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Need a laptop that won’t break the bank? Here are 5 of the best options under $300. — 08/31/2018

Need a laptop that won’t break the bank? Here are 5 of the best options under $300.

A new laptop is always a big investment, one that you’ll likely need to make every few years to keep up with the ever-changing technology world. You might even put it off after an initial browse when you start to see how pricey a new laptop can get, and the sheer volume of how many options are out there. 

But you don’t always need to break the bank to get a suitable laptop. You’ll still have a huge range of products to choose from if you’re only looking to spend a few hundred bucks. And if you just need another device to check email on, browse YouTube, or pull up recipes, maybe a budget laptop is all you need.

Cheaper laptops may not have all the features of top-of-the-line computers, but you can still get reliability and the basic features that you’ll be using every day. 

Each individual will find different specs to be their priority. Depending on what kinds of tasks you’re hoping to accomplish with your new laptop, maybe a larger screen display is what you’re looking for. Perhaps if you’re the kind of worker who enjoys taking your laptop to the corner cafe, battery life is super important. Maybe you’re looking for a place to store all your photos and documents, in which case, more storage space is what you’ll have in mind. A commuter may value a lighter laptop over a heavier machine, for ease of transport. It’s all up to the individual, and just because you’re looking at a lower price point doesn’t mean you don’t have all of these options available.

What size laptop should you get?

This really comes down to two things: Personal preference and lifestyle. Personal preference is self-explanatory, really — do you like having a huge display, or do you prefer something more compact? Lifestyle is where practicality comes into play. If you’re traveling often and usually have your computer on your back in some way, you’re going to want to go with something more light and compact (thin, 11-inch models will most likely be the best). But, if you’re a huge movie buff who doesn’t normally take their laptop on the road with them, spring for a 15-inch (and higher) screen with a bulky construction so you can have epic Netflix and chill sessions. If you’re getting a gaming laptop, you should probably “go big or go home,” as well.  

What am I losing by getting a cheap laptop?

Laptops in the $300-or-below price range are not going to be good for PC gaming. You won’t get a 4K resolution display or a refresh rate higher than 60Hz. RAM is going to max out around 8GB, which isn’t bad but also isn’t spectacular. You’re also unlikely to get more than 500GB of storage space.

In this price range, laptops are going to be best for web browsing, word processing, Zoom calls, and streaming. As long as you don’t expect more than that, you’ll be fine.

But are cheap laptops worth it?

You know the old saying: You get what you pay for. But thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades, a cheap laptop can actually take you pretty far and won’t break down immediately. It’s all about knowing which one to select.

Rather than just making a few purchase suggestions and sending you on your way, we’re going to equip you with some knowledge that’ll help you be a more informed laptop shopper. You know all that computer jargon of processor-this and gigahertz-that — we’ll explain it all in terms that anyone can understand.

Whether you’re looking for a machine for school, work, or fun, you can find a laptop that can handle the basics for less than $300. It may sound impossible in today’s world, and that’s why we’ve listed our favorites for you below.  

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Image: samsung

The Good

32GB storage • Reliable webcam • Excellent battery life

The Bad

No touchscreen • Performance cannot handle too much at once • Chunky bezels

The Bottom Line

Fast speeds and 12.5 hours of battery life, plus the double last model’s storage make this our favorite laptop for under $300.

Samsung Chromebook 4

Fast speeds and 12.5 hours of battery life, plus the double last model’s storage make this our favorite laptop for under $300.

  • Processor:
    Intel Celeron N4000
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    32GB flash storage
  • Display:
    11.6 inch HD LED
  • Weight:
    2.6 pounds
Chromebooks are the go-to for affordable laptops, and the Samsung Chromebook 4 only improves on earlier models. This simple, reliable notebook will do the trick for work, school, or basic daily use.
The Intel Celeron N4000 along with 4GB of RAM provides reliable performance, and, at 32GB of storage, this model offers double the storage of the Chromebook 3, which itself was a well-loved affordable option. 
The Chromebook 4 has a slightly more modern design than the 3, and it charges via USB-C, which also serves to transfer data at speeds up to 5Gb/s and can connect to a 4K monitor. It includes a USB-A port as well.

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Image: lenovo

The Good

Impressive display • 13 hours of battery life • Lightweight

The Bad

Chunky bezels • No audio jack • Small display

The Bottom Line

This is a great intermediate between tablet and laptop for those who want the best of both worlds.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

This is a great intermediate between tablet and laptop for those who want the best of both worlds.

  • Processor:
    MediaTek Helio P60T
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    64GB eMMC
  • Display:
    10.1 inches
  • Weight:
    2 pounds
With a colorful display, robust storage, and 13 hours of battery life, the Duet is our favorite Chromebook. It’s small and lightweight, yet powerful and reliable enough to handle heavy browsing.
This is a great choice for tablet fans who want something even lighter and more versatile — the keyboard will allow you to treat this as a laptop whenever you please. 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM are packed inside this two-pound machine, too.
While this has only one USB-C port, and is missing an audio jack, you’ll be able to connect to just about any accessory via Bluetooth. 

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Image: HP

The Good

Lightweight • Good performance • Low price

The Bad

Bad webcam • Low-res display • No USB-C port

The Bottom Line

Budget-conscious shoppers will love the bang they’ll get for their buck with this laptop.

HP Stream Pro 11

Budget-conscious shoppers will love the bang they’ll get for their buck with this laptop.

  • Processor:
    Intel Celeron N4000
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    64GB eMMC flash storage
  • Display:
    11.6 inches
  • Weight:
    2.37 pounds
The HP Stream Pro 11 is the best deal on our list. It may not be the latest product on the market, but it’s one of the best available for the price. 
At under 2.5 pounds and 11.6 inches, this laptop is highly portable, making it a great option for someone who travels often or has a daily commute. It sports a long battery life (13 hours and 15 minutes, the best we’ve found in our research) and pretty strong performance for the price point.
A microSD card reader, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.1 port, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack are included, but unfortunately there is no USB-C port.

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Image: Acer

The Good

Largest display for under $300 • Good performance

The Bad

Slightly heavier than other models • Display is otherwise unimpressive

The Bottom Line

This is the largest screen you’ll find on a laptop under $300.

Acer Aspire 1

This is the largest screen you’ll find on a laptop that costs less than $300.

  • Processor:
    Intel Celeron N4020
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    64GB eMMC
  • Display:
    15.6 inches
  • Weight:
    4.19 pounds
If a bigger screen is important to your work life or personal browsing, the Acer Aspire 1 has the biggest display for its price point, at 15.6 inches. 
It’s a basic laptop, great for your home office or for the kids’ schoolwork. It’s typical of what you’d see for a laptop that’s less than $300, with 4GB RAM, 64GB of eMMC storage, but it is a bit heavier than other models (4.19 pounds). 
Wireless performance is good, and this laptop runs Windows 10. A comfortable keyboard and an attractive design sweeten the deal. The laptop includes two USB-A ports, a headphone jack, an HDMI port, and an Ethernet port.

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Image: CHUWI

The Good

Awesome display • Large storage capacity

The Bad

Shorter battery life than other models • Runs warm

The Bottom Line

This is a great budget laptop for those who do video editing or any kind of visual work.

Chuwi HeroBook Pro

This is a great budget laptop for those who do video editing or any kind of visual work.

  • Processor:
    Intel Gemini Lake N4000
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    256GB SSD
  • Display:
    14.1 inches
  • Weight:
    3.06 pounds
If visual work or video editing is part of your daily life, this is the laptop for you. With a vibrant, 14.1-inch display and 256GB of SSD storage, the Chuwi HeroBook Pro seems like anything but a budget laptop. 
The laptop is lightweight at just over three pounds, and slim at 0.8 inches. The design is sleek and modern, lending the appearance of a much more expensive notebook. 
The display has anti-glare properties and unbeatable viewing angles for the price. While it’s not the biggest display we have on this list, it is one of the best (behind the Acer Aspire 1). 
Otherwise, performance and speed are great with this machine. Battery life isn’t the longest, however, as it lasts about nine hours. 
Level up: 7 of the best laptops to net you a great gaming experience — 08/20/2018

Level up: 7 of the best laptops to net you a great gaming experience

BEST DEALS ON GAMING LAPTOPS:


PC gaming is said by many to be the best way to play video games. In a lot of ways, that’s true — high-end gaming computers pack more graphical and processing power than any home console does, and they offer a level of freedom in terms of customization and game choice that you’re just not going to find anywhere else. But when it comes down to it, starting your foray into PC gaming can be extremely complicated, especially when you’re new to all of this. 

Unlike consoles that you can just pick up and play, gaming computers require an intense amount of research into each and every component. GPUs, CPUs, monitors, keyboards — it’s a lot to take in, and it’ll normally cost you a lot of money.

While desktops may deliver the best performance, laptops fit into the modern lifestyle more effortlessly. A laptop allows you to take everything you want with you, and you can find a laptop that fits nearly any and every type of gamer. Whether you’re looking for a powerhouse that can run VR, 4K resolution, and eye-popping graphics, or hoping to just balance cost with power, there’s a gaming laptop for you. 

Gaming laptops still take a bit of careful spec scrutinization before you buy one, but they are way simpler than their desktop counterparts. But, even with that extra simplicity, it can still be a head-scratcher of a choice if you don’t know what to look for in the first place. We’re going to help you with that part.

What to consider when looking for a gaming laptop

As with any computer — gaming or otherwise — there are a lot of components that make up any given device. You shouldn’t have to figure all that out for yourself, though. Here’s what you’ll want to take into account when shopping for a gaming laptop:

  • CPU: Also called a processor, your CPU is basically your computer’s brain, and will dictate how speedy your laptop can process inputs, store data, and execute on outputs correctly. Your processor is in constant communication with the other parts of your computer, so it’s important that the device’s central nervous system is a good one. 

  • GPU: The GPU (or graphics card) does what it sounds like it does: It ensures that your games can run at their intended graphical quality. The better the GPU, the better your laptop can render details like textures, anti-aliasing, ray tracing, and more (you can always change these settings within your games to better suit your graphics card, but the better the GPU, the closer you can get to those higher-end settings). 

  • System Memory (or RAM): Your RAM, like your CPU, is also extremely important in determining overall performance. RAM provides short-term memory storage for applications so that they can access data quickly, storing information that your computer is actively using. For budget gaming laptops, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than 8GB of RAM.

  • Storage: When it comes to storage, you’ll normally find yourself deciding between a hard drive (HDD) and a solid-state drive (SSD). HDDs can have a higher storage capacity than SSDs, but at the cost of lower performance. The good news is that some gaming laptops come with a dual-storage approach, opting for an HDD as the main storage method, with a smaller SSD built in that you can dedicate to your more performance-demanding games.

  • Display: That nice GPU you bought will be wasted if you don’t have a nice display to marvel at its brilliance on. You’ll mainly want to look for three things here: resolution, refresh rate, and size. For our money, we say go for a 1080p resolution with a 60Hz refresh rate (which means you can run up to 60 frames per second on your screen). The size, however, is up to your preference — gaming laptops usually come in at 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch displays.

  • Keyboard: The keyboard is another vital part of your overall experience with a gaming laptop. Comfort is definitely a factor, but you’ll also want to decide whether you want full-range RGB backlight settings (totally fine to skip out on the fancy stuff here), and if you like the layout of the keys themselves. For example, if you find that you desperately need a number pad on your keyboard, you’ll want to double-check to make sure that it’s there — not all gaming laptops have one (not all 15.6-inch options at least, almost all 17.3-inch laptops will have one). 

Being able to take your PC games anywhere you go is a huge benefit of gaming laptops over desktops.

Being able to take your PC games anywhere you go is a huge benefit of gaming laptops over desktops.

Image: razer

Which parts are the most important?

If all those bulleted points gave you a headache and you want an even more simplified explanation, you’ll want to put most of your focus on the computer’s GPU and CPU, or the processor and graphics card, respectively. They’ll be the two things that end up making or breaking your overall experience with your gaming laptop, as they work in tandem with each other to provide a speedy and smooth performance. If you skimp too much on them, you’ll most likely get choppy gameplay and plenty of frustration in return, so make them your main investment. 

So, what’s the best gaming laptop?

Whether you’re a budget-focused gamer who just requires the bare minimum, or you’re someone who wants to run your games in 4K with an uncapped frame rate, these laptops will serve you well as your shiny new PC gamer badge. Below are our picks for the best gaming laptops.

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Image: razer / mashable photo composite

The Good

Great battery life • Lots of opportunity for upgrading and customization • Eye-popping display • High-end specs and performance

The Bad

Fans can run a bit loud

The Bottom Line

The Razer Blade 15 is a gaming laptop that’s as powerful as it is sleek — while it’s on the pricey side, it’s worth the extra cash for its beautiful design and upgradability.

Razer Blade 15 Advanced

The Razer Blade 15 is like the Apple MacBook Pro of gaming laptops — sleek, powerful, and cutting edge.

  • CPU:
    10th Generation Intel Core i7-10875H
  • GPU:
    NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super with Max-Q Design
  • RAM:
    16GB
  • Storage:
    1TB SSD
  • Display:
    15.6 inches, 4K OLED
Just think of the Razer Blade 15 Advanced as the MacBook Pro of PC gaming laptops. With its sleek design, the Razer Blade 15 is a nearly edge-to-edge gaming machine inside of a beautiful and durable aluminum unibody chassis and display that’s upgradeable to 4K. 
This gaming laptop also has the high-end specs you’d come to expect from Razer, including an 8-Core 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super with Max-Q Design graphics card, 16GB of memory, and 1TB of SSD storage. The 15 is also expandable with an open Razer Core X. 
Although its fans spin loudly when working at full capacity, the 15 features a vapor chamber cooling system that Razer developed for a substantial power boost while you’re playing. This laptop might be on the expensive side, but it’s worth it for this level of performance inside of a sleek design.

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Image: asus / mashable photo composite

The Good

512GB SSD is rare at this price • AMD Ryzen 7 CPU and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU make for a great combo • VR-ready

The Bad

No disc drive — if you have old PC games on disc that you want to play, look elsewhere

The Bottom Line

If you want an AMD-powered gaming laptop at the budget price point, the Asus TUF Gaming A15 is the only way to go — with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU to boot, it’s a fantastic buy.

Asus TUF Gaming A15

The Asus TUF Gaming A15 is the best AMD powered laptop that you’ll find at this price point, especially when paired with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU.

  • CPU:
    AMD 3rd Generation Ryzen 7
  • GPU:
    NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    512GB SSD
  • Display:
    15.6 inches, 1080p
If AMD processors are more your style over Intel, the Asus TUF Gaming A15 is the best AMD-powered laptop you’ll find at the $1,000-and-under price point. It’s also one of the only AMD-powered laptops running an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 GPU at this price. 
In addition to the speedy performance from the AMD CPU and RTX 2060 graphics card, the A15 is just a well-rounded machine that serves as a great starting point for those new to the PC gaming landscape. It has a large SSD (most laptops at this price bring about 256GB to the table — this one boasts 512GB) that’ll give an extra power boost to that at CPU-and-GPU combo, a gorgeous 1080p display, and a full RGB backlit keyboard. It’s also VR-ready, just in case you’ve been thinking about picking up an Oculus Rift. 
 

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Image: asus / mashable photo composite

The Good

Compact 14-inch design without shirking on power • Speedy AMD processor • Vibrant display • Hefty SSD storage

The Bad

Fans run pretty loud

The Bottom Line

The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is stocked with internals that can rival much larger machines, and does it within a compact, 14-inch body — the definition of small, yet mighty.

Asus ROG Zephyrus G14

Looking for a balance between style and substance? You’ve found it. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is truly a pint-sized powerhouse.

  • CPU:
    AMD 3rd Generation Ryzen 9
  • GPU:
    NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q
  • RAM:
    16GB
  • Storage:
    1TB SSD
  • Display:
    14 inches, 1080p
If you want to ride that AMD processor train even further, the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is one of the best AMD-powered gaming laptops you’re going to find, period. 
This Asus rig strikes a healthy balance between style and substance. From the outside, the ROG Zephyrus G14 sports a minimalist aesthetic in a compact 14-inch body. While small computers normally signal less power to shoppers, this laptop actually boasts incredible performance all around thanks to its AMD 3rd Generation Ryzen 9 processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q graphics card. Also included is a hefty 1TB SSD and a beautifully vibrant display that’ll keep your games looking top-notch (even on such a small screen). 
The only downside to the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is that its fans tend to run pretty loud, but that’s to be expected in an ultra-compact laptop that packs such a huge punch. If you’re looking for something small, yet mighty, you’ve found it. 

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Image: msi / mashable photo composite

The Good

Compact, thin-bezel design is great for travel • Speedy performance for a smaller device • A nice lineup of components

The Bad

Screen is a bit dim, which takes away from its graphical power

The Bottom Line

If you see yourself traveling with your gaming laptop often, the MSI GF63 is really good for chucking into your backpack and playing from wherever you are.

MSI GF63 Thin

Speedy and packing good components for the price, the MSI GF63 Thin gaming laptop makes for an ideal device to travel with.

  • CPU:
    Intel Core i5-8300H
  • GPU:
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    256GB SSD
  • Display:
    15.6 inches, 1080p
Planning on traveling with your PC? The MSI GF63 Thin gaming laptop is going to be your best bet. 
We love this laptop not only for its compact, thin-bezel design that’s great for storing in a backpack, but also for its other components. At this price, you’re getting a really solid setup — an Intel Core i5-9300H processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card, 256GB SSD, and a 1080p full HD display. 
It’s fast, packs stellar visuals, and is all tied together in an ultra-portable package.

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Image: acer / mashable photo composite

The Good

Affordable • Great components for the price • Long battery life

The Bad

Lower graphical quality than our other picks, as expected

The Bottom Line

The Acer Nitro 5 is the best *budget* budget laptop, in our opinion — the component setup and long battery life make it an awesome deal at just $700.

Acer Nitro 5

If you’re looking to spend the least money possible on your gaming laptop without buying an absolute clunker, the Acer Nitro 5 will satisfy on all counts.

  • CPU:
    Intel 10th Generation Core i5
  • GPU:
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    256GB SSD
  • Display:
    15.6-inches, 1080p
The Acer Nitro 5 is our favorite budget pick because, for one thing, it’s the cheapest on our list.
But that low price wouldn’t mean anything if it wasn’t also a good laptop, which it totally is. In fact, it has a lot of the same inner components as a few of the more expensive options in this roundup. Perhaps the most impressive selling point of this laptop (other than the price) is its 9-hour battery life. Most gaming laptops at this price will last 7 hours on the high end, for comparison. 
The price does come with some downsides, though. Most notably, the graphical performance in conjunction with the Intel 10th Generation Core i5 processor isn’t as great as our other picks (that’s not to say it looks bad, though). But hey, you can’t have it all, and that low price point is hard to beat. 

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Image: dell / mashable photo composite

The Good

Good base internals • Lots of options for upgrades and customization • Unique aesthetic

The Bad

Battery life should be better at this price

The Bottom Line

If you want a little more control over what your laptop internals look like, the Alienware m15 R3 is the way to go — the base version is a strong contender, too.

Alienware m15 R3

You could go for the base version of the m15 R3 and still have a great gaming laptop on your hands, but where it really shines is in its customization opportunities.

  • CPU:
    10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H
  • GPU:
    NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060
  • RAM:
    16GB
  • Storage:
    512GB SSD
  • Display:
    15.6 inches, 1080p
If you’re a bit more familiar with the world of PC gaming and you feel comfortable enough to pick out your own parts to create a laptop that’s tailored to your needs, the Alienware m15 R3 will be right up your alley. 
The base version of the m15 R3 is already an impressive gaming laptop — it’s chock full of stellar internals, including a 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10750H processor, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card, and a 512GB SSD. But if you have some extra cash at your disposal, all of these things can be upgraded à la carte on Dell’s website, making it simple to customize the machine to your liking. Want more storage? Upgrade to a 1TB SSD. More graphical power? Bump up to the GeForce RTX 2070 instead. 
There are a lot of options for you to check out, and if you like having more say in what your laptop internals look like, you should definitely consider building out an Alienware m15 R3 of your own. 

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Image: dell / mashable photo composite

The Good

Impressive price-to-performance ratio • Well-rounded components make for a really good starter gaming laptop

The Bad

Some hardware issues like overheating and low battery life (which can be mitigated if you keep it plugged in)

The Bottom Line

If you don’t really care for the all bells and whistles and just want raw performance, the Dell G5 15 is a good beginner’s gaming laptop at a sweet price.

Dell G5 15

The Dell G5 15 gaming laptop prioritizes raw performance over fancy features, which becomes totally worthwhile at such a low price.

  • CPU:
    10th Generation Intel Core i5-10300H
  • GPU:
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    256GB SSD
  • Display:
    15.6 inches, 1080p
The Dell G5 15 is the way to go if you’re looking for the best price-to-performance ratio. 
The G5 15 has a really solid CPU and GPU setup for the $800 range, prioritizing raw performance over fancy bells and whistles that other gaming laptops may opt for. The Dell G-Series laptops definitely don’t reach the heights of their premium Alienware line, but on a budget, the G5 15 is the best of the Dell bunch.
The hardware is a bit chunky and has the tendency to overheat during long play sessions, but if you can stomach those issues, the speedy Dell G5 15 is a beginner gaming laptop that is well worth the money. 
Best 2-in-1 laptops for beginners, experts, and everyone in between —

Best 2-in-1 laptops for beginners, experts, and everyone in between

While laptops and tablets are great on their own, sometimes you just need both — at once — without the hassle of having to carry around two devices all day. 

Enter: the hybrid laptop (or just 2-in-1 laptop). It’s a device that you can convert from tablet to laptop and back again with ease.

Why would I want a 2-in-1 laptop?

Simply put, a 2-in-1 laptop allows you to have the best of both devices at your fingertips. You can use the tablet to draw and take hand-written notes with a stylus, or you can use its touch-screen and gesture features for your day-to-day activities. But when you need more control or need to type something up, you can switch into laptop and keyboard mode. Best of all, these machines feature the computing power to run full-sized applications like Adobe Photoshop and more.

What size laptop should you get?

This really comes down to two things: Personal preference and lifestyle. If you’re traveling often and usually have your computer on your back, you’re going to want to go with something more light and compact (thin, 11-inch models will most likely be the best). But, if you’re a huge movie buff who doesn’t normally take their tech on the road with them, spring for a 15-inch screen with a bulky construction so you can have better Netflix and chill sessions.

Are cheap laptops worth it?

You know the old saying: You get what you pay for. But thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades, a cheap laptop can actually take you pretty far and won’t break down immediately. It’s all about knowing which one to select. Depending on what you use your laptop for the most, staying stingy might be your best option. (You can also check out our roundups for the cheap laptops that we think are actually worth it — here are our favorite models under $500, and the best under $300.)

What should you look for in a 2-in-1 laptop?

Regardless of what you intend to use your hybrid machine for, a good one should strike a great balance between portability and usability. In other words, you’ll want something that can do what you need it to without being too bulky, difficult to convert, or heavy. 

There are a lot of really good 2-in-1 laptops out there, but some of them have vastly different capabilities for different kinds of people. If you’re an artist or a designer, you’ll likely want a 2-in-1 laptop with a large screen for drawing or media viewing. If you’re on the go a lot, or if you’re a student, you might want something a little smaller that can easily fit it in your backpack. If you’re a big writer or use your device for work, you’ll likely want something that feels more like a laptop. But if you’re going to use the tablet more than a keyboard, maybe a tablet with a detachable keyboard is a better option for you. 

To help narrow down your search, we gathered up the very best 2-in-1 devices that can suit a variety of needs. Read on to check out our top picks.

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Image: SAMSUNG

The Good

Includes a built-in S pen • Bright, colorful screen with energy-saving QLED display • Long battery life

The Bad

Fingerprint scanner is oddly placed • Can get warm after long use • Shortened shift key

The Bottom Line

This 2-in-1 laptop looks cool, is easy to use, and comes with a great stylus.

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15

This 2-in-1 laptop looks cool, is easy to use, and comes with a great stylus.

  • Storage:
    512 GB
  • Memory:
    16GB
  • CPU:
    Intel Core i7 Processor 1065G7
  • GPU:
    Intel Iris Plus Graphics
The Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 15 is a stand-out 2-in-1 laptop that will catch your eye immediately, thanks to its cool, royal blue exterior. This device comes with an amazingly accurate stylus that makes note-taking easy and will keep artists and professional artists happy. 
The device also has a QLED display, which not only saves energy but also maintains brightness without depleting the battery too fast. It runs quickly and allows you to easily multi-task with multiple programs (including photo and video-editing ones) and multiple browsers. 
The device features an easy-to-use, 360-degree flip-and-fold design, allowing you to easily switch from laptop mode to presentation mode to tablet mode.

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Image: lenovo

The Good

It’s a workhorse that can handle any software • It has a lot of ports • Polished design

The Bad

No thunderbolt 3 port • It doesn’t come with Lenovo Active Capacity Pens

The Bottom Line

A powerful 2-in-1 laptop for a mid-range price tag.

Lenovo Flex 2020

If you’re looking for a powerful, yet sleek 2-in-1 laptop, then look no further than the Lenovo Flex 2020 with its 14-inch touchscreen.

  • Storage :
    1TB
  • Memory:
    20GB
  • CPU:
    10th Gen Intel 4-Core i5-10210U
  • GPU:
    Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
If you’re looking for a powerful yet sleek 2-in-1 laptop, then look no further than the Lenovo Flex 2020 with its 14-inch touchscreen. The computer company didn’t cut any corners to get this machine to under $1000, but you’d be surprised what’s underneath the hood that makes it a powerful and graceful hybrid. 
It is very comfortable to rest your palms on as you type on its compact full keyboard. While its display is beautiful with full HD and a sharp resolution, the laptop is also touch-based, as it transforms into a full Windows 10 tablet that supports the Lenovo Active Pen (not included).
The base model has a 10th Gen Intel 4-Core processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage space — though you can upgrade up to 20GB of RAM and 1TB of space if you have the extra cash to spend. It has a microSD slot for additional storage and portability. While there is no Thunderbolt 3 port, it does feature a single USB Type-C port, along with two USB 3.0 and HDMI ports. It also comes with a backlit keyboard.

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Image: asus

The Good

Includes a fingerprint reader • Thin design with large HD touch screen

The Bad

Not the best battery life • No HDMI port

The Bottom Line

This Chromebook doesn’t sacrifice high quality specs or performance.

Asus Chromebook Flip C436

A useful, powerful, and adaptable Chromebook.

  • Storage:
    128GB
  • Memory:
    8GB
  • CPU:
    Intel Core i3-10110U
  • GPU:
    Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
We all know the stigma that Chromebooks are cheap and plastic laptops that only run the Google Chrome browser as its operating system. Well, that might have been the case for Chromebooks of the past, but now they’re marching into deluxe Chromebook territory with the Asus Chromebook Flip C436— without breaking the bank. 
Depending on your needs, you can either get it in silver with 8GB of RAM, a Core i3 Processor, and 128GB of storage for $799 or get the upgrade version in “Aerogel White,” which features 16GB RAM, 512 GB of storage, and a Core i5 processor. Both feature a 14-inch, full HD touch screen and a backlit keyboard. 
The device is simple to use and it’s easy to flip between laptop and tablet with minimal fuss. That said, the hinges do wobble a little if you tap the display in laptop mode. 

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Image: dell

The Good

Really good build • Amazing and high quality display good enough for gaming • Long battery life

The Bad

Keyboard takes some time to get used to

The Bottom Line

The Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 is a small machine that has the power of a gaming laptop, but in a compact and thin presentation.

Dell XPS 13

The Dell XPS is one of the few hybrids that can deliver high-working performance, as well as gaming chops in a trusty 2-in-1.

  • Storage:
    256GB
  • Memory:
    8GB
  • CPU:
    11th Generation Intel Core i5-1135G7
  • GPU:
    Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Often, 2-in-1 hybrid machines have to give up power to make it more easily convert from a laptop into a tablet. However, the Dell XPS 13 is one of the few hybrids that can deliver high-working performance, as well as gaming chops in a trusty 2-in-1. 
It’s armed with an 11th Generation Intel Core i5 processor and great graphics for high-speed gaming for most modern titles. It’s enhanced with sharp detail on its FHD 1920 x 1200 “Infinity Edge” touch screen display.
On top of that, the machine has an amazing battery life that can provide up to (and over) a whopping 16 hours of usability. However, because of its performance and power, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 gets warm, even if its fans are accelerating at full speed. 
It has a very sleek and sexy design, although some might feel it’s a bit ho-hum at this price point. While the hybrid delivers the best of both worlds as a traditional laptop and a powerful 15-inch tablet running Windows 10 all in a small and thin package, it doesn’t come cheap.

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Image: microsoft

The Good

Lightweight • Amazingly good battery life • Clear display • Implemented kickstand and fast processor

The Bad

Signature Type Cover • Surface Pen and Surface Arc Mouse separately • Only 2 ports

The Bottom Line

Lightweight and versatile, the Surface Pro 7 has a crystal clear display that’s perfect for artists on the go.

Microsoft Surface Pro 7

Lightweight and versatile, the Surface Pro 7 has a crystal clear display that’s perfect for artists on the go.

  • Storage:
    128GB
  • Memory:
    8GB
  • CPU:
    Dual-core 10th Gen Intel Core i3-1005G1 Processor
  • GPU:
    Intel UHD Graphics
Ever since Microsoft started to make their own laptops and tablets, the computer company has been known for packing tons of high-end and powerful specifications into their machines, putting them on par with other PC makers like Dell and HP. The Surface Pro 7 is definitely no exception to that with its fast processing power, all-day battery life, and lightweight versatility. 
The base model starts around $749.99, but if you have more money to spend, you can configure it to your needs to give yourself more processing power, RAM, and storage space. Unfortunately, you do have to buy the keyboard separately, which also adds to the price. 
This hybrid laptop is the best way to experience Windows 10, as both a traditional laptop and a powerful tablet. The touch display is brilliant for drawing with the Surface Pen, though the stylus is not included. The sleek design makes it a pleasure to hold as a tablet, as the screen can be completely detached. It’s also incredibly lightweight, starting at just 1.70lbs for the base model.

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Image: HP

The Good

It comes with a stylus • 4K display is immaculate • Good for gaming

The Bad

Battery life could be longer

The Bottom Line

The HP Spectre x360 is a good convertible laptop that delivers great performance and amazing power.

HP Spectre x360

This blazing fast 2-in-1 laptop doesn’t skimp on high-end specifications that are housed inside of a sleek and ultrathin package.

  • Storage:
    256GB
  • Memory:
    8GB
  • CPU:
    10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor
  • GPU:
    Intel Iris Plus Graphics
Armed with a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, the HP Spectre x360 is a blazing fast 2-in-1 laptop that doesn’t skimp on high-end specifications — and it’s all housed inside of a sleek, ultrathin package that weighs less than three pounds. 
It’s a flagship machine from HP that’s ready to stream 4K and more thanks to its Intel Iris Plus graphics and crisp UHD 4K IPS touch panel display. It even comes with the HP Pen for sketching and quick note-taking.
This laptop hybrid is also one of the few on this list that features a fingerprint sensor for added security, plus it has a super long battery life of about 16.5 hours. It really seems HP tried to pack as many features as it could inside of this machine to justify its price point.

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Image: microsoft

The Good

Thin and light • Great for travel • High-res PixelSense display

The Bad

Stylus and keyboard not included unless you purchase a bundle

The Bottom Line

The smallest and lightest Microsoft Surface available, the Surface Go 2 is a great option for anyone with an unpredictable day-to-day.

Microsoft Surface Go 2

A small and light laptop-tablet combo that’ll adapt to on-the-move lifestyles with no gimmicks.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • Memory:
    4GB
  • CPU:
    Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y
  • GPU:
    Intel UHD Graphics 615
In need of some personal tech that can adapt to an unpredictable way of life? Enter the Microsoft Surface Go 2 — the smallest, lightest iteration of Microsoft’s iconic 2-in-1 laptop and tablet combo. It’s made for those whose office may change depending on the day, who call an airport their second home, or who just don’t want to be held down by some clunky device. 
Its small size still packs a punch, though — it has a high-resolution PixelSense touchscreen display that’ll show anything you do in its best light, runs the fan-favorite Windows 10 effortlessly, has two cameras, a 1.6 GHz Pentium processor, and a nine-hour battery that will get you all the way from daytime to downtime. 
It also has built-in WiFi, plus optional LTE Advanced for hassle-free connectivity in areas with unsecured public, slow, or no WiFi. Best of all, it has a built-in kickstand cover and it pairs with a stylus and type keyboard cover for optimal use. 

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Image: hp

The Good

Beautiful display • Powerful processor • Impressive color and clarity

The Bad

Fingerprints • So many fingerprints

The Bottom Line

The HP Envy x360 has a lot of great features that rival more expensive 2-in-1 laptops, but the high-res display is the reason to pick one up.

HP Envy x360

A beautiful display at a decent price tag, along with a slew of other nice quality-of-life features that can stand up to pricier devices.

  • Storage:
    1TB
  • Memory:
    16GB
  • CPU:
    AMD Hexa-Core Ryzen 5 4500U
  • GPU:
    Integrated AMD Radeon Graphics
If you enjoy looking at pretty colors and don’t feel like forking over your entire life savings, the HP Envy x360 may be the best 2-in-1 laptop for you. In other words, it’s got a really nice display at a fair price, which isn’t always easy to find. 
Available with 15.6-inch or 17.3-inch full HD touchscreen displays, the HP Envy X360 boasts impressive color and clarity, rivaling laptop-tablets that cost way above its price range. It has all the power you need thanks to its graphics and high-powered processor options.
Windows fans will be happy with the HP’s operating system of choice, and fans of tech in general will be pleased with the Envy’s expanded memory, battery life, Bluetooth capability, and gorgeous backlit keyboard. It even has a bevy of ports, including USB-C, HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, and Thunderbolt.

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Image: lenovo

The Good

360-degree hinge • Incredibly high resolution screen • Great storage and processor • Comes with Active Pen Stylus

The Bad

Stylus holder is plastic and a little flimsy

The Bottom Line

A world-class hinge allows this device to flex at a full 360-degrees.

Lenovo Yoga C940

The best of both worlds: Slim and light in tablet mode, and a solid machine when used as a traditional laptop.

  • Storage:
    512GB
  • Memory:
    12GB
  • CPU:
    9th Generation Intel Core i7-9750H
  • GPU:
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB
If you’re looking for a lightweight and sleek convertible laptop, then look no further than the Lenovo Yoga C940. Its beautiful and functional 2-in-1 design was built with professionals in mind with its powerful Intel Core i7 processor, elegant NVIDIA GeForce graphics, and 12GB of RAM (upgradeable to 16GB). It’s strong enough for day-to-day tasks, while also attractive enough to make co-workers jealous.
With this device, you’ll get something that’s slim and light when in tablet mode, as well as a solid workhorse when used as a traditional laptop. Thanks to the machine’s trusty 360-degree hinge, it can flex in almost any position, while still giving you the support you need, so it won’t wobble when in kiosk mode like other convertibles.
The Lenovo Yoga 940 can detect over 4,000 levels of pressure and is perfectly compatible with the computer company’s Active Pen Stylus, which is happily included. The convertible is one of the highest-rated for its ease of drawing and note-taking, while it’s simply effortless to use like a pen on paper.
Sometimes a cheap laptop is all you need — these 8 are your best options during the Prime Day season — 08/16/2018

Sometimes a cheap laptop is all you need — these 8 are your best options during the Prime Day season

BEST DEALS ON CHEAP LAPTOPS:


It’s really (really) hard to make it in today’s world without a computer of some kind. Nobody wants to do school or work projects on a phone. You’ve gotta get yourself a real laptop. 

Unfortunately, laptops cost money. If you’re not careful, you can end up spending well over $1,000 for a machine with impressive specs. But we’re not here to talk about those. There’s a whole world of laptops that cost $600 or less (and some are even cheaper at the moment, thanks to some killer early Prime Day deals) — many of them are perfect companions for students returning to school or folks who just need something that’s a little more capable than an iPhone.

What are the most important things to look for in a laptop?

Let’s set expectations right away: The laptops on this list will not come with the latest and greatest processors, graphics cards, or displays. You have to spend more than $1,000 for those things. For students or workers who just want something to get them through the day, things like ports and memory are more important.

If you want to record audio with a microphone or use a mouse, you’ll need USB ports. Photographers or videographers should emphasize microSD card readers. An HDMI port goes a long way if you like streaming on a TV. Above all else, you want as much RAM and storage as you can get. More RAM means the computer can handle more applications at once and more storage means less hard drive management.

What am I losing by getting a cheap laptop?

Laptops in the $600-or-below price range are not going to be good for PC gaming. You won’t get a 4K resolution display or a refresh rate higher than 60Hz. RAM is going to max out around 8GB, which isn’t bad but also isn’t spectacular. You’re also unlikely to get more than 500GB of storage space.

In this price range, laptops are going to be best for web browsing, word processing, Zoom calls, and streaming. As long as you don’t expect more than that, you’ll be fine.

But are cheap laptops worth it?

You know the old saying: You get what you pay for. But thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades, a cheap laptop can actually take you pretty far and won’t break down immediately. It’s all about knowing which one to select.

Rather than just making a few purchase suggestions and sending you on your way, we’re going to equip you with some knowledge that’ll help you be a more informed laptop shopper. You know all that computer jargon of processor-this and gigahertz-that — we’ll explain it all in terms that anyone can understand.

What is the best cheap laptop?

We’re glad you asked. In fact, we’ll do you one better: We’ll give you 13 stellar selections below. (Make sure to hit the small grey arrow to expand each card and read more.)

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Image: HP

The Good

Comes with Microsoft Office 365 for one year • 10 hours of battery life • Very affordable

The Bad

Only 36GB of storage • Not HD • Always reliant on WiFi

The Bottom Line

The HP Stream 11 is a good option for college students with its inexpensive price point. Keep in mind that it’s like a Chromebook, but it runs Windows 10 instead.

HP Stream 11

This HP laptop is engineered without a fan, so it should be quiet and comfortable to use on your lap while you enjoy 10 hours of battery life.

  • Storage:
    32GB
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Features:
    One USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI port, microSD slot, 11.6″ diagonal HD sva Anti-Glare wled-backlit 1366 x 768, Intel Celeron N3060 up to 1.6GHz, Intel HD Graphics 400
The HP Stream 11 is pretty much in direct competition with the Inspiron 11, since they have similar specs and even similar color options. But the Stream does include a few noteworthy features, especially for students. 
It comes with a 1-year subscription to Office 365, which includes Excel, Word, and Powerpoint. You also get 60 free monthly Skype minutes and one terabyte of cloud storage. The notebook is entirely cloud enabled so you have access to all your files no matter where you are. 
The 11-inch laptop has advanced Wi-Fi connectivity, and since this HP laptop is engineered without a fan, it should be quiet and comfortable to use on your lap while you squeeze the 10 hours of battery life out of it. The HP Stream 11 also has ports so you can connect it to various displays, TVs, and other accessories. 
Does it have a fingerprint reader? No. Does it have a backlit keyboard? No. But you don’t really need those anyway. What it does have is a built-in webcam, a thoughtfully designed body, and more cloud storage than you’ll know what to do with. And bonus: the 14-inch screen is just $10 more.

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Image: Microsoft

The Good

Thin and light — great for travel • High-res PixelSense display • Low price

The Bad

Stylus and keyboard not included

The Bottom Line

The smallest and lightest Microsoft Surface available, the Surface Go is a great option for anyone with an unpredictable day-to-day.

Microsoft Surface Go

A small and light laptop-tablet combo that’ll adapt to on-the-move lifestyles with no gimmicks.

  • Storage:
    64GB/128GB
  • Memory:
    4GB/8GB
  • Features:
    PixelSense display, USB Type C, fast-charging Surface Connect, microSDXC, 3.5 mm headphone jack, front- and rear-facing cameras, Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor
In need of some personal tech that can adapt to an unpredictable way of life?
Enter the Microsoft Surface Go — the smallest, lightest iteration of Microsoft’s iconic 2-in-1 laptop and tablet combo. It’s made for those whose office may change depending on the day, who call an airport their second home, or who just don’t want to be held down by some clunky device. 
Its small size still packs a punch, though — it has a high-resolution PixelSense touchscreen display that’ll show anything you do in its best light, runs the fan-favorite Windows 10 effortlessly, has two cameras, a
1.6 GHz Pentium processor, and a nine-hour battery that will get you all the way from daytime to down time. 

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Image: Samsung

The Good

Thin and light • Handsome design • Big battery

The Bad

Lack of ports • Not a hybrid

The Bottom Line

Fans of traditional laptops will feel right at home on the 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook 4, but few ports and no tablet functionality makes it less versatile than some Chromebooks.

Samsung Chromebook 4

Samsung’s latest traditional Chromebook isn’t going to wow you with specs or looks, but its svelte size and big battery make it a great buy.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • RAM:
    6GB
  • Features:
    One USB 3.0, one USB-C, 11.6-inch LED 1366×768 display, Intel Celeron N4000 processor
Samsung’s 11.6-inch Chromebook 4 is about as unpretentious as it gets. This is a totally traditional laptop with a somewhat low-resolution display and a non-detachable keyboard, so don’t expect to use it as a tablet. And thanks to Chrome OS, you’ll have to get by with Google’s software ecosystem.
One USB 3.0 and one USB-C port aren’t much, but you’ll at least be able to use some accessories with the Chromebook 4. The highest-end model at this size also comes with 6GB of RAM for just $279, making the Chromebook a little more capable of multitasking than some of its brethren. 64GB of storage isn’t a ton, but Chromebooks are supposed to be cloud-focused anyway.
The biggest advantages here are its 1.87-pound weight, less than an inch of thickness, and a battery that’s rated for 12.5 hours on a full charge. Samsung’s Chromebook 4 is about as nondescript as laptops get, but for the price, it’s plenty portable and capable of getting you through a work or school day.

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Image: lenovo

The Good

Tiny enough to take anywhere • Good keyboard

The Bad

Middling performance • Serious lack of ports

The Bottom Line

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet isn’t especially powerful or feature-rich, but the low price combined with maximum portability make it a great choice for students on the go.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The astoundingly tiny Chromebook Duet punches above its weight with a solid keyboard, plentiful battery life, and a touchscreen.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Features:
    One USB-C, 1920×1200 10.1-inch display, MediaTek Helio P60T processor, ARM G72 MP3 800GHz graphics
One of the main distinguishing features of Chromebooks is that they’re usually not very powerful, but they also don’t cost much. Both things are extremely true of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. With just 4GB of RAM, you’ll be limited to things like web browsing, streaming, and work tasks, as long as they aren’t too intense. Get comfortable with Google Drive, too, as 64GB of storage will fill up quickly if you don’t make use of the cloud.
That said, there’s still plenty to like about it. A 7,000mAh battery will keep the Chromebook Duet powered through an entire school or work day, with some juice leftover the next day if you don’t plug it in. The included detachable keyboard is a lot better than it has any right to be, so anything that requires excessive typing will be totally fine here. 
And finally, at around two pounds, you’ll barely even notice it as you carry it around from classroom to coffee shop and back again. The Chromebook Duet gets the most out of an enticingly low price point.

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Image: acer

The Good

Built with a fingerprint sensor • Comfy keyboard • A lot of ports

The Bad

Lacks in audio quality • Battery life needs improvement

The Bottom Line

The Acer Swift 1 is a sleek laptop that’s also pretty powerful at its price point. It’s also one of the most secure budget laptops out there, so you can rest assured that no one will steal your data, even if the machine is stolen itself.

Acer Swift 1

The designers of the Acer Swift 1 created a simple but pleasing-to-look-at laptop with some pretty impressive specs.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • RAM:
    4GB/8GB
  • Features:
    One USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, one USB-C, HDMI port, SD slot, 13.3-inch, 1080p with 1920×1080 resolution display, Intel Core 1.10 GHz processor, Intel HD Graphics 505
The designers of the Acer Swift 1 created a simple but pleasing-to-look-at laptop with some pretty impressive specs. 
Of course, you’ll find all the standard port options, including HDMI and UBS ports. But, unlike the previous options on the list, the Acer Swift 1 one is built with a 13.3-inch HD screen. The screen is an IPS display, which means it produces excellent color you can see from multiple viewing angles. 
The keyboard still has enough space to give you a comfortable typing experience. There’s also a fingerprint sensor, which is a great feature to have if you’re worried about anyone going through your laptop. The Acer Swift 1 has a built-in touch-pad, and is equipped with 4GB of RAM.
The speakers on the Acer Swift 1 aren’t the best in the world, but few of the budget laptops offer jaw-dropping speaker output anyway. What you’ll get is something you can hear just fine in your living room or bedroom. You can expect about 9.5 hours of battery life. 
Sure, that’s not quite as long as some of the others out there, but it should be plenty to get some work or gaming done on the go.

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Image: dell

The Good

Compact design • Long battery life • Kid-proof

The Bad

Mushy and flat keyboard • Too small for office work

The Bottom Line

The Dell Latitude 2-in-1 is a good option for young students with a Microsoft suite of learning apps and functions.

Dell Latitude 2-in-1

The Dell Latitude works in laptop, tablet, or tent mode, and is designed for use with a variety of Microsoft learning apps.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Features:
    two USB 3.1, HDMI port, USD Card Reader slot, 11.6” HD IPS 16:9 1366 x 768 Touch with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT display, Intel Pentium Processor N4200
The Dell Latitude 2-in-1 touchscreen is literally one of the best affordable laptop choices a student can have. This 11-inch system is built to withstand a lot, since it’s durable and spill-resistant. Students can go all day without charging it thanks to its long 10-plus hours of battery life. 
The Dell Latitude works in laptop, tablet, or tent mode, and is designed for use with a variety of Microsoft learning apps. A built-in webcam makes for easy photography or for making Skype calls, and you can use the Active Pen to draw, write, and take notes right on the screen. A solid choice for any school-goer. 

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Image: HP

The Good

It’s a durable little bugger • HP Audio Boost brings music to life

The Bad

Battery life could be better • Hard drive capacity is low

The Bottom Line

The HP Pavilion x360 is one of the best utility notebooks under $500. It’s powerful, lightweight, and durable.

HP Pavilion x360

The HP Pavilion x360 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop is one of the best utility notebooks under $500. It’s powerful, lightweight, and durable.

  • Storage:
    500GB
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Features:
    Two USB 3.1, one USB-C, HDMI port, SD card reader slot, 14-inch diagonal HD SVA anti-glare micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch-enabled edge-to-edge glass 1366 x 768 display, Intel Pentium processor, Intel HD Graphics 620
When you have both new materials and advanced technologies at your fingertips, you have an opportunity to transform something traditional into something pretty freakin’ remarkable. That’s what the makers of the HP Pavilion had in mind when they set out to create a 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop that really reflects today’s busy lifestyle. It’s lightweight, it’s durable, and it has quite a few features that we think you’ll be happy with. 
If you want to listen to music or watch TV and movies, the Pavilion is a good choice because it has some of the best audio around for a laptop within this class. It comes with Bang & Olufsen Audio and HP Audio Boost. Since the Pavilion is a 360-degree 2-in-1, it’s a really versatile device in terms of viewing modes. Micro Gears allow the display to roll around the base in one continuous movement, so from notebook mode you can rotate it around to tent mode, and it’ll stay there until you want to adjust again. There is an IPS display, so you can look at the screen from any angle and the picture should always be crisp. 
Under the hood, you’ll find 500GB of hard drive capacity, 6GB of system memory, and a processor speed of 2.4 GHz. The Pavilion has a Windows 10 operating system, but only has an 8.5-hour battery life. Overall, it’s a great, affordable laptop for everyday usage. 

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Image: Asus

The Good

Thin and light • Beautiful display • Fingerprint sensor

The Bad

A few reviewers reported keyboard issues

The Bottom Line

The Asus Vivobook is a great all-around player that will suit students, travelers, and those who just need a computer for everyday usage. You can’t go wrong with its display and thin, portable construction.

Asus Vivobook

A great, affordable laptop that’s well-suited for students, travelers, and those just who just need a computer for personal use.

  • Storage:
    128GB
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Features:
    15.6-inch HD NanoEdge bezel display, Intel Core i3-8145U Processor, backlit chiclet keyboard with fingerprint sensor
When it comes to day-to-day usage, most people just want a laptop that they can throw in their bag and take with them virtually anywhere — not something that’ll end up giving them backaches and fill them with frustration. 
If that describes you, the Asus Vivobook may be just what you’ve been looking for — and it’s pretty cheap and honestly nice to look at. 
The Vivobook’s 15.6-inch, full HD NanoEdge bezel display is pretty stunning at such a low price point, and the laptop’s Intel Core i3-8145U processor provides the necessary power for a seamless, on-the-go user experience. You’ll also get ample space to store all your files, programs, photos, and other stuff that you need to take along with you (128GB, to be exact). 
The only issue that some reviewers have come across is the Vivobook’s keyboard — while ergonomic, some have said that they have run into issues with the backlight not working properly, but this didn’t happen in every case (either way, both Amazon and Asus have good customer support programs that should help you sort out any problems). 

Sometimes a cheap laptop is all you need — these 8 are your best options —

Sometimes a cheap laptop is all you need — these 8 are your best options

BEST DEALS ON CHEAP LAPTOPS:


It’s really (really) hard to make it in today’s world without a computer of some kind. Nobody wants to do school or work projects on a phone. You’ve gotta get yourself a real laptop. 

Unfortunately, laptops cost money. If you’re not careful, you can end up spending well over $1,000 for a machine with impressive specs. But we’re not here to talk about those. There’s a whole world of laptops that cost $600 or less, and many of them are perfect companions for students returning to school or folks who just need something that’s a little more capable than an iPhone.

What are the most important things to look for in a laptop?

Let’s set expectations right away: The laptops on this list will not come with the latest and greatest processors, graphics cards, or displays. You have to spend more than $1,000 for those things. For students or workers who just want something to get them through the day, things like ports and memory are more important.

If you want to record audio with a microphone or use a mouse, you’ll need USB ports. Photographers or videographers should emphasize microSD card readers. An HDMI port goes a long way if you like streaming on a TV. Above all else, you want as much RAM and storage as you can get. More RAM means the computer can handle more applications at once and more storage means less hard drive management.

What am I losing by getting a cheap laptop?

Laptops in the $600-or-below price range are not going to be good for PC gaming. You won’t get a 4K resolution display or a refresh rate higher than 60Hz. RAM is going to max out around 8GB, which isn’t bad but also isn’t spectacular. You’re also unlikely to get more than 500GB of storage space.

In this price range, laptops are going to be best for web browsing, word processing, Zoom calls, and streaming. As long as you don’t expect more than that, you’ll be fine.

But are cheap laptops worth it?

You know the old saying: You get what you pay for. But thanks to the technology boom of the last few decades, a cheap laptop can actually take you pretty far and won’t break down immediately. It’s all about knowing which one to select.

Rather than just making a few purchase suggestions and sending you on your way, we’re going to equip you with some knowledge that’ll help you be a more informed laptop shopper. You know all that computer jargon of processor-this and gigahertz-that — we’ll explain it all in terms that anyone can understand.

What is the best cheap laptop?

We’re glad you asked. In fact, we’ll do you one better: We’ll give you 13 stellar selections below. (Make sure to hit the small grey arrow to expand each card and read more.)

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Image: HP

The Good

Comes with Microsoft Office 365 for one year • 10 hours of battery life • Very affordable

The Bad

Only 36GB of storage • Not HD • Always reliant on WiFi

The Bottom Line

The HP Stream 11 is a good option for college students with its inexpensive price point. Keep in mind that it’s like a Chromebook, but it runs Windows 10 instead.

HP Stream 11

This HP laptop is engineered without a fan, so it should be quiet and comfortable to use on your lap while you enjoy 10 hours of battery life.

  • Storage:
    32GB
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Features:
    One USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI port, microSD slot, 11.6″ diagonal HD sva Anti-Glare wled-backlit 1366 x 768, Intel Celeron N3060 up to 1.6GHz, Intel HD Graphics 400
The HP Stream 11 is pretty much in direct competition with the Inspiron 11, since they have similar specs and even similar color options. But the Stream does include a few noteworthy features, especially for students. 
It comes with a 1-year subscription to Office 365, which includes Excel, Word, and Powerpoint. You also get 60 free monthly Skype minutes and one terabyte of cloud storage. The notebook is entirely cloud enabled so you have access to all your files no matter where you are. 
The 11-inch laptop has advanced Wi-Fi connectivity, and since this HP laptop is engineered without a fan, it should be quiet and comfortable to use on your lap while you squeeze the 10 hours of battery life out of it. The HP Stream 11 also has ports so you can connect it to various displays, TVs, and other accessories. 
Does it have a fingerprint reader? No. Does it have a backlit keyboard? No. But you don’t really need those anyway. What it does have is a built-in webcam, a thoughtfully designed body, and more cloud storage than you’ll know what to do with. And bonus: the 14-inch screen is just $10 more.

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Image: Microsoft

The Good

Thin and light — great for travel • High-res PixelSense display • Low price

The Bad

Stylus and keyboard not included

The Bottom Line

The smallest and lightest Microsoft Surface available, the Surface Go is a great option for anyone with an unpredictable day-to-day.

Microsoft Surface Go

A small and light laptop-tablet combo that’ll adapt to on-the-move lifestyles with no gimmicks.

  • Storage:
    64GB/128GB
  • Memory:
    4GB/8GB
  • Features:
    PixelSense display, USB Type C, fast-charging Surface Connect, microSDXC, 3.5 mm headphone jack, front- and rear-facing cameras, Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor
In need of some personal tech that can adapt to an unpredictable way of life?
Enter the Microsoft Surface Go — the smallest, lightest iteration of Microsoft’s iconic 2-in-1 laptop and tablet combo. It’s made for those whose office may change depending on the day, who call an airport their second home, or who just don’t want to be held down by some clunky device. 
Its small size still packs a punch, though — it has a high-resolution PixelSense touchscreen display that’ll show anything you do in its best light, runs the fan-favorite Windows 10 effortlessly, has two cameras, a
1.6 GHz Pentium processor, and a nine-hour battery that will get you all the way from daytime to down time. 

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Image: Samsung

The Good

Thin and light • Handsome design • Big battery

The Bad

Lack of ports • Not a hybrid

The Bottom Line

Fans of traditional laptops will feel right at home on the 11.6-inch Samsung Chromebook 4, but few ports and no tablet functionality makes it less versatile than some Chromebooks.

Samsung Chromebook 4

Samsung’s latest traditional Chromebook isn’t going to wow you with specs or looks, but its svelte size and big battery make it a great buy.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • RAM:
    6GB
  • Features:
    One USB 3.0, one USB-C, 11.6-inch LED 1366×768 display, Intel Celeron N4000 processor
Samsung’s 11.6-inch Chromebook 4 is about as unpretentious as it gets. This is a totally traditional laptop with a somewhat low-resolution display and a non-detachable keyboard, so don’t expect to use it as a tablet. And thanks to Chrome OS, you’ll have to get by with Google’s software ecosystem.
One USB 3.0 and one USB-C port aren’t much, but you’ll at least be able to use some accessories with the Chromebook 4. The highest-end model at this size also comes with 6GB of RAM for just $279, making the Chromebook a little more capable of multitasking than some of its brethren. 64GB of storage isn’t a ton, but Chromebooks are supposed to be cloud-focused anyway.
The biggest advantages here are its 1.87-pound weight, less than an inch of thickness, and a battery that’s rated for 12.5 hours on a full charge. Samsung’s Chromebook 4 is about as nondescript as laptops get, but for the price, it’s plenty portable and capable of getting you through a work or school day.

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Image: lenovo

The Good

Tiny enough to take anywhere • Good keyboard

The Bad

Middling performance • Serious lack of ports

The Bottom Line

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet isn’t especially powerful or feature-rich, but the low price combined with maximum portability make it a great choice for students on the go.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The astoundingly tiny Chromebook Duet punches above its weight with a solid keyboard, plentiful battery life, and a touchscreen.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Features:
    One USB-C, 1920×1200 10.1-inch display, MediaTek Helio P60T processor, ARM G72 MP3 800GHz graphics
One of the main distinguishing features of Chromebooks is that they’re usually not very powerful, but they also don’t cost much. Both things are extremely true of the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. With just 4GB of RAM, you’ll be limited to things like web browsing, streaming, and work tasks, as long as they aren’t too intense. Get comfortable with Google Drive, too, as 64GB of storage will fill up quickly if you don’t make use of the cloud.
That said, there’s still plenty to like about it. A 7,000mAh battery will keep the Chromebook Duet powered through an entire school or work day, with some juice leftover the next day if you don’t plug it in. The included detachable keyboard is a lot better than it has any right to be, so anything that requires excessive typing will be totally fine here. 
And finally, at around two pounds, you’ll barely even notice it as you carry it around from classroom to coffee shop and back again. The Chromebook Duet gets the most out of an enticingly low price point.

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Image: acer

The Good

Built with a fingerprint sensor • Comfy keyboard • A lot of ports

The Bad

Lacks in audio quality • Battery life needs improvement

The Bottom Line

The Acer Swift 1 is a sleek laptop that’s also pretty powerful at its price point. It’s also one of the most secure budget laptops out there, so you can rest assured that no one will steal your data, even if the machine is stolen itself.

Acer Swift 1

The designers of the Acer Swift 1 created a simple but pleasing-to-look-at laptop with some pretty impressive specs.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • RAM:
    4GB/8GB
  • Features:
    One USB 2.0, two USB 3.0, one USB-C, HDMI port, SD slot, 13.3-inch, 1080p with 1920×1080 resolution display, Intel Core 1.10 GHz processor, Intel HD Graphics 505
The designers of the Acer Swift 1 created a simple but pleasing-to-look-at laptop with some pretty impressive specs. 
Of course, you’ll find all the standard port options, including HDMI and UBS ports. But, unlike the previous options on the list, the Acer Swift 1 one is built with a 13.3-inch HD screen. The screen is an IPS display, which means it produces excellent color you can see from multiple viewing angles. 
The keyboard still has enough space to give you a comfortable typing experience. There’s also a fingerprint sensor, which is a great feature to have if you’re worried about anyone going through your laptop. The Acer Swift 1 has a built-in touch-pad, and is equipped with 4GB of RAM.
The speakers on the Acer Swift 1 aren’t the best in the world, but few of the budget laptops offer jaw-dropping speaker output anyway. What you’ll get is something you can hear just fine in your living room or bedroom. You can expect about 9.5 hours of battery life. 
Sure, that’s not quite as long as some of the others out there, but it should be plenty to get some work or gaming done on the go.

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Image: dell

The Good

Compact design • Long battery life • Kid-proof

The Bad

Mushy and flat keyboard • Too small for office work

The Bottom Line

The Dell Latitude 2-in-1 is a good option for young students with a Microsoft suite of learning apps and functions.

Dell Latitude 2-in-1

The Dell Latitude works in laptop, tablet, or tent mode, and is designed for use with a variety of Microsoft learning apps.

  • Storage:
    64GB
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Features:
    two USB 3.1, HDMI port, USD Card Reader slot, 11.6” HD IPS 16:9 1366 x 768 Touch with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT display, Intel Pentium Processor N4200
The Dell Latitude 2-in-1 touchscreen is literally one of the best affordable laptop choices a student can have. This 11-inch system is built to withstand a lot, since it’s durable and spill-resistant. Students can go all day without charging it thanks to its long 10-plus hours of battery life. 
The Dell Latitude works in laptop, tablet, or tent mode, and is designed for use with a variety of Microsoft learning apps. A built-in webcam makes for easy photography or for making Skype calls, and you can use the Active Pen to draw, write, and take notes right on the screen. A solid choice for any school-goer. 

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Image: HP

The Good

It’s a durable little bugger • HP Audio Boost brings music to life

The Bad

Battery life could be better • Hard drive capacity is low

The Bottom Line

The HP Pavilion x360 is one of the best utility notebooks under $500. It’s powerful, lightweight, and durable.

HP Pavilion x360

The HP Pavilion x360 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop is one of the best utility notebooks under $500. It’s powerful, lightweight, and durable.

  • Storage:
    500GB
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Features:
    Two USB 3.1, one USB-C, HDMI port, SD card reader slot, 14-inch diagonal HD SVA anti-glare micro-edge WLED-backlit multitouch-enabled edge-to-edge glass 1366 x 768 display, Intel Pentium processor, Intel HD Graphics 620
When you have both new materials and advanced technologies at your fingertips, you have an opportunity to transform something traditional into something pretty freakin’ remarkable. That’s what the makers of the HP Pavilion had in mind when they set out to create a 2-in-1 touchscreen laptop that really reflects today’s busy lifestyle. It’s lightweight, it’s durable, and it has quite a few features that we think you’ll be happy with. 
If you want to listen to music or watch TV and movies, the Pavilion is a good choice because it has some of the best audio around for a laptop within this class. It comes with Bang & Olufsen Audio and HP Audio Boost. Since the Pavilion is a 360-degree 2-in-1, it’s a really versatile device in terms of viewing modes. Micro Gears allow the display to roll around the base in one continuous movement, so from notebook mode you can rotate it around to tent mode, and it’ll stay there until you want to adjust again. There is an IPS display, so you can look at the screen from any angle and the picture should always be crisp. 
Under the hood, you’ll find 500GB of hard drive capacity, 6GB of system memory, and a processor speed of 2.4 GHz. The Pavilion has a Windows 10 operating system, but only has an 8.5-hour battery life. Overall, it’s a great, affordable laptop for everyday usage. 

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Image: Asus

The Good

Thin and light • Beautiful display • Fingerprint sensor

The Bad

A few reviewers reported keyboard issues

The Bottom Line

The Asus Vivobook is a great all-around player that will suit students, travelers, and those who just need a computer for everyday usage. You can’t go wrong with its display and thin, portable construction.

Asus Vivobook

A great, affordable laptop that’s well-suited for students, travelers, and those just who just need a computer for personal use.

  • Storage:
    128GB
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Features:
    15.6-inch HD NanoEdge bezel display, Intel Core i3-8145U Processor, backlit chiclet keyboard with fingerprint sensor
When it comes to day-to-day usage, most people just want a laptop that they can throw in their bag and take with them virtually anywhere — not something that’ll end up giving them backaches and fill them with frustration. 
If that describes you, the Asus Vivobook may be just what you’ve been looking for — and it’s pretty cheap and honestly nice to look at. 
The Vivobook’s 15.6-inch, full HD NanoEdge bezel display is pretty stunning at such a low price point, and the laptop’s Intel Core i3-8145U processor provides the necessary power for a seamless, on-the-go user experience. You’ll also get ample space to store all your files, programs, photos, and other stuff that you need to take along with you (128GB, to be exact). 
The only issue that some reviewers have come across is the Vivobook’s keyboard — while ergonomic, some have said that they have run into issues with the backlight not working properly, but this didn’t happen in every case (either way, both Amazon and Asus have good customer support programs that should help you sort out any problems). 

Which tablet to buy for your kid: For scrolling in the stroller (and beyond) — 08/07/2018

Which tablet to buy for your kid: For scrolling in the stroller (and beyond)

The year of never-enough-screentime is in full swing. Tablets and smartphones have become a parent’s best friend during the pandemic, with everyone doing whatever they can to make it to bedtime. Experts say there will be a massive readjustment period, but overall not to worry — you’ll have plenty of time to reinstate limits once things go back to normal.

Technology has changed a lot since you were small. Your kids have probably mastered the features on your iPhone better than you have due to constantly asking to play with it. And when you do eventually get it back, it’s a sticky mess covered in slobber and other unexplainable slimes. But in the age of touch screens and constant connectivity, there’s not really a way to say “no” without feeling like a parent from the dark ages.

Enter kids’ tablets: the happy medium between giving your kids the access to tech that they want, without turning them into a technology zombie. (You know what we’re talking about — those kids who have their faces glued to a smartphone while they get pushed around in a stroller. It’s weird, right?)

What’s going on in the world of screen time recommendations?

Kids’ tablets go far past keeping them occupied during a long car ride (or during days on end at home while school is canceled — the new normal, for now).

Screen learning and screen time restrictions are increasingly huge points of study. Parents’ questions often boil down to “how much is too much?” Though this is rarely met with a definitive answer, recent research can at least shine light on best practices.

In April 2019, the World Health Organization issued much-anticipated guidelines around screen time for preschool-aged kids: One hour is the recommended maximum for children ages 2 to 4. These suggestions are based off of the idea that healthy cognitive development of young kids is built through face-to-face interaction. This lines up with recent research done by Vanderbilt University’s Georgene Troseth, who says that toddlers probably won’t learn much from a screen, anyway.

It’s around their third year of life that children can make the connection that the thing on the screen represents a real person, and that that person is teaching them something. “By age three, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content,” explains Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, a learning designer at LeapFrog enterprises, in this Inc.com article. “This content often uses strategies such as repeating an idea, presenting images and sounds that capture attention, and using child rather than adult voices for the characters.”

Kids are actually interacting with content, making the learning experience richer and more memorable. Tablets just feel more like playing, and it’s not surprising that kids may be more willing to learn when it doesn’t feel forced. Besides, playing and imagination are the building blocks for creativity and empathy — so even if they’re playing Toca Boca instead of doing multiplication, they’re still gaining real-world skills.

One project by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (a non-profit run by the same people behind Sesame Street) compared literary assessments of kindergarten through third grade students who had used tablets at school. The students who used tablets saw higher test scores than those who didn’t use tablets, and they were able to recognize 20% more vocabulary words due to an improved ability to recognize sounds and represent sounds as letters.

A 2018 meta-anlysis published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal combined numerous studies from the past few years, ultimately pinpointing a significant touchscreen learning effect. Learning on a touchscreen with physical pressing and swiping was particularly beneficial for STEM, as apps or games have the ability to create a memorable real-life experience (compared to simply reading about a science experiment).

Dr. Michael Levine, founder of the Cooney Center, put some perspective on the difference between “learning time” and “mindless time:

“The idea is not to have parents simply hand these devices over to their kids. Instead, the games and ebooks provide examples of hands-on activities that parents can do with their preschoolers in their kitchens and backyards to promote vocabulary and content knowledge in both languages, which helps build a solid foundation for life-long learning. …Instead of pushing screens away, it’s time to put them to use in a thoroughly modern way.

TL;DR: Tablets are a great learning tool as long as they’re not a kid’s main source of learning. Kids will always need to be comfortable reading print books and doing math by hand. Sure. But the opportunities for self-sufficient and interactive learning on a tablet can’t be understated — plus, being able to sit your kid down with Paw Patrol: Rescue Run while you join a meeting on Zoom is a godsend.

How do you choose the right tablet for your kid?

Most tablets made specifically for kids will already be equipped with built-in parent accounts, timers, and pre-selected websites or apps that are strictly for kids. Easy enough.

General purpose tablets aren’t a bad choice at all — many sites name the iPad as one of the best tablets for kids even though it’s technically for everyone. These won’t have the same built-in parental controls as tablets specifically for kids, so you’ll need to get creative if you’d rather your kid not have unlimited access to the internet. Apple and Android have features that can filter or block content and prevent purchases, but the closest thing you’ll be able to get to play-by-play monitoring is by installing a legit parental control app for iPads or Android tablets.

If you’d prefer to just make the family tablet more kid-friendly rather than purchase a whole new one, Osmo is a super neat iPad and Fire Tablet add-on. The Osmo Genius Kit snaps onto your tablet for on-screen exercises and games that coincide with physical pieces. Moving a letter, block, or game piece in real life moves it on screen, making for a cool mashup of your typical tablet game, hand-eye coordination, and visual problem solving. Subjects include numbers, words, tangram, Newton, and art, plus extra packs for more advanced stuff like STEM and family game night.

Which tablet to buy for your kid: For scrolling in the stroller (and beyond)

Image: osmo

Things to keep in mind when shopping for a tablet for kids: 

  • Screen resolution: Whether less than HD, HD, FHD (4K is probably going overboard) will suffice depends on the amount of movie watching and gaming they’ll be doing 

  • Storage: They’ll probably have more apps than you do, and may need space for downloads like offline Disney+ movies, music, or some books for school

  • Intensity of parental controls: For obvious reasons

  • Rugged-ness: Because kids are basically adorable destruction machines and you’ll probably feel better with a case

Here are the nine best tablets for kids you can get right now:

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Worry-free guarantee • Dolby Atmos speakers • Case comes with a built-in stand • Kid-specific FreeTime is continuously expanding • Super customizable parental controls • Decently long battery life

The Bad

YouTube is hard to censor

The Bottom Line

Amazon has outdone themselves with an ultra-durable version of the Fire HD Tablet that can take whatever kids throw at it.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Amazon has outdone themselves with an ultra-durable version of the Fire HD Tablet that can take whatever kids throw at it.

  • Resolution:
    1280 x 800
  • Storage:
    32 GB
  • Battery life:
    12 hours
An A+ choice in the world of kid tablets is the All-New Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, the latest version of the beloved Fire Tablets made exclusively for kids. It comes with one free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited and a headache-saving two-year worry-free guarantee.
Kid stuff: Instead of rummaging through an overwhelming digital store to find a few kids’ apps, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is Amazon’s all-in-one subscription service made specifically for kids ages 3 to 12. It offers over 20,000 kid-appropriate books, movies, TV shows, and educational apps and games with character favorites from Disney, PBS, Nickelodeon, and more. After the first free year, you’ll pay $2.99 a month if you’re an Amazon Prime member, or $4.99 a month as a non-Prime customer.
FreeTime+ includes over 1,000 Spanish books, videos, and games.
Parent stuff: Parents can set time limits in general or for certain apps, which will automatically block access when the time is up. Amazon knows 12-year-olds don’t want to see the baby stuff, and that 3-year-olds don’t want to see the reading stuff. Age Filters ensure that your kid only sees age-appropriate content so that you don’t have to constantly monitor what they’re looking at. Parents can also give children selected access to extras like Netflix or YouTube in Freetime. (Though a word of caution on YouTube, as the site has been having difficulties keeping controversial content off the site.)
Durability and specs: The Kid-Proof Case and worry-free guarantee are total game-changers. The colorful cases were made to withstand drops, spills, tugging, what have you — but if something does happen to break, Amazon will send you a new tablet with no questions asked. Specs aren’t anything to be marveled over, but like, it’s a kids’ tablet. A quad-core processor up to 2.0 GHz, 2GB of RAM, 12 hours (maybe) of battery, and the HD screen are quite enough for movies and games. Plus, Dolby Atmos speakers!

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Apple Pencil compatibility • New A10 chip makes it faster than many PC computers • Augmented reality learning capabilities • New iPad OS for better keyboard experience

The Bad

No built-in parental controls or kids’ content

The Bottom Line

A fast, capable laptop replacement, the classic iPad looks cool and will be your kid’s go-to for interactive learning.

Apple iPad

Apple’s newest entry-level option has more power than many PC computers and will likely last for your kid’s whole school career.

  • Resolution:
    2160 x 1620
  • Storage:
    32 GB, 128 GB
  • Battery life:
    10 hours
Older kids or advanced learners need a tablet that can keep up with schoolwork, double as a laptop, and keep them busy past educational games. Apple’s newest version of the classic iPad is a versatile, affordable option that the whole fam can share. There’s obviously no kid stuff pre-installed, but if you are buying it for a little one, Apple has multiple kid-proofing options that can be set and then lifted as they’re grown out of. It’s not the cheapest of this bunch, but it is Apple’s cheapest iPad.
Educational stuff: With general-purpose tablets, content is up to the user. The App Store has a massive amount of free educational apps and a way more robust selection than most kid-specific tablets: Find apps for core skills like math, reading, and science, or hone in on more specific interests with apps for biology, language learning, or test prep. Kids are also guaranteed to be psyched about the iPad’s augmented reality capabilities and AR apps, allowing them to immerse themselves in the world around them (or planets outside their world, or the ocean below their world). There’s even AR frog dissection.
Parental controls: Nothing is built-in, so you’ll have to get hands-on with the kid-proofing. In your iPad’s settings in the Restrictions tab, you can put a virtual lock on any app or make functions off-limits (Safari, the App Store, iMessage, and Facebook are a few you may consider hiding). The “Allowed Content” tab has options for movies or websites, where you can disable specific URLs or allow only G-rated movies to play. If monitoring kids’ usage more closely is a must, installing parental control software like Kaspersky Safe Kids or Qustodio is a quick fix for an extra security boost.
Durability and specs: Basically a mini computer, this 10.2-inch tablet is decked out with technical details that blow most other tablets on this list (as well as some laptops) out of the water. Upgrades from Apple’s previous iPad include a new A10 Fusion Chip that’s said to house double the oomph of a Windows PC4 and support of the new iPad OS for a better keyboard experience. Artistic kids or habitual pencil-and-paper notetakers will appreciate that the first-gen Apple Pencil is also supported.
As for durability, iPads don’t come with cases at all. If your iPad will be in the hands of little ones, there are tons of protective kid-proof cases and screen protectors that you can buy separately. 

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Chromebooks are super unlikely to get a virus • Vibrant, *almost* full HD display • Lots of internal storage for a Chromebook • Ultra thin and portable • 100GB of one-year free trial of Google One

The Bad

Cramped keyboard, but little hands won’t notice • Only port is one USB-C • Apps like Netflix are slower in app form than web version

The Bottom Line

The Duet is a user-friendly Chromebook, a lightweight convertible, and a total steal.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

For the tasks a kid needs to do, this 2-in-1 is a champ that’s much cheaper than other Chrome OS tablets.

  • Resolution:
    1920 x 1200
  • Battery life:
    13 hours
  • Storage:
    128GB
There are a ton of affordable, reliable Chromebooks out there. But tech brands have been less successful at harnessing the Chromebook way of life into tablet form — at a price point that works for people on a budget, at least. Lenovo’s release of the convertible Chromebook Duet saved a lot of those people from having to choose between Chrome OS and tablet convenience. As The Verge’s Monica Chin writes, this 2-in-1 has no business costing so little.
Kid stuff: Leveling up a grade at school typically means more schoolwork online — and more lugging around a personal computer. (In a non-pandemic world, at least.) The Duet’s ability to act as a truly portable laptop replacement really expands its shelf life for those older students. A thin-and-light design is also a must for little hands and little backpacks to carry comfortably. The Duet weighs less than a pound to about two pounds (depending on whether the keyboard is attached). Connecting the keyboard is as easy as matching up a few magnets.
Lenovo doesn’t yet offer a kid-specific curated suite of content like Amazon FreeTime+ — though we expect the Duet will be one of the next Lenovo devices to use Google’s Kids Space. For now, families can choose from millions of explore age-specific and fun, educational apps from the Google Play Store.
Parent stuff: As long as Kids Mode is on, parents can comfortably cut kids loose to play and learn without worry of them landing on something less-than-appropriate. Each kid gets their own profile, which parents can customize by choosing which apps and websites are allowed, blocking the concerning ones, and setting time limits.
Given the internet security and simple OS that Chromebook laptops offer, it’s easy to see why parents would want such kid-friendly measures in tablet form. Every web page or Chrome app runs its own sandbox, essentially ensuring that other parts of the device won’t be compromised even if that page gets hacked. Most malware is designed for Windows or Mac, so Chromebooks rarely get viruses, anyway.
Durability and specs:  Barring picks like the Google Pixelbook, Chromebooks aren’t exactly known for their power. However, the Duet holds its own with anything an elementary, middle, or high school student might need to do. The octa-core processor handles word processing and video calls like a pro, and shouldn’t flinch too much at typical power suckers like Netflix. The 1920 x 1200 display is surprisingly crisp for the price.

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Storage capacity can be expanded with a microSD card (sold separately) • Expandable storage • Worry-free guarantee • Case has a built-in stand

The Bad

Battery dies quickly • Tiny, quiet speakers • YouTube is difficult to censor

The Bottom Line

Energetic kids are no match for the Fire 7’s protective case and Amazon’s worry-free guarantee.

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

Energetic kids are no match for the Fire 7’s protective case and Amazon’s worry-free guarantee.

  • Resolution:
    1024 x 600
  • Storage:
    16 GB
  • Battery life:
    7 hours
Nobody does kids’ tablets as well as Amazon does, and 2019’s Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet is just an extension of that expertise. 
Kid stuff: As we wrote earlier, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is Amazon’s subscription service made specifically for kids ages 3-12. Over 20,000 kid-appropriate apps with characters from Disney, Nickelodeon (to feed the Peppa Pig obsession, of course), and more are at your fingertips — saving parents from having to comb through an entire App Store. The first year is free; after that, you’ll pay $2.99 a month if you’re an Amazon Prime member, or $4.99 a month as a non-member.
Parent stuff: Everything mentioned about parental controls and Amazon Free Time with the aforementioned Fire HD 8 is the same with the Fire 7 — same age filters and time restrictions, same optional blocking of apps like YouTube or Minecraft, and same easy switch between kids’ profiles. However, we’ll always reiterate how seriously amazing and intuitive FreeTime is. It keeps an eye on your kids’ usage so you don’t have to, and the kid content is so genius that kids don’t even realize they’re learning or being monitored.
Durability and specs: The Fire 7 sees a slightly lower resolution than the Fire HD 8 and doesn’t have Dolby Atmos speakers. It does, however, offer expandable storage up to 512 GB and the ability to use Alexa with parental controls on.

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Revamped design with thin bezels • Amazing high-res graphics for the cost • Decent for heavy duty gaming • New lightning fast A14 Bionic chip

The Bad

Apple Pencil, keyboard, etc. sold separately

The Bottom Line

Apple’s middle child sees some of its best upgrades to the cameras, processor, and exterior design.

Apple iPad Air

The diet iPad Pro welcomes a blistering fast processor and is Apple’s best bang for your buck

  • Resolution:
    2224 x 1668
  • Storage:
    64 GB, 256 GB
  • Battery life:
    10 hours
Meet Apple’s best bang for your buck: Sitting between the entry-level iPad and the power-hungry iPad Pros, the newest iPad Air is having some serious middle child syndrome. The home button-less design gives it away: the iPad Air is way more Pro than it lets on. Even older kids won’t feel lame having to share this with their parents.
Kid stuff: All iPads are general purpose, so parents (or kids, if they’re old enough) will choose which apps to download. Conveniently, the App Store is home to thousands of education-related apps for all age groups and interests, from simple math and reading to biology with augmented reality or college test prep.
Parent stuff: There’s not really an all-encompassing “kid mode” for iPads, so it’s up to parents to mess with settings or install parental control software. At the least, the iPad’s Restrictions tab lets you put a virtual lock on any app or make functions off-limits (Safari, the App Store, iMessage, and Facebook are a few you may consider hiding). Even if a responsible older kid doesn’t need their usage monitored 24/7, this is handy to keep them from getting distracted during homework hours.
Durability and specs: Schoolwork may actually be enjoyable with these crisp visuals and no-lag screen — you’re basically getting Pro speeds for a fraction of the price. The 2020 Air’s rapid responsiveness is 40 percent faster than the previous model and can be attributed to the  new A14 Bionic chip. Graphics on the crisp Retina display look stellar, and so will the 4K videos that the upgraded 12 MP camera can capture.  Hold it up to the traditional iPad or a Fire HD tablet and see the difference in visuals.

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Dual Dolby Atmos speakers • Switch from kid mode to parent mode with a PIN • Comes with four months of YouTube Premium • S-Pen included • Built-in Notes app with handwriting recognition

The Bad

No hardware keyboard attachment • Gaming is meh

The Bottom Line

The simplified version of Samsung’s latest and greatest offers stylus support and a beautiful screen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Little ones will love the creative leeway of the S Pen and parents will love having a totally separate interface.

  • Resolution:
    2000 x 1200
  • Storage:
    64GB, 128GB
  • Battery life:
    7 hours
Getting your kid their own tablet may still feel unnecessary. The purchase becomes infinitely more justifiable if it’s a tablet the whole family will use, but that means landing specs up to par for adults without  surpassing ease of use for a kid. One of Samsung’s latest beauties, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, is the perfect balance.
Educational stuff: The Samsung Kids interface is designed specifically to morph fun and learning while easing kids into computer literacy and the habit of using a touchscreen. Kids can peruse trustworthy games, books, and TV shows while getting to know Croco, Cooki, Lisa, and Bobby — the adorable cartoon animals they’ll be playing with. A subscription to Samsung Kids+ opens up even more parent-approved games like Toca Boca and TV Shows like Lego Batman. Kids who like to draw or take notes by hand will dig the S-Pen, which is included.
Parent stuff: A simple PIN saves parents from having to use a tablet loaded with kid controls. In Parental Control Mode, parents can set limits on their child’s usage and customize the content they see. Of course, parent mode has a completely different interface (the default one for all Galaxy tablets). Different family members can add profiles and have their own ~adult~ account.
Specs and durability: The price hike from Samsung’s bottom-line budget tablets (the A and A7) can mostly be attributed to the addition of stylus support and inclusion of the S-Pen with purchase. But, as the “lite” version of the regular S6, it still sees a lot of nice specs for the price of the most basic iPad. The 2000 x 1200 display dazzles, the Dolby Atmos stereo speakers boom, and the processor handles Adobe and Microsoft OneNote with ease.

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Full Android suite works with Google apps (sans side loading) • Dolby Atmos speakers • Thin bezels make incredible screen-to-body ratio • Very low monetary commitment • Google Assistant and smart home control

The Bad

Meh cameras

The Bottom Line

A non-committal first tablet with a vivid display and thin design that’s cool for middle schoolers.

Lenovo Tab M8

Kids can set alarms or Google questions via voice commands, squeezing some self-sufficiency into their tablet use.

  • Resolution:
    1280 x 800
  • Storage:
    32GB
  • Battery life:
    Up to 20 hours
Middle schoolers want to feel self-sufficient, and they want to look cool while doing it. They’ve outgrown the need for curated educational games and won’t be caught dead with a colorful bumper case.
Graduating to a premium business tablet like an iPad might be premature, too. Something like the Lenovo Tab M8 is right up a tween’s alley, and the price tag won’t have parents paranoid about the tablet being carried like a third limb.
Kid stuff: Toggling between regular mode for parents and Kid’s Mode 3.0 is quick and easy. Kid’s Mode is an independent account that, like most other child-friendly suites, puts the blinders on and pulls out kid-specific content like games, apps, videos, and audio. Eye protection mode is automatically turned on to combat light sensitivity. Look for Google’s Kid Space to be available soon, too.
Parent stuff: Parents can also set time limits with the Kid’s Mode parental controls. If kids over 12 don’t want to be locked into kids’ content, parents can opt for parental controls elsewhere (Google Family Link is a good one). Unlike Fire tablets, Lenovo tablets offer a true Android experience that won’t put you through side loading for random Google apps.
Durability and specs: The screen on an 8-inch tablet looks a lot bigger with an impressive 83% screen-to-body ratio — sleekness that can be attributed to thin bezels. A resolution of 1280 x 800 is bright enough, and the Dolby Atmos speakers make up for any entertainment related slack. These specs mix together in just the right way to conserve a single battery charge for up to 20 hours.

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Shatterproof screen • LeapFrog Academy with personalized learning • Kid-friendly web browser • Expandable memory • Durable rubber case with a kickstand

The Bad

Poor battery life • Less-than-stellar screen • Very little internal storage space

The Bottom Line

Large icons, specially curated internet access, and a shatterproof screen makes this great for little ones.

LeapFrog LeapPad Academy

Large icons, specially curated-for-kids internet access, and a shatterproof screen makes this great for little ones.

  • Resolution:
    1024 x 600
  • Storage:
    16 GB
  • Battery life:
    7 hours
Designed for children ages 3-8, the LeapFrog LeapPad Academy is a great starter tablet for little ones who aren’t yet accustomed to mobile device life. It’s equipped with a shatterproof touchscreen and a super cute interface with large icons, and parental controls are already built-in.
Educational stuff: The LeapPad Academy comes pre-loaded with over 20 educator-approved apps that will hone your kiddo’s math, reading, writing, coding, problem-solving, and creativity skills, as well as access to the LeapFrog App Center and its 750-plus learning games, eBooks, and videos (each sold separately). It also includes a free three-month trial of the LeapFrog Academy subscription service (normally $7.99 a month or $39.99 a year), which features some neat “just-for-me” technology: It follows your child’s process and automatically adapts its games to match his or her skill set and learning speed. (There isn’t access to video content like Youtube or Netflix, which can be good or bad depending on what you want your kid to see and how busy you’d like to keep them.)
Parental controls: LeapFrog has pretty much thought of everything with this one, so parents can sit back — but there is a password-protected parental control feature where parents can customize kids’ experiences and set time limits for playing (and for how long they have to wait between playing). LeapSearch, its kid-friendly web browser, can only go to specific websites that were pre-selected by the learning experts at LeapFrog, and parents in the reviews love that they can feel safe letting their kid play without constant supervision.
Durability and specs: Available in green and pink, the LeapPad Academy comes with front and rear-facing cameras, 480p video recording, a seven-hour rechargeable battery, a stylus, and a shatter-safe touchscreen. (It’s not extremely HD, but will a 3-year-old notice?) 

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

One free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited • Worry-free guarantee • Case comes in fun colors and patterns • Can last up to a month on one charge • Reading tools like vocab flashcards or in-book definitions • Huge selection of books

The Bad

Crappy resolution • Case prevents against scratches and not much else

The Bottom Line

A bare bones, distraction-free platform that can help young bookworms tackle lengthy reading lists.

All-new Amazon Kindle Kids Edition

Though it’s nothing special in the spec department, this distraction-free platform can help young bookworms tackle lengthy reading lists (while building their vocab along the way).

  • Resolution:
    800 x 600
  • Storage:
    8 GB
  • Battery life:
    Up to four weeks
The Kindle Kids Edition is bare-bones compared to the other tablets on its list, but for its intended purposes (reading and listening to books), it’ll serve a young bookworm well. Amazon’s two-year worry-free guarantee is definitely a perk, too.
Education stuff: The Kindle Kids Edition comes with a year’s worth of FreeTime Unlimited, which includes tons of popular books and Audible titles for kids — everything from Mr. Popper’s Penguins to the entire Harry Potter series. Your little tyke will also get access to two valuable reading tools: “Vocabulary Builder” creates flashcards out of any words they look up in the device’s built-in dictionary, and “Word Wise” puts simple definitions above tricky words to keep them chugging along.
Parental controls: Just as with Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition tablets, Mom and Dad can use its built-in Parental Dashboard to adjust age filters and prevent them from seeing anything they shouldn’t. (Not that there’s much to see to begin with — kids can’t access the internet or social media once FreeTime is enabled, and the device doesn’t support apps like YouTube.) You’ve also got the option of adding books to your kid’s library through the Kindle Store and checking in on their reading progress. 
Durability and specs: Sporting a glare-free, e-ink display, the 6-inch Kindle Kids Edition features a puny resolution of 800 x 600. That’s not a huge deal for reading only, but kids might notice some blurriness in larger type and their books’ cover images. There’s also 8 GB of internal storage space, which Amazon says its enough room over a thousand FreeTime Unlimited books. Up to four weeks’ worth of books can be read before needing to charge the battery again.
The best tablet to buy for your kid this Prime Day —

The best tablet to buy for your kid this Prime Day

The year of never-enough-screentime is in full swing. Tablets and smartphones have become a parent’s best friend during the pandemic, with everyone doing whatever they can to make it to bedtime. Experts say there will be a massive readjustment period, but overall not to worry — you’ll have plenty of time to reinstate limits once things go back to normal.

Technology has changed a lot since you were small. Your kids have probably mastered the features on your iPhone better than you have due to constantly asking to play with it. And when you do eventually get it back, it’s a sticky mess covered in slobber and other unexplainable slimes. But in the age of touch screens and constant connectivity, there’s not really a way to say “no” without feeling like a parent from the dark ages.

Enter kids’ tablets: the happy medium between giving your kids the access to tech that they want, without turning them into a technology zombie. (You know what we’re talking about — those kids who have their faces glued to a smartphone while they get pushed around in a stroller. It’s weird, right?)

What’s going on in the world of screen time recommendations?

Kids’ tablets go far past keeping them occupied during a long car ride (or during days on end at home while school is canceled — the new normal, for now).

Screen learning and screen time restrictions are increasingly huge points of study. Parents’ questions often boil down to “how much is too much?” Though this is rarely met with a definitive answer, recent research can at least shine light on best practices.

In April 2019, the World Health Organization issued much-anticipated guidelines around screen time for preschool-aged kids: One hour is the recommended maximum for children ages 2 to 4. These suggestions are based off of the idea that healthy cognitive development of young kids is built through face-to-face interaction. This lines up with recent research done by Vanderbilt University’s Georgene Troseth, who says that toddlers probably won’t learn much from a screen, anyway.

It’s around their third year of life that children can make the connection that the thing on the screen represents a real person, and that that person is teaching them something. “By age three, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content,” explains Dr. Carolyn Jaynes, a learning designer at LeapFrog enterprises, in this Inc.com article. “This content often uses strategies such as repeating an idea, presenting images and sounds that capture attention, and using child rather than adult voices for the characters.”

Kids are actually interacting with content, making the learning experience richer and more memorable. Tablets just feel more like playing, and it’s not surprising that kids may be more willing to learn when it doesn’t feel forced. Besides, playing and imagination are the building blocks for creativity and empathy — so even if they’re playing Toca Boca instead of doing multiplication, they’re still gaining real-world skills.

One project by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center (a non-profit run by the same people behind Sesame Street) compared literary assessments of kindergarten through third grade students who had used tablets at school. The students who used tablets saw higher test scores than those who didn’t use tablets, and they were able to recognize 20% more vocabulary words due to an improved ability to recognize sounds and represent sounds as letters.

A 2018 meta-anlysis published in the Frontiers in Psychology journal combined numerous studies from the past few years, ultimately pinpointing a significant touchscreen learning effect. Learning on a touchscreen with physical pressing and swiping was particularly beneficial for STEM, as apps or games have the ability to create a memorable real-life experience (compared to simply reading about a science experiment).

Dr. Michael Levine, founder of the Cooney Center, put some perspective on the difference between “learning time” and “mindless time:

“The idea is not to have parents simply hand these devices over to their kids. Instead, the games and ebooks provide examples of hands-on activities that parents can do with their preschoolers in their kitchens and backyards to promote vocabulary and content knowledge in both languages, which helps build a solid foundation for life-long learning. …Instead of pushing screens away, it’s time to put them to use in a thoroughly modern way.

TL;DR: Tablets are a great learning tool as long as they’re not a kid’s main source of learning. Kids will always need to be comfortable reading print books and doing math by hand. Sure. But the opportunities for self-sufficient and interactive learning on a tablet can’t be understated — plus, being able to sit your kid down with Paw Patrol: Rescue Run while you join a meeting on Zoom is a godsend.

How do you choose the right tablet for your kid?

Most tablets made specifically for kids will already be equipped with built-in parent accounts, timers, and pre-selected websites or apps that are strictly for kids. Easy enough.

General purpose tablets aren’t a bad choice at all — many sites name the iPad as one of the best tablets for kids even though it’s technically for everyone. These won’t have the same built-in parental controls as tablets specifically for kids, so you’ll need to get creative if you’d rather your kid not have unlimited access to the internet. Apple and Android have features that can filter or block content and prevent purchases, but the closest thing you’ll be able to get to play-by-play monitoring is by installing a legit parental control app for iPads or Android tablets.

If you’d prefer to just make the family tablet more kid-friendly rather than purchase a whole new one, Osmo is a super neat iPad and Fire Tablet add-on. The Osmo Genius Kit snaps onto your tablet for on-screen exercises and games that coincide with physical pieces. Moving a letter, block, or game piece in real life moves it on screen, making for a cool mashup of your typical tablet game, hand-eye coordination, and visual problem solving. Subjects include numbers, words, tangram, Newton, and art, plus extra packs for more advanced stuff like STEM and family game night.

Which tablet to buy for your kid: For scrolling in the stroller (and beyond)

Image: osmo

Things to keep in mind when shopping for a tablet for kids: 

  • Screen resolution: Whether less than HD, HD, FHD (4K is probably going overboard) will suffice depends on the amount of movie watching and gaming they’ll be doing 

  • Storage: They’ll probably have more apps than you do, and may need space for downloads like offline Disney+ movies, music, or some books for school

  • Intensity of parental controls: For obvious reasons

  • Rugged-ness: Because kids are basically adorable destruction machines and you’ll probably feel better with a case

Here are the nine best tablets for kids you can get right now:

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The Good

Worry-free guarantee • Dolby Atmos speakers • Case comes with a built-in stand • Kid-specific FreeTime is continuously expanding • Super customizable parental controls • Decently long battery life

The Bad

YouTube is hard to censor

The Bottom Line

Amazon has outdone themselves with an ultra-durable version of the Fire HD Tablet that can take whatever kids throw at it.

Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition

Amazon has outdone themselves with an ultra-durable version of the Fire HD Tablet that can take whatever kids throw at it.

  • Resolution:
    1280 x 800
  • Storage:
    32 GB
  • Battery life:
    12 hours
An A+ choice in the world of kid tablets is the All-New Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, the latest version of the beloved Fire Tablets made exclusively for kids. It comes with one free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited and a headache-saving two-year worry-free guarantee.
Kid stuff: Instead of rummaging through an overwhelming digital store to find a few kids’ apps, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is Amazon’s all-in-one subscription service made specifically for kids ages 3 to 12. It offers over 20,000 kid-appropriate books, movies, TV shows, and educational apps and games with character favorites from Disney, PBS, Nickelodeon, and more. After the first free year, you’ll pay $2.99 a month if you’re an Amazon Prime member, or $4.99 a month as a non-Prime customer.
FreeTime+ includes over 1,000 Spanish books, videos, and games.
Parent stuff: Parents can set time limits in general or for certain apps, which will automatically block access when the time is up. Amazon knows 12-year-olds don’t want to see the baby stuff, and that 3-year-olds don’t want to see the reading stuff. Age Filters ensure that your kid only sees age-appropriate content so that you don’t have to constantly monitor what they’re looking at. Parents can also give children selected access to extras like Netflix or YouTube in Freetime. (Though a word of caution on YouTube, as the site has been having difficulties keeping controversial content off the site.)
Durability and specs: The Kid-Proof Case and worry-free guarantee are total game-changers. The colorful cases were made to withstand drops, spills, tugging, what have you — but if something does happen to break, Amazon will send you a new tablet with no questions asked. Specs aren’t anything to be marveled over, but like, it’s a kids’ tablet. A quad-core processor up to 2.0 GHz, 2GB of RAM, 12 hours (maybe) of battery, and the HD screen are quite enough for movies and games. Plus, Dolby Atmos speakers!

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The Good

Apple Pencil compatibility • New A10 chip makes it faster than many PC computers • Augmented reality learning capabilities • New iPad OS for better keyboard experience

The Bad

No built-in parental controls or kids’ content

The Bottom Line

A fast, capable laptop replacement, the classic iPad looks cool and will be your kid’s go-to for interactive learning.

Apple iPad

Apple’s newest entry-level option has more power than many PC computers and will likely last for your kid’s whole school career.

  • Resolution:
    2160 x 1620
  • Storage:
    32 GB, 128 GB
  • Battery life:
    10 hours
Older kids or advanced learners need a tablet that can keep up with schoolwork, double as a laptop, and keep them busy past educational games. Apple’s newest version of the classic iPad is a versatile, affordable option that the whole fam can share. There’s obviously no kid stuff pre-installed, but if you are buying it for a little one, Apple has multiple kid-proofing options that can be set and then lifted as they’re grown out of. It’s not the cheapest of this bunch, but it is Apple’s cheapest iPad.
Educational stuff: With general-purpose tablets, content is up to the user. The App Store has a massive amount of free educational apps and a way more robust selection than most kid-specific tablets: Find apps for core skills like math, reading, and science, or hone in on more specific interests with apps for biology, language learning, or test prep. Kids are also guaranteed to be psyched about the iPad’s augmented reality capabilities and AR apps, allowing them to immerse themselves in the world around them (or planets outside their world, or the ocean below their world). There’s even AR frog dissection.
Parental controls: Nothing is built-in, so you’ll have to get hands-on with the kid-proofing. In your iPad’s settings in the Restrictions tab, you can put a virtual lock on any app or make functions off-limits (Safari, the App Store, iMessage, and Facebook are a few you may consider hiding). The “Allowed Content” tab has options for movies or websites, where you can disable specific URLs or allow only G-rated movies to play. If monitoring kids’ usage more closely is a must, installing parental control software like Kaspersky Safe Kids or Qustodio is a quick fix for an extra security boost.
Durability and specs: Basically a mini computer, this 10.2-inch tablet is decked out with technical details that blow most other tablets on this list (as well as some laptops) out of the water. Upgrades from Apple’s previous iPad include a new A10 Fusion Chip that’s said to house double the oomph of a Windows PC4 and support of the new iPad OS for a better keyboard experience. Artistic kids or habitual pencil-and-paper notetakers will appreciate that the first-gen Apple Pencil is also supported.
As for durability, iPads don’t come with cases at all. If your iPad will be in the hands of little ones, there are tons of protective kid-proof cases and screen protectors that you can buy separately. 

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The Good

Chromebooks are super unlikely to get a virus • Vibrant, *almost* full HD display • Lots of internal storage for a Chromebook • Ultra thin and portable • 100GB of one-year free trial of Google One

The Bad

Cramped keyboard, but little hands won’t notice • Only port is one USB-C • Apps like Netflix are slower in app form than web version

The Bottom Line

The Duet is a user-friendly Chromebook, a lightweight convertible, and a total steal.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

For the tasks a kid needs to do, this 2-in-1 is a champ that’s much cheaper than other Chrome OS tablets.

  • Resolution:
    1920 x 1200
  • Battery life:
    13 hours
  • Storage:
    128GB
There are a ton of affordable, reliable Chromebooks out there. But tech brands have been less successful at harnessing the Chromebook way of life into tablet form — at a price point that works for people on a budget, at least. Lenovo’s release of the convertible Chromebook Duet saved a lot of those people from having to choose between Chrome OS and tablet convenience. As The Verge’s Monica Chin writes, this 2-in-1 has no business costing so little.
Kid stuff: Leveling up a grade at school typically means more schoolwork online — and more lugging around a personal computer. (In a non-pandemic world, at least.) The Duet’s ability to act as a truly portable laptop replacement really expands its shelf life for those older students. A thin-and-light design is also a must for little hands and little backpacks to carry comfortably. The Duet weighs less than a pound to about two pounds (depending on whether the keyboard is attached). Connecting the keyboard is as easy as matching up a few magnets.
Lenovo doesn’t yet offer a kid-specific curated suite of content like Amazon FreeTime+ — though we expect the Duet will be one of the next Lenovo devices to use Google’s Kids Space. For now, families can choose from millions of explore age-specific and fun, educational apps from the Google Play Store.
Parent stuff: As long as Kids Mode is on, parents can comfortably cut kids loose to play and learn without worry of them landing on something less-than-appropriate. Each kid gets their own profile, which parents can customize by choosing which apps and websites are allowed, blocking the concerning ones, and setting time limits.
Given the internet security and simple OS that Chromebook laptops offer, it’s easy to see why parents would want such kid-friendly measures in tablet form. Every web page or Chrome app runs its own sandbox, essentially ensuring that other parts of the device won’t be compromised even if that page gets hacked. Most malware is designed for Windows or Mac, so Chromebooks rarely get viruses, anyway.
Durability and specs:  Barring picks like the Google Pixelbook, Chromebooks aren’t exactly known for their power. However, the Duet holds its own with anything an elementary, middle, or high school student might need to do. The octa-core processor handles word processing and video calls like a pro, and shouldn’t flinch too much at typical power suckers like Netflix. The 1920 x 1200 display is surprisingly crisp for the price.

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The Good

Storage capacity can be expanded with a microSD card (sold separately) • Expandable storage • Worry-free guarantee • Case has a built-in stand

The Bad

Battery dies quickly • Tiny, quiet speakers • YouTube is difficult to censor

The Bottom Line

Energetic kids are no match for the Fire 7’s protective case and Amazon’s worry-free guarantee.

Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition

Energetic kids are no match for the Fire 7’s protective case and Amazon’s worry-free guarantee.

  • Resolution:
    1024 x 600
  • Storage:
    16 GB
  • Battery life:
    7 hours
Nobody does kids’ tablets as well as Amazon does, and 2019’s Fire 7 Kids Edition Tablet is just an extension of that expertise. 
Kid stuff: As we wrote earlier, Amazon FreeTime Unlimited is Amazon’s subscription service made specifically for kids ages 3-12. Over 20,000 kid-appropriate apps with characters from Disney, Nickelodeon (to feed the Peppa Pig obsession, of course), and more are at your fingertips — saving parents from having to comb through an entire App Store. The first year is free; after that, you’ll pay $2.99 a month if you’re an Amazon Prime member, or $4.99 a month as a non-member.
Parent stuff: Everything mentioned about parental controls and Amazon Free Time with the aforementioned Fire HD 8 is the same with the Fire 7 — same age filters and time restrictions, same optional blocking of apps like YouTube or Minecraft, and same easy switch between kids’ profiles. However, we’ll always reiterate how seriously amazing and intuitive FreeTime is. It keeps an eye on your kids’ usage so you don’t have to, and the kid content is so genius that kids don’t even realize they’re learning or being monitored.
Durability and specs: The Fire 7 sees a slightly lower resolution than the Fire HD 8 and doesn’t have Dolby Atmos speakers. It does, however, offer expandable storage up to 512 GB and the ability to use Alexa with parental controls on.

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The Good

Revamped design with thin bezels • Amazing high-res graphics for the cost • Decent for heavy duty gaming • New lightning fast A14 Bionic chip

The Bad

Apple Pencil, keyboard, etc. sold separately

The Bottom Line

Apple’s middle child sees some of its best upgrades to the cameras, processor, and exterior design.

Apple iPad Air

The diet iPad Pro welcomes a blistering fast processor and is Apple’s best bang for your buck

  • Resolution:
    2224 x 1668
  • Storage:
    64 GB, 256 GB
  • Battery life:
    10 hours
Meet Apple’s best bang for your buck: Sitting between the entry-level iPad and the power-hungry iPad Pros, the newest iPad Air is having some serious middle child syndrome. The home button-less design gives it away: the iPad Air is way more Pro than it lets on. Even older kids won’t feel lame having to share this with their parents.
Kid stuff: All iPads are general purpose, so parents (or kids, if they’re old enough) will choose which apps to download. Conveniently, the App Store is home to thousands of education-related apps for all age groups and interests, from simple math and reading to biology with augmented reality or college test prep.
Parent stuff: There’s not really an all-encompassing “kid mode” for iPads, so it’s up to parents to mess with settings or install parental control software. At the least, the iPad’s Restrictions tab lets you put a virtual lock on any app or make functions off-limits (Safari, the App Store, iMessage, and Facebook are a few you may consider hiding). Even if a responsible older kid doesn’t need their usage monitored 24/7, this is handy to keep them from getting distracted during homework hours.
Durability and specs: Schoolwork may actually be enjoyable with these crisp visuals and no-lag screen — you’re basically getting Pro speeds for a fraction of the price. The 2020 Air’s rapid responsiveness is 40 percent faster than the previous model and can be attributed to the  new A14 Bionic chip. Graphics on the crisp Retina display look stellar, and so will the 4K videos that the upgraded 12 MP camera can capture.  Hold it up to the traditional iPad or a Fire HD tablet and see the difference in visuals.

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The Good

Dual Dolby Atmos speakers • Switch from kid mode to parent mode with a PIN • Comes with four months of YouTube Premium • S-Pen included • Built-in Notes app with handwriting recognition

The Bad

No hardware keyboard attachment • Gaming is meh

The Bottom Line

The simplified version of Samsung’s latest and greatest offers stylus support and a beautiful screen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite

Little ones will love the creative leeway of the S Pen and parents will love having a totally separate interface.

  • Resolution:
    2000 x 1200
  • Storage:
    64GB, 128GB
  • Battery life:
    7 hours
Getting your kid their own tablet may still feel unnecessary. The purchase becomes infinitely more justifiable if it’s a tablet the whole family will use, but that means landing specs up to par for adults without  surpassing ease of use for a kid. One of Samsung’s latest beauties, the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, is the perfect balance.
Educational stuff: The Samsung Kids interface is designed specifically to morph fun and learning while easing kids into computer literacy and the habit of using a touchscreen. Kids can peruse trustworthy games, books, and TV shows while getting to know Croco, Cooki, Lisa, and Bobby — the adorable cartoon animals they’ll be playing with. A subscription to Samsung Kids+ opens up even more parent-approved games like Toca Boca and TV Shows like Lego Batman. Kids who like to draw or take notes by hand will dig the S-Pen, which is included.
Parent stuff: A simple PIN saves parents from having to use a tablet loaded with kid controls. In Parental Control Mode, parents can set limits on their child’s usage and customize the content they see. Of course, parent mode has a completely different interface (the default one for all Galaxy tablets). Different family members can add profiles and have their own ~adult~ account.
Specs and durability: The price hike from Samsung’s bottom-line budget tablets (the A and A7) can mostly be attributed to the addition of stylus support and inclusion of the S-Pen with purchase. But, as the “lite” version of the regular S6, it still sees a lot of nice specs for the price of the most basic iPad. The 2000 x 1200 display dazzles, the Dolby Atmos stereo speakers boom, and the processor handles Adobe and Microsoft OneNote with ease.

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The Good

Full Android suite works with Google apps (sans side loading) • Dolby Atmos speakers • Thin bezels make incredible screen-to-body ratio • Very low monetary commitment • Google Assistant and smart home control

The Bad

Meh cameras

The Bottom Line

A non-committal first tablet with a vivid display and thin design that’s cool for middle schoolers.

Lenovo Tab M8

Kids can set alarms or Google questions via voice commands, squeezing some self-sufficiency into their tablet use.

  • Resolution:
    1280 x 800
  • Storage:
    32GB
  • Battery life:
    Up to 20 hours
Middle schoolers want to feel self-sufficient, and they want to look cool while doing it. They’ve outgrown the need for curated educational games and won’t be caught dead with a colorful bumper case.
Graduating to a premium business tablet like an iPad might be premature, too. Something like the Lenovo Tab M8 is right up a tween’s alley, and the price tag won’t have parents paranoid about the tablet being carried like a third limb.
Kid stuff: Toggling between regular mode for parents and Kid’s Mode 3.0 is quick and easy. Kid’s Mode is an independent account that, like most other child-friendly suites, puts the blinders on and pulls out kid-specific content like games, apps, videos, and audio. Eye protection mode is automatically turned on to combat light sensitivity. Look for Google’s Kid Space to be available soon, too.
Parent stuff: Parents can also set time limits with the Kid’s Mode parental controls. If kids over 12 don’t want to be locked into kids’ content, parents can opt for parental controls elsewhere (Google Family Link is a good one). Unlike Fire tablets, Lenovo tablets offer a true Android experience that won’t put you through side loading for random Google apps.
Durability and specs: The screen on an 8-inch tablet looks a lot bigger with an impressive 83% screen-to-body ratio — sleekness that can be attributed to thin bezels. A resolution of 1280 x 800 is bright enough, and the Dolby Atmos speakers make up for any entertainment related slack. These specs mix together in just the right way to conserve a single battery charge for up to 20 hours.

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Shatterproof screen • LeapFrog Academy with personalized learning • Kid-friendly web browser • Expandable memory • Durable rubber case with a kickstand

The Bad

Poor battery life • Less-than-stellar screen • Very little internal storage space

The Bottom Line

Large icons, specially curated internet access, and a shatterproof screen makes this great for little ones.

LeapFrog LeapPad Academy

Large icons, specially curated-for-kids internet access, and a shatterproof screen makes this great for little ones.

  • Resolution:
    1024 x 600
  • Storage:
    16 GB
  • Battery life:
    7 hours
Designed for children ages 3-8, the LeapFrog LeapPad Academy is a great starter tablet for little ones who aren’t yet accustomed to mobile device life. It’s equipped with a shatterproof touchscreen and a super cute interface with large icons, and parental controls are already built-in.
Educational stuff: The LeapPad Academy comes pre-loaded with over 20 educator-approved apps that will hone your kiddo’s math, reading, writing, coding, problem-solving, and creativity skills, as well as access to the LeapFrog App Center and its 750-plus learning games, eBooks, and videos (each sold separately). It also includes a free three-month trial of the LeapFrog Academy subscription service (normally $7.99 a month or $39.99 a year), which features some neat “just-for-me” technology: It follows your child’s process and automatically adapts its games to match his or her skill set and learning speed. (There isn’t access to video content like Youtube or Netflix, which can be good or bad depending on what you want your kid to see and how busy you’d like to keep them.)
Parental controls: LeapFrog has pretty much thought of everything with this one, so parents can sit back — but there is a password-protected parental control feature where parents can customize kids’ experiences and set time limits for playing (and for how long they have to wait between playing). LeapSearch, its kid-friendly web browser, can only go to specific websites that were pre-selected by the learning experts at LeapFrog, and parents in the reviews love that they can feel safe letting their kid play without constant supervision.
Durability and specs: Available in green and pink, the LeapPad Academy comes with front and rear-facing cameras, 480p video recording, a seven-hour rechargeable battery, a stylus, and a shatter-safe touchscreen. (It’s not extremely HD, but will a 3-year-old notice?) 

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The Good

One free year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited • Worry-free guarantee • Case comes in fun colors and patterns • Can last up to a month on one charge • Reading tools like vocab flashcards or in-book definitions • Huge selection of books

The Bad

Crappy resolution • Case prevents against scratches and not much else

The Bottom Line

A bare bones, distraction-free platform that can help young bookworms tackle lengthy reading lists.

All-new Amazon Kindle Kids Edition

Though it’s nothing special in the spec department, this distraction-free platform can help young bookworms tackle lengthy reading lists (while building their vocab along the way).

  • Resolution:
    800 x 600
  • Storage:
    8 GB
  • Battery life:
    Up to four weeks
The Kindle Kids Edition is bare-bones compared to the other tablets on its list, but for its intended purposes (reading and listening to books), it’ll serve a young bookworm well. Amazon’s two-year worry-free guarantee is definitely a perk, too.
Education stuff: The Kindle Kids Edition comes with a year’s worth of FreeTime Unlimited, which includes tons of popular books and Audible titles for kids — everything from Mr. Popper’s Penguins to the entire Harry Potter series. Your little tyke will also get access to two valuable reading tools: “Vocabulary Builder” creates flashcards out of any words they look up in the device’s built-in dictionary, and “Word Wise” puts simple definitions above tricky words to keep them chugging along.
Parental controls: Just as with Amazon’s Fire HD Kids Edition tablets, Mom and Dad can use its built-in Parental Dashboard to adjust age filters and prevent them from seeing anything they shouldn’t. (Not that there’s much to see to begin with — kids can’t access the internet or social media once FreeTime is enabled, and the device doesn’t support apps like YouTube.) You’ve also got the option of adding books to your kid’s library through the Kindle Store and checking in on their reading progress. 
Durability and specs: Sporting a glare-free, e-ink display, the 6-inch Kindle Kids Edition features a puny resolution of 800 x 600. That’s not a huge deal for reading only, but kids might notice some blurriness in larger type and their books’ cover images. There’s also 8 GB of internal storage space, which Amazon says its enough room over a thousand FreeTime Unlimited books. Up to four weeks’ worth of books can be read before needing to charge the battery again.