It’s that time of year again when we all have to get back into gear after the Christmas and New Year break. However, it can be tough to get everything that the kids need before they go back to school. Endless lists and requests from your child’s school causes stress among parents. Don’t Panic, though. The Laptop Man is here to help!
We’ve attended a back-to-school seminar for parents, so we know the technology requirements that schools are looking for. For busy parents with countless commitments, being given a list of specifications can be daunting and overwhelming! We were surprised by the lack of support that parents receive. The first thing you need to do is to take note of what grade your child is entering. If they’re in a low grade, it might be worth investing in a high specification model to last them through to high school.
The next decision to make is to determine which operating system your child is more comfortable with. You can choose from a the Mac or Windows Operating systems. If your child has been using a Mac at home and is used to this, it may be beneficial to purchase an Apple Computer. Conversely if your have a PC at home. It’s worth noting, however, that most school systems use windows operating systems which may pose compatibility issues with Mac. Contact your school’s IT administrator for clarification.
As schools increasingly rely on technology in the classroom, kids will be working on screens for longer periods of time. That’s why it’s important to consider screen size. The minimum screen size recommended is 10 inches, which is compact and portable, easily placed in and out of backpacks at school. However, the advantage of larger screens is their clarity and ability to show multiple windows at once. This increases the speed of tasks.
If your child is enrolled in technical subjects at school, they may need a laptop with higher specifications. Technical subjects can include but not limited to; Information Computing Technology, Film and Television, Music and any Arts subject that requires digital design. The general specification states that you only require a machine with 4GB of RAM or 8GB of RAM for technical classes. RAM helps the processor push data through quickly, making items on the machine load faster. The more RAM you have to buffer data, the quicker the machine can run. However, this is only to a point, the rest of the work is done by the processor.
The Processor is very important in ensuring smooth, efficient computing for your child’s education. You need to invest in at least a Core i3 processor; for technical classes and the computer’s longevity, we would recommend a slight but powerful upgrade to a Core i5. Any current Operating System on a new computer will be suitable, whether it’s Apple’s OSx or Windows 7, 8 or soon 10. You don’t need to worry about the operating software on the computer when purchasing. Schools are also recommending that you have a physical keyboard for your device. This is easy for a laptop; however if you choose a tablet, you need to be sure it comes with either a keyboard dock or a Bluetooth keyboard.
Most computers will have an array of software loaded onto the machine for you already, however you may need to look into purchasing a copy of Microsoft Office for use at school. Office is essential for your child to type up documents, create Power-points, data entry and more. If you don’t wish to purchase this, there is a free alternative called Open Office. This is available online; we have been told by schools that it is an acceptable office suite for students. Other software options include Adobe Creative Master Suite and Autodesk CAD Software, among others. These can bought separately or from the school, generally at a slightly cheaper price. These are great options for kids enrolled in graphic or industrial design subjects: it is a skill that will last them well into high school and beyond.
The biggest thing parents will be worried about with their child taking a computer to school is: “Are they going to break it?”, “How will they keep it safe?” There are a few things you might like to look into here. A hard protective case for your device can help to keep it safe against drops and slight misuse. Obviously an I.T. device is not designed to be thrown around, but sometimes accidents happen. Other options include insurance for the device. Most of the devices you look at will come with at least a 12 month warranty with the manufacturer; brands like Apple, Asus, Acer, Samsung etc. This can also be extended at most retailers to 3 years in total. However, this warranty doesn’t cover things like accidental damages or liquid damage. This is where insurance for the device can be extremely important for the longevity of the item. Most retailers will have an option for insurance cover with a third party to cover this for an annual, or once off, fee.
Keep in mind is that your child will be using the internet. While at school the internet usage will be kept secure, there is nothing to stop people from getting viruses at home and spreading them around to other computers. This is where you need to be sure you have an active Internet Security. Most packages come as a 12 month license and retailers can generally load this for you.
Buying a new computer can be a scary thought, because it’s a lot of money to spend on an item when you aren’t completely sure. Hopefully this article has shed some light on what you need for your child’s needs. All of the Laptop Man’s team members have been trained to know what school students need for the New Year, so if you need further help or have questions, just drop down to your nearest store and we can discuss what you need in more detail.
Don’t let back to school buying stress you out: we’re here to help :) View our Back to School Notebook Specials