Where to buy cheap home schooling tech
Need a new laptop or tablet to help with home schooling? These are the best places to buy online.
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It seems increasingly likely that Australian schools will temporarily close as the nation continues to grapple with COVID-19. Hundreds of schools have already moved to online learning and several states have urged parents to keep their kids at home. Whether you like it or not, home schooling may soon become mandatory.
This means your kids will need equipment that allows them to participate in online lessons, which is what this guide is all about.
What schooling equipment do your kids need?
At a minimum, your kids will require a laptop or tablet with Internet capabilities, some headphones and preferably a desk to work on.
If you're not an avid technology user, you probably have a lot of questions. How much RAM and storage do your kids need? Are mice and monitors still necessary? Will the school's online teaching portal work on any computer? Here's what you need to know.
The good news is you don't need to spend a fortune on a school computer. Most entry-level Windows 10 laptops will get the job done just fine. (You can find plenty of affordable options with fast delivery over on Amazon Australia.)
For the most part, schools do not require students to access graphically demanding 3D software. If your kid's laptop can send emails, browse the Internet, play online videos and run a word processor, they're set.
In short, there's no reason to spend more than $600 on a school laptop. If money is tight, you can probably get away with spending half that amount. Just be aware that a sub-$300 laptop will likely struggle to multitask or run CPU-intensive applications. Your kid will still get by, but it will be a frustrating user experience.
In terms of specifications, look for laptops that come equipped with a solid state drive (SSD) and at least 4GB of RAM. This will help it to run faster. You may also want to consider battery life if there are limited wall outlets near your kid's study area.
Tablets are generally cheaper than laptops which makes them a tempting proposition for home schooling. Indeed, some Android models sell for well under $100. For example, this model from eBay costs just $70 and is pitched directly at students.
However, we wouldn't personally recommend these as a primary schooling device. This is especially true for older students who are required to do lots of typing. If you're determined to buy them a tablet, get a 2-in-1 model with a detachable keyboard.
As mentioned, you should equip your kids with headphones so they can listen to multimedia resources without interruption. Any pair will do the trick, with wired options starting at under $10 at Catch.com.au. Just make sure the headphones fit their laptop prior to purchase (USB-C or 3.5mm.)
Your kids may also find it easier to work with a mouse instead of relying on their touch screen or trackpad. Again, there's no need to buy a top-of-the-range model for basic schooling. You should be able to pick up a decent option on Amazon for around $10–$15.
Unless you're planning on buying a desktop computer, a monitor is not strictly necessary for home schooling. If you're trying to keep costs down, this is one area you can safely skip. With that said, high school students will benefit from having a second screen for more complex tasks. You can pick up a decent monitor for around $200 on Amazon.
If you don't already own a printer you might need to pick one up so your kids can print off lesson documents. Unfortunately, your local library is no longer an option due to coronavirus closures. This is more pertinent to primary school students who are often assigned activity sheets and the like. We wouldn't worry too much about fancy features - your child's printer only needs to do the basics. You can find a range of decently priced printers on Amazon.
Online laptop deals
Now that you have a better understanding of the type of laptop required for schooling, it's time to hunt down a good price. Here are some online stores that are currently offering discounts.
To get the best deals, click on the buttons below and set the "Search By" function box to "Price - Lowest First". Also look out for a dedicated sale buttons at the top of each page.
Lenovo is perhaps most famous for its business laptops, but it manufacturers a wide range of models to suit a variety of uses and budgets. As of 25 March, its online store has a sale on select laptops with prices starting at just $499.
Why shop at Lenovo?
- Free shipping within Australia
- Free returns within 14 days of delivery
- Online technical support available
HP's laptop range includes the Elite, EliteBook, Pavilion, ZBook and Spectre Pro lines, which means there's an option for most budgets. As of 25 March, there's a Back To Uni sale, with an extra 20% off select laptops. Prices start at $575.
Why shop at HP?
- Free delivery across Australia
- Refund or replacement guarantee in case of computer failure
- Dedicated technical support team available online
Dell seems to run a laptop sale every other week and March is thankfully no exception. It makes a wide range of laptops to suit all budgets. You can currently get the Inspiron 11 3000 2-in-1 Laptop for $478.98, a saving of over $100.
Why shop at Dell?
- Express two- to three-day shipping available
- Option to customise the tech specs of your computer
- Trusted manufacturer
Like Amazon, eBay sells laptops from every major manufacturer in the business. In addition, it's one of the best places to buy second-hand laptops from resellers. (Just be mindful that used laptops can be a bit of a gamble.) eBay regularly runs laptop sales on its Daily Deals page.
Why shop at eBay?
- Express delivery available
- 1.4b listings on eBay Marketplace
- Easy returns
Kogan stocks most of the major laptop manufacturers at very competitive prices. As of 25 March it's running an Easter sale with prices starting at $159. You can also score up to $500 off Apple MacBooks.
Why shop at Kogan?
- Express delivery available
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- One-year warranty on all orders (unless otherwise stated)
Microsoft makes some of the best 2-in-1 laptops for students via its Surface range. While most models aren't cheap, the Surface Go starts at $599 which is good bang-for-buck. As of 25 March you can currently get 30% off select computing accessories with any Surface purchase.
Why shop at Microsoft?
- Express delivery available
- 14-day money-back guarantee
- One-year warranty on all orders
Catch has a dedicated sales portal for computers and laptops. You can also find exclusive deals by joining Club Catch. Prices start at $299. It also sells a wide range of computing accessories at very affordable prices.
- Try out Club Catch for free for 30 days
- Express delivery options available
- Club Catch membership gives you free delivery choices for an annual subscription fee
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