Laptops for students in the $200 range
So, your teen needs a computer for school, right? Problem is, with all those funny acronyms and numbers and not to mention all those different brands, you just don’t know where to start. No problem!
We’ve looked at a range of laptops to provide you with a guide that cuts through the jargon to help you find the best computer for your teen. With our tips, you will be able to make the right decision about which one to buy for your family at a price that suits your budget.
What are some of the options?
Reviews of the Best Laptops for Teens
This Windows notebook from HP is surprisingly inexpensive considering some of its features, and if your teen prefers something slightly larger, this could be a good option.
It comes with 4GB of RAM and a decent processor. This means it performs well when used for basic activities such as browsing the web, streaming music or movies or other basic operations – but less well if you try to do more.
The 14-inch 1920×1080 fully HD display, unusual in this price bracket and more common in high-end notebooks, means you get a crisper image, great if you are using it for watching movies. However, for a school laptop, the increased size and weight might not be a trade-off you want to make.
This computer disappoints a little in its storage capacity. It comes with only 32GB of memory and once you have installed most of the stuff you’ll want to use, there’s not much space for anything else. However, there’s a slot for an SD card so you can use this to significantly increase storage.
We found this to be a good choice intended for general use and represents excellent value for money. If it is destined for use only as a school computer for your teenager and will be used mainly for things like browsing the web, then it will do everything you need. However, it will not be sufficient if you want it for more demanding tasks or playing games and the lack of memory is also a drawback.
Overall, this is a good choice for a school or college students’ laptop but the size and weight may mean you wish to choose something smaller and more practical.
- Full HD display
- Value for money
- Above average specs
We Didn’t Like:
- Low storage capacity – 32GB
- Size and weight
This Dell has one clear advantage in that it is definitely one of the coolest-looking ones we’ve seen, both for teenage boys and girls. With its shiny blue casing and smooth design, this is a laptop that fashion-conscious teenagers will love.
It’s also a 2-in-1 model featuring touchscreen operation and can switch between traditional mode and tablet mode. The fact that it automatically detects which mode you are using and adjusts its settings accordingly is a feature we particularly like. The tablet mode is suitable for group work.
It is a pretty sturdy model, too, so it won’t break easily on the way from home to school or from class to class. It’s lightweight, making it an ideal choice for a computer that is going to be carried around a lot.
The touchpad is responsive and nice to use. The keyboard is also comfortable to type on for a computer of this size.
This Dell 2-in-1 has been designed as a hybrid and so in some ways resembles a tablet rather than a traditional laptop. One notable problem is that it only has 2GB RAM which means that it will start running more slowly if you try to run too many applications at once.
To conclude, this is a compact, lightweight computer which doubles as a tablet. It represents good value for money and is powerful enough for basic schoolwork. It has a striking look and fashion-conscious teens will enjoy owning it – as long as they don’t need to use it for anything too advanced.
- Good keyboard and touchpad
We Didn’t Like:
- 2GB RAM
- Lack of storage space – 32GB
This offering from Asus includes most of the features required in a laptop used for schoolwork. It’s small and light – only 2.2lbs – making it super-portable, and it runs pretty well for a laptop in this price range too.
The touchpad works well and the keyboard is a pleasure to type on. Of course, if you are used to something bigger, it may take some time to adjust, but that’s the same for any ultra-portable laptop.
The battery life is exceptional and competes with Chromebooks which generally have better battery life than those running Windows.
This Asus represents one of the best choices in terms of value for money as the performance levels it offers are very respectable. With 4GB RAM, this machine will be able to handle a moderate amount of multi-tasking as long as you don’t expect too much
If there is one problem, it’s the lack of storage capacity. However, this is easily rectifiable with an SD card and so doesn’t really present any insurmountable difficulties.
In sum, this is a great-value little machine that does everything you would expect for the price. It is lightweight and has great battery life and, despite having only limited storage space, it is a great choice for a school or college computer.
- Great value
- Fantastic battery life – up to 12 hours
We Didn’t Like:
- Lack of storage space – 32GB
This Chromebook, as is immediately obvious, is extremely rugged. The manufacturer claims it can withstand a fall from 3.9 feet and with the rounded rubber protection running all the way around it, it isn’t hard to believe.
This machine was designed with kids and teenagers in mind and the keyboard is also water resistant. Especially with teens who are constantly on the go, this kind of durability is a major concern and this model will stand up to some fairly rough treatment.
Battery life is exceptional and you can expect it to last all day without needing a recharge.
We like the fact that this Chromebook is light and very portable so it’s particularly suitable for use as a school computer.
Its 4GB of RAM is plenty for a Chromebook. With 16GB, it lacks onboard storage but this is fairly standard for a Chromebook as they are designed for use online and you get 100GB free Cloud storage for the first two years.
As Chromebooks are designed for use mainly when connected to the internet, many of the functions (including access to the 100GB of storage) are not available unless the Chromebook is used while online.
Another problem is that if you are used to using software such as Photoshop or Microsoft Office products, then they won’t work on this device.
This is a good machine for study with high battery life. It is tough but at the same time, it looks good. It is light and portable but, being a Chromebook, works best only when connected to the internet. It might not be the right choice for someone who wants to continue using Microsoft software.
- Rugged, durable and water-resistant
- Fantastic battery life – up to 12.5 hours
- Teen-friendly – designed with younger users in mind
We Didn’t Like:
- A little slow when trying to multitask
This Chromebook from Samsung is another highly affordable option and is lightweight too.
The battery life on this laptop is long enough for all-day use so your teens won’t need to worry about finding a power outlet to charge while at school.
It is available in a 2GB version and a 4GB version. We’re talking about the 4GB version and with this amount of RAM, its performs perfectly well for everyday tasks that a student would need for schoolwork.
It’s lacking in storage space but you can use Cloud-based storage as long as you’re connected to the internet.
This is also one of the better-looking models in the category. It has a sleek, minimalist design and has the aesthetics of a machine that could easily belong in a higher price category. However, this look is partly achieved by placing most of the connectors along the back. This gives the machine an uncluttered feel but it can be awkward when using it with cables plugged in.
If you need to use Windows applications or you already have lots of Windows-based documents, then this is probably not for you. But if you are willing to switch to a different operating system with a different format, then this might be a wise, money-saving choice.
This is an affordable machine that is easy to set up and great for people who do most of their work online. It is a good choice for schoolwork but if you don’t have internet access most of the time then a Chromebook is probably not the right option.
- Very affordable, great value
- Looks very stylish
- Great battery life
We Didn’t Like:
- Most outlets in the back
Whenever you browse for computers, either online or in a store, you are confronted by a bewildering plethora of specs. Not everybody has the same requirements. What might be important to a graphic designer, for example, isn’t important for a student doing homework.
Before you can decide which one is right for you, you need to know which features to look for in a laptop for your teens. Below, we will discuss which features you need to think about when choosing the right one for your needs. We focus particularly on what we consider most important when buying for teenagers to use for schoolwork.
Whether you shop online on eBay or in the store at Walmart or anywhere else, these are the features to pay attention to:
Size and Weight
One of the first things you should think about when buying a computer for school use is not technical at all. It is going to get carried around a lot and so the size and weight of the thing are no minor considerations. You don’t want anything too big or too heavy for your teens to be carrying about from class to class all day. For us, the smaller the better!
This is not particularly technical either but it is a vital consideration. For a laptop that is going to be used mainly at home or in an office where you can easily plug it in, then this is not such an issue. But when a power supply is not always available, as may well be the case at a school desk, then you don’t want the computer dying on you after only a couple of hours of use.
So now were getting a bit more technical but let’s try to keep things simple. The first thing to look at here is the processor. This is the part that carries out the basic calculations (click here for a more technical explanation). To make things easier, in our reviews we have simply indicated, where necessary, if we feel a processor performs well enough in a particular machine.
The other part to consider is the amount of RAM. Again, without going into technical details, the more RAM you have, the more you can work on simultaneously. In this price range, either 2GB or 4GB is normal. We feel that 2GB is probably not enough as it can limit multitasking ability and our advice is to opt for a machine with 4GB RAM.
Definitely an important consideration. You need to make sure it has enough memory to store everything you want to save on it. Storage can often be increased by using an SD card, a memory card that clicks into a slot and can be used to save stuff.
Here, we have looked at Windows laptops and Chromebooks. Chromebooks run on Google’s Chrome operating system and are designed to be used mainly when connected to the internet.
This essentially means that Chromebook manufacturers can cut back on internal hardware because much of their operation is done ‘in the Cloud’ – and this means an accompanying reduction in price which is why Chromebooks are so cheap.
They also require less power to run and only the most efficient Windows alternatives are able to match them.
However, as they run on the Chrome OS, much of the software you may be used to on Windows systems will be incompatible.
A Chromebook may be the right solution for someone who uses their computer mainly while connected to the internet and is happy using Google’s applications.
However, if you wish to use your laptop offline or particularly want to use Windows-compatible products, you should probably choose Windows.
Having discussed our five top picks and considered what each has to offer, for us there is one outstanding choice that should become an essential tool for schoolwork. It could be an excellent choice for a Christmas or other gift and something your teen will really appreciate.
For the HP model, while boasting very decent specs for the price, we found that the extra size and weight mean that it is not the ideal model for a teenagers.
The Dell 2 in 1 certainly looks the part and, with its hybrid laptop-tablet functionality, it offers more versatility than the others. We just felt that it lets itself down by being neither a full laptop nor an out-and-out tablet.
The two Chromebooks are attractive options with the Samsung being the slightly better-looking of the two while the Asus was the hands-down winner in terms of ruggedness. However, we feel that the need to work online as much as possible means they are less practical than a traditional machine.
We highly recommend the Asus Windows laptop as a useful tool for students, ideal for school, college and even up to university level.
For us, the laptop that had all the features we needed for school was the Asus Windows model. We felt that with its combination of minimal size and weight, its highly adequate level of performance, its user-friendly keyboard and touchpad, and its low price, this is the best for helping students develop and learn, and it gets a big thumbs-up from us.
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