The prospect of buying a laptop for your child (or children) is probably as terrifying as the idea of kitting them out with a smartphone. Not only are you looking at a sizable financial outlay, but there are naturally concerns about parental controls, online safety, cyberbullying and the worry that this shiny piece of kit will likely be used more for entertainment than schoolwork.
The fact that many UK schools now consider them an essential classroom requirement adds a dollop of stress to the whole purchase endeavour – especially since some schools require kids to have their own laptops. That having been said, there are some very suitable options available and here’s the catch – you don’t even have to plump for a brand new, just-off-the-assembly-line laptop. There are older models that are completely fit for purpose here.
So let us take some of the stress out of your purchase dilemma by presenting five of the best kid-friendly laptops available. Please note, though, these are aimed at kids in elementary to middle school and aren’t really appropriate for toddlers.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 may is probably one of the best student laptops one can buy, purely from a design perspective. Its type-cover keyboard is arguably one of the best around, its multi-functional pen is perfect for art students and designers and its 12.3-inch screen offers a fantastic resolution. Despite its slim design, it also outperforms pretty much every other hybrid in its field. Toss in the fact that it only weighs about 1.3kgs and you can be sure this won’t be a chore to lug around school halls.
What stops it from being the go-to student laptop are its price and battery life; the former, as one can see below, is a little on the expensive side and the latter clocks in at around seven hours or so (enough to get through a school day, though). That having been said, this is a solid laptop that can carry students through school and into their university years – so look at it as an investment.
Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA
The Asus Transformer Book Flip TP200SA is another laptop/tablet hybrid option, but this one is a fair deal cheaper. It may not have the visual fidelity or processing power to match the Surface Pro 4, but there’s still a lot to like about this laptop.
First up, users can flip its keyboard right around the back for use as a tablet. Second, its battery life is a little more impressive, clocking in at around nine hours or so. Third, for such a small machine, the TP200SA packs in quite a few ports, including a standard USB 3.0, USB 3.1, micro HDMI, microSD card reader, USB2.0 and a headphone jack. In spite of being smaller in size, its keyboard is comfortable to use and at 1.2kgs it won’t weigh anyone down.
Dell Inspiron 15 5570
It may be a little heavier than some of the laptops on this list (about 2kgs) but the Dell Inspiron 15 5570 is perfect for the needs of school kids and students alike. Boasting fantastic connectivity, a very decent and responsive touchpad and a keyboard that’s pleasant to use, it also delivers excellent sound quality and HD visuals.
Under the hood, it offers 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage, ensuring speed and space for schoolwork. It’s also much cheaper than a lot of the offerings on this list. Really, given Dell’s pedigree, you could pick many machines from its 15 range, but for ease of use and value for money, we’ll go with the 5570.
Lenovo Yoga 900S
Small, sleek and elegantly designed, the Lenovo Yoga 9000S is a 12.5-inch laptop with a fantastic display. Thanks to its watchband hinge design this can also double as a tablet. It boasts strong specs for the price, meaning that running memory-sucking apps won’t result in frustrating slow-down.
Its touchpad is a little on the small side, but its keyboard is comfortable enough to use. It also offers a decent selection of ports and even though it’s incredibly thin, it offers around eight or so hours of battery life.
Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch
If you’re an Apple fanatic, you may want to start your kid off early and for student use the MacBook Pro ticks a lot of boxes. It’s slim, lightweight, superbly crafted and packs a lot of power under the hood. Furthermore, the customisable Touch Bar is more useful than you’d think and the giant-sized mousepad is an improvement too. On top of that, battery life is excellent.
Of course, the main sticking point with this machine is its price (an eye-watering £1499.99). That having been said, a 2016 MacBook Pro would work just as well for schoolwork needs, so you could always plump for an earlier model (or just give your kid a hand-me-down and get this for yourself).