Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
back to school

The Wrap – Back to School Laptops & More

On this episode of The Wrap, we’ll explore how to buy a laptop for your kids going back to school, plus what’s coming in phones and WiFi. All that in the bite-sized space of five minutes.

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One week away from the end of January 2021, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology round up, and you don’t have to look far to find the year has properly kicked off.

The world’s first virtual CES is over, and we saw a lot, even if we did it without the step count from behind our desk, the first of many virtual tech shows this year. While the vaccines are gradually rolling out, international travel might be a next year thing, so we’ll probably have to get used to virtual shows for the foreseeable future.

We’re still getting hands-on time with tech, though, and we’re reviewing quite a bit, as our desk begins to pile up already. There’s so much coming, so let’s get stuck in, because you might have heard about it, and you might not.

Take what’s coming from Paramount, with yet another streaming service coming to Australia later this year, as Paramount joins the likes of Netflix, Stan, Binge, Amazon, Disney, and others.

Before that launches, there’s going to be updates galore to our WiFi as mesh expands and WiFi 6E looks set to get approved. For those confused by the terms, Mesh WiFi is a way to expand a wireless network around your home using little network points that talk to each other, while WiFi 6E is the latest WiFi that supports more devices by way of more wireless spectrum. It’s not official in Australia just yet, but it’s coming. And so are more routers with 4G access, just in case the NBN ever goes down, because it’s good to have a backup.

There’s also new phones coming from Samsung, with the Galaxy S21 launching shortly, as well as a bunch of earphones and new phone plans to look at, but there’s also that whole back to school thing, because that’s where we are.

Yes, it’s that time to start winding back from the school holidays, finding the backpacks, hanging those uniforms, and getting ready to send the kids back to the halls of learning.

And that’ll need a computer of sorts, though what you end up on may depend on just how old your child is and what they need.

For instance, if they’re in primary school, you may want to keep the budget down and the size along with it. Kids in K to 6 should probably keep the laptop sizes down around 11 inches to 13, though if you’re allowed a tablet, a 10 inch might be perfect.

If you’re hoping to keep the prices down, 11.6 inch computers make for an easy buy for primary school students, bundling in a small size ideal for a small backpack, and often just enough productivity for a price that stays under $500. These computers aren’t great for games, and that’s kind of the point: your kids will be carrying this around in school, and using it when they need to do school work from home or just plain home work.

If you’re happy to spend a little more, the Surface Go 2 is a convenient option, too, and there’s always the Apple iPad, but make sure to ask your school whether the iPad can be used in class.

An iPad is a tablet, but it may not run the apps classrooms use, so while it’s a curiously compact computer, it still might not be ideal for class, so be sure to check with your school.

High schoolers will likely need a bit more size and spec, depending on what they plan to do, with a 13 to 15 inch size best for them. 13 inches is about the recommended norm, but 14 inch computers can be great, as well.

Computers like the recent M1 MacBook Air could be a winner thanks to the marriage of performance and battery life, both of which are excellent, supporting a full day of school, or a good 12 hours in our tests.

It’s not the only computer option, though. If your high schooler is thinking of becoming a creative or a game developer, you might want to look for something with a proper video card. That might sound like jargon to you, so be sure to check if the name “Radeon” or “GeForce” is on the box. If it is, it’s a little more performance heavy for some of those things, though typically anything that hits the $2K mark will be good for that, too.

You don’t have to spend anywhere near that much, either. Computers for around the $600 to $1000 mark will be fine for high school, but we’d steer clear of 17 inch laptops. They’re not portable and won’t fit comfortably in a bag or on a desk.

When it comes to what sort of specs you need, we’d make sure high school laptops have a minimum of 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, because they’ll need it. More memory means more apps and browser tabs can run, and more storage means more files can be stored.

But always ask the school, because every school has different requirements and suggestions, and your child’s school will give you the best idea of what’s needed for their life.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. A new episode can be found every week at PodcastOne, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, but for now, have a great week. Stay safe, stay sane, and take care.

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