Laptops are the superior option over desktops and tablets for online teaching. You don’t need to worry about having a quality web cam as all laptops now come with a widescreen integrated HD web cam them built in them.
They also come with a decent internal microphone, so if your headphones don’t have a microphone (or they break for whatever reason), you’re still able to provide a quality teaching environment.
With laptops you have a lot of options, but there are a few standout features you should look for when making a purchase decision for your laptop for online teaching. Here are teachandgo.co’s requirements for any laptop for an online teacher:
Size is crucial depending on what you’re doing and if the weight of your device is important. Small screen sizes almost always result in a thinner, lighter machine. Here are the three most common sizes and things you should consider for each size:
13″ screen – This size is the most preferable if you’re strictly doing online teaching. At this size, there are numerous options with varying price ranges. You can get a laptop that is extremely light and thin or something with a bit more hardware built into it.
The 13″ screen size is the most mobile of the three and ideal if you’re not wanting to carry around a heavier laptop.
15″ screen – The sweet spot. Not too big, not too small. Large enough to provide ample screen size for tasks like video editing, large enough to pack in some high quality hardware to make a performance focused machine. But still small enough to fit in a backpack and not weigh too much. This size is ideal for work, play and everyday use.
17″ screen – A big heavy laptop. Most laptops at this size are made for people who want to play video games or professionals who need a desktop replacement laptop. Generally, this size defeats the purpose of having a laptop. It’s too big to fit into most backpacks, to heavy to actually want to carry it around with you.
17′ laptops have their place of course. If you’re going to be staying put in one spot for 90% of the time but need something that you could take with you, then consider a 17′ screen. Overall however, this size of laptop is just to big to use at cafes, too big to fit into bags and too annoying to carry around.
Instead get a laptop that has a 15.6 inch screen or less depending on your preference. In addition, consider getting a device that has a built in graphics card and a touch screen.
While not required for online teaching it will take the load off your processor when doing video chats in larger classrooms like where you’re teaching multiple students or if you’re running programs like Many Cam.
You can successfully teach online with a laptop that does not have a graphics card however, so it’s not a must have.
Touch Screen – Important
I can’t tell you how fun and useful having a touch screen is for an online class environment. You’re able to circle items on the screen, write words and simply have greater flexibility, control and fun when teaching.
In addition it can also be a great backup if you don’t have a mouse for whatever reason. During a class we had a teacher who’s mouse broke before class. Because he had a touch screen he was able to complete the lesson objectives and avoid a potential teacher no-show for himself.
Recommended technical requirements
With looking to purchase a modern laptop there are a few things to be aware of as having a device with dated component could lead to poor experience for delivering your online classes.
- Operating system: Windows 10 (Windows 11 will roll out soon) / IOS Big Sur
- Processor: AMD Ryzen is currently the best, anything past Intel 7th gen is acceptable.
- Graphics: You don’t need a graphics card unless you’re gaming or doing intensive graphics applications.
- Ram: You’ll want 8 GB minimum, but 16 GB will future proof any device you purchase.
- Storage: Get a device with an SSD, they are much faster and more reliable than a mechanical HDD.
Best Laptops for Online Teachers – The 10 Laptops You Need To Know About
As an online teacher, the ideal laptop will be a Windows powered (IOS is acceptable as well) machine that has 13-15 inch display, touch screen and is light in weight and has a decent internal webcam (at least 720P). The following are our top 10 best laptops for online teaching:
- Macbook Air
- Surface Pro 7
- Acer Aspire
- Samsung Galaxy Flex
- Dell XPS
- HP Pavillion
- ASUS Zenbook
- Lenovo Idea Pad
- Macbook Pro
- Dell Inspiron
Below is a curratted list of the 13 best laptops for online teachers. You have numerous options and our list covers a wide range of options from expensive, high end notebooks to the best budget friendly notebooks on the market. We also listed out the pros and cons of each option.
M1 Macbook Air – Best Laptop for Online Teaching
The new M1 Macbook Air is a reasonably priced, powerful and light weight laptop. Pound for pound, it’s the best deal on the market today and is a solid choice for any professional online teacher.
Having a small, powerful laptop like this with a high quality built in web cam and touch screen will make teaching online from anywhere headache free. You’ll also be able to create and render videos for online courses, record audio, design photos and more with ease. If you’re into Apple products and you’re looking for a laptop as an online teacher we highly recommend the M1 Macbook Air.
- Amazingly thin and light.
- Excellent performance due to the hardware and the M1 chip technology
- Gorgeous high quality display.
- You can’t beat the price and performance on this device.
- The default spec is set to 8 GB which is mediocre for video creation.
- Some teachers may want to stick with Windows Machines.
Surface Pro 7 – Best Small Laptop For Online Teaching (12.3 inch screen)
The Surface Pro 7 from Microsoft is a laptop that can also double as a tablet. This is an excellent alternative to the Macbook if you don’t want to buy into the Apple ecosystem.
With a gorgeous 12.3″ screen, it has the option to detach the keyboard and use it like a tablet or you can use the keyboard like a laptop. It comes with an excellent camera, is small and light weight and is powered by Windows 10, not some mobile operating system like other tablets.
This means you get a device that is wonderfully flexible for your teaching needs. Want a tablet with a stylus for drawing? Done. Need an affordable small laptop with Windows 10? Look no further than the Surface Pro 6 from Microsoft.
- Can double as a tablet or a laptop.
- Has a cool factor, making you stand out from the crowd.
- Touch screen. This is really handy for online teaching.
- Not too expensive, solid mid-range choice.
- The Surface Pro does not come with the keyboard, you’ll need to purchase that separately.
- The 12.3 inch screen may be too small for some.
Acer Aspire 5 – Best Budget 15.6 inch option
Acer is known as a budget friendly brand and they really deliver with their Aspire 5. With a dual core processor, dedicated graphics card, solid state hard drive, 15.6 inch screen and a light body this laptop is the most practical option on the list.
If you’re looking for a good 15.6 inch screen laptop that has all some pretty impressive internal components for the price then consider getting the Acer Aspire 5.
- Excellent build quality for the price.
- No touch screen!
Samsung Galaxy Flex – Excellent higher end laptop
The Samsung Galaxy Flex is an expensive, premium laptop that is not only an excellent size but also an excellent weight. For the price, you’re basically getting a Windows alternative to a Macbook. If you have the cash to spend and want an excellent multi-purpose laptop that is powerful, thin and light, take a look at this machine.
If you’re strictly looking for something that you will primarily use to teach English online with, then this laptop may be overkill. But this is one of the best laptops on the list.
- An excellent laptop overall, one of the best on the market if you’re looking for a MacBook alternative that has the power you want but also a larger screen size.
- Being a more premium laptop, it has a price point to match.
Dell XPS 13″ – Best Small Laptop
The Dell XPS was originally marketed as a gaming laptop. The XPS has since been re-branded and transformed into Dell Computer’s flagship pro level offering. Feature rich, light weight and sporting a 13 inch screen with end to end bezels. These XPS line has some of the best screens on the market.
In addition, the XPS has the hardware to handle anything you need a laptop to do. From video editing, to playing video games to online teaching. The XPS is an excellent, small and light laptop.
If mobility, light weight, small and powerful is what you’re after the XPS is an excellent laptop for any professional online teacher.
- Gorgeous screen.
- Small body and thin.
- Excellent performance.
- The webcam leaves something to be desired. We do suggest you purchase a separate webcam in general as a professional educator however.
- The XPS is Dell’s top of the line offering, as such these laptops can be quite expensive.
- You’ll need a cheap dongle for this device.
HP Pavilion 15 – HP’s Workhorse PC
The HP Pavillion, the first “work horse” laptop as we like to call them here at Teach and GO. Not the prettiest, not the smallest, not the thinnest nor the fastest. The Pavillion series of laptops are designed for getting work done without being particularly expensive.
For a very affordable price you get a quality mid-range laptop that is ideal for everyday tasks including online teaching. It also sports a 15.6 inch screen so you’ll have a lot of screen real estate to work with.
- An excellent laptop for work and general use.
- No frills laptop with quality performance.
- Not designed to be particularly thin or light weight.
- Lacks dedicated graphics card. Fine for online teaching, not for gaming.
- No touch screen.
Asus Zenbook 13 – Slim, powerful and affordable
The Zenbook line from Asus are some of the thinnest, lightest and most affordable laptops around (when compared to more expensive ulra slim laptops). This laptop has an impressive, beautiful design, gorgeous screen, good webcam and is thin and light.
We also liked that this model as a core i7 and and fast SSD hard drive.
- ASUS makes some of the best mid range laptops around.
- Sleek deign and good performance.
- Has 8 GB of ram on the base model. 16 GB is preferred.
- No touch screen.
- You’ll need a cheap dongle for this device.
Lenovo Idea Pad 14″ – The perfect size budget option
The Lenovo Idea Pad is a very affordable mid range laptop with excellent hardware you need to get work done. It’s 14″ size makes is the perfect option if you want something slightly bigger than a Macbook Air.
While not the smallest on the list, if you’re looking for a quality laptop that has a 14 inch display and the capabilities of a more expensive laptop then the Lenovo Idea Pad may be for you.
The Lenovo Idea Pad is your standard, run of the mill laptop. It’s not particularly thin, it’s not particularly beautiful, it’s not particularly light either (not to say it’s excessively heavy mind you) but it is affordable and can help you complete work with ease.
It has a great processor that can handle video, enough ram to take on resource heavy tasks and an SSD so your internal storage won’t be a bottle neck.
- Great specs for the price. 14″ screen, 4 GB of ram and an SSD hard drive.
- Heavier and bulkier than other options.
- Lenovo laptops tend to lack asthetics and have a corporate look to them.
- No touchscreen.
MacBook Pro 16″ – Powerful laptop with an outstanding built in microphone
The MacBook Pro is Apples flagship product and was the best laptop they ever made until the M1 chipset series came out. The 16 inch is still a good buy because it’s powerful and can replace any work station, has a beautiful screen and the best on board microphone we’ve ever used.
Seriously, the microphone is quite premium with noise canceling functionality built in. You actually don’t need a USB microphone with this laptop and it will sound better than any cheap headset you use.
It’s lower on our list due to it’s high price and it’s feature set being far and above what you would actually need for teaching online, but if you’re looking for one of the best laptops around the MacBook 16 is an excellent option as this laptop will serve you well for your online teaching career.
- This Macbook has a gorgeous 16 inch screen.
- Built in graphics card for easy video editing and rendering.
- Superior, noise cancelling microphone built in.
- An overall powerful, desktop replacement.
- Good webcam, but not as great as you would expect.
- Quite expensive overall compared to other options.
- Has Intel instead of the new M1 chipsets.
Dell Inspiron – Good price and performance with touchscreen
The Dell Inspiron sports a 15.6 inch display, a good amount of ram for any sort of resource heavy task and a powerful processor. This machine is a great option for any online teacher or creative professional as it has the size, power and price point for working effectively
It comes with a 15.6 inch touch screen, a good SSD drive with integrated graphics and 16 GB of ram. For the price, you get a good reliable machine capable of doing almost any sort of task.
- Excellent performance for teaching and everyday web usage.
- Nice design for a budget laptop.
- 16 GB of ram and an SSD with have this laptop running smooth.
- Touch screen.
- Big screen, but the FHD panel is pretty average.
- No dedicated graphics card.
Additional Laptop Features
Storage Space – For modern laptops you’re going to want something with an SSD instead of an HDD. Solid state hard drives are simply much faster and your computer will be run faster. The only trade off is storage space. It’s not uncommon to get a laptop with a 1-2 TB amount of space which is way more than you’ll ever need. SSD’s are still at the 128 to 500 GB range.
Battery Life – The larger the screen, the less battery life you can expect from a laptop as a rule. For online teaching it’s expected that your laptop will be plugged in so for online teachers this a minor issue to take note of.
Weight – You want a laptop that weighs 5 lbs or less. Even 5 lbs is now considered a heavy laptop. Weight matters as there will be times when you’ll have your laptop in a backpack. You won’t want to be carrying around something heavy for long periods of time.
Graphics Card – If you’re doing video editing or wanting to play games on your laptop look into getting a machine that has a dedicated graphics card. For strictly online teaching purposes a graphics card is a non issue as the built-in graphic process with your Intel chip is sufficent.
Screen Quality – Screens come in matte and glossy. Glossy tends to look more vibrant and colorful. Matte can look nice too, but on cheaper laptops a matte finish tends to have a dull look to it.
RAM – 8 GB is standard now though that is quickly changing to 16 GB now. At 16 GB you have more than enough RAM to run any sort of application as an online English teacher. Even at 8 GB, that is still enough. You may run into issues though at the 4 GB mark.
Processor – Your processor is the most important hardware in your laptop apart from your motherboard. Higher end laptops have the latest and greatest model.
Operating System – The safest route is to get a Windows machine, I have yet however to hear of anyone having an issue teaching online with IOS from Mac or Chrome IOS.
Touch Screen – A laptop with a touch screen is actually really helpful when teaching online as numerous platforms like VIPKID have an interactive classroom. So with a laptop that has a touch screen you can use both your mouse and hand to demonstrate activities on screen.
Conclusion – Best Laptops For Online Teaching
Laptops for teaching online have a few specific, online teacher friendly requirements. A Good webcam, small and lightweight design and a touch screen if possible. Through extensive research and practical real world usage of different laptops as online English teachers ourselves we give our #1 recommendation to the Acer Aspire 5.
The small form factor, affordable price, touch screen with a stylus and hardware performance make this laptop the best laptop for online teachers. In addition to a laptop, you may want to eventually consider getting a dedicated webcam for online teaching. Also consider getting some blue light blocking glasses if you’re going to be teaching a lot of hours each day.