The Best Cheap Tablets And Hybrids: 2
Tablets rose in popularity throughout the 2010s, and though we have plenty of reviews of thosetake a look at our overall roundup of the best tablets, as well as our favorites running the Windows and Android operating systemsthey are sufficiently different from traditional clamshell-style laptops that they don’t always make good substitutes. Some come with detachable keyboards, but most of these are far less comfortable for typing on your lap than a conventional laptop.
Convertible 2-in-1s, however, do make a good substitute for traditional clamshells. These machines let you flip between a laptop and a tablet, by folding the keyboard out of the way. You should consider one of these convertible systems if you primarily want the typing capability of a laptop, but occasionally would appreciate the lie-back, passive-consumption convenience of a tablet.
See our guide to the best 2-in-1 convertible and hybrid laptops for more information about this popular segment of the market. In part because of their added complexity compared with traditional clamshell designs, you won’t find quite as many affordable ones, but there are a few Windows and Chrome OS-based models that cost $500 or below. They come in both permanently attached designs, and in detachable-keyboard designs.
Agree To Continue: Acer Swift 3
Every smart device now requires you to agree to a series of terms and conditions before you can use it contracts that no one actually reads. Its impossible for us to read and analyze every single one of these agreements. But we started counting exactly how many times you have to hit agree to use devices when we review them since these are agreements most people dont read and definitely cant negotiate.
The Acer Swift 3 presents you with multiple things to agree to or decline upon setup.
The mandatory policies, for which an agreement is required, are:
- A request for your region and keyboard layout
- Windows 10 License Agreement
- A Microsoft account for sign-in
- A PIN
In addition, there is a slew of optional things to agree to:
- Windows Hello fingerprint sensor authentication
- Activity History
- OneDrive back up
- Office 365
- Device privacy settings: online speech recognition, Find My Device, Inking and Typing, Advertising ID, Location, Diagnostic data, Tailored experiences
- Acer has another request for your name, region, and email address upon setup, which is then used for support, product improvement, personalized offers, and news updates. All of these are optional.
- Enroll in Acers mailing list and the Acer User Experience Improvement Program , and allow Acer to share contact details with Norton so it can send you updates about its pre-installed security software. All of these are optional.
In total, thats four mandatory agreements and 17 optional ones.
What Are The Best Laptop Brands
The best brands for laptops include Apple, Dell, Lenovo and HP, and they all have their strengths. For example, Apple make brilliantly-designed slim and light laptops, while Dell does a great range of high-end ultrabooks, as well as affordable devices and Chromebooks as well. Lenovo’s well known for making solidly-built business laptops , and HPs also been making some gorgeous laptops recently that are some of the best laptops in the world.
When it comes to gaming, the best laptop brands include Alienware, Asus and Acer.
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Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ With Type Cover Keyboard $800 Was $1030
Microsofts Surface line offers some great tablets with laptop-like capabilities when paired with a Type Cover. One of our enduring complaints is that they dont come standard with the keyboard, but this high-value Surface Pro 7+ bundle solves that little gripe of ours. The tablet itself sports a Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, and a 128GB solid-state drive, which are basic but sufficient specs for work, streaming, and general everyday use. But what really sells this device is its gorgeous 12.3-inch PixelSense touch display with a productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio, which will leave you wondering why 16:9 ever became the standard.
Budget Laptops We Look Forward To Testing
Dell Inspiron 14 and 15: Dell’s new Inspiron laptops, which launched on May 4, are taking a page from the company’s well-received XPS 13 laptop line. The new Inspiron models have an updated design with a nearly border less screen, making them look more modern and providing additional screen space in a compact design. They also come with improved webcams with noise reduction for clearer conference calls. Both the 14-inch and 15-inch models start at $550 and come with an 11th-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB in the base models
Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2: Samsung’s original Galaxy Chromebook from CES 2020 had an attention-grabbing design that’s uncommon for a Chromebook, but its high price and short battery life limited its appeal. Now, Samsung has addressed those criticisms with the Galaxy Chromebook 2, a revamped version of its Google-powered laptop that comes at a cheaper starting price of $549.99 compared to the previous model’s $999.99 price tag. With a premium design, 13.3-inch QLED touch screen, and hopefully longer battery life, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 seems like it could be a promising option for those on a budget.
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Which Operating System Is Best
Before you begin to evaluate features, you’ll start with the essential question that has plagued PC shoppers for decades: Which operating system should I choose?
This is not the Mac vs. Windows debate of old. New Apple laptops aren’t available for less than $500ânot even close. The MacBook Air, Apple’s least-expensive notebook, starts at $999 and is still overkill for an elementary- or middle-school student. If you’re an Apple fan and want to raise your son or daughter to be one too, you’re best off giving them a hand-me-down and buying a new MacBook or MacBook Pro for yourself.
Reused Macs aside, most parents will choose between Windows and Chrome OS, the operating system from Google. In addition to running web apps within the Chrome browser, Chrome OS can also designed for Android smartphones and tablets, including Microsoft Office. If you’ve decided against buying a smartphone for your kids but they talk your ear off about wanting to play mobile games, buying a Chromebook might be a good compromise.
If your child’s school has specific software that runs only on Windows, your operating system choice will be decided for you. If not, you’ll want to take a close look at Chrome OS, since a few Chromebooks include decidedly kid-friendly features . Again, check out the Chromebooks-for-kids story for more on the specifics around this OS.
Limitations You Can Live With
Naturally, a budget laptop is one thats more affordable than cutting-edge machines, and in the majority of cases, a lower price means less-powerful internal hardware. Thats not a bad thing. For example, if you spend most of your computer time browsing the web or watching movies, chances are you dont need the latest-generation processor or an ultra-powerful video card. You can save a lot of money by finding a budget laptop that makes reasonable compromises.
As youre shopping for budget laptops, consider the most common hardware compromises youll encounter.
- Video hardware: Most budget laptops either use underpowered graphics processing units , or they power their video by sharing resources with the main processor . In these cases, video on the laptop will be adequate, but thats about it. Watching Netflix will be fine, but your laptop will struggle with more intense video tasks such as playing video games and editing videos.
“If youre thinking about buying a budget laptop with an 11-inch screen, make sure the diminutive size isnt too small for your hands. Some users complain that there isnt enough room to comfortably type on the corresponding keyboard. “
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The Best Laptop Under $500
If youre looking for an absurdly cheap Chromebook that absolutely gets the job done, you should definitely be looking at the $260 Lenovo Chromebook Duet. The Duet is a 10-inch aluminum alloy Chrome OS tablet that comes with a kickstand and keyboard cover. It looks sturdy and classy, and it can easily function as either a tablet or a PC. But youre not compromising too much on performance for this devices tiny size as long as youre not running dozens of tabs and apps, you should be fine. And we got over 11 hours of battery life in our testing, making it one of the longest-lasting Chromebooks weve seen in the past year.
The main thing to know about the Chromebook Duet is that the screen is quite small just 10.1 inches. Thats a fine size for a young student and for an adults secondary device for note-taking, Netflixing, and the like, but its not an ideal size for a primary work device unless youre fine with quite a bit of squinting.
Best Windows Tablet For Kids
- Sunny display with vivid colors
- Windows Hello webcam with 1080p video support
- Integrated kickstand
- SD card reader for easy storage expansion
- Long battery life
- Optional extras pump up price quickly
- Disappointing computing performance, even with Core i3 upgrade
The question of whether to buy your son or daughter a smartphone is fraught with concerns over responsibility, online safety, and much more. The same goes for buying a laptop, except for one very important difference: Many elementary and middle schools consider them essential educational tools, and equip classrooms with machines for their students. Other schools require parents to purchase laptops, offering a selection of recommended models.
The upshot is that your kid might need to use a laptop at school or for school whether you like it or not, especially in these uncertain times that may mandate distance learning. Regardless, they will almost certainly want to use that computer at home, too, both for fun and homework .
Kids being kids, the list of factors to consider doesn’t end there. Don’t forget about parental controls, durable plastic, and water-resistant keyboards. At least you won’t have to worry about the cost. Buying a kid-friendly laptop need not break the bankâall of our recommended models cost less than $700, and most are well under $500âand the even better news is that just because they’re inexpensive doesn’t mean that they are necessarily slow or poorly made.
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Dell Inspiron 16 Plus
There are plenty of 15.6-inch laptops, but 16-inch models like the Dell Inspiron 16 Plus are something of a rarity. The 16-inch display is a great size since the laptop is barely bigger than a 15.6-inch model, but you get more room for work and a roomier keyboard and touchpad along with it. For this Inspiron, Dell packed in performance parts including Nvidia discrete graphics and the display covers 100% sRGB and 81% AdobeRGB color gamuts, which is good enough if you’re getting started with creating web content. Also, the laptop has a more premium fit and finish than we’re used to seeing in the Inspiron line.
Lenovo Ideapad 3 Touchscreen Laptop $400 Was $500
Although touchscreen laptops are increasingly common in todays computer market, many of these affordable PCs sport pared-down mobile hardware that isnt really suited for anything other than basic use. Enter the Lenovo IdeaPad 3: It combines an 11th-gen Core i3 CPU with a full 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD basic but solid specs for work, video editing, and entertainment with great all-day battery life, a 15-inch touch display, and the classic-yet-modern design that weve come to expect from this brands latest offerings. If you like the idea of a cheap laptop but want something with more reasonable hardware capabilities than many other basic PCs and Chromebooks out there, this is a great Best Buy laptop deal on a workhorse machine with the bonus of a touch display.
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Best For College: Acer Swift 3
Why It Made The Cut: The Acer Swift 3 features a sturdy build that can handle time in a backpack but has the AMD Ryzen 7 processor that powers through the basics with precision.
Lackluster display Poor webcam
The Acer Swift 3 is one of the best cheap laptops for college because of the lightweight but durable chassis and the impressive processor options. The Acer can come with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, which packs in more processing power than the price suggests. Of course, you can save a few dollars and get the AMD Ryzen 5, which is still faster than similarly priced Intel processors. That speed lets students do research and access online classrooms more easily .
Students often lug around a laptop from home to class or the library. The Swift 3s 2.65-pounds wont weigh you down. It also supports multiple ports including USB-C, USB 2.0, and HDMI which students often need to transfer pics or charge other devices. Overall, its a lightweight package that can withstand heavy, everyday use. The downsides are the display and webcam. Neither of them are particularly impressive. Expect a grainy picture for online meetings or classes, and you might notice some lag in the display. An is also available at a lower price.
How Much Does A Good Laptop Cost
Setting a budget is a good place to start when shopping for the best laptop for yourself. The good news is you can get a nice-looking, lightweight laptop with excellent battery life at prices under $500. If you’re shopping for a laptop around $500 or less, check out our top picks here, as well as more specific buying advice for that price range.
Higher-end components like Intel Core i-series and AMD Ryzen processors and premium design touches like thin-display bezels and aluminum or magnesium bodies have made their way to laptops priced between $500 and $1,000. You can also find touchscreens and two-in-one designs that can be used as a tablet or a laptop — and a couple other positions in between. In this price range, you’ll also find faster memory and ssd storage — and more of it — to improve performance.
Above $1,000 is where you’ll find premium laptops and two-in-ones. If you’re looking for the fastest performance, the best battery life, the slimmest, lightest designs and top-notch display quality with an adequate screen size, expect to spend at least $1,000.
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Samsung Galaxy 2 Qled 2
Chrome OS and 2-in-1 laptops are a hot thing nowadays, and there are some very good Chromebooks to choose from that are packing the latest hardware. One case in point is the striking Samsung Galaxy 2, which offers excellent power for a 2-in-1 Chromebook . This one comes loaded with an Intel Core i3 CPU, a full 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage in other words, pretty much perfect specs for work and general use. That the gorgeous 13.3-inch QLED display is also a fold-flat touchscreen is icing on the cake. It even includes a handy stowaway stylus pen.
So Which Chromebook Should I Buy
Whether you’re a Facebook addict or you just need a machine for checking email and working in Google apps, Chromebooks are easy to use, convenient to take on the go, and inexpensive. If you think a Chrome OS laptop is right for you, check out the reviews below for the top-rated Chromebooks we’ve tested. If you absolutely need Windows and don’t have an unlimited budget, our lists of the best cheap laptops and the best laptops for college students are worth a look, too. And for more general laptop buying advice, check out our comprehensive buying guide with today’s top laptop picks, regardless of price.
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Hit The Internet With An Affordable No
Not everyone needs a top-of-the-line laptop when your online activities are limited to email, web searches, and the occasional Word document. You can save a bundle with one of the best cheap laptops and still do everything you need to.
These inexpensive models might be a few gens behind on their processors, but theyve got the computing power, memory, and durability for light, everyday use. Keep in mind that what one person considers cheap might be at the top of the range for a student. Weve included inexpensive models in different categories, like gaming and students, to meet a wide range of budgets.
Hp Chromebook X360 14c
HP has a long history of providing some of the best bang-per-buck, and if you want a higher-end Chromebook, this might be the one. It costs just barely under our $500 limit but offers a great convertible design, a metal cover, audio by Bang & Olufsen, Wi-Fi 6, and more.
Its fully loaded with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and an FHD 14-inch display. Its power by an Intel Pentium Gold processor, but that should be good enough for your casual needs, especially considering its a Chrome OS device.
HP Chromebook x360 specs:
- Software: Chrome OS
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Who Are Chromebooks And Cheap Windows Laptops Good For
Cheap laptops are great for students who need their own computers for homework or hybrid/remote learning. Theyre also good for anyone who needs a personal computer for household administration, research, correspondence, hobbies and so forth. Most people eventually run into tasks they cant do on a smartphone or a tablet. Theres no substitute for a large screen, keyboard and mouse when youre researching and writing an essay or creating a presentation, and some websites just dont function properly on a smartphone.
Even if you have access to a work- or school-issued computer at home, you shouldnt use it for personal tasks . Its better to keep your private information separate, and a dedicated computer is a great way to do it.
Chromebooks are easier to maintain than Windows laptops. They keep themselves up-to-date and backed up, and have fewer things that can go wrongyoure much less likely to get viruses or accidentally download an app that turns your computer into a cryptocurrency mining rig.