3 Laptops in Different Price-Ranges for Online Teachers in 2020

Photo by Ono Kosuki on Pexels.com

So, you’re about to start your online teaching gig and you need something portable. Maybe you’re a seasoned teacher, and you have your digital classroom routine mastered, but you’re looking for an upgrade. Regardless of your situation, you’ve found yourself looking for a new machine that you can rely on. Before we jump into this, there are some criteria that I’ll be highlighting, as well as why these criteria should be something you’re thinking about when you make your purchase. If you already know all about this stuff and just want to find a good laptop, scroll on past.

Screen Size: So this one is fairly obvious, but I’ll discuss it anyway. Ideally, your screen should be around 15″ or so. Smaller screens tend not to be very durable, but screens larger than 15″ can get a bit cumbersome. If you just leave your laptop at your desk, which is what I do, then a bulky laptop won’t be anything to worry about. If you like to take your work with you wherever you go, like to the coffee shop, you might not want to opt for a very big screen. You’ll want to find a happy medium. Personally, my work computer has a 15.6″ screen, which is totally adequate.

Resolution: Not to be confused with screen size! Resolution is the number of pixels on your screen. In short, more pixels will give you a sharper image, which is exactly what you want. Poor image-quality will make it difficult to read your students’ body-language and facial expressions, so it’s a good idea to go with higher resolution. Good screens will be 1920 x 1080 pixels, or 1080p. Fortunately, all of the laptops on this post will have this resolution, but if you decide to look somewhere outside this posting, make sure to look for 1080p.

RAM: You’ll want 8GB of RAM or more, unless your budget is low. RAM essentially allows your computer to run multiple processes at once without experiencing any kind of lag or delay. For teaching, your RAM will dictate how quickly you can access any process that might be running. For me, it’s the QKids teaching platform (you can read about my experiences with that here). For a lot of teachers, the process could be Zoom, or VIPKid, depending on if they’re teaching in a brick-and-mortar school and have went virtual, or if they have been teaching English to children overseas. Nonetheless, these types of programs can actually be quite intensive, especially if you have multiple students.

Processor: The processor and the RAM work together with processing data. All of the laptops I’m discussing here have pretty good processors, but just know that processors newer than about 8th-gen will usually be best.

Wifi-Card: For obvious reasons, you need this. Unless you’re always plugging directly into the modem, you’ll need the integrated wifi-card, which nearly every modern laptop has. Otherwise, you may find yourself without internet access when it’s time to teach!

Storage: If you’re only using this laptop for work, you should be fine with 128GB of storage. If your lesson plans take up lots of memory or you’re using this device for other activities including your work, you’ll probably want more storage. Alternatively, if you find yourself running low on storage, you can pick up an external hard-drive for fairly cheap.

Webcam: As long as your laptop has one, you’re probably fine. You’ll want at least 1280 x 720 pixels, or 720p, which is standard for most integrated webcams in any modern laptop. Any lower than that, and whatever you have on camera will be blurry.

So, you might be wondering about sound-quality and whatnot, since I won’t be discussing that when it comes to choosing your laptop. This is because if you’re teaching remotely, you should be fitting a decent headset into your budget. So, if you want to know more about headsets, you can read my article about that by clicking here. Now, with all of those criteria out of the way, we can go ahead find out which laptop will suit your classroom the best.

Lenovo IdeaPad 14ADA05 – Less than $500 (affiliate link)

Specs:
Screen Size: 14″
Resolution: 1080p
RAM: 4 GB
Processor: AMD Anthlon Silver
Wifi-card: Wifi and Bluetooth combo
Storage: 128 GB
Webcam: 720p

For the intents and purposes of teaching, this laptop will do in a pinch, but for the price-range, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re sacrificing processing speed and memory for the price. In short, you get what you pay for. Both the processor and RAM aren’t optimal for teaching, but they will work if your processes are simple, or if you’re only teaching one or two students at a time. Otherwise, you’ll want something a little bit better.

HP 255 G7 Notebook – Less than $700 (affiliate link)

Specs:
Screen Size: 15.6″
Resolution: 1080p
RAM: 8 GB
Processor: Ryzen 3 3200U
Wifi-card: Wifi and Bluetooth combo
Storage: 256 GB
Webcam: 720p

This is my personal work-computer that I’ve used throughout college, and while working. It runs solidly for my lessons, and is even pretty good for some low-end gaming. Honestly? I can’t see myself upgrading anytime soon unless I get a serious pay-raise, but that’s a-okay, because I love this computer. As of this posting, the HP 255 G7 Notebook is out of stock, but Newegg and Amazon will surely be getting more in soon when the holidays are over, so keep an eye out for that.

HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop – Less than $1,000 (affiliate link) *currently on sale for $699.99*

Specs:
Screen Size: 16.1″
Resolution: 1080p
RAM: 12 GB
Processor: Intel i5-10300H
Wifi-card: Wifi and Bluetooth combo
Storage: 256 GB
Webcam: 720p

This laptop may be designed for gaming, but its capabilities extend beyond that. With the extra RAM and a serious boost in processing power, you would be able to design all of your lessons from the ground up if you wanted to. I’m talking about video-editing and artwork capabilities, which would be good for you digital nomads out there who are making a career out of teaching English from wherever you want. However, if you’re like me, and you’re teaching on the side for a company who provides you with your teaching resources, a laptop like this would be overkill.

The verdict:

In the end, your needs and financial situation will determine which of these laptops is the “best.” All in all, there are some pretty solid laptops here, and you will be hard-pressed to find better machines for these price-ranges. Whether you’re a digital nomad who’s stacked with cash or a broke college student like me, you’ve got options here, as well as knowledge on what to look for in a laptop if none of these ones suit you.

What do you think? Do you have any experience with these laptops or think that there are better ones out there? Comment below to let me know. Happy holidays, and I’ll see you all in 2021!

Published by Boris

Teaching, teching, gaming. It's what I do.

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