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So your kid needs a laptop — here are the models to look for on Prime Day — 10/26/2018

So your kid needs a laptop — here are the models to look for on Prime Day

The learning experience is fundamentally different for kids now than it was even for today’s 20-somethings — especially for elementary and middle schools. A lot of that change can be attributed to laptops.

The Covid-induced school closures that spanned 2020 cemented the cruciality of a kid having easy access to a laptop at home. Both teachers and parents were forced to make online learning work — and now that the groove has been found, a hybrid model may just be the future for some classrooms even after pandemic protections are a thing of the past.

Sheer convenience isn’t the only reason for kids to have a laptop. The importance of access to email and virtual learning platforms like Blackboard while a kid’s not at school can’t be understated (and for a lot of kids, it’s far less intimidating than talking to a teacher IRL.) Digital accessibility to school materials and other resources can cultivate a sense of autonomy and responsibility in students: The Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning found that high schoolers who were assigned a laptop were more likely to take notes in class, do internet research, create documents to share, collaborate with their peers on projects, check their grades, and get reminders about due dates or tests. 

Are first graders going to be taking notes or keeping track of their own test scores? Probably not. But as children move from elementary to middle to high school, computers are made a more integral part of the curriculum and assignments. Young kids can stay ahead of the curve by practicing those skills at home — it’s like practicing reading with your preschooler or letting your 15-year-old practice driving in a parking lot. Easing them into the responsibility of keeping a device charged can work as preparation for a cell phone as well.

As schools continue to solidify laptop-based curricula, we expect retailers to make it easy for parents to buy their kids a laptop. Shoppers saw an emphasis on affordable laptops and Chromebooks in the early month of school shutdowns, and shopping holidays like Prime Day and Black Friday will likely keep student-friendly laptops at the top of the deals list — even if remote learning has fizzled out.

How to monitor your kid’s computer activity without smothering them

Handing a laptop to your kid (and subsequently setting them loose on the internet) naturally comes with safety concerns. The already-huge screen time debate was forced into the spotlight when the coronavirus required schools to close, forcing caregivers to find a way to keep kids entertained and engaged all day, every day. Parents were told to not freak out about their kids staring at a screen while stuck at home, as the evidence connecting screen time and cognitive or behavior development is pretty meager. But if you’re worried that too much freedom will result in kids landing on an inappropriate site or going into technology zombie mode, parental control software steps in to strike a healthy balance.

What’s the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?

A Chromebook is a laptop that operates almost solely on the internet. These laptops aren’t inherently kids’ laptops, but their low price point, cute and compact designs, and security features do make them a good option for iffy parents and kids who will be doing most of their work on a web browser (like playing on ABCmouse or typing on Google Docs).

Being locked into Chrome OS isn’t as limiting as it sounds. Actually, it provides some freedoms that regular laptops can’t. Because everything is automatically stored on Google Drive, your kid won’t lose all of their work if they forget to save a document or if the Chromebook itself crashes. This also means that kids can access their slideshow or essay on any computer where they can log into their Google account.

Kids perusing the internet might sound like a virus waiting to happen. Every web page or Chrome app runs its own sandbox, essentially ensuring that other parts of the computer won’t be compromised even if that page gets hacked or “infected.” 

However, malware has nothing on Chrome. Most hackers are aiming at Windows or Mac and ignore Google’s OS (for now), making it highly unlikely for a Chromebook to get a virus. If something sketchy were to happen, the threat can be wiped out by closing the page or reverting to factory settings. Parents and teachers can get some peace of mind without constantly looking over their child’s shoulder, and children can surf the web without feeling like they’re being watched.

Laptops for younger kids versus older kids

Some criteria make sense for all ages. Young kids need something sturdy that can handle drops or bumps, and older kids need something that can handle being lugged in a backpack alongside heavy books. Long battery life makes everyone’s life easier, too.

Processing power and storage will likely be your main deciding factors, and it all depends on what the kid will be doing on the laptop. Younger kids may do some light schoolwork, play games, or watch a movie, but there’s no reason to pay for RAM over 4 GB to run a few apps for school or a fancy screen to play Overcooked! 2. Faster RAM and increased screen resolution will be important for high school or college students who need a device that can multitask with power-sucking apps like PhotoShop or software for a statistics course. Ample storage space is a must to house things like schoolwork and downloaded textbooks.

Here are the best laptops for kids in 2021:

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1326177%252f47e3834d 9606 4b2a bcef 0b1866f0d64c.png%252f480x0.png?signature=o3ocv3hcb8qpegdzkxops8jf9wc=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Comes with a Surface Pen • Built-in parental controls • New camera app for scanning documents and white boards • Easy-to-use Windows Hello security • Easy to carry in multiple ways

The Bad

Type Cover can be finicky • Screen brightness doesn’t wow • Not powerful enough to be full laptop repalcement

The Bottom Line

The flexibility that kids crave, now with more juice under the hood for heavy school and creative apps.

Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft’s 2-in-1 laptop is a slick studying sidekick that comes with a stylus and an app for scanning whiteboards.

  • Battery life:
    10 hours
  • Weight:
    1.2 pounds
  • Display:
    1920 x 1280
  • RAM:
    4GB, 8GB
  • Storage:
    64GB, 128GB
Older kids will dig the freedom of going from a laptop to a tablet and back without switching devices. Microsoft’s second gen Surface Go surpasses the sluggish 2-in-1s meant mostly for streaming with heftier computing skills. That performance boost is essential for schoolwork involving special statistics or creative software, ideally preventing any system restarts due to overheating (and resulting file loss). 
Its lightweight design and dual high-def webcams are checkmarks for any student, but Microsoft went above and beyond to make the Surface Go 2 a true learning sidekick. Kids can use a special camera app (built into the rear-facing camera) to scan documents and whiteboards for quicker note-taking or studying. The included Surface Pen is also clutch for jotting things down, doodling, sketching, and tracing.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1478241%252fe932ed57 bd72 40d2 b53c 19ff8bccdd61.png%252f480x0.png?signature=qhiahc23jhh9key5klcd0wj5mns=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: lenovo / mashable photo composite

The Good

Boots up in 10 seconds or less • Super affordable • Extremely lightweight • Small keyboard for small hands • Comes with a free one-year trial of Google One

The Bad

No headphone jack • Only one port (USB-C)

The Bottom Line

A surprisingly capable Chromebook for the price that’s safe to carry around.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo’s true detachable Chromebook has impressive specs for its price, and you don’t need to buy a separate keyboard.

  • Battery life:
    10 hours
  • Weight:
    2.03 pounds altogether (0.99 pounds without keyboard)
  • Display:
    1920 x 1200
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    128GB
If it feels like someone’s always hogging the family desktop, it wouldn’t hurt to grab a laptop specifically for homework time. Enter: the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, a remarkably lightweight 2-in-1 laptop with a solid general-purpose processor, a built-in kickstand, and a compact, detachable keyboard that’s perfect for small hands. (Many laptop-tablet hybrids don’t come with their own keyboards, adding a sneaky extra cost.) Its 10.1-inch touchscreen display is also compatible with Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) pens for drawing and doodling, but you’ll have to buy one of those separately. 
The really great thing about the Chromebook Duet is that it comes with a free one-year trial of Google One on top of 128GB of internal memory. (That alone is a ton of storage for a Chromebook.) That’ll get you an additional 100GB of cloud storage for assignments, essays, study guides, and notes. 

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1621618%252f632bb621 e523 4afb 881c 4249eea04b3c.png%252f480x0.png?signature=d eiw3 br 9k5tmanjtkchsixow=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Acer VertiView display is super sharp • SSD over eMMC storage • 3:2 aspect ratio looks stunning

The Bad

No stylus included, but is compatible with some separate pens • Not super lightweight

The Bottom Line

Snag impressive specs for a Chromebook including an ultra-sharp display and beefier storage.

Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Visual learners and streaming fans will be psyched on the glorious hi-res screen of this souped-up Chromebook.

  • Battery life:
    12 hours
  • Weight:
    3.02 pounds
  • Display:
    2256 x 1504
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    128GB
Of the million 2-in-1 iterations with near-indistinguishable differences the Chromebook market has to offer, tech publishers have been able to agree that one beats the rest: Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713. 
This particular Spin model sets itself apart with a rare 3:2 aspect ratio (a small layout change known as a productivity boost) and crisp VertiView display, which makes colors pop and tiny words legible. A laptop over three pounds might be a struggle for some youngsters, but it’s an expected weight jump for 13.5-inch screen.
The of an included stylus is annoying for a price point like this. But it hasn’t been enough to squash the internet’s love for this Chromebook, especially because it is technically compatible with a few USI pens. 

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1326205%252f26368c04 2b58 4109 ba14 fbe40af5027e.png%252f480x0.png?signature=6 cftu dbawzrjnioawedsmh96u=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Thin, lightweight, and perfect for backpacks • Plenty of storage space • Quiet, comfortable keyboard

The Bad

Trackpad is weird • Touchscreen without a 360-degree hinge is odd

The Bottom Line

Google’s star offers that secure experience minus the clunkiness of your average Chromebook.

Google Pixelbook Go

The newest Pixelbook is a cool lightweight powerhouse that averts the “clunky Chromebook” rep.

  • Battery life:
    12 hours
  • Weight:
    2.33 pounds
  • Display:
    1920 x 1280
  • RAM:
    8GB, 16GB
  • Storage:
    64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Google’s Chromebooks are a clutch option for people who want a high-performance laptop without giving up the security of ChromeOS. The latest iteration, the 2019 Pixelbook Go, welcomes upgrades like an 8th-Gen Intel Core processor, a larger touchscreen display, and a longer battery life.

Google opted out of the 360-degree hinge for this one, but tech bloggers agree that the traditional notebook design feels sturdier and more professional. The rounded corners and muted colors scream maturity, which high schoolers will appreciate. The lack of a 4K screen like the Galaxy Chromebook isn’t cause for concern, either — older kids (and most adults who aren’t editing videos or designing) simply don’t need to pay for that. The Pixelbook Go is undoubtedly beastly enough for school projects, streaming, and running multiple apps simultaneously for 12 hours on one charge.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1621777%252f569c53b9 f1d0 430b 9976 15e1876bbe6f.png%252f480x0.png?signature=52wxpuotxxofu6ylt1pen3srfrg=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

M1 chip provides snappy multitasking performance • Touch ID is convenient and secure • Gorgeous Retina display • Customizable, near-infinite SSD • Backlit Magic Keyboard • Lightweight and compact

The Bad

Some antivirus or parental control softwares don’t play nicely with Mac • Fan kicks in immediately • Big learning curve for kids used to Windows

The Bottom Line

Apple hit the sweet spot without skimping on features that grads need for school or work.

Apple MacBook Air

The 2020 Air is a real Pro competitor with a Retina display and beefy M1 processing chip.

  • Battery life:
    18 hours
  • Weight:
    2.8 pounds
  • Display:
    2560 x 1600
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    256GB, 512GB, configurable up to 2TB
Apple’s MacBooks are *the* choice for high school grads heading off to college or into the workforce. If you’re struggling to decide between the Air or Pro, here’s a good rule of thumb: Unless the device’s primary user will be editing 4K videos in Adobe or can’t live without a Touch Bar, buying a Pro at full price is unnecessary.
Five years ago, this probably wasn’t the case. But with a razor-sharp Retina display, a Touch ID sensor, and the Pro’s wicked M1 chip on board, the latest Air is a productivity juggernaut in its own right. It packs the power into less than three pounds and keeps the efficiency sailing for up to 18 hours.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1621842%252f1ecfc342 e046 40d5 94e9 f44616f67c60.png%252f480x0.png?signature=uvwuxze0e4gsds8gjqcfohy8eq4=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Frequently on sale for $349.99 • Selfie camera • Built-in battery-free stylus • Two USB ports and microSD slot • New Intel chip boosts speed

The Bad

Too expensive when it’s not on sale • Keyboard isn’t backlit • No HDMI

The Bottom Line

A compact design and stylus that never needs to charge make for a great to-go device.

Samsung Chromebook Plus V2

The garaged battery-free pen will be a game changer for both learning and creativity.

  • Battery life:
    9.5 hours
  • Weight:
    2.98 pounds
  • Display:
    1920 x 1200
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    32GB eMMC
Foldable Chromebooks with stylus support are solid outlets for creativity. There’s just something fun about paperless writing or drawing, whether that’s designing in Adobe or highlighting a virtual textbook. Not only does Samsung’s Chromebook Plus V2 support styluses — it comes with one that never needs to be charged.

The second generation of Samsung’s budget 2-in-1 Chromebook ain’t no Galaxy Chromebook, but it’s a hell of a value for its price range. A new Intel processor gives it an edge over the original, but it keeps the same aluminum clamshell design and sturdy 360-degree hinges.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1621852%252f13915d80 656d 4e63 afa3 8e82a1ed50f5.png%252f480x0.png?signature=udyvbohy r9vrpnydjxward9v5g=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Spill-resistant keyboard • Sturdy build with rubber bumpers • 2-in-1 touchscreen adds fun flare • Safe and easy to throw in a backpack • Headphone jack

The Bad

Dinky touchpad • Display isn’t FHD

The Bottom Line

A flippable touchscreen puts a fun, modern touch on Dell’s durable little Chromebook.

Dell Chromebook 11 3100

Clumsy kids are in good hands with this spill resistant 2-in-1 that stores everything in the cloud.

  • Battery life:
    10 hours
  • Weight:
    2.85 pounds
  • Display:
    1366 x 768
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    32GB
Handing a device to a kid is like watching a drop or spill flash before your eyes. Designed to withstand the rigors of daily life in the classroom, at home, and in between, this 2-in-1 Dell Chromebook nails the kid-ready trifecta: rugged, affordable, and ready for streaming. Its lack of curb appeal is supplemented with 360-degree hinges to switch to tent mode or table mode — automatically more fun.

At just over 11 inches wide and less than three pounds, the 3100 can be carried safely in little arms or little backpacks. The sturdy chassis is supported by rubber bumpers for absorbing shock and a spill-resistant keyboard that can handle 12 ounces of liquid.

So your kid needs a laptop — here’s what you should know —

So your kid needs a laptop — here’s what you should know

The learning experience is fundamentally different for kids now than it was even for today’s 20-somethings — especially for elementary and middle schools. A lot of that change can be attributed to laptops.

The Covid-induced school closures that spanned 2020 cemented the cruciality of a kid having easy access to a laptop at home. Both teachers and parents were forced to make online learning work — and now that the groove has been found, a hybrid model may just be the future for some classrooms even after pandemic protections are a thing of the past.

Sheer convenience isn’t the only reason for kids to have a laptop. The importance of access to email and virtual learning platforms like Blackboard while a kid’s not at school can’t be understated (and for a lot of kids, it’s far less intimidating than talking to a teacher IRL.) Digital accessibility to school materials and other resources can cultivate a sense of autonomy and responsibility in students: The Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning found that high schoolers who were assigned a laptop were more likely to take notes in class, do internet research, create documents to share, collaborate with their peers on projects, check their grades, and get reminders about due dates or tests. 

Are first graders going to be taking notes or keeping track of their own test scores? Probably not. But as children move from elementary to middle to high school, computers are made a more integral part of the curriculum and assignments. Young kids can stay ahead of the curve by practicing those skills at home — it’s like practicing reading with your preschooler or letting your 15-year-old practice driving in a parking lot. Easing them into the responsibility of keeping a device charged can work as preparation for a cell phone as well.

How to monitor your kid’s computer activity without smothering them

Handing a laptop to your kid (and subsequently setting them loose on the internet) naturally comes with safety concerns. The already-huge screen time debate was forced into the spotlight when the coronavirus required schools to close, forcing caregivers to find a way to keep kids entertained and engaged all day, every day. Parents were told to not freak out about their kids staring at a screen while stuck at home, as the evidence connecting screen time and cognitive or behavior development is pretty meager. But if you’re worried that too much freedom will result in kids landing on an inappropriate site or going into technology zombie mode, parental control software steps in to strike a healthy balance.

What’s the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?

A Chromebook is a laptop that operates almost solely on the internet. These laptops aren’t inherently kids’ laptops, but their low price point, cute and compact designs, and security features do make them a good option for iffy parents and kids who will be doing most of their work on a web browser (like playing on ABCmouse or typing on Google Docs).

Being locked into Chrome OS isn’t as limiting as it sounds. Actually, it provides some freedoms that regular laptops can’t. Because everything is automatically stored on Google Drive, your kid won’t lose all of their work if they forget to save a document or if the Chromebook itself crashes. This also means that kids can access their slideshow or essay on any computer where they can log into their Google account.

Kids perusing the internet might sound like a virus waiting to happen. Every web page or Chrome app runs its own sandbox, essentially ensuring that other parts of the computer won’t be compromised even if that page gets hacked or “infected.” 

However, malware has nothing on Chrome. Most hackers are aiming at Windows or Mac and ignore Google’s OS (for now), making it highly unlikely for a Chromebook to get a virus. If something sketchy were to happen, the threat can be wiped out by closing the page or reverting to factory settings. Parents and teachers can get some peace of mind without constantly looking over their child’s shoulder, and children can surf the web without feeling like they’re being watched.

Laptops for younger kids versus older kids

Some criteria makes sense for all ages. Young kids need something sturdy that can handle drops or bumps, and older kids need something that can handle being lugged in a backpack alongside heavy books. Long battery life makes everyone’s life easier, too.

Processing power and storage will likely be your main deciding factors, and it all depends on what the kid will be doing on the laptop. Younger kids may do some light schoolwork, play games, or watch a movie, but there’s no reason to pay for RAM over 4 GB to run a few apps for school or a fancy screen to play Overcooked! 2. Faster RAM and increased screen resolution will be important for high school or college students who need a device that can multitask with power-sucking apps like PhotoShop or software for a statistics course. Ample storage space is a must to house things like school work and downloaded textbooks.

Here are the best laptops for kids in 2021:

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1326177%252f47e3834d 9606 4b2a bcef 0b1866f0d64c.png%252f480x0.png?signature=o3ocv3hcb8qpegdzkxops8jf9wc=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Comes with a Surface Pen • Built-in parental controls • New camera app for scanning documents and white boards • Easy-to-use Windows Hello security • Easy to carry in multiple ways

The Bad

Type Cover can be finicky • Screen brightness doesn’t wow • Not powerful enough to be full laptop repalcement

The Bottom Line

The flexibility that kids crave, now with more juice under the hood for heavy school and creative apps.

Microsoft Surface Go 2

Microsoft’s 2-in-1 laptop is a slick studying sidekick that comes with a stylus and an app for scanning whiteboards.

  • Battery life:
    10 hours
  • Weight:
    1.2 pounds
  • Display:
    1920 x 1280
  • RAM:
    4GB, 8GB
  • Storage:
    64GB, 128GB
Older kids will dig the freedom of going from a laptop to a tablet and back without switching devices. Microsoft’s second gen Surface Go surpasses the sluggish 2-in-1s meant mostly for streaming with heftier computing skills. That performance boost is essential for schoolwork involving special statistics or creative software, ideally preventing any system restarts due to overheating (and resulting file loss). 
Its lightweight design and dual high-def webcams are checkmarks for any student, but Microsoft went above and beyond to make the Surface Go 2 a true learning sidekick. Kids can use a special camera app (built into the rear-facing camera) to scan documents and whiteboards for quicker note-taking or studying. The included Surface Pen is also clutch for jotting things down, doodling, sketching, and tracing.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1478241%252fe932ed57 bd72 40d2 b53c 19ff8bccdd61.png%252f480x0.png?signature=qhiahc23jhh9key5klcd0wj5mns=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: lenovo / mashable photo composite

The Good

Boots up in 10 seconds or less • Super affordable • Extremely lightweight • Small keyboard for small hands • Comes with a free one-year trial of Google One

The Bad

No headphone jack • Only one port (USB-C)

The Bottom Line

A surprisingly capable Chromebook for the price that’s safe to carry around.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo’s true detachable Chromebook has impressive specs for its price, and you don’t need to buy a separate keyboard.

  • Battery life:
    10 hours
  • Weight:
    2.03 pounds altogether (0.99 pounds without keyboard)
  • Display:
    1920 x 1200
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    128GB
If it feels like someone’s always hogging the family desktop, it wouldn’t hurt to grab a laptop specifically for homework time. Enter: the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, a remarkably lightweight 2-in-1 laptop with a solid general-purpose processor, a built-in kickstand, and a compact, detachable keyboard that’s perfect for small hands. (Many laptop-tablet hybrids don’t come with their own keyboards, adding a sneaky extra cost.) Its 10.1-inch touchscreen display is also compatible with Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) pens for drawing and doodling, but you’ll have to buy one of those separately. 
The really great thing about the Chromebook Duet is that it comes with a free one-year trial of Google One on top of 128GB of internal memory. (That alone is a ton of storage for a Chromebook.) That’ll get you an additional 100GB of cloud storage for assignments, essays, study guides, and notes. 

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1621618%252f632bb621 e523 4afb 881c 4249eea04b3c.png%252f480x0.png?signature=d eiw3 br 9k5tmanjtkchsixow=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Acer VertiView display is super sharp • SSD over eMMC storage • 3:2 aspect ratio looks stunning

The Bad

No stylus included, but is compatible with some separate pens • Not super lightweight

The Bottom Line

Snag impressive specs for a Chromebook including an ultra-sharp display and beefier storage.

Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Visual learners and streaming fans will be psyched on the glorious hi-res screen of this souped-up Chromebook.

  • Battery life:
    12 hours
  • Weight:
    3.02 pounds
  • Display:
    2256 x 1504
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    128GB
Of the million 2-in-1 iterations with near-indistinguishable differences the Chromebook market has to offer, tech publishers have been able to agree that one beats the rest: Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713. 
This particular Spin model sets itself apart with a rare 3:2 aspect ratio (a small layout change known as a productivity boost) and crisp VertiView display, which makes colors pop and tiny words legible. A laptop over three pounds might be a struggle for some youngsters, but it’s an expected weight jump for 13.5-inch screen.
The of an included stylus is annoying for a price point like this. But it hasn’t been enough to squash the internet’s love for this Chromebook, especially because it is technically compatible with a few USI pens. 

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1326205%252f26368c04 2b58 4109 ba14 fbe40af5027e.png%252f480x0.png?signature=6 cftu dbawzrjnioawedsmh96u=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Thin, lightweight, and perfect for backpacks • Plenty of storage space • Quiet, comfortable keyboard

The Bad

Trackpad is weird • Touchscreen without a 360-degree hinge is odd

The Bottom Line

Google’s star offers that secure experience minus the clunkiness of your average Chromebook.

Google Pixelbook Go

The newest Pixelbook is a cool lightweight powerhouse that averts the “clunky Chromebook” rep.

  • Battery life:
    12 hours
  • Weight:
    2.33 pounds
  • Display:
    1920 x 1280
  • RAM:
    8GB, 16GB
  • Storage:
    64GB, 128GB, 256GB
Google’s Chromebooks are a clutch option for people who want a high-performance laptop without giving up the security of ChromeOS. The latest iteration, the 2019 Pixelbook Go, welcomes upgrades like an 8th-Gen Intel Core processor, a larger touchscreen display, and a longer battery life.

Google opted out of the 360-degree hinge for this one, but tech bloggers agree that the traditional notebook design feels sturdier and more professional. The rounded corners and muted colors scream maturity, which high schoolers will appreciate. The lack of a 4K screen like the Galaxy Chromebook isn’t cause for concern, either — older kids (and most adults who aren’t editing videos or designing) simply don’t need to pay for that. The Pixelbook Go is undoubtedly beastly enough for school projects, streaming, and running multiple apps simultaneously for 12 hours on one charge.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1621777%252f569c53b9 f1d0 430b 9976 15e1876bbe6f.png%252f480x0.png?signature=52wxpuotxxofu6ylt1pen3srfrg=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

M1 chip provides snappy multitasking performance • Touch ID is convenient and secure • Gorgeous Retina display • Customizable, near-infinite SSD • Backlit Magic Keyboard • Lightweight and compact

The Bad

Some antivirus or parental control softwares don’t play nicely with Mac • Fan kicks in immediately • Big learning curve for kids used to Windows

The Bottom Line

Apple hit the sweet spot without skimping on features that grads need for school or work.

Apple MacBook Air

The 2020 Air is a real Pro competitor with a Retina display and beefy M1 processing chip.

  • Battery life:
    18 hours
  • Weight:
    2.8 pounds
  • Display:
    2560 x 1600
  • RAM:
    8GB
  • Storage:
    256GB, 512GB, configurable up to 2TB
Apple’s MacBooks are *the* choice for high school grads heading off to college or into the workforce. If you’re struggling to decide between the Air or Pro, here’s a good rule of thumb: Unless the device’s primary user will be editing 4K videos in Adobe or can’t live without a Touch Bar, buying a Pro at full price is unnecessary.
Five years ago, this probably wasn’t the case. But with a razor-sharp Retina display, a Touch ID sensor, and the Pro’s wicked M1 chip on board, the latest Air is a productivity juggernaut in its own right. It packs the power into less than three pounds and keeps the efficiency sailing for up to 18 hours.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1621842%252f1ecfc342 e046 40d5 94e9 f44616f67c60.png%252f480x0.png?signature=uvwuxze0e4gsds8gjqcfohy8eq4=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Frequently on sale for $349.99 • Selfie camera • Built-in battery-free stylus • Two USB ports and microSD slot • New Intel chip boosts speed

The Bad

Too expensive when it’s not on sale • Keyboard isn’t backlit • No HDMI

The Bottom Line

A compact design and stylus that never needs to charge make for a great to-go device.

Samsung Chromebook Plus V2

The garaged battery-free pen will be a game changer for both learning and creativity.

  • Battery life:
    9.5 hours
  • Weight:
    2.98 pounds
  • Display:
    1920 x 1200
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    32GB eMMC
Foldable Chromebooks with stylus support are solid outlets for creativity. There’s just something fun about paperless writing or drawing, whether that’s designing in Adobe or highlighting a virtual textbook. Not only does Samsung’s Chromebook Plus V2 support styluses — it comes with one that never needs to be charged.

The second generation of Samsung’s budget 2-in-1 Chromebook ain’t no Galaxy Chromebook, but it’s a hell of a value for its price range. A new Intel processor gives it an edge over the original, but it keeps the same aluminum clamshell design and sturdy 360-degree hinges.

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Image: mashable photo composite

The Good

Spill-resistant keyboard • Sturdy build with rubber bumpers • 2-in-1 touchscreen adds fun flare • Safe and easy to throw in a backpack • Headphone jack

The Bad

Dinky touchpad • Display isn’t FHD

The Bottom Line

A flippable touchscreen puts a fun, modern touch on Dell’s durable little Chromebook.

Dell Chromebook 11 3100

Clumsy kids are in good hands with this spill resistant 2-in-1 that stores everything in the cloud.

  • Battery life:
    10 hours
  • Weight:
    2.85 pounds
  • Display:
    1366 x 768
  • RAM:
    4GB
  • Storage:
    32GB
Handing a device to a kid is like watching a drop or spill flash before your eyes. Designed to withstand the rigors of daily life in the classroom, at home, and in between, this 2-in-1 Dell Chromebook nails the kid-ready trifecta: rugged, affordable, and ready for streaming. Its lack of curb appeal is supplemented with 360-degree hinges to switch to tent mode or table mode — automatically more fun.

At just over 11 inches wide and less than three pounds, the 3100 can be carried safely in little arms or little backpacks. The sturdy chassis is supported by rubber bumpers for absorbing shock and a spill-resistant keyboard that can handle 12 ounces of liquid.

The best antivirus software options for keeping PCs and Macs protected — 10/15/2018

The best antivirus software options for keeping PCs and Macs protected

BEST ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE DEALS THIS WEEK:


It’s important to have a great antivirus software package that can protect your PC from threats while you browse online. Viruses, malware, ransomware, and phishing threats are all potential dangers when you’re online, even if you think you’re being careful. New threats are emerging every day, which is why many antivirus software manufacturers take a holistic approach, protecting your system from all kinds of potential threats, not just the obvious ones. 

There is no shortage of options out there for protecting your system from viral threats, but it’s important to have the right solution for you. Free apps are available of course, but they typically offer far fewer features and can sometimes be updated less frequently and reliably than paid antivirus software. Generally, you get what you pay for, and when it comes to keeping your PC secure from security threats, who wants to scrimp on protection? 

A dangerous virus or piece of ransomware can lock you out of your system, meaning if you don’t have a reliable backup, you could lose banking details, private documents, and personal photos that can never be recovered. Fortunately, if you install the right paid antivirus software, you won’t have to worry about that being an issue.

It’s worth remembering that even though it might seem like having multiple antivirus software apps installed is the best solution, this often causes issues. A far better idea is to pick one and stick with it so that they don’t clash with each other. Nowadays, many threats emerge from phishing attempts such as scam emails or websites that are disguised as something reputable. The best paid antivirus software appreciates that, so it looks out for anything that could be suspicious as well as more obvious virus files. 

It’s also important that your antivirus software has an on-demand malware scan as well as checks for vulnerabilities along the way. That way, it can keep an eye out for issues before they develop. Some paid antivirus software also detects files that are behaving suspiciously, giving you a head’s up so you can determine if you want to trust it or not. Viruses and security issues are fast-moving, so this is a great method for ensuring that potential issues are spotted even before a new virus is officially identified. 

I have a Mac. Do I need antivirus software?

Plenty of people tout Macs as impenetrable fortresses when it comes to viruses and other issues of the like, but they’ve been misled. While Macs are generally more secure than PCs — Apple software and hardware are all in-house, where Windows tends to have security vulnerabilities because they work with multiple manufacturers — that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Albeit smaller than PCs, there are still holes in the system that can be infiltrated. 

So yes, if you have a Mac, that doesn’t mean you should immediately write off picking up a high-quality antivirus software package. Many Mac users who carry the notion that they cannot be affected by malware tend to skip out on antivirus software because they feel like they don’t need it, and malicious hackers have caught onto this. As a result, Mac users are more targeted than ever when it comes to cyber attacks. (We have a roundup of antivirus software *just* for Mac users as well.)

Don’t be a part of that statistic. Protect your computer, whether it’s a PC or a Mac.

Viruses, malware, and ransomware

There are slight differences between them, but they’re worth knowing about so you can spot issues more easily as they come up. Just like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares, all viruses and ransomware are malware, but not all malware is a virus or ransomware. Got it? No? Well, let’s go a little deeper.

Malware, which is a term used for malicious software, covers any software that is meant to cause harm to a computer, server, network, or the user themself. This ranges from the seemingly innocuous nuisance, like pop-up ads, to the actually dangerous situations, like webcam hacking (maybe pick up a webcam cover, just to be safe). 

Now that we’ve established the malware umbrella, we can understand what a virus is. Viruses are a form of malware that self-replicates, effectively causing an “infection” on your computer (hence “virus”). Viruses can be picked up from things like email attachments, links with dangerous code embedded in them, disguised pop-ups, and downloads that haven’t been properly vetted. 

Ransomware is another form of malware that has a different purpose from a virus. A ransomware attack blocks access to a specific system until a “ransom” is paid, basically creating a hostage situation. Average computer users don’t have to be all that concerned about ransomware, as these types of attacks usually target larger institutions and businesses that hold a lot of capital. 

A good antivirus software package will work to fight all of these things, and while it still won’t make your device 100% impervious to attacks, it’ll still supply you with enough protection and peace of mind to keep your anxieties from running wild about getting hacked all the time.

Get a VPN, too

If you use a public network in any capacity, a VPN is a great thing to have by your side, and many antivirus software packages include them. Unsecured public networks are a hacker’s dream, which you can find present in places like coffee shops, airports, hotels, and more. Since connecting to public networks requires no authentication, hackers are easily able to get in and wreak all kinds of havoc. 

Thankfully, VPNs add a level of encryption that most public networks do not — they connect you to a secure server and provide you with an extra layer of protection around your data. Next time you’re on a public network, a secure VPN can keep you safe from people eavesdropping on your emails, stealing personal information, or sending you malware. Plus, they’re great for watching exclusive Netflix offerings that are specific to other countries, as a little bonus.

Password managers — are they necessary?

A lot of us do it: We repeat the same password for every single account we make, or at least some variation of that password. Even though it’s the more convenient option, seeing as you don’t have a billion passwords to remember at all times, it can also potentially be very dangerous. Think about it — if a hacker can get access to that master password of yours (which isn’t all that difficult, FYI), they can then get access to anything you used that password with, whether it’s your Amazon account or your online banking information. Bad news. 

That’s where a password manager comes in, and most antivirus software packages thankfully include them. A password manager has the ability to store all of your passwords in one place so that you don’t have to remember them, meaning you can create a completely new and unique one every time you need to without worrying about possibly losing it. This will make it way harder for anyone trying to get access to any of your multiple accounts across the internet, which is better for you in every way. 

So, what’s the best antivirus software?

There are a lot of options out there, but we were able to narrow it down to eight packages that we think are worthwhile for you to check out. Here are our top picks for the best antivirus solutions, no matter your network situation:

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Image: Bitdefender

The Good

One of the cheaper solutions • Browser identifies dangerous links • Removes adware and blocks ad tracking

The Bad

Automatically installs VPN, which isn’t free

The Bottom Line

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus has a great reputation for detecting viruses, malware, and pretty much all other nasties you could need to spot.

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus

Bitdefender Antivirus Plus has a great reputation for detecting viruses, malware, and pretty much all other nasties you might need to spot.

  • Up to 5 devices:
    $69.99 (first year)
  • Up to 10 devices:
    $79.99 (first year)
Over the years, Bitdefender has established quite the reputation for being exceptionally reliable when it comes to virus detection. That trend continues with Bitdefender Antivirus Plus. It’s solidly dependable for the vast majority of its users. 
In terms of its most basic features, it has a strong antivirus component, real-time behavioral monitoring for any pesky suspicious files, and ransomware protection. Scanning speeds are reasonably efficient with a quick scan taking a matter of seconds, and a full scan gradually taking less time the more you use it. For many, that’s all you’re ever going to need, but Bitdefender throws in a few more features along the way too — malicious website blocking, a password manager tool, and ransomware detection are also included.
Overall, Bitdefender Antivirus Plus is the kind of software you can leave running in the background and it simply just works. It also doubles up well as a form of security suite, rather than simply virus protection tool.

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Image: Norton

The Good

Great at detecting malware and exploits • Low performance hit • Plenty of configuration options

The Bad

Slightly confusing UI

The Bottom Line

A familiar name, Norton Antivirus Plus will make the majority of its users feel safe and protected, even if the options are a double-edged sword.

Norton Antivirus Plus

The familiar name will make the majority of its users feel safe and protected, even if the options are a double edged sword.

  • Norton AntiVirus Plus:
    $19.99 (annual)
  • Norton 360 Standard:
    $34.99 (annual)
  • Norton 360 Deluxe:
    $39.99 (annual)
  • Norton 360 with LifeLock Select:
    $99.48 (annual)
Creeping up on 30 years in the field, odds are everyone has used a Norton AntiVirus software tool at some point. Norton Antivirus Plus offers enhanced security for your devices and a VPN for online privacy. There are more than enough features here to beguile enthusiasts but potentially confuse novices. 
That’s immediately noticeable from the outset with Norton, which urges you to install not just the antivirus software, but multiple browser extensions. As part of its ability to protect you from dangerous search results, there’s Norton Safe Search, along with Norton Toolbar, which assigns each site a safety rating, and Norton Identity Safe (its password management tool). Such a wealth of options continue throughout the software, which is why it can be a little confusing for some, albeit very secure. Extra features include a smart firewall that monitors any potential unauthorized traffic, a SafeCam mode that detects if anyone tries to access your webcam, and the aforementioned VPN and Identity Safe password manager.

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Image: McAfee

The Good

Low performance impact • Works across multiple different devices • Firewall support

The Bad

URL blocking is ineffective

The Bottom Line

McAfee isn’t perfect at eliminating all threats, but it’s a bargain for those with multiple systems to protect.

McAfee Total Protection

McAfee Total Protection isn’t perfect at eliminating all threats, but it’s a bargain for those with multiple systems to protect.

  • Two years (up to 10 devices):
    $34.99 (annual)
Long gone are the days when households owned just one computer. Odds are that everyone in your home has their own PC or laptop, as well as a smartphone. Buy McAfee Total Protection once, and you’ll have a license for all of these systems. It’s possible to buy individual protection for half the price, but it’s a poor value for any household with more than one device that needs protecting. McAfee Total Protection isn’t entirely foolproof but it’s a well-priced solution for multiple devices.
Its scan takes an average length of time compared to its competitors, but it does a solid job of detecting most threats. Similarly, the built-in firewall detects most threats automatically, without much need for you to tweak or fiddle around with any settings (unless you want to, of course). In all cases, McAfee Total Protection hardly slows down the system it’s installed on, amply reminding you of why it’s worth the investment. Being able to use one program across multiple devices is a huge help in simplifying security matters at home, and it’s pretty effective too. 

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Image: Webroot

The Good

Very fast scanning • Easy to configure • Compatible with both Mac and PC • Lightweight and perfect for old computers

The Bad

Limited test results • Limited scan options

The Bottom Line

If your PC is rapidly aging, Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is an ideal solution that won’t slow it down any further.

Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security

If your PC is rapidly aging, Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus is an ideal solution that won’t slow it down any further.

  • One year (up to three devices):
    $37.49
These days, no antivirus software slows down the average PC drastically, but most of them can cause a negative impact on the performance of older PCs. Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security bucks that trend with a super small footprint that means there’s no reason not to install it, even if your computer has seen far better days.
Occupying only about 15MB of disk space, Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus takes predictably little time to install. Impressively, its system scan is also as speedy, taking less than a minute. Impressively, there’s room for a sandbox feature too, an unusual addition for any antivirus package, that lets you run dubious programs in an isolated environment to see if they are actually worthy of your suspicion or not.
The sole issue arises from the lack of independent test results for Webroot SecureAnywhere Internet Security, but it’s a relatively small issue in something that, anecdotally, has consistently garnered good results. 

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Image: Avast

The Good

Plenty to tweak for experts • Lots of useful features • Essentially a security suite

The Bad

Expensive • Free version is the better option

The Bottom Line

A great antivirus tool that doubles as a security suite, but many of its best features are available in the free version.

Avast Premium Security

Avast Premium Security is a great antivirus tool that doubles as a security suite, but many of its best features are available in the free version.

  • One year (up to 10 devices):
    $44.28 (annual)
Avast Premium Security packs a lot in that makes it ideal for advanced users, but expensive for the average PC user. If you’re okay with tweaking and fine-tuning everything possible, this is the solution for you.
Fine-tuning is immediately demonstrated during the installation process. There are over a dozen different modular options to choose from, ranging from browser extensions to opting to install a password manager. You won’t be left with unwanted features installed on your system. 
Where Avast Premium Security really differs from its free alternative is the addition of Real Site, a secure DNS system that protects you from DNS hijacks. Essentially, it’s an extra layer of protection against spoof websites. There’s a sandbox tool too, although (as usual) it’s unlikely that many people will feel the need to use it. 

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Image: sophos

The Good

Licenses for up to 10 systems • Powerful advanced features • Compatible with Windows and Mac

The Bad

Features aren’t needed for most • Dependent on changing settings via browser

The Bottom Line

If you’re the tech support for the whole family, this is a convenient way of controlling their security from wherever you are.

Sophos Home Premium

If you’re the tech support for the whole family, this is a convenient way of controlling their security from wherever you are.

  • One year (up to 10 devices):
    $44.99
  • Two years (up to 10 devices):
    $74.99
  • Three years (up to 10 devices):
    $104.99
Built upon Sophos’s business side of security products, Sophos Home Premium isn’t the most user-friendly of tools, but if you know what you’re doing and you’re trying to help those who don’t, it’s good for the job. That’s because everything is managed remotely via a web browser. Simply log into the Sophos dashboard, and you can see how everyone’s device is doing. The main page offers information on the number of threats and websites blocked on that device, plus it allows you to implement some parental controls if you want. 
Additionally, there’s keylogger protection and a safe browser option for keeping you safe while checking your online banking. Unlike other virus protection software, Sophos extends things to include webcam protection too. 
So, what’s the downside? Sophos Home Premium is fairly unwieldy at times and a little intimidating given its wealth of options. More importantly, if you want to change a simple setting, you still need to dive into the remote management portal in your web browser, which makes it a less attractive proposition for one system use. Still, if you’re the family’s tech support, this is an ideal way of circumventing various common issues.

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Image: Trend micro

The Good

Mute mode • Spam filter • Extensive ransomware detection

The Bad

Little slower than the competition

The Bottom Line

If you need to be able to pause your security protection, such as when gaming, this is a great option.

Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security

If you need to be able to pause your security protection, such as when gaming, Trend Micro is a great option.

  • One year (for one PC):
    $29.95
A familiar name in the sector, Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is a lot like the others, bar some very crucial new features. Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security approaches things a little differently than others, ensuring its ransomware detection is particularly effective. 
Much of that is down to Trend Micro’s Folder Shield component. It blocks all access to protected files by any program or app that isn’t on your dedicated trusted list. By default, it covers the usual documents and pictures folders, but you can extend it to anything else of your choosing. 
Elsewhere is the addition of Mute mode. This pauses all Trend-Micro-Antivirus+-Security-related activities as well as Windows Update while you’re otherwise preoccupied. Playing a game and don’t want to be disturbed by a pop-up? This is where you go, and is exactly why Trend Micro Antivirus+ Security is so good for gamers. 

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Image: Kaspersky

The Good

Extensive security protection • Includes VPN • Safety tools for kids

The Bad

Only one device is protected • Not perfect at virus detection

The Bottom Line

Not perfect by any means, but Kaspersky Total Security is good if you want a one-stop solution to your home security.

Kaspersky Total Security

If you want an all-around security solution that also protects your kids while they browse, this is a reliable bet.

  • One year (up to five devices):
    $49.99
  • Two years (up to five devices):
    $99.99
  • One year (up to 10 devices):
    $74.99
  • Two years (up to 10 devices):
    $149.99
Kaspersky Total Security is a jack of all trades and a master of none. For a relatively low price, it secures your system and your family from all manners of threats, but it’s not perfect. In real-world protection tests, it didn’t quite score as well as its competitors when it comes to virus detection, although it wasn’t far off a good result. Despite that, Kaspersky Total Security is still worth checking out. 
It offers URL filtering that is pretty good at detecting spoofed websites, as well as a System Watcher module that monitors any suspicious changes that are trying to be forced through on your system. In terms of detecting theoretical threats, it does a great job. It also offers a vulnerability scan that lets you know if any settings are dangerously misconfigured on your PC, keystroke detection protection, and a privacy cleaner that tidies up your browsing history as and when you want it to. 
There’s also a firewall, basic VPN, spam filter, and a specialized browser for checking your online bank accounts. A parental controls module completes the package so you can easily check your kids’ activity, limit access to certain websites, and monitor their location. For a bit of everything, it’s a good family choice.