It wasn’t that long ago that buying a teenager his or her own laptop might’ve felt like a wildly extravagant and unnecessary investment. Even if you found an affordable option, that same high schooler who leaves food on counter, the front door wide open, and the toilet seat up will likely forget that pricey piece of tech in a public location. But then 2020 happened, and the coronavirus pandemic shuttered schools nationwide, making remote learning a necessity rather than a fanciful option. For the foreseeable future (likely into late 2021), the best laptops for high school students as essential as the teachers themselves. The good news for those new at remote schooling is that while computing power has climbed to incredible heights, computing price itself has dropped dramatically. What’s the best laptop for students? While we’ve tailored our list to every interest your child may have, there are still a number of overarching principles.
What to Look for in Laptops for High Schoolers:
- Price: Student laptops will most likely take a beating, because kids aren’t the most responsible of humans; there’s no reason to buy the splashiest laptop you see.
- Tech: Make sure it can smoothly run HD video lectures, and has a solid set of speakers. A great laptop should also have an integrated webcam because students aren’t tied down to physical classrooms or in-person study groups anymore.
- Performance: Battery life matters. A fully charged laptop should last an entire school day. And pay attention to the weight. Kids will be lugging these laptops around, and backpacks get heavy. Fast.
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The Best Laptops for High School Students
If your kid is already back to in-person learning and doesn't need a massive screen, you can save some money on this affordably priced option by Lenovo. It only has an 11-inch screen (most laptops are 13 inches or more), but it does have a camera, a trackpad, and Bluetooth for accessories. In short, it's got everything your son or daughter will need to learn, and little to incentivize them getting into trouble.
Trust us, we understand that funds are tight in 2020 and there are a host of new expenses. That's why we love this basic and affordable laptop by HP. While it only has a mere 32 gigs of onboard storage, if your child is primarily streaming lessons, word-processing, and downloading worksheets, it's unlikely he or she will fill it up. An 11.6-inch screen is plenty big enough for homework and video, while a 13-hour battery has longevity for taking it on the road.
It's not cheap, but for our money, the MacBook Air is the leanest, meanest laptop you can buy. It has a 13-inch display, 256GB of storage, four USB-C ports, and two thunderbolt 3 ports. It weighs less than 3 pounds and has up to 18 hours of battery life. Because this is the latest model, you get the high-res retina display and touch ID.
This hybrid is the perfect blend of tablet and laptop. It weighs just over one pound, which is a win. It has a sizable 10.5 inch touchscreen. The battery lasts 10 hours, and it's basically the perfect machine for emailing, note-taking, and homework. It has built-in WiFi, although the model with LTE is extra, as well full HD front- and rear-facing cameras.
The biggest selling point of the Chromebook is that it runs on chrome OS, a Google operating system, meaning that it seamlessly works with Google Classroom and other apps students will be using. It has an 11.6 inch display, 32GB eMMC, Google Chrome, and Up to 10 hours battery life. It's all hella fast, with a 2.8 GHz CPU. And it's Blueooth-enabled.
You get four devices in one: It goes from laptop mode to tablet, stand or tent mode for notetaking, drawing, and writing. The laptop has a built-in WiFi 6 connection, as well as a wide HD webcam for Zoom meetings and calls. The display is 14-inch HD; it has an ultra-fast processor; and it boots up in seconds. You get up to nine hours of battery life. When in tent mode, you can pinch, zoom, and touch to customize photos and layouts. Plus it's Alexa-enabled.
Acer makes a damn good—and affordable—product with a host of features found on more expensive models. The Aspire 5 features a 15.6-inch display (a size second only to the MacBook Pro) with the only slightly outdated 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor, making it great for lighter (and slightly slower) processing, including photos. A decent tuned speaker system, called TrueHarmony, pumps out study tune and YouTube vids alike. The 9.5-hour battery life is no slouch, either.
If your kid prefers doing her algebra outdoors, she'll dig this laptop: It has a gorgeous anti-reflective screen combined with superior 500-nit brightness, suitable for any lighting or environment. It's also a beast of a laptop, cut from a single block of aluminum and outfitted with darn-near bulletproof Corning Gorilla Glass. It has a 13.4-inch screen, beautiful surround sound, and at 2.93 pounds, is a decent weight to carry around.
Look, we wince at the price, too. But if your late high school kid is a creator -- and is serious about creating -- this is the machine he or she can use now and later in college. Equipped with the all-new M1 chip, he or she essentially has the computing power of a desktop in his or her backpack. Lightning fast, it renders photo, video, and music faster than ever before, and it works with all the industry-standard programs he or she will need to produce professional-quality products. Pony up.
The name says it all: This laptop is prepared to go to hell and back with your child. Built to military specs for drop- and water-resistance, it handles a beating with aplomb. We could go on about its specs, including a 14-inch HD display, Intel Core i5 Processor, 2.5GHz Dual-Core CPU, and robust graphics. But what good is all that if it breaks after a tumble from a school bus? This one won't.
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