Back To School Edition : The Ultimate BYOD Guide
Written by Jin May Soo, Proofread by Terry Bass 

Overview

  • BYOD and its meaning
  • Aspects to look at when buying a tablet or laptop for school
  • The benchmark to buying a tablet or laptop for school in 2022



Preparing the essentials for your kids’ education can be a long and dreadful process. There’s just so many things to consider - from laptop to backpack to stationery and let’s not mention the time taken to research for the best of the affordables.

While we may not cover everything on your checklist, our Back To School guide is specially curated to guide you on how you can get the best laptop or tablet for your kid. All you need to do is take your pick from our variety of affordable options, add them to cart and check out in the comfort of your own home. 

Well, let’s get started!

What Does BYOD Means?


Bring Your Own Device or BYOD for short, is a program that allows children to bring their own devices to school for learning in the classroom. It is meant to enrich the overall learning experience of the students in school while getting them acquainted with modern technology.

While you may be tempted to impulse buy an awesome bargain you’ve come across, it is essential to first understand the BYOD specification of your kid’s school as different schools have a different BYOD requirement. 

Schools generally have a minimum specification to ensure that you will meet the necessary requirements of most if not all subjects. Some schools take it up a notch by breaking it down to technical subjects and non-technical subjects. 

But with so many choices in the market, how do you decide which is the best laptop or tablet to buy for your kid? 

Here are a few aspects to help you choose:

Durability


Kids are well, kids. There are just too many “oopsie” moments, so look for laptops that have been made with durable materials or have been tested to withstand a miniscule amount of damage like knocks, drops or a wee bit of splatter from drinks.

Sure, we can (or at least to attempt to) sternly and firmly warn your kids about how we will ground them for a month if they aren’t responsible and careful enough but let’s face it, adults too have their “oopsie” moments - I once had a colleague who spilled a cupful of hot cocoa all over her laptop. 

Needless to say, it’s a goner. 

So, the other thing is to get insured. Period. We highly encourage device protection plans for both accidental damage and loss. You can even take protection a step further by equipping your laptop or tablet with a laptop bag or protection case.

Compatibility


Operating Systems (OS) are important for the compatibility of software and applications. While Apple has amassed its own fan base through its user-friendly features, Windows is much preferred due to its high compatibility. 

Chrome OS on the other hand, is a great option for general browser-based learning but it lacks compatibility with softwares and has limited offerings in comparison to Mac or Windows. Which is also why it is not accepted by some schools.

If the school did state a preference, it would be wise to proceed with that as it only means that the software or applications used by the school are highly compatible with that particular OS. Otherwise, stick to Windows to be safe.

Battery Life


Most schools will advise on an advertised battery life of 6 hours but it is always better to set the minimum requirement a little higher. We recommend an advertised battery life of at least 8 hours. 

Devices are often tested in a controlled environment where circumstances are controlled, ideal and perfect so when it is brought out to the real-world to run, it doesn’t always hit the mark as advertised. Plus, batteries degrade over time, losing their lifespan and capability. 

Many students, in order to survive the limited battery capacity, lower the brightness of their screen, turn off their WiFi or even put the laptop into Power Saving Mode which could impact the performance of the application they are running. As we all know, squinting your eyes to read your screen is a fast lane to a messed up vision. 

One might argue that this aspect is not a valid point as students can recharge their laptop or tablet with the plug points provided by the schools. However, the plug points available are not necessarily sufficient or located at an ideal or comfortable spot. 

If you think your kid is the only one wrestling from low battery - think again. He or she is going to be one of the dozen madmen charging for the plug points. That’s why it’s best to get a laptop or tablet with an advertised battery life of 8 hours or more and save the poor kid some stress.

Weight


Portability wise, weight is an important deciding factor as an average laptop weighs around 2kg. That is equivalent to carrying a light dumbbell, and that’s your child doing the lifting for 6 hours at school. Not to mention the books and other necessities like water bottles - now that’s a lot of weight.

There’s a reason why the weight comes in fourth on our list. Lighter laptops with sufficient power and battery life often come at a higher price as the latest technology is required to further compact the components in the laptop. 

It is how the feather-light, ultrathin yet powerful Macbook Air dominated the market and won the hearts of many despite its ridiculous price tag back in 2010, and till this day, is still a popular option among students.

Be that as it may, when it comes down to the battle of weight vs. battery life - the answer is clear. Poor battery capacity will impede your kid’s ability to learn while heavy laptops would just result in your kid growing one hell of a strong arm. 

But here’s an alternative that you would like to consider: if you are buying for a kid younger than 12 years old or where reading and basic functions are the only requirement you need, then the tablet would be an excellent choice. They are more user-friendly for someone who is still in the learning stage of how computers work and are pretty light to boot - weighing on average 0.5kg.

Usage


The key to buying a future-proof laptop or tablet (especially for kids in Year 6) is to determine its usage - will it be involved in designing or programming or just general basic tasks?

Non-technical subjects do not require a specific component to be powerful and therefore, any laptop or tablet that meets the school’s requirement will fit just right.

The same could not be said for technical subjects like Design, Media, and Programming. Certain subjects that require the use of designing apps such as Adobe or AutoCAD would require a high performing graphic card while subjects like programming requires a more powerful processor. 

Getting A Laptop

As a benchmark, Intel Core i5, AMD Ryzen 5 or Apple M1 processors with 16GB of RAM plus 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD) are plenty enough to run powerful softwares and last for at least the next three years. More storage can be obtained with portable HHDs (hard disk drives) and SDDs, if required.

Not sure which to get? Perhaps our HDD vs SSD breakdown can help you to decide. 

Getting A Tablet

When it comes to choosing a tablet, one key element to look at would be the amount of RAM. The amount of RAM will determine how fast and well the tablet is able to perform. Without sufficient RAM, your tablet will perform poorly even with the best processor. 

For basic tasks like notes taking and web surfing, a tablet with 3GB of RAM would suffice. We do not recommend any tablet that goes below 3GB of RAM if you want one that works smoothly. 

It goes without saying, the more RAM you have the more your tablet will cost. So, if you are looking to buy a tablet for designing, you will most likely be looking at iPad, 2-in-1 laptops like Microsoft Surface or Samsung’s high-end tablets. So, steady your heart and prepare your pockets. 

Potential tablets to keep an eye out for should at least have 4GB of RAM with 256GB of storage in order to run the designing software efficiently.

In A Nutshell,

Here’s a table to summarize the highlights above. 

Aspect
Key Takeaway
Durability
  • Look for laptops made with durable materials or have been tested to withstand damage
  • Get insurance that covers accidental damage and loss
  • Extra protection with laptop bag or protection case 
Compatibility
  • Follow the school’s preference if stated
  • Otherwise, Windows would be the safest option due to its high compatibility
Battery Life
  • An advertised battery life of at least 8 hours 
Weight
  • The lighter, the better
  • If it comes down to weight or battery life, the battery life should be a priority 
  • Alternatively, the tablet would be a great option for kids below the age of 12 or if basic functions is the only required usage
Usage
  • Generally, any laptop or tablet that meets the school’s requirement will be sufficient for non-technical subjects
  • Certain technical subjects like programming or designing would require a more powerful laptop or tablet
  • Laptops with Intel Core i5, AMD Ryzen 5 or Apple M1 processors with 16GB of RAM plus 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD) are plenty enough to run powerful softwares
  • When it comes to buying tablets, look out for at least 3GB of RAM

Now that you’ve got your requirements listed, head over to our recommendation list to see which laptop or tablet checks off most of your boxes.