School administrators in charge of procuring laptops for education face challenges trying to find the ideal type of laptop. While tablets at first glance seem to be great choices due to their portability, they tend to be most appropriate for younger students. Students grade 3 and above benefit from a physical keyboard that allows them to tackle production-minded tasks and hone important keyboarding skills. Common Core standards in many places demand a 1:1 student to computer ratio for online test taking, as well as a demonstrated level of technical aptitude, which is why laptops for education are becoming popular learning devices for many school districts.
Many school districts in the U.S. have turned to low-cost laptop solutions, namely Chromebooks, which we have seen rise to market dominance in laptops for education over the past two years.
Chromebooks are great tools for educators but they do have limitations—especially if a school is not 100 percent in the cloud, or if users need to access data and applications available on legacy systems. In fact, deploying Chromebooks may increase complexity in schools that have a legacy Windows Server environment.
If this sounds familiar, exploring Windows machines might be the smartest choice in regards to laptops for education. Here is the value proposition in a nutshell:
- Cost – Windows machines vary greatly in pricing, but many models cost less than $400. That is a price point that makes them nearly comparable to ChromeOS devices.
- Fulfills Common Core requirements – Students need to be computer literate as a part of Common Core and Windows computers provide them an opportunity to learn. In addition, built-in 802.11 hardware allows students to take their Common Core testing from virtually anywhere they can get Internet access.
- Fits into existing IT infrastructure – A large number of schools have a Windows IT infrastructure, which works best when used with Windows client machines. Generally, using Windows laptops allows for a more easily administered environment.
Here are four Windows laptops for education with plenty of hardware power at a price point of under $400.
Processor Intel Pentium N3530 2.16GHz
RAM: 4 GB
Storage: 500 GB
Despite being a budget-minded laptop, the G50 in this trim features a quad-core processor and better-than-expected hardware specifications. The resolution is a bit low at 1366 × 768, so 1080p will get downscaled. Users report it is a good starter laptop. You may notice complaints of bloatware coming pre-installed, but this should not be an issue since it is common practice for IT to wipe laptops before issuing to students.
Processor: Intel Core i3 4010U 1.7GHz
RAM: 4 GB
Storage: 500 GB HDD
This packs a current generation Broadwell processor along with a sizable hard drive and enough memory to multi-task using Microsoft Office applications. It comes with VGA and HDMI ports for second monitor output and the latest 802.11ac wireless standard for networking, which comes in handy for meeting Common Core test taking requirements. User reviews indicate the Aspire performs very well for a budget-minded laptop.
Processor: Intel Core i3 4030U 1.90GHz
RAM: 4 GB
Storage: 500 GB
A Haswell laptop, this Inspiron 15 features a no-frills utilitarian design. User reviews are somewhat split when it comes to the feel of the build, but all can agree it comes with ample computing power for the price tag.
Processor: Intel Atom Z3775 1.46GHz
RAM: 2 GB
Storage: 64 GB
This laptop features a touchscreen and convertible tablet form factor. The touchscreen in particular comes in handy for students and faculty that utilize Microsoft OneNote for class notes and note taking. The Transformer Book T100 features 2 GB of memory and a 64 GB SSD for quick loading. Since it has limited disk storage, it is most appropriate in predominantly cloud-based learning environments.
Let us know in the comments: which criteria are most important for selecting laptops for education?