Choosing a laptop for your child – the tough choices.

Choosing the best laptop for your child
Microsoft Windows vs Apple Mac OS

Look to buy a laptop that you won’t mind replacing after 3 years.

When you’re looking to choose a laptop for your child it has to be suited to the tasks that need to be achieved over the life of the computer. Students and parents who are buying a laptop for their kids are in a difficult position for a few reasons which I’ll list below.

  1. The school may determine which operating system a student will need. This could be Microsoft Windows or it could be Apple Mac OS. As witnessed many times over the past years, schools may change their requirements after 1 or 2 years leaving the computer of choice two years ago, not compatible with next years curriculum.
  2. Kids are kids, they are rough, they beat up their equipment by leaving them in school bags that get thrown around, trampled on, have bottles of drinks leaking inside them and also the occasional screen break by closing the laptop lid on a pencil left on the keyboard. How much are you willing to pay each time damage is done?
  3. Performance is also be important, if you buy a cheap laptop, it will be slow, if you go top end, a screen repair may set you back $800.

How to mitigate risk with computer equipment.

So you’ve gotten to this point, you now realise that computers don’t always last for 8 years, maintenance and repair costs should be factored into your purchase decisions and if you’re going to provide a quality laptop to your child, you are going to need to support the repair costs via your household contents insurance, specifically specified valuables that are covered away from the home. When you purchase a new base model Apple MacBook Air for around $1699, you need to know the screen repairs are upwards of $800. We would recommend a good hard cover/case for the laptop and would also recommend you extend your household insurance to cover machine loss / accidental damage cover.

If you decide to go the less expensive route with a Windows laptop, this is probably a wise choice if your child is a bit rough. Base model laptops can usually have the screens replaced for about $195, though they can sometimes cost a lot more for touch screen models and Full HD LCD’s. A lot of these base model laptops often have older rotational Hard Drive technology in them. This makes them slower and more susceptible to impact damage than mid level machines with Solid State Drives. This is a case of you get what you pay for. It would be my recommendation to go for a laptop with a good battery life, solid state drive and non touch screen, plus a good solid case to carry the laptop around with.

Don’t forget maintenance costs.

Maintenance comes in a few forms and at some stage over the life of the laptop, no doubt someone will download some malware and may need an IT specialist’s assistance to remove and return to normal operation. Subscriptions to internet security programs are likely required by the school and are always recommended to be used for data protection.

Fans build up dust and start to overheat the laptop when they start to block ventilation / heat sinks that blow hot air out of the laptop, so some scheduled hardware servicing should be considered every 18 to 24 months.

Generally you should expect an Apple Mac laptop to have zero issues with battery life over the 3 year cycle, though Windows machines will likely need a replacement battery after 2 years. This will depend on usage as there are always exceptions to these estimates.

Finally we do see a lot of broken hinges, power adapters and broken DC jacks. These maintenance items come with wear and tear or inappropriate handling like carrying a laptop by its screen. Hinges are not always easy to fix or even possible to fix, so correct handling is always recommended. Replacement laptop adapters and some DC jacks are available for both Apple and Windows based laptops.

Choosing a laptop for your child

Not going to give that away, we do have access to business grade Windows machines and some suitable consumer grade laptops from brands like Asus, Acer, HP, Dell, and Lenovo. The models change all the time and if you are serious about getting the right machine for your child, we would recommend making an appointment with us. We can discuss machine choice and suitable security software that will meet the schools IT requirements and your budget whilst providing an effective tool for your child’s education over the life of the machine.

Happy Computing 🙂