re going to show you how to thin out the herd and find the best, most juicy picks for your laptops for homeschooling.
If you’re excited to think about all the time you’ll save from these tips, keep reading!
Image Title Price Prime Buy RCA Galileo 11.5″ 32 GB Touchscreen Tablet Computer with Keyboard Case Quad-Core 1.3Ghz Processor 1GB Memory 32GB HDD Webcam Wifi Bluetooth Android 8.1 – Blue Prime Buy Now on Amazon Samsung Chromebook 3, 11.6″, 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, Chromebook (XE500C13) Prime Buy Now on Amazon Tanoshi 2-in-1 Android Computer for Kids Ages 6-12, 10.1″ HD Touchscreen Display, 32 GB, Educational, Parental Controls (Pink) Prime Buy Now on Amazon
|RCA Galileo 11.5″ 32 GB Touchscreen Tablet Computer with Keyboard Case Quad-Core 1.3Ghz Processor 1GB Memory 32GB HDD Webcam Wifi Bluetooth Android 8.1 – Blue||Prime||Buy Now on Amazon|
|Samsung Chromebook 3, 11.6″, 4GB RAM, 16GB eMMC, Chromebook (XE500C13)||Prime||Buy Now on Amazon|
|Tanoshi 2-in-1 Android Computer for Kids Ages 6-12, 10.1″ HD Touchscreen Display, 32 GB, Educational, Parental Controls (Pink)||Prime||Buy Now on Amazon|
What Does Your Child Need It For?
Homeschoolers need to stream lectures, connect to their phones, learn to handwrite, take conference calls, do things with graphics, and more. So what’re the important things to look for to satisfy those requirements?
Well, age plays a part. A kindergarten kid doesn’t necessarily need the horsepower a teen high schooler learning graphic design does. In the same vein: graphic design, journalism, and creative writing have totally different needs.
First, find out your needs. Then, we can move to this next point.
This is a point of contention for many. People love Apple and the app ecosystem it provides, including the way the macOS just works. Others love the simplicity of ChromeOS. Still others, the utility of Windows.
Which is the best? Well, it’s true that Apple does have a great app ecosystem. So good in fact that a lot of apps are not available on the other platforms. But while Macbooks are also prohibitively expensive, they can offer a good learning experience and usability for your child from middle school through high school.
Most schools go with Chromebooks, but it’s a decision mostly based on the price of the laptops and the availability of web-apps.
There are tons of schools buying up Chromebooks by the pallet-load. It must be the best pick then, right?
It’s true that there are a ton of good things about a Chromebook. This includes portability (they’re usually lighter), price (usually cheaper), and most of the features are cloud-based (which they can control).
However, you practically must have an internet connection to use it, and you can’t do much in the way of graphics on a Chromebook. Most web-based applications aren’t quite ready enough for real work in marketing, graphic design, or photography.
One last problem: Chromebooks have an “expiration date” when it will no longer receive updates. When you reach that, the browser will no longer receive updates either, which means you don’t get new security services and new features the browser supports.
In a few weeks, this will hopefully change. Google recently decided to decouple ChromeOS from Chrome.
Perfect for: young children, writing, and journalism.
Windows is the go-to solution for businesses and is the most flexible platform.
If your kid is getting ready to transition from high school to college, this is a good time to invest in a university-ready computer like a Windows-based laptop. Another bonus is that all professional applications you would find in real jobs are available on a windows machine.
Perfect for: more power-hungry electives in the media sector. University.
A good WiFi connection is a must. Despite Chromebooks needing an internet connection to do anything they often have subpar antennas or network cards.
Windows laptops generally have better antennas and network cards. Look for MU-MIMO technology, which uses multiple antennas working together to power your internet connection. You may even find this on some Chromebooks, too.
USB-C is becoming the new standard, and Thunderbolt 3™ is even overtaking that (same shaped port). Windows Laptops are more likely than Chromebooks to support this and USB 3.1.
A 2-in-1 tablet computer doesn’t tend to be very powerful. This is okay if you plan on using it to a middle school or high school child to flip through textbooks and highlight sections of text. A 2-in-1 laptop is a great tool, and very flexible indeed.
However, Chromebooks are pretty flexible too, as they can be used anywhere with an internet connection (hotspot works great) and have long battery lives.
Windows has access to all applications but tend to be heavier, hotter, more expensive machines. A mid-range windows laptop can cost two to three times more than a mid-range Chromebook.
Apple is light and powerful, for almost any task you want to throw its direction. However, it’s also super expensive. On connectivity, it scores low, since you probably need tons of adapters.
For Chromebooks, 4GB is doable for now. Perhaps when Chrome and the OS are separated there may be a struggle for RAM, necessitating a 6GB or 8GB jump.
Speaking of 8GB, it’s a good starting point for most Windows laptops as well. All but the smallest and cheapest laptops should come with at least 8GB these days. If not, it’s easy to replace RAM, even if there’s only one slot.
As far as a CPU, Chromebooks again don’t need a beast under the hood. This may change as Chrome and the OS go their separate ways, too. We’ll have to see what Google has in mind.
Windows laptops should at least have an i5. See about i7 if they’re going into a media-based program.
A dedicated GPU is necessary for pretty much any graphics application if your kid is getting into that. Also, GPUs are being used by programming applications a fair amount these days. GPUs aren’t only for games anymore.
Future-Proofing: The Best Laptops for Homeschooling
Of course, technology is changing yearly, monthly, weekly, and even daily at times. Laptops for homeschooling are hard to pin down to specific models. The biggest determining factor tends to be the OS, since hardware and software depend on that.
Once you go down that route, if it is for light use or younger kids a powerful computer might not be the most necessary route. Older kids tend to get into more techie things like programming or media, and might need that power.
Power and portability also have to be balanced, along with safety. Windows machines get hotter and weigh more.
In short: it’s impossible to be future-proof. Do your best with what’s available. There’s no “perfect” laptop, but there are good choices.
We’re confident that putting these tips in mind, you can find a good choice for your homeschooler. Do you still need help finding a laptop tailored to your needs?
Get in touch now and let us know what you’re looking for!
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