When you buy a laptop for your kids, you need to consider a few essential things. First, is it rugged? How will it protect against the inevitable bumps and scrapes?
Second, what’s under the hood? Is the laptop powerful enough to cope with what your children get up too? Finally—the big one—how much does a rugged kids laptop cost?
We’ve taken all of that into account and looked at the five best laptops and Chromebooks for kids.
1. Lenovo 300e
The Lenovo 300e Chromebook is a great all-round Chromebook with integrated ruggedization. For example, the Lenovo 300e is MIL-STD-810G compliant. That means you can drop it from a short height, and it will survive completely intact. It is water-resistant (please note that it is not waterproof), has an anti-scratch and anti-glare touchscreen, and a 360-degree hinge too.
Powering the Lenovo 300e is a MediaTek 8173 SoC (System on a Chip) which uses ARM hardware to provide better performance and lower power consumption. The MediaTek 8173 clocks in at 2.10GHz and includes 4GB DDR3 RAM, 32GB storage, a USB 3.0 port, a USB Type-C port, SD card reader, Bluetooth 4.0, and up to ten hours of battery life.
The one let down for the Lenovo 300e is the screen resolution, which at 1366×768 can appear low quality. However, that won’t stop your kids from researching and writing homework.
The ASUS C202SA-YS02 is a popular cheap laptop for kids. It features a rugged and water-resistant design and performs well in drop-tests. The C202SA is a great option for those reasons alone, protecting against drops, bumps, and water ingress. The laptop has rubberized edges, too.
Adding to the appeal for kids is the weight. The C202SA weighs just 2.65 pounds. In combination with its 11.6-inch form factor, the C202SA will happily pop into most kids’ bags without them noticing the difference.
Under the C202SA’s hood is a reasonable Intel Celeron N3060 CPU, 16GB or 32GB storage, 4GB DDR3 RAM, and up to ten hours of battery life. Like the Lenovo 300e, the C202SA features a slightly underwhelming 1366×768 screen, but, at this price, it’s not a deal-breaker.
The ASUS VivoBook W202NA-YS03 is a rugged 11.6-inch Windows 10S education laptop. Windows 10S is the full Windows 10 operating system, but you can only install apps from the Microsoft Store. If this doesn’t suit you or your child, you can unlock Windows 10 for free. However, once you enable the device to download any software, rather than only Microsoft Store apps, there is no going back.
The laptop packs a 2.4Ghz Intel Celeron N3350 processor, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 64GB storage, two USB 3.1 ports, an SD card reader, and up to 11 hours of battery life. Regarding security and ruggedness, the W202NA brings a lot to the table (or floor, depending on how your kid uses it). It meets the MIL-STD-810G military spec for durability, has reinforced rubber guards, and performs extremely well in drop tests. It also has a spill-resistant keyboard to prevent any damage.
As a small, cheap, and rugged kids laptops, the W202NA is a great option. The more powerful dual-core Intel processor means the W2020NA can run a wider range of software than its Chromebook competitors. If you decide to switch from Windows 10S to regular Windows 10, you have all the software you could want at your disposal.
4. Lenovo N22
The Lenovo N22 is a water-resistant Windows 10 Pro laptop. It is slimline, protects against water, and is powerful enough to appeal to younger and older kids. Unfortunately, the Lenovo N22 doesn’t feature much in the way of additional rugged features. However, it is small and light, and that works to its advantage in the hands of a small child.
Lenovo’s N22 features a decent-enough 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3050, 4GB DDR3 RAM, 64GB storage, and an SD card reader. It also has a 180-degree rotating webcam, which is useful for video projects and general messing about, plus an integrated microphone. Your kids will also find an HDMI port, a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port, Bluetooth 4.0, and up to 10 hours of battery life to power it all.
Another handy feature for kids the anti-glare screen. The Lenovo N22 works in most light levels, and the anti-glare screen stops your kid’s eyes tiring too quickly or suffering damage during prolonged use periods.
Your list of the best cheap and rugged kids laptops finishes with the stylish Acer Chromebook Spin 11; a perfect Chromebook for kids. The important thing to note is that the Spin 11 is MIL-STD-810G certified, which means it’ll withstand a drop. It is also water-resistant and has a robust external casing to boot.
The outer case can hold up to 132 pounds on the lid (a decently sized small child!) and keep working like a champ. The screen is Gorilla Glass for extra protection. The Spin 11 is a 2-in-1 convertible device, too. That means it has a swivel hinge that rotates through 360-degrees, letting you use the Spin 11 in several different modes, including tablet mode.
The body is sleek, and the keyboard is perfect for smaller hands. Powering the Spin 11 is a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N3350 (with up to 2.4GHz core boost), 4GB DDR3 RAM, 32GB storage, two USB 3.1 ports, USB charging, a ten-point touchscreen, and up to ten hours of battery life.
Second-Hand Rugged Laptops
Don’t dismiss the second-hand laptop market in search of something cheap and reliable for your kids. Business and enterprise spec laptops often feature additional rugged features.
The caveat is that the laptop might not look perfect and shiny, like a fresh out of the box machine. The major advantage of picking up a second-hand rugged business laptop for your child is the hardware.
A business or enterprise laptop will have powerful hardware, even if it is a few years old. Plus, there are many vendors that specialize in refurbishing business or enterprise laptops for resale, which means there are plenty of bargains to find.
The Best Laptop for Kids
The difficulty in choosing a kid’s laptop is balancing cost, protection, and features. The result is a kids laptop marketplace filled with options that don’t quite fit the bill.
Of course, the best rugged laptop for a child is the one that fits your budget. If you do have a larger budget, consider a more powerful laptop with an additional rugged case. Otherwise, choose from the five cheap and rugged kids laptop options on this list.
We’ve listed a few Chromebooks here, but if your looking for more options, check out the best-rugged Chromebooks you can buy today.