Top laptops for learning from home

Just like working from home, learning from home is a new normal these days. As educational institutions have remained distant from children for the best part of two years, students have become immensely dependent on smartphones and laptops for coursework and entertainment. Even now when many schools and colleges are conceding to a hybrid model – a mix of in-person and remote learning – as a response to slow rate of Covid-19 cases, there is a need for laptops students can use on the campus and back home.

As students juggle between college and home; taking notes, making presentations, doing homework, and more, they require the convenience of a laptop that has a long battery life, is durable, and delivers immaculate performance. Good student laptops also make streaming movies, playing light games and making video calls manageable and glitch-free.

However, students would usually have a limited budget so finding a laptop that checks all the prerequisite boxes and still respects a budget is a task in itself. Remote learners in the past year or so have found an economical and worthwhile option in Chromebooks. The conveniences and security of Chromebooks make them ideal for remote learning.

On the other hand, if you desire an ultraportable laptop with a battery to last a school day, a fine display to view productivity apps, and a processor for high-end computing in a compact size and budget that remains within four figures, you can check out the following recommended options. These laptops are best-in-class, durable, and of course, priced well enough to not drain your savings reserved for tuition and books.

Surface Laptop 4

As you run from class to class and lug your bag back home, having something portable and lightweight can make a difference. Add power and long-lasting battery backup to that, and you have a perfect laptop for your needs. This is what the Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 proposes with its thin profile and a design to fall for. Featuring a touchscreen PixelSense display with 2,256 x 1,504 resolution, the Surface Laptop 4 supports Surface Pen and has one of the most comfortable keyboards for typing.

The laptop gets a 720p webcam for crisp and clear video calling. At $999 you get a 13-inch Surface Laptop 4 with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and a Ryzen 5 processor powering the guts of this 2.79lbs (1.3kg) model. Touting an incredible 19 hour battery, the laptop does provide about 12 to 13 hours of playback in real-world usage. It comes in four color options and has a nice Alcantara fabric layer on the inside. The major downside of this Surface Laptop 4 is the lack of ports – it only has a Surface Connect port, a USB-C port, just one USB-A and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Dell XPS 13

If the thick bezel of the Surface Laptop 4 would mar your experience, you should consider the Dell XPS 13. It is one of the best Windows laptops and an ideal competitor to even the MacBook Pro 2021. The 13-inch Dell XPS with near bezel-less InfinityEdge touchscreen is powered by the latest Intel Core i5 and i7 processors starting at 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. Provided with integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics, the laptop is made from CNC machined aluminum and has an option for carbon fiber palm rest.

Starting at $999 for base configuration, the Dell XPS 13 weighs 2.8 pounds (1.2kg) and provides about 10 hours of backup. Students who like to connect an external display to their laptop would rue the lack of ports here. With the XPS 13, you will get Thunderbolt 4, USB Type-C, microSD card reader, and headphone jack only. Interestingly Dell XPS comes in different configurations but the speakers and ports remain the same across all models.

HP Envy 13

HP slots the Envy 13 (2021) below the Dell XPS 13 and the MacBook Air M1. A reasonably priced model with features akin to the pricier HP Spectre x360 14, the Envy 13 is a valuable proposition for students with a magnificent combination of quick performance, long battery, and a modern design. Powered by 11th generation Intel processor, the sub $900 laptop features a nice 1080p display and a comfortable keyboard. The touchpad may feel a tad plasticky but it's not a big setback.

The pretty durable Envy 13 stands distinct in its price range with its sleek aluminum body and a range of ports that students will like. The laptop offers USB Type-A ports on both sides, has USB-C, microSD card slot, Thunderbolt 4 port, and headphone jack. At a base price of $849, HP Envy 13 arrives with an Intel Core i5 CPU paired to 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD.

Asus ZenBook 13

Another cost-effective laptop on the list, the Asus ZenBook 13 is reckoned as the lightest and most portable OLED display model out there. The 13.3-inch metal body device features a 1920 x 1080 Full HD OLED panel and integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics. The Zenbook 13 tips the scale at 2.45lbs (1.1kg) and it is a perfect blend of lightweight design and immaculate performance.

Priced at $800, this incredibly thin ZenBook 13 is powered by 11th gen Intel Core 15 processor and comes paired with 8GB of RAM and 256GB PCIe SSD. The super slim and compact laptop is high on ports for user convenience; it features an HDMI port, two Thunderbolt 4 ports, USB-C, a USB-A port, and a microSD card reader. The laptop misses a headphone jack but it offers up to 13 hours of backup and comes with a 65W adaptor for fast charging.

MacBook Air M1

For its price point, MacBook Air M1 from last year is still one of the best laptops for most people including those learning from home or juggling between classrooms. It is an incredible combination of power and performance despite its fanless design. The Apple M1 chip that powers the MacBook Air ushered in a new ear for the company with this laptop that has a design similar to the predecessors but performance and battery life far better than before.

Featuring an identifiable unibody aluminum design, the 13.3-inch MacBook Air has a 2560 x 1600-pixel Retina display with a 720p webcam that is, thanks to the M1 chip, smarter than in the previous models. The Magic keyboard on the Air is comfortable as always and the large trackpad occupies a large portion below it. Starting at $999 the MacBook Air M1 arrives with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD. Delivering about 14 hours of backup, the MacBook Air comes only with two Thunderbolt 3 ports (that double as USB 4 Type-C) and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Wrap up

Students can get their learning from home on track with their choice of laptop from this list. The impressive features, smooth performance, and outstanding battery life of these laptops should have all user requirements covered. Whether it is a zoom call to attend, a project to complete, or simply a time out for watching a movie or playing a light game, these options will not leave you wanting.