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Best Overall: Asus Chromebook C202 at Amazon
"A great kid’s laptop because it can withstand all the bumps and bruises that are bound to happen."
Best Durability: Dell Chromebook 11 3181 at Best Buy
"Featuring a spill-resistant keyboard and rubberized edges."
Best for Schoolwork: Microsoft Surface Pro 6 at Amazon
"It can run Microsoft Office and the vast majority of educational software out there."
Best Battery Life: Apple MacBook Air at apple.com
"Holds 12 hours of battery life and is the first Mac computer made with 100% recycled aluminum."
Best Budget: Lenovo’s Ideapad 100S at Amazon
"A fantastic entry into the kid’s laptop arena at a price that parents are sure to love."
Best Beginner: VTech Tote and G at Amazon
"Appropriately suited for kids ages 36 months to six years."
The Asus Chromebook C202 is a great kid’s laptop because it can withstand all the bumps an bruises that are bound to happen. There's a reinforced rubber guard that goes around the entire laptop and protects against drops as high as 3.9 feet. And the addition of a spill-resistant keyboard will provide parents even more peace of mind. Even with all this protection, it's still lightweight at 2.65 pounds and has 10 hours of battery life.
Beyond protection, the C202 is powered by an Intel Celeron N3060 processor, 16GB of storage, 4GB of RAM and has an 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 anti-glare display. Additionally, as a Chromebook, parents won’t have to contend with potential viruses that could come from other computer platforms. Parents will also discover a slew of parental controls that can limit visits to certain websites, add screen time limits, as well as block potentially harmful extensions to Chrome that could compromise the computer experience.
Kid-proof hardware might not truly exist, but the Dell comes awfully close. With a spill-resistant keyboard and rubberized edges, it can handle everything from snacks to lockers and backpacks. Drop protection is also included which makes it a fantastic value for parents who can rest comfortably knowing it will withstand at least a small drop.
When it’s in use, there are over 9 hours of battery life available, which is more than enough to make it through a school day. The laptop can be positioned flat, propped up like a tent, or act as a tablet as well as its traditional laptop design. The two-in-one solution makes it easy to collaborate with other students even if it can’t be detached from the keyboard. As an added bonus, parental controls built into the Chromebook OS help keep kids on-task and only looking at parent-approved content.
When it comes to productivity for kids doing digital schoolwork, you want them to have the best tools. The Surface Pro 6 is a top-of-the-line tablet/laptop hybrid that, while it's on the pricier side, it really can do just about anything. Because it runs Windows 10, it can run Microsoft Office and the vast majority of educational software out there. It also can attach a keyboard if you need one or can connect to a digital pen for writing or drawing by hand.
The Surface Pro 6 is a beautiful machine with a 12.3-inch screen and 2,736 x 1,824 resolution. There’s also a 5-megapixel front-facing camera for doing video chat with lab partners or tutors. Additionally, the Surface Pro 6 has all-day battery life, which means it can last for the whole school day and still have some power left for homework.
MacBooks have always delivered top-notch performance, and the new 2018 MacBook Air delivers that same high processing power in a smaller package. This model weighs 2.75 pounds and is 0.16 inches at its slimmest point, taking up minimal space in a backpack. The 2018 Mac Air contains a 1.6GHz dual-core processor with 3.6GHz Turbo Boost, 8GB of RAM, and either 128GB or 256GB SSD, with the option to upgrade to a maximum of 1.5TB. The display delivers stunning visual quality: 2560 x 1600 resolution with over 4 million pixels and 48% more color detail than its predecessor, which makes it ideal for aspiring artists. It also holds 12 hours of battery life and is the first Mac computer made with 100% recycled aluminum.
Additionally, new improvements have been made to the 2018 Air for a more streamlined, user-friendly experience. The trackpad is 20% larger and more sensitive to differences in pressure for more accurate “mouse” control. The keys feature a “butterfly” mechanism for improved responsiveness and durability. Also, the Air boasts its new Touch ID sensor, which unlocks your device with just a tap of your finger, adding a new layer of protection and convenience.
Lenovo’s Ideapad 100S laptop marks a fantastic entry into the kid’s laptop arena and at a price that parents are sure to love. The 100S offers an 11.6- inch 1366 x 768 display, 2GB of RAM, an Intel Atom processor and 32GB of eMMC memory. It weighs 2.2 pounds, is .69 inches thin and manages to pack in just under 10 hours of battery life. The 32GB of eMMC storage won’t allow for a whole lot of music or video downloads, but, with Windows 10 and Office support, kids will have no trouble fitting in schoolwork.
Fortunately, you can add additional storage (up to 64GB) with an inexpensive microSD card purchase. Like other Windows 10 models, Microsoft’s Family portal is on-board, providing parents with peace of mind by blocking websites, as well as controlling any potential downloads. Additionally, parents can set a timer forcing the laptop to shut down to make sure kids aren’t staying up too late.
The VTech Tote and Go laptop is a true beginner laptop. Appropriately suited for kids ages 36 months to six years, the VTech is a gateway entry into teaching kids real-world basics such as words, spelling, shapes, animals and more.
Kids will learn problem-solving skills through puzzle and logic games that help improve hand-to-eye coordination, which will come in extra handy when they jump into the adult laptop category. All totaled, there are 20 unique interactive activities, including teaching children to spell their own names, count their ages and explore shapes and numbers. There’s no question the VTech is a far cry from the Windows 10 and Apple’s OS X world, but you must start somewhere and the VTech Tote and Go makes it super easy.
The Asus Chromebook C202SA is an excellent choice for students and young children, with its spill-proof keyboard, excellent drop protection, and raised rubber foot that makes it easier for small hands to carry it around. The excellent battery life is also key, since it provides plenty of power to last through a long school day. The C202SA even makes a decent choice as an ultraportable second laptop for teen and adult users.
Durability - Buying a laptop for a child is a big investment — and even the most careful of children tend to be rougher on their electronics than adults — so durability is very important. Size and weight also come into play, as a small child is more likely to drop a large, heavy laptop. Go with a laptop in the 11-inch range for pre-teens, and stick to the 13- or 14-inch range for teenagers.
Parental controls - Giving your child access to the Internet is an exercise in trust, but choosing a laptop with good parental controls allows you to provide your kid with the tools they need to succeed in school without putting them in danger. Chromebooks are good for this since you can create a supervised account to lock out dangerous sites, and the closed-app ecosystem helps prevent viruses.
Compatibility for schoolwork - If your kid will use the laptop for school, check to see what kind of computers they’ll use in the classroom and make sure that the laptop you get is compatible.
Impressive battery life
One of our testers liked the “no frills” approach this Chromebook takes to giving young students exactly what they need for class. She said, “For the price, this has everything you need for school or home — docs and sheets, a camera, and Internet access.” Our reviewers also found that this laptop’s durability is “outstanding,” with one writing that it’s “something you notice from the first time you open the box. You can tell it's made for wear and tear.” This laptop’s battery life also gets an A+ from our testers.
Intuitive touch screen
Our testers reported that because this laptop comes with Google integration, powering through daily tasks is simple and easy. One of our reviewers also raved about its speed and responsiveness, saying it was “intuitive” and a “joy” to use. However, one of our testers did experience some ghost clicking, which caused the cursor to click on things when the user didn’t mean to. (This can usually be remedied by restarting the computer.)
Great battery life
Poor sound quality
This laptop earned high marks with our testers because it was durable: “The build quality feels very sturdy,” he noted, “and they keyboard is comfortable to use.” Another plus, according to one reviewer, was its battery life: “The battery life is great, lasts all day, and charges quickly,” he said. On the other end of the spectrum, one tester thought that the sound quality of the built-in speakers “wasn’t very good” and that the laptop’s overall design wasn’t particularly attractive. Overall, though, one reviewer said that “it's a good choice for kids if aesthetics aren't a big concern.”
Awkward onscreen keyboard
Fair sound quality
“This device is much more responsive than I thought it would be,” declared one of our testers. “I remember trying one of the very first Surface devices and it seems to have improved a lot.” Its battery life was also a plus, according to one tester, as was its display quality: “The image is sharp and bright,” she said. “It was much more vibrant than I expected.” On the other hand, one reviewer noted that the only thing she’d change would be the onscreen keyboard: “Moving from field to field was awkward and sometimes the buttons for it didn't work,” she said, “although typing was easy and quick.” One tester also reported that the device’s built-in sound quality was just “fair.”