Getting My Kids’ First Laptop


So, it’s time to buy your child’s first laptop for school. I know what you are thinking, when did this happen? When was it decided that we must send our children to school with cutting edge tech that we struggle to get to grips with ourselves. After all, in my day you were lucky to be bought a pencil to take to school!

Remember a time without mobile phones, tablets, laptops and social media? How did we ever live without tweeting everyone on FaceTube that we’ve just finished our breakfast?

The world has changed. Amazingly, this stuff is now so natural and intuitive to our kids. My son typed his name on a computer when he was two – before he even wrote it on paper. I was twelve before I typed anything on a computer. I remember when my son was eighteen months old and experienced my iPad for the first time. Or, when I showed him my old laptop and he couldn’t understand why the icons didn’t do anything when he touched the screen. He was right, why didn’t laptops have touch screens? Unfortunately someone in the industry beat me to it, and now it won’t be long until all laptops are made this way.

It’s these little examples of how tech isn’t something new to learn for our kids, like it was for us – it’s just how they live their lives nowadays.

Unfortunately, tech for kids is no longer a special privilege, it’s a necessity no matter how you want to spin it. If your child is going to grow up and compete in the world of tomorrow, they’ll have to understand tech on a level that we probably never will, and that starts now.

Don’t worry, I understand, I’ve been through the pain of buying my kids tech before. Get it wrong, and you can end up with cheap rubbish that won’t last or even worse, expensive rubbish that won’t last! You can quite easily end up with a grumpy kid because apparently, all their friends have an unlimited golden credit card at the Apple Store, and the modest machine that you found for such a bargain, doesn’t quite cut it – Of course, kids don’t appreciate these things, yet.

On the other hand, get it right, and you can give your child a great machine that will help with their schooling and keep them up-to-date in the world of tech. A happy child indeed, because they have everything they need to stay in touch on social media, watch movies, play games, create and store all their schoolwork securely. Happy kids mean happy Dads, but happy wallets also make happy Dads. I want to show you how both can co-exist. Come with me and discover the three golden rules to laptop hunting – follow these, and you can’t go wrong.

1. Research
2. Research a bit more
3. Research one last time then buy

Now let’s get to it – you’re a Dad – your life is hijacked on a daily basis, by partners, kids and work. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time that’s fine but when you do get those golden moments of peace, you don’t want to waste them reading about laptops.

Research doesn’t have to be intensive, however, a little bit goes a long way. Let me give you a scenario. You want to buy a laptop and you’re a little unsure. It makes perfect sense to go and speak to someone who is knowledgeable, so you walk into a lovely electrical store, and a friendly assistant comes to help. Do you know why they are smiling? Because they see a sale! I’m sure they’re lovely people and all, but seriously, you are just a sale. They don’t care about your bank balance, and nor should they. They don’t care whether you get the right computer or not and, you guessed it, nor should they. They just want you to buy something and if you go in clueless you might well end up sorry.

Not doing research is like walking into a supermarket and saying – “Excuse me, I need to cook a meal but I don’t have a clue what it is! Can you help me buy things?” You need to arm yourself with a little knowledge. Remember, a little goes a long way. Get online and find out what other people are saying about laptops for school. Real people, not companies. Speak to colleagues and friends who might have recently been through the same thing. Investigate warranties, but don’t get sucked in. Companies love to offer extra warranty, at a cost, at least for the first few years.

My first question is always “Why on earth would I need it in the first few years?” Give me a warranty that says when it’s old and tired like me. We’ll fix it! Surely the product is sound, and built to last. On the rare occasion something does go wrong in the first few years, surely its good customer service to repair or replace it. Why should I have to pay extra for that? Sorry, that just gets me mad. Choose a warranty that you are comfortable with, everyone is different and will want different levels of protection. Talk to the store or company that you buy from, and ask them what they offer.

If you’re like me, you’ll want it all. You want to buy top quality tech at wallet friendly prices. You also need to know that when things do go wrong, you can still save the day because you were smart enough to hire the help of Mr. Warranty. It’s so difficult to know who to believe, and what represents quality and value. I have compared the rest, and now, I bring you the best. There are options to suit every budget, so read on to find out what might suit you and your kid’s needs. All of the machines below come with sound warranty options, should the worst happen.

As value-priced systems go, the Lenovo IdeaPad is a solid laptop, providing the sort of performance that’s perfect for use by students or for general use around the home.

There are several versions ranging in price, but a little investigation should lead you to the one you want to buy, as they are all reliable and value for money. I would go with the 14 inch as it is just the right size for their eyes whilst being portable.

With ample storage and a relatively robust selection of features, it’s a great value priced laptop. While you can find systems with better performance and portability, bargain hunters will definitely find a Lenovo IdeaPad that will be a great blend of performance and price. Tip: Get at least 4GB Ram with Windows 10 for over $500 plus.

The Asus UX305 is quite simply one of the most exciting laptops I’ve seen in years. It continues Asus’ long line of Zenbook ultrabooks, but really sets itself apart by bringing the same level of build quality and design we’ve come to expect, at a price many more people can afford.

What makes its thin and light shell doubly impressive, is that Asus hasn’t skimped on connectivity, indeed it’s better than many Ultrabooks.

Weighing just 1.2kg and just 1.23cm thin, this machine will easily handle a teenager’s academic needs, as well as being portable enough to slip into their school bag.

The Asus UX305 is almost perfection in the realm of affordable ultra-portable laptops. Its stylish, well-built, incredibly light and has a screen, keyboard and battery life to rival the best. If you shop around, you will find this for $1098 with freebies thrown in. Tip: Asus also provides an international warranty – not just local.

If you happen to have a lucky lottery ticket, it’s hard to ignore the MacBook Air. I had some qualms about giving my kid a brand spanking new Mac but the MacBook Air continues as the gold standard of ultraportable laptops, especially since they tend to run for years and still run smoothly.

Everything about the MacBook Air remains outstanding. Its design is still unmatched and the battery life is out of this world. The 13-inch MacBook Air costs around $1328, so it will take a brave dad to hand it over to their kids. But if your wallet can deal with the price tag, it should be the first and last laptop you will have to buy your child for school (hopefully, they don’t leave it on the bus).

MacBook Air’s overall quality allied to the outstanding performance and incredible battery life mean it’s still a class act. There are legitimate reasons not to buy one, like price and compatibility with your child’s school network, but no laptop I’ve seen can match it for the combination of design, longevity and performance. You have to ask yourself if the future-proofing is worth the financial hit right now.

I really like Chromebooks. You know why? They are easy to maintain – updates are handled automatically and you will not get nasty viruses like Windows machines.

Instead of Windows 10 or Mac OS X, Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and documents living in the cloud.

My Toshiba Chromebook 2 served me very well until the screen cracked. As good as my Chromebook was there was one thing that I wished for – a much sturdier build and maybe…a bit more power. This is why I am interested in the just announced Acer Chromebook 14.

Acer seems to have identified the Chromebook market gaps and solved almost everything in this extremely solid offering – a thin, metal, almost Mac-like build, armed with 4GB of RAM, a full 14-inch HD display and 12 hours battery life.

There is no word on pricing or availability yet but if your kids school is uses Google’s suite of apps and tools, this makes a lot of sense. Bonus: Because it runs on Chrome OS, your kids won’t be able spend countless hours playing games on it.

Here is an early preview from Hardwarezone.

Check out the best bargains, laptops and accessories at A.LAB (Changi City Point), Best Denki (Waterway Point), Challenger (Bedok Point, Causeway Point, Changi City Point, Northpoint and Eastpoint Mall), Gadget Solution (Eastpoint Mall), Gadget World (Causeway Point), Gain City (Causeway Point and Changi City Point), Harvey Norman (Bedok Point and Northpoint), Lenovo (Causeway Point), PC Zone (Causeway Point), nÜbox (Causeway Point and Waterway Point) and Valore by Challenger (Northpoint).

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