When it comes to both classroom and online teaching, any teacher will tell you that your computer is your best friend! Your computer will make (or break) how smoothly your teaching goes. From lesson plans to the lessons themselves, a computer is something that should take some high consideration before purchasing. Narrowing down the best laptops for teachers can seem like a daunting task, but I’m here to tell you it’s a lot easier than it seems!
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When I was starting out as an online teacher, the options seemed endless. It was quite a daunting experience. Well, put the endless list of options to rest and here I have gathered the top 11 computers and things to consider when making your most important purchase yet as an online teacher! I promise, this is a painless process.
In a hurry? Here are our top 3:
HP Envy 15 inch
The HP Envy 15 is the latest in the Envy product line, combining a sleek metal body with a flexible touchscreen. With a brushed-metal aluminum body, the Envy 15 is slightly bulky but still looks like a premium product. It comes equipped with two USB 3.0 ports and one USB C port, a connection port for HDMI and a card reader. The 15.6-inch touchscreen provides full HD ably supported by an in-built Bang & Olufsen audio system. The Envy 15 has a full keyboard that is backlit and contains a numeric keypad. Running a 7th Generation Intel Core i5 processor, it is well equipped to handle most tasks you might require, making it an excellent choice for users that need a portable and capable laptop-cum-tablet.
Despite being Apple fans (and this being an Apple-heavy list), we believe a Windows machine is the better choice for most teachers. With the Envy you get a computer that will be compatible with most classroom tools, the ability to utilize it as a tablet, and a huge screen – all without the steep price tags of the Surface Pro or Apple options.
Apple MacBook Air 13.3 inch (1.8GHz Processor 256GB Storage)
The 13.3” MacBook Air laptop from Apple is a graceful, efficient machine. It is contained in a signature aluminum casing and measures a measly 0.68 inches at its thickest point and 0.11 at its slimmest point. The laptop comes with 256GB of newer flash memory that helps the laptop last longer, as much as 12 hours of web surfing and even longer for everyday document processing. The display is one of its best features, a glossy LED-backlit screen that is more than sufficient for watching movies and surfing the web. The MacBook Air offers a unique combination of processing power and multimedia capability that makes it a perfect choice for students and young professionals.
Apple MacBook 12 inch (1.2GHz Processor 256GB Storage)
Apple’s newest MacBook is the slimmest and lightest MacBook done so far. This does not in any way take away from its performance, packed with the latest seventh-generation Intel Core m3 or i5 computer processing chips. The MacBook is designed with your comfort in mind, giving you more than 30% better battery life, a fan-less design that ensures quiet operation with little or no heat generated. The amazing 12-inch Retina screen is almost bezel-less giving you maximum real estate for all your multimedia needs. The updated macOS Sierra operating system brings Apple’s voice assistant Siri to the MacBook for the first time as well as the newest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies to help you share your files easily.
Apple MacBook Pro 13 inch (2.3GHz Processor 256GB Storage)
The Apple MacBook Pro has always been loved by professionals of all industries for its lightweight, fast storage and blistering processing speed that allows you to get your work done in the most convenient and efficient manner. Boasting an impressively thin design with new color options, the MacBook Pro has one of the best displays on a laptop capable of 4K video processing and graphic-intensive games and applications. The battery is still capable of about 10 hours of intensive work before requiring a recharge so you can do more while on the move. File transfer is powered by the extremely versatile USB-C connection that ensures lightning-fast charging, data transfer and video output, all on the same port.
Lenovo Yoga 720
The ultraportable Lenovo Yoga 720 lives up to its name by being ideal for life on the move. It is arguably one of the slimmest convertible laptops, running a powerful Intel Core i7 processor that allows you work in ways you never thought possible. It bends either as a laptop or a tablet with a beautiful display capable of In-Plane Switching. The Yoga 13 has a seamless Auto Lock hinge that allows the Yoga 13 shift shape easily. With 16GB of memory and 512 GB Solid State Drive, you’re guaranteed of rapid data transfer. It is powered by Windows 10 and is light enough to be your everyday device. The 13.3-in screen is beautiful and you can enjoy multimedia with amazing JBL speakers.
Asus designed the Chromebook with convenience and comfort in mind, positioned to meet the needs of students and casual users. Crafted with rugged use in mind, the Chromebook comes a rubber-wrapped edge that makes it easier to grip and gives it protection against drops and bumps from as high as 4 feet. The Asus Chromebook lets you have as much as 10 hours to work and watch movies on a glossy high-definition screen. The Intel Celeron N3060 processor gives the Asus Chromebook enough juice to power through most regular tasks. Google provides this laptop with the formidable Chrome OS and application support with Google Docs, with an option for the online version of Microsoft Office. One distinctive feature is the spill-protected keyboard that makes it ideal for kids and use in accident-prone areas.
Acer Swift 3
The Acer Swift 3 Ultrabook is evidence that a decent Ultrabook does not have to be expensive. Despite the Core i3 processor, the Acer Swift 3 is still a workhorse that delivers excellent processing power for most daily tasks. Running Windows 8 provides a family look that can be easily upgraded to Windows 10 for the latest in Windows operating systems. The 13.3-inch screen, combined with the large hard drive and sufficient 4GB RAM makes it an excellent option in functionality and portability. It also offers a multi-touch touchpad that is highly responsive and suited for the new Windows gestures.
HP 15.6in Touchscreen
This mid-level laptop has been upgraded from its previous versions to be more efficient and leaner. Its 15.6-inch display provides sharp 1080p HD resolution that you only see in more expensive, however, it doesn’t have In-Plane-Switching capacity. The dual-core Inter Core i5 processor is integrated with a graphics card for running graphics-heavy games and applications. The HP 15 can run most games but you may need to downgrade the graphics settings to improve performance. It features great battery life of more than 7 hours and enough storage space to handle most tasks and media needs.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Microsoft designed the Surface 6 with the intent to provide a powerful laptop replacement that is just as capable. The powerful Intel Core i5 sixth generation processor is the source of the Surface Pro 4’s remarkable performance. It has a sharp screen that is built for maximum legibility in sunlight and other conditions. It offers a full keyboard in the guise of the Type Cover accessory that docks to the Surface Pro 6. The battery life is adequate and should hold up for about 5 hours, fairly more than most tablets of similar specification. While it may not replace your laptop completely, it goes a long way in bridging the gap.
Dell Inspiron 15.6-inch 5000
The Dell Inspiron 15.6-inch touchscreen laptop packs the latest in Dual Core mobile processor with a pressure sensitive screen. The laptop is equipped with 6GB of RAM that is sufficient for a smooth use always. 1 TB storage is more than adequate for multimedia and corporate documents needed. Running on Windows 10, it offers support for productivity and multimedia applications. The inbuilt HD 620 Graphics processor ensures the Dell Inspiron can run graphic-intensive games and other programs. The laptop also has an HD webcam that makes video conferencing and selfies a breeze.
What to Consider When Searching for the Best Laptop for a Teacher
It is quite possible that more than one of these computers will suffice your teaching needs. However, it’s ideal to have the perfect computer and not one that will “just do.” Here are some things to consider when purchasing a computer.
Why Should You Get a Laptop Instead of a Desktop?
If you teach 100% online, you could choose a desktop. However, I would strongly suggest away from this as your first computer. The reason for this is you are going to want mobility to work where you please. Part of the joy of working online is the freedom to work from wherever! Why limit yourself to a desk in your house when you can work one day at your desk, the next catching sun in the backyard followed by the next at a quirky coffee shop around the corner? If I could suggest one thing, get a laptop. You will appreciate the mobility where you can pick up and go!
Operating System Preference?
Do you have a preference between Mac or PC? Does you know the benefits of each? Mac’s are known for their longevity. They tend to avoid most known viruses, which tends to be one of the most beneficial aspects of Mac’s. However, this comes at a cost, as Mac’s are more expensive than PCs. PCs are known for being universal. They are the original operating system and some programs only run on PCs.
This is the most important aspect when considering between a Mac and a PC. What does your school require? Do they have a specific program that you will be using that is only compatible with one or the other? Most programs work with both operating systems; however, this is a very important thing to consider before purchasing your computer.
Size definitely does matter when it comes to computer screens. From mobility to being able to fit everything on your screen, it is important to consider the size when making your purchase. Here are the main 3 sizes to consider:
17” Screen – Quite Large. This may get annoying if you plan to carry your computer around with you most days. However, you must consider your personal use outside of teaching as well. If you are going to be using your computer for any photography or video editing, you may appreciate the larger screen. Watch a lot of movies? A larger screen may appeal to you. The largeness can take away from the “laptop” feel and bring more of a “desktop” feel. If you are hesitant about leaving a big desktop screen to a smaller laptop, this may be the choice for you!
15” Screen – This is by far the most popular screen size. It is perfect for your everyday teaching needs. The screen is large enough to manage multiple windows which comes in handy when teaching and shuffling between programs and documents. It is portable and won’t take up too much room in your backpack!
13” Screen – This is an increasingly popular choice over the past few years. Especially if you plan on traveling frequently this is a great computer to get work done on the go. It should be the lightest and definitely take up the least amount of space in your backpack.
Alright, now we are getting down to the fun stuff! After you have narrowed down the above, here is where the most important factors come into play
Battery Life – A reliant battery life can really make or break work on the go. I suggest a min of 5 hours but suggest 8+ hours of battery life. You will thank me later!
Storage Space – With the birth of external hard drives, the amount of storage isn’t as important as it used to be. However, you will need memory to store files, photos, applications, etc. I strongly suggest having at least 500GB of storage
Processing Speed – This may be the most important thing to consider when purchasing your computer. I suggest having at least 8GB or RAM or higher when getting your computer. You will be able to get by with less than 8GB however, your computer may run slow or crash when running multiple programs. I suggest a good rule of thumb as 8GB or RAM as the minimum. I personally have 16GB as I love to run multiple programs at once with ease and no lagging.
Weight – Are you going to be carrying this around town with you are you primarily going to be using it at home? Consider everything else you will be carrying in addition to the computer when making this decision.
Screen Quality – Are you going to be using this computer outside frequently? If so, you may want to go with the brighter screen. Also, a high-end retina display could be of preference especially if you have side hobbies that include photography/video editing. Other people may not care too much about the display quality and may save a hefty amount of cash with selecting a slightly less overall display quality.
Additional Ports – Luckily, if there aren’t enough ports you can get adapters. However, adapters are frustrating and are just another thing that you have to remember. If you are going to be linking up visual aids or monitors, inquire to make sure that you are able to do so prior to purchase.
It’s easy for teachers, especially new teachers, to become overwhelmed when looking for a the perfect laptop for teaching online. The best laptop for teachers isn’t a set formula… There are many aspects to think about when making your purchase. I hope that this has helped calm the anxiety and make you feel not so overwhelmed in your decision-making process. Remember, check the operating system, screen size as well as the major and minor requirements above and you should be set! I hope you have enjoyed the 11 best laptops for teachers!