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The 4 rules to follow when you're buying a laptop for your child.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go
Thanks to our brand partner, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go

Choosing the right laptop for your older child can be a bit of a journey.

The research. The price comparisons. The hardware comparisons. And your child **helpfully** texting you links to machines you could only afford with a second mortgage.

(The last one may be just my kid.)

We went through this process recently, and I found it confusing and overwhelming, mostly because I don’t understand everything about laptops, and because educating myself on all the options took more time than I wanted it to.

For those of you gearing up for back to school, intending to pass off a school laptop purchase as a Christmas present (that’s what I am doing), I’m going to put you in a better position than I was, by sharing my experience.

I’ve also spoken to a Microsoft consumer expert – Aman Sangar, Senior Category manager for Microsoft Surface Australia and New Zealand – for pro tips on when you’re buying your child a device.

1. The Practicality Test.

Aman’s number one piece of advice is, “Buy something that gives you peace of mind. Ensure it’s robust, and a cutting-edge device. The last thing parents want is for something to be high maintenance.”

Your child’s laptop should be user friendly and practical, meaning it can be used in the classroom for accessing tasks, and at home for completing all homework.

Aman adds, “In this era of online learning, it’s essential to have a good, high-definition camera, so that lessons can be smooth and clear. The same goes for the microphone. These two things can maximise the online learning experience.”

It'll need to pass the practicality test... and the schoolbag test. Image: Getty.


 2. The School Bag Test.

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I once bought a ‘light’ version of a laptop, and it was so light, that in fact I found it bouncing around as I banged out my work. Very annoying.

The laptop you buy for your child should be strong enough to comfortably do what it’s supposed to, and can handle being roughly shoved into a school bag, and perhaps even being dropped.

Another consideration is the weight. My son carries his laptop from lesson to lesson, and I would never hear the end of it if it weighed like a bag of bricks. Oh, and also, it’s not good for his back.

Durability also means the laptop should have a long battery life, so a child using it at school doesn’t need to constantly charge it. 

3. The Versatility Nitty-Gritty.

I recently bought a separate gaming laptop for my son, because I couldn’t find one that was durable for schoolwork and provided an excellent gaming experience – for under $1000. It was impossible.

But Microsoft has just released the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go, designed to fill that gap in the market for students and their parents – and it’s under a grand.

Information I could have used earlier.

“The Surface Laptop Go focuses on meeting the diverse needs of customers,” Aman explains. “It’s got the qualities of the Microsoft Surface Laptop – but at a more accessible price point – and features suited for children.”

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The Surface Laptop Go ticks all the boxes for schoolwork by being powerful enough (it has a 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor), durable, and practical (it has up to 13 hours of battery life, and weighs just over a kilo). It also offers a superior entertainment experience, from streaming movies to YouTube, and enough punch for visually excellent and smooth gaming. Which could go all day, if I allowed it.

“Running on Windows 10, the operating system is also updated regularly,” Aman adds.

The Surface Laptop Go also features an excellent camera and microphone, which parents will like for online lessons, but kids will like for gaming and social media - which are “lyf” to my teen.

As a parent, I like that it’s got a user-friendly screen – 12.5 inches – which is also a touch screen. That point, Aman explains, is a major advantage.

“The size of the screen of course helps make the Surface Laptop Go extra portable, but the fact it’s a touch screen is critical from a learning perspective, as research has shown that interaction is crucial in education,” he adds.

4. Ah yes. PRICE.

I’m a big believer in paying for quality, so was prepared to pay a bit extra for my son’s laptop.

What I didn't know was that you can get quality at a reasonable price, if you go looking.

For example, the Microsoft Laptop Surface Go starts from $999 and you get all the bells and whistles I talked about before, from the lightweight surface to the all-day battery life. There are heaps of versions and options – just check out the website.

"It's really a laptop that can take students all the way to university," Aman adds. "So parents can have that peace of mind that they won’t have to upgrade for a while."

Ultimately, the goal is to find an all-round performer that ticks all of the boxes above - practicality, durability, versatility and price.

Keep those front of mind and your decision won't be nearly as daunting as you think. Besides, it's an investment in their future education and entertainment - and yours too.

Have you bought your child a laptop? What tips can you share? Let us know below.

Feature image: Nama Winston/Microsoft.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Go
The new Surface Laptop Go can be purchased via the Microsoft Store and other major retailers nationally. Microsoft continues to expand its line-up of Surface devices and accessories to make it easier to find the Surface that’s right for you. 
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