Lets get this out of the way, there’s no ONE best laptop for teachers. That’s not because I couldn’t find them – don’t worry, I did find some great deals. But there are some unknowns in the equation that only you could know: what are your personal needs and are there any restrictions within your school?
First off, we’ll need to figure out what you need personally as a teacher. Keeping that in mind, I’ll guide you through the general requirements on how to pick a great laptop for teaching. And finally, at the very end, I’ll give some great options to choose from.
What am I looking for in a laptop for teachers?
Personal requirements for a teachers laptop
Personal requirement What do you teach?
First of all, elementary school teachers have a bit more freedom than the others. For an elementary teacher, I’d suggest just going forward and buying whatever suits their lifestyle best. And any of my recommendations at the end of the article should suffice them. Just pick what you fancy the most and what matches your budget.
If you’re teaching a single (or a couple of) subjects, there can be additional requirements that only you are aware of. Usually, these needs are not explicitly stated. I suggest spending 5 minutes to imagine yourself going through the day. Sometimes, even listing out what frustrates you with the current laptop can show what is important to you.
For example, a PE teacher might strongly prefer a lighter laptop so it’s very easy to carry. Also, a very bright screen would be crucial whenever the laptop is taken outside. This is especially important in mostly sunny states. Then, having even a slightly above average display will not be enough.
Please take at least a few minutes to go through your day and write down how you’ll be using your laptop. These small adjustments will help you to evaluate my recommended laptops and to find new ones. Though for the majority of teachers, the general requirements I’ll lay out in a minute will cover most problematic areas when using a laptop for teaching.
Also, are you primarily teaching online? If so, you might have a bit more room to move around than other teachers. Online teachers generally rely on online platforms which are platform-agnostic. That’s a fancy way to say that Windows, MacOS X, Linux laptops, and Chromebooks are all fine for you. Also, online teaching allows to not be so restrictive in most areas. In that case, even a higher-end Chromebook is a viable choice unless you’ll be teaching students how to use some particular piece of software. At the same time, online teachers are the only ones that can very reasonably buy a desktop-replacement laptop and not be troubled by its weight. All in all, for a laptop for teaching on the web, there are more right answers than wrong ones.
Personal requirement Operating System
Do you prefer one Operating System over any other? Or in most cases, do you HAVE to get some particular OS? In most cases, a teacher should look to laptops with Windows and MacOS X. This means 90% of laptops out there are still on the table.
In result, Chrome OS is left out in most discussions about laptops for education. Education is a slowly moving industry which means most of the software you’ll be using for your work is either on Windows or MacOS X. This usually is your school’s policy or at least getting a wrong one becomes an inconvenience when working with others. Luckily, nowadays OS is more of a preference than a hard requirement. But just in case, make sure, you will not need to use some archaic grading software which was designed only for Windows.
It is generally recommended to have the same OS as your students do and in a vast majority of cases, Windows is still the dominant player in the market. Though MacOS X is still a viable option if you strongly prefer it over Windows.
Personal requirement Size
Do you have any size preferences? There are 4 size categories you should consider:
- Very large (17″) – is a viable option only if you will not be carrying the laptop regularly
- Classic large (15.6″) – the most popular size for the longest of times. It gives enough screen estate for serious work while being reasonably portable.
- Small (13.3″) – an increasingly popular choice in the past few years. Great for taking the laptop in and out. These laptops usually have great battery life and a good enough app performance for any type of teacher.
- Very Small (11.6″) – best when you need a very small laptop on-the-go. At the same time, it is a problematic choice due to its screen size. I would recommend very small laptops only if it will be your computer.
Now, I’ll start off listing 3 MAJOR and 3 MINOR requirements. You should pay a lot of attention to the major ones and according to your budget, check a few of the minor ones.
Major requirements for a best laptop for teachers
Major requirement Good battery life
I know that you’ll have a socket to plug your laptop in but nevertheless, a solid battery will pay in dividends whenever you’ll be working off-the-grid. In our specific case, I’d recommend 5 hours of battery life but reaching a full 8-hour workday is definitely a major plus.