We Found the 6 Best Laptops for Kids That Are Made for Everything From School Papers to Netflix

·11 min read
Photo credit: Stocksy
Photo credit: Stocksy

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Most of us grew up carrying around heavy textbooks, but today's kids can lug around a library's worth of information with a device that's smaller than a notebook. If your child needs digital access to school materials and online resources, maybe it's time you purchased them a laptop of their own. Research is mixed on whether or not handwritten notes are better for information retention over ones typed on a laptop keyboard, but students with laptops can conduct research, create documents, graphics, and presentations, collaborate with their classmates, and learn to use apps that they'll likely encounter later in life. Best of all, laptops are cheaper than ever before.

The Best Laptops for Kids

Most kids don't need an expensive laptop with the most powerful processors, graphics cards, or maxed-out specs, like a large hard drive or several gigabytes of RAM. What they really need is something portable, sturdy, and with a long-lasting battery.

But there are hundreds of laptops for kids to choose from, and sifting through them is about as difficult as helping your child with their math homework. So, shop our picks for the best kid-friendly laptops that are reliable, easy to use, and perfect for back to school.

What to Consider

We know that reading the specifications of a laptop can seem intimidating, hard to understand, and downright boring. But we assure you — a laptop’s specs are the most important things to pay attention to when shopping for a new computer — whether it’s for you or your child.

Understanding what processor it’s equipped with, its display type, how much memory it has, and its connectivity options are the key to choosing the best laptop for your child. But don't let these specs overwhelm you — we've provided a quick breakdown to explain exactly what you should look for.

  • Processor: As you’d expect, the newer the processor (CPU), the more power and better performance it’ll likely offer. Our two tech editors suggest opting for a laptop that’s powered by an Intel Core series chip because they’re more capable than the entry-level Celeron series. The latter works well for basic tasks, like general web browsing, streaming video, or typing word documents.

  • Display: Since your child will likely be using the computer for both work and play, you’ll want it to have a sharp screen with a good resolution. Opt for a model that has a Full HD resolution, that’s 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The bigger these numbers, the more detailed the picture on the screen will be.

  • Memory: There are two types of memory to look out for: RAM, which is essentially short-term memory, and a hard drive, which is your computer's long-term memory. It stores the stuff you want to open and access throughout the lifetime of the PC. SSDs or solid-state drives are much faster and are more reliable than eMMC storage. As far as RAM is concerned, 4GB is the base amount that laptops for kids typically come with, but 8GB is ideal since you can more easily run multiple programs simultaneously.

  • Connectivity: Be sure to look for a laptop for kids that support the latest Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless standards. These features are important because they futureproof your laptop and ensure they will seamlessly pair to the latest earbuds, speakers and will support the latest Wi-Fi standards so you can get the fastest, most reliable download speeds. Translation? Connectivity features substantially increase the lifespan of a laptop, which is a major selling point for this investment.

Besides the above, you'll want to pay attention to the laptop's operating system. Chromebooks, which are oftentimes the most inexpensive laptops, run the ChromeOS operating system. These use the Chrome web browser (which you might actually be reading this page on) as the laptop's main interface. If you buy a Chromebook, your child will use web-based apps like Google Docs to create their work, which is then stored online. Chrome laptops can also download select Android apps, but they oftentimes have smaller amounts of onboard storage — hence their lower price points.

Other kids' laptops ships with Windows 10 in S Mode, meaning you can only install apps from the Microsoft Store. However, you can upgrade to a full Windows 10 build for free. That way you can download a wider range of apps. Lastly, Apple laptops run OS X, which is a clean and easy-to-use operating system that's excellent for creative types. However, it comes at a much steeper price point. If you want a touchscreen laptop that plays double-duty as a tablet, you'll have to opt for a Chromebook or Windows laptop, since MacBooks do not have touchscreens.

Whether you’re looking for a unique 2-in-1 convertible laptop, a MacBook, or a Chromebook for your kiddo for when they start elementary school, we’ll help you find the perfect laptop for your little one and your budget constraints.

Best Overall

Key Specs

Chip: 10th-generation Intel Core i3 (dual-core)
Display: 13-inch Full HD touchscreen
Memory: 4GB of RAM, 64GB eMMC
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, two USB-C ports, USB-A port
Battery Life: 10 hours

Lenovo’s Chromebook Flex 5 is our favorite laptop for kids. It oftentimes reaches prices just hovering above $300 but still offers users a sleek design, a sharp-looking 360-degree touchscreen, and a backlit keyboard for late-night homework sessions. The laptop offers plenty of power for the price, plus it’s incredibly portable and weighs less than 3 pounds. It’s equipped with two USB-C ports, one USB-A port, a headphone jack, and a microSD card slot.

Its webcam has an integrated privacy shutter that offers some peace of mind. There’s a fingerprint sensor for quickly logging in. The touchscreen is compatible with a nifty stylus, which definitely will come in handy for some notetaking. Google's Chrome OS platform supports Android apps, making the Flex 5 equally good for schoolwork, as well as for staying entertained after.

Best Windows Laptop for Kids

Key Specs

Chip: 11th-generation Intel Core i3 (dual-core)
Display: 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display
Memory: 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, USB-C port, three USB-A ports, HDMI, Ethernet port
Battery Life: 8.5 hours

For those in search of a versatile Windows laptop that’s more affordable than the competition — without sacrificing build quality — the Acer Aspire 5 is worth your consideration. It provides a good design, up-to-date hardware specs, and reliable performance, given its price. Buyers have the option of spending a bit more for a more powerful variant that features a better processor, increased memory, and a convenient fingerprint sensor, but we think you can’t go wrong with either model.

The Acer Aspire 5 delivers outstanding battery life that’s plenty reliable enough to make it through the school day — plus, it has an aluminum cover and a backlit keyboard. Since the laptop runs Windows 10, it features a wider app ecosystem compared to similarly priced Chromebooks.

A Chromebook on the Cheap

Key Specs

Chip: MediaTek Helio P60T Processor (octa-core)
Display: 10.1-inch Full HD IPS display
Memory: 4GB of RAM, 64GB eMMc
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5, USB-C port, five-point pogo pins
Battery Life: 10 hours

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is not only a wonderful computer for kids — it’s also the best cheap Chromebook that you can buy. This two-in-one computer has a detachable keyboard, meaning you can use it as a tablet or a laptop. It sports a unique adjustable back fabric cover that will protect it from drops. The cover even features a kickstand, which makes it easy to prop the Duet up to watch YouTube or have video calls.

The Chromebook Duet’s 10.1-inch touchscreen is sharp and bright. Plus, its included keyboard will come in handy for writing papers for class. Although the computer doesn’t feature one of the most powerful or up-to-date processors, it’s still plenty fast enough for web browsing, using social media, responding to email, or doing light photo editing.

For parents looking for a cheap Chromebook that's less like a tablet and more like a laptop, consider shopping for the Lenovo IdeaPad 1 instead.

Best Chromebook for Kids

Key Specs

Chip: 10th-generation Intel Core i3 (dual-core)
Display: 13.5-inch 2K IPS display
Memory: 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, two USB-C ports, one USB-A ports, HDMI
Battery Life: 10 hours

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a convertible 2-in-1 laptop that’s jam-packed with fast components, a large battery, and a stunning and spacious 3:2 LCD display. It’s a laptop that stretches your dollar further than other options, thanks to its high-end specs, excellent build quality, and incredible pricing.

The base model includes Intel’s latest Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of NVMe solid-state storage, together making it significantly more powerful than other laptops for kids. In fact, this Chromebook delivers similar performance to competing laptops that cost $800. It offers a generous selection of ports, too.

There are dual USB-C ports, a USB-A jack, a headphone jack, a MicroSD slot, and even an HDMI jack, which has become a rarity for slim laptops these days. Whether your child is in middle school, high school, or is about to start college, this Chromebook will have their back no matter what their workload entails.

Best for Older Kids

Key Specs

Chip: Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y processor (dual-core)
Display: 10.5 -inch PixelSense touchscreen with 1,920 x 1,280 pixels
Memory: 4GB of RAM, 64GB eMMC storage
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, USB-C, Surface Connect Port, microSD card slot
Battery Life: 10 hours

The Microsoft Surface Go 2 is an ultra-compact, 10.5-inch tablet that's a capable Windows 10 PC. A budget of just $400 will get you the entry-level Surface Go with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM, but you'll have to pick up the trackpad and keyboard separately.

During our test with the Surface Go 2, we found that it was powerful enough to handle a steady stream of apps without slowing down. Microsoft claims that the Surface Go 2 is capable of delivering up to 10 hours of video playback between charges.

The Surface Go 2 is a wonderful video chat companion, too. It features dual 5MP front- and rear-facing cameras that are even clearer than the $1,700 Dell XPS 13’s webcam we most tested. Not only that, this computer has twin microphones that help increase clarity and reduce background noise.

Overall, this PC is a compact and versatile option that's perfect for work or play. If you’re looking for a practical, affordable, and stylish, you won’t be disappointed.

Best MacBook for Kids

Key Specs

Chip: Apple M1 chip
Display: 13.3-inch Retina display (2,560 by 1,600 pixels)
Memory: 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 compatibility
Battery Life: 18 hours

It wouldn't be a laptop list without a MacBook on it. The latest MacBook Air features vastly improved hardware specs, including a boost in processing and graphics power, a redesigned keyboard, and a more vibrant display. And although it's certainly one of the best laptops for kids out there, it comes at a steep price.

The laptop is powered by Apple's own M1 chip, which delivers jaw-dropping performance increases and up to 18 hours of battery life. The laptop’s 13-inch screen is sharp, colorful, and provides more detailed images than the competition. Its bezels aren’t as thin as those found on some Windows laptops, but you’ll love its larger trackpad and smaller footprint.

As you’d expect from an Apple laptop, the new MacBook Air offers a premium build quality — and surprisingly enough, the computer is made of 100% recycled aluminum. It would make an excellent laptop for a creative student who does lots of video and photo editing or for those who travel frequently. The MacBook Air is such a great laptop, you’ll want to use it, too.

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