Whether you’re shopping for a gift for a student or back-to-school supplies, a laptop and/or tablet has become a standard item on the list. High school, college and university studies now require this pricey item. Choose wisely and the laptop could last through all of your school years. Select a versatile 2-in-1 hybrid and you’ll get more bang for your buck, with both a laptop and a tablet in one (see our recommendations from Dell below).
7 Tips for Choosing a Lasting Laptop on a Budget
While there may be specific requirements for some diplomas, following are the general requirements and features for school laptops. If you’re also in need of a tablet, consider one of the new hybrid 2-in-1 models to save money and backpack space.
- Mac or PC? A Windows laptop is usually the best choice, primarily for software compatibility.
- Broad functionality is very important for most students. You’ll want to use it for school and at home for a wide variety of activities.
- You’re going to be lugging this thing around A LOT. A big screen may be nice, but keeping the weight down with a smaller option is something you’ll thank yourself for. Look for 11″-14″ screen, a full-size keyboard and a thin design to keep it both light and functional. Measure your backpack or messenger bag to make sure your new laptop will fit.
- Performance is important. You don’t want to spend time waiting, especially during class. That said, you have to strike a balance between a fast processor and battery power consumption.
- Storage will be more critical to students if they need to install large programs and games or use large files such as videos. Otherwise, you can use an external hard drive or ‘the cloud’ for storage while enjoying faster performance and a lower price tag.
- Battery life is one of the top considerations for students. Trying to charge up your laptop between classes or waiting for hours when you get home just isn’t practical. Having the option of using multiple batteries can be a lifesaver.
- Accessories, peripherals and ports are probably the most often overlooked consideration when students shop for laptops, and they quickly regret it. For home use, you may want to have a printer, a larger monitor or full-size keyboard available. Peripherals need ports, so make sure you purchase a laptop or hybrid with a sufficient number. Accessories may include a laptop bag or USB mouse.
Making a list to take shopping with you is a good idea. You can also prioritize what you want before you go, so you can make quick decisions if you have to give up or trade a feature to keep the price down. I prefer to shop online for tech products because the specs and features are all laid out for me for easy comparison.
The Best 2-in-1 Laptops for Students
Dell is a respected, reliable brand that can easily last for years. The 2-in-1 models provide the performance of a laptop and versatility of a tablet. The following recommendations take both budget and functionality into consideration.
The Dell Inspiron 11 delivers on both necessary features and price. It’s compact, lightweight, and with onboard storage up to 500GB, you can keep your large files without sacrificing speed or performance.
Dell is big on rigorous testing and the Inspiron 11 was no exception. They tested commonly used keys for 10 million keystrokes and touch pad buttons 1 million times with no failure. Power and multimedia buttons all survived 40,000 pushes with no problems. They twisted the laptop’s base and lid more than 25,000 times to ensure the parts inside are well protected. Plus, it is proven to handle high temperatures.
Current prices start at just $349.99 Canadian!
If you need more power and functionality, the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 offers all of the above, plus a larger screen, bigger and better hard drive (up to 1TB, 5400 rpm), a higher-performing processor and graphics card. The current price is only about $80 more, at $429.99.
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is available for the student who needs more, including the highest resolution, borderless displays, speed, powerful features, and exceptional build quality.
This award-winning, lightweight hybrid is perfect for students on the go, even if you need to view the screen outside or type in low-light rooms. It’s built with machined aluminum, carbon fiber, bonded Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4, and steel hinges wrapped in machined aluminum for stronger construction. The display that is up to 10 times more scratch resistant than soda lime glass.
The XPS 2-in-1 is built with a premium 360-degree hinge for four flexible positions (tablet, tent, laptop and stand). The cool, quiet operation is perfect for class or in the library. The optional Dell Hybrid Adapter + Power Bank will give you extra runtime with 11 additional hours of productivity.
This 2-in-1 offers truly amazing performance and responsiveness at lower power, with Intel® Core™ i5 and i7 processors. Dell’s Dynamic Power Mode delivers extra processing power in short bursts when you need it. Enjoy a fast, password-free sign-in with either the fingerprint reader or innovative infrared camera. It boots up and resumes in seconds so you can quickly get to work.
Windows Ink naturally captures notes with no need to be logged in. You can pair inking with Office to effortlessly make edits or create content. The precision touch pad prevents jumping and floating cursors, while Accidental Activation Prevention puts a stop to unintentional clicks when your palm hits the touch pad. A backlit keyboard illuminates your keys so you can stay productive in low-light rooms.
The XPS has 2 USB Type C ports for smart charging and display functionality and one-cable docking option that won’t take up valuable desk space. Thunderbolt 3™ is enabled for one port for 8x faster downloads. A USB-C to USB-A adapter is included.
Current prices start at $1399.99 Canadian.
??? Do you have recommendations or tips for students who are searching for the best 2-in-1 hybrid laptop? Please share in the comments below.
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