It looks like a regular school year is not on the cards, at least not in the United States. You may be struggling to get your children to set up a computer so they can connect with their teachers and classmates and do their homework. Here are the best computers for a budget.
We have divided our recommendations into three sections with one product for each popular operating system (OS). Most school systems probably do not have a specific operating system. Many rely on web tools that make cheaper Chromebooks and iPads a viable option, but a few still rely on proprietary Windows-only applications. Make sure your child̵7;s school has any preferences or necessary OS-specific programs before making a purchase.
Because students usually perform simple tasks, such as video calls, research, or typing, they do not need computers with the expensive, advanced components that many standard computers have. Chromebooks are definitely the sweet spot when it comes to functionality versus price. They offer full browser power at a much lower cost than Windows, but with much less powerful hardware. So while they may not be very helpful for streaming, they are perfect for school.
Although there is no such thing as a “budget” MacOS device, an iPad is the best option if it is the operating system you prefer. The newer iPads have impressive specifications and hardware that competes with laptops at the same price point.
In addition, they have touch screens, look good on video calls and pack impressive hardware for the price. A new update from Apple also means that they now work well with external keyboards and mice. Some school districts have even integrated iOS apps into their management systems.
For the most flexible and capable option and a backend directory with literally millions of applications, a Windows PC still cannot be beaten.
Chrome OS: HP 14-CA061DX
A Chromebook is, by and large, the best option, especially if you have a budget. Its design that is only necessary endures the exciting (and costly) hardware found in gaming computers. In addition, it starts up quickly and is easy for students and teachers to use. Chromebooks come with several handy Google apps pre-installed, including Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, to create a variety of documents. It also includes apps for video calling and music. Also Minecraft: Education is now available for Chromebooks.
We recommend the HP 14-inch Touchscreen Chromebook ($ 279). It has an Intel Celeron processor, an Intel HD 500 graphics card, 4 GB of RAM and a 32 GB eMMC flash memory. It comes with a USB-C charger, but the lithium-ion battery lasts up to 10.75 hours on a single charge, which should be enough to get your child through a school day.
The built-in camera makes it easy to work with video calls, and you get peace of mind knowing that incoming videos will look great on its 1366 x 768p HD touch screen. You can even connect additional devices, such as a mouse, via its four USB ports. Chromebook is super easy to use – just sign in with your Google account and you will be able to access all your Google Drive files and Chrome settings.
Windows: Lenovo IdeaPad 3
Windows computers have long been the standard in classrooms and homes, so of course they are also suitable for students. The familiar layout is easy to use, and the large icons and tiles in the start menu make it a small part to find your favorite apps.
Windows laptops do not have built-in productivity apps, like Chromebooks. However, you can still access options like Google Drive by logging in online or getting a Microsoft Office subscription.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 laptops are solid choices for anyone who wants a simple Windows device with an HD screen. The 14-inch model ($ 379.99) offers a 1920 x 1080p full HD screen, a 1 TB HDD, 8 GB DDR4 RAM and an impressive 2.6 GHz AMD 3rd generation Ryzen 3 processor.
The battery takes seven hours on a single charge and the three USB ports make it easy to connect peripherals, such as a mouse or an external hard drive. In addition, the forward-facing camera is shot in high-resolution 720p, so that everything will look good in a video call.
The 15-inch IdeaPad ($ 429.99) has a 1366 x 768p HD touch screen (so you lose some screen properties over the 13.5-inch model). The forward-facing camera shoots in 720p HD for great video calling. It also has 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1.2 GHz Intel 10th Generation Core i3 processor and an impressive 256 GB SSD for super-fast storage. This notebook has several USB ports for external device connection and the battery lasts up to 7.5 hours.
Apple: iPad 7th gen
Unfortunately, as we mentioned above, there is not a cheap Mac option. But if it’s your favorite operating system, you can emulate a more traditional installation. A new iPad with a practical case (instead of Apple’s more expensive option) that has a built-in keyboard, trackpad and kickstand may be the perfect option.
You can also go with a refurbished Mac Mini if you do not mind buying a used device because Apple is so good at keeping the software up to date.
We recommend the latest Apple iPad with Wi-Fi ($ 329.99) with 32 GB of storage. Although the iPad’s 10.2-inch retina display LED screen is smaller than the other two devices, it has the highest resolution (2160 x 1620p). It is not surprising that its 2.4 GHz A10 Fusion chip is also a fast enough processor
The iPad is also perfect for video calling and watching videos. The 1.2 MP front-facing camera captures video in 720p, while the rear-facing 8 MP camera captures video in 1080p full HD.
The iPad runs iPadOS and of course Siri is built-in for extra help. The battery lasts for up to 10 hours per charge, which is enough to get your child through a school day. Just like the Chromebook, the iPad comes with several handy apps that are ready to use, such as FaceTime, Calendar, Notes, Videos, iBooks and more.