TECH BYTE: Choosing the Right Laptop for School

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — School will look a lot different this year, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Whether your child is back in the classroom, or doing all their schoolwork online, they’re going to need the right devices to be successful.

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Having a computer or tablet is a must right now in this COVID-19 era when it comes to online learning.

It’s important to check with your child’s school first to see what they need to get.

“Starting with the operating system. Making sure that we’ve got the right specs, and everything that the school requires,” said Nathan Roach, Best Buy. “A lot of schools are moving to inexpensive options – like a Chromebook – so making sure that you’re not having to spend more money than you need to, and you get the things that your student will need.”

You also need to look at the computer’s memory and processor.

“How much storage that child may need on the computer, and all those things impact programs kids are using nowadays, whether it be Microsoft Office, whether it be Zoom, whether it be Microsoft Teams,” Roach said. “It puts them in the best position to where they’re not lagging behind, and the computer’s not lagging behind.”

And of course the type of laptop they get depends on the classes they’re taking.

Roach says most younger students get Chromebooks. College students may want a more high-end computer.

Screen size is also important, especially if they’re staring at a computer all day. It can make their eyes tired.

“A lot of times having a bigger screen, it allows you to see more on the screen, but it helps with the fatigue, where they’re not, their eyes aren’t tired when they get done with the day,” he said. “I think it just generally makes it easier for them.”

Investing in a pair of blue light blocking glasses will also protect their eyes when looking at a screen hours on end.

Webcams are also a must to be able to interact with the teacher and classmates. Most laptops nowadays already have one built in, but you can easily buy a webcam if your computer doesn’t already have one.

And, of course, battery life is important. You want your device to last a long time on a single charge.

As for laptop trends, Roach says they’re seeing a lot of 2-in-1s, which work as both a laptop and tablet.

He says there are a lot of tablets out there that are just as powerful as some laptops.

“Students can actually do their learning through just a high-end tablet, like a Microsoft Surface, or an iPad Pro, and it gives them a great way to be able to continue to work, without using just a laptop.”

You can even buy a keyboard for a high-end tablet if that’s easier for you to use.

And when you get your laptop, don’t forget the software you’ll need along with it, like Microsoft Office.

“Kids are typically going to need access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and then making sure too that you get a good anti-virus, because we want to make sure that we protect these units,” Roach said. “Children are going to use them not only for the schoolwork, but for fun, as well, and making sure they’re covered on both ends.”

Laptops can be pricey, but there are ways to save money on school supplies.

Roach says to just text “student deals” to 332211. That’ll send you a list of Best Buy’s student deals each week.