Finding the best laptop for elementary students is often a dizzying choice for parents. Today’s elementary school students depend on technology much more often than their predecessors did, even just a few short years ago. Their computers are a critical element of the learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom.
Durability, portability, connectivity options, and battery life are concerns that parents must weigh differently, depending on the student’s needs. Having the right laptop computer is ideal for meeting current educational requirements.
But one thing is certain; they will need a computer. Many students are even expected to have their own laptop by the time they’re 11 or 12 years old. If you are trying to decide between a laptop for school and a desktop, read more in our HP Tech Takes article on the subject.
What determines the best laptops for elementary school students?
The best computer for elementary students depends on the age of the child and the type of work they will be expected to perform with it.
Younger kids need more durability with sturdy construction that will stand up to the punishment that they might accidentally inflict on a device, while older students might need a few more sophisticated features and additional processing power for more muscular applications.
The best laptop for a second grader is not always the best laptop for a sixth grader. Here are the 5 best HP laptops for elementary students, by age.
1. Best Chromebook for primary school (K to 5th grade; beginner level)
For small kids, the most important factors in a laptop are durability, battery life, and screen quality. This is why we recommend the HP Chromebook 14.
They need to access websites, YouTube, Google Classroom, Google Hangouts, Skype with grandparents, or web-based games and videos, while being able to send documents to network printers or use Bluetooth headphones. All of that’s a breeze with this HP Chromebook.
Large, bright display and long battery life
The HP Chromebook 14 has a large, bright 14-inch diagonal WLED-backlit display and a battery life that lasts all day on a single charge. It’s a solid all-around Chromebook model that handles all standard functions (YouTube, browser windows, video calls) with efficiency.
Solid processing power
The standard build includes an AMD A4-9120C APU with Radeon™ R4 Graphics processor, which handles tasks like browser windows, videos, and webcam meetings like a champ. And it does it at a discount price.
As an entry-level, solidly functioning Chromebook, the HP Chromebook 14 gives your grade-school student access to the websites they need without breaking the bank.
Durable, yet design-friendly
Although it is a budget price, it doesn’t look it. The bright and futuristic white design and 1080p resolution 14-inch screen resemble the features of a more expensive machine. The white plastic is solid, chunky, and durable.
It’s great for a younger user more prone to dropping it and it holds up to drops better than many sleeker, more “elegant” and expensive models. Also, this Chromebook comes equipped with USB expansion and MicroSD slots for storage, as well as headphone jacks for wired headphones.
A solid choice
The HP Chromebook 14 is a solid device that is very good at what it does. For a student who needs to access email, watch YouTube videos, join Google Classrooms, use Flipgrids, or have computer video calls with friends and relatives, the HP Chromebook 14 will serve as a team player in your house for years.
2. Best laptop for 8-year-olds to 10-year-olds (grades 3 to 5; advanced beginner level)
The best all-around laptop for kids ages 8 to10 is the HP Pavilion x360 Laptop - 14t touch, which combines a fully functional, complete laptop with the best features of a touch screen tablet. The HP Pavilion x360 laptop provides a child with durability and robust features at a mid-range, affordable price for parents.
The kids don't need to know the details of how 30 Google Chrome tabs and four HD YouTube videos could run simultaneously without slowdown. But the answer is that this convertible laptop from HP uses an Intel® Core™ i5-8265U processor and 8GB of RAM, which sails through such processor-intensive tasks. All they need to know is that their computer won't get slow and glitchy when they use it.
Great bridge to productivity and creativity
Kids are used to the touch screen interfaces of phones and tablets that they’ve grown up with as gaming devices. The HP Pavilion x360, with its tablet mode, provides a great bridge to using a productivity device, while allowing for novel hybrid uses in creativity programs and applications.
Elementary school students in grades 3 through 5 start off with learning by way of games and entertainment, and grow into using a computer as a real tool to create and author work. The HP Pavilion provides reliable power and ability to service all those needs.
Audio is also a premium feature at a mid-range price. The Bang & Olufsen speakers are competitive with, and in many cases superior to, higher-end laptops that are more than double the price.
Note: Don’t look for super-long battery life with this unit; it sacrifices some battery time to make way for all of its other awesome features. Expect a full charge to last about six and a half hours. But for grades 3 to 5, limiting continual screen time to less than that is something parents should consider, anyway.
3. Best laptop for 11-year-olds to 12-year-olds (grades 6 to 7; intermediate level)
Solid, sturdy, and purposefully engineered, the HP ENVY x360 13-touch laptop is the computer equivalent of making the jump from a Huffy dirt bike for the neighborhood to getting a real, quality mountain bike. And it’s just the kind of upgrade an 11- or 12-year-old will need when they graduate into having a middle school workload.
A tool for learning
Intermediate students will be asked to complete increasingly complex tasks and projects at school, and while the HP ENVY x360 will not do their homework for them, it will certainly provide every tool they’ll need to deliver impressive results.
Pen or stylus input, along with the full keyboard, provides kids with a tool that allows for art and design learning as well as standard writing assignments.
Slim, sleek, and durable
A full and powerful Windows 10 machine that also sports a tablet function, the touch screen HP ENVY x360 is slim and sleek but doesn’t sacrifice durability at all. There is little to no flex in the chassis, and the 360-degree swivel hinge that converts the HP ENVY to tablet-mode is built to last.
The HP ENVY x360 brings what used to be professional premium-only design and features of 2-in-1s within reach of intermediate school-age kids. Even though it is slim enough to slip into a backpack and still have plenty of room for other things, it also fits a good number of inputs for devices, charging cables, and accessories.
4. Best laptop for 12-year-olds to 14-year-olds (grades 7 to 8, advanced intermediate level)
Good things come in small packages. The best computer for middle school, HP Spectre x360 13-inch touch laptop, is a powerhouse of a 2-in-1 tablet-laptop in an elegant and compact unit. It combines extended battery life, great graphics and sound, and ports and connectivity solutions into a small space.
Premium power combined with good looks
In addition to having premium, desktop-level processing power that will run any application a young teenager might want to throw at it, the HP Spectre x360 also offers kids a chance at self-expression.
It comes in colors such as Nightfall Black with Copper Luxe accents or Poseidon Blue with Pale Brass accents. Or you can opt for the standard silver color, an attractive laptop with a sleek, futuristic look when swiveled into tablet mode.
Function as well as form
The design isn’t just for show, either. The faceted edges that look so futuristic also allow for the necessary space for a power button and USB 3.1 Type-C™ port in the left and right corners of the rear.
This thoughtful design is key to its function; the design choice solves a problem many 2-in-1 laptop-tablets have. A lot of people will grip their device by the sides when they fold the screen over to go into tablet mode. This often results in the frustrating experience of accidentally pressing side-mounted power buttons, which are standard in some models. Moving the power button to the inside corner takes that away, and looks good doing it.
Additionally, the rear-corner USB-C port (which also supports Thunderbolt™ 3) is used to connect the charging cable. Again, the intentional design choice here solves a problem suffered by many laptops; the placement of the USB and charging port mean they won't stick out of the laptop's side, where they could get in the way of an external mouse, if your middle school student prefers to use one instead of the trackpad.
An elite device
The HP Spectre x360 isn’t a dedicated gaming or multimedia content creation device, but it is more than capable of playing many demanding games and running high-end multimedia programs, such as the Adobe Suite. For an eighth-grade student, the HP Spectre x360 is an elite device.
5. Best Chromebook for all ages (K through 12th laptop computer)
If your student needs a reliable, easily-portable laptop to do basic web and cloud functions like email, Google Docs, Skype, Zoom, and Hangouts, they’ll love the HP Chromebook 15t. At the high end of the Chromebook line, this is the best laptop for K12 students; plus this Chromebook is still wallet-friendly for parents.
The power of touch
The touch screen adds a new level of functionality to the standard Chromebook. Android apps from the Google Play Store become accessible and usable. Think of the HP Chromebook 15t as a hybrid Chromebook and Android tablet, similar in apps that one might use on a Kindle Fire.
Power for more demanding tasks
The Intel Core i3 processor and integrated graphics that power this laptop are strong enough for more demanding computing tasks than just standard web browsing.
The HP Chromebook 15t, with 128GB of flash storage and MicroSD expansion slot, provide a lot of room for downloading mobile apps, just as you can do with an Android tablet or phone.
Long battery life
Since it runs the leaner Chrome OS, but is built with the rugged and quality components found in higher-end computers, the HP Chromebook 15t has a pretty phenomenal battery life. Tests have seen it run 15 hours of video on a full charge. And it runs the speedy and stable Chrome OS, so powering up and getting online is always fast.
Ideal for the whole family
This is a device that moms and dads will also enjoy using around the house. Thanks to its speedy browsing, long battery life, higher-end construction, and solid, quality keyboard the whole family can enjoy getting online.
Great for distance learning
In today’s connected and cloud-based world, the use of low-cost Chromebooks, the internet-browser-only devices that run Google’s Chrome OS instead of Windows often solves all of a kid’s needs for school, especially if their district uses Google Classroom for distance learning or for homework submission.
Ready for web-enabled programs
Don’t expect these machines to run third-party software or games that must be loaded onto a computer. Do expect them to be ready for web-enabled programs like the Google Suite of programs, video conferencing like Zoom, Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams, and web or cloud-based audio and video services like Spotify or Netflix. Read our article comparing Chromebooks to Windows laptops here.
Choosing the correct Chromebook
Although all Chromebooks run Chrome OS and leverage the power of cloud-based computing for their functionality, they are not all created equal. The internal processors and memory configurations, the screen size, the quality of the construction of the chassis and keyboard, and the overall durability; all of these things are factors in choosing the correct Chromebook.
Not sure a Chromebook is right for your student? Then you want an HP laptop computer that runs Windows 10 and offers tablet and standard typewriter-and-mouse and trackpad. It’ll cover every possible thing a student could need to do, in or out of school.
Either the HP Spectre or the HP ENVY we suggested can run programs from loaded memory and provide storage for media and images. And, depending on the model, they can run top-tier, AAA-level computer games.
For Windows users, our top pick is the HP Spectre x360. It will serve your student well in the elementary years and beyond.
About the Author: Jolene Dobbin is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Jolene is an East Coast-based writer with experience creating strategic messaging, marketing, and sales content for companies in the high-tech industry.
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