Advice for purchasing a laptop or mobile device

If you’re thinking about buying a laptop or mobile device for your child as a present, then we have some advice from our IT Department about what’s suitable for use at School.

Firstly it’s important to say that we do not currently require pupils to have a personal device of any sort for school work as there are PCs available to all departments and in each house – don’t let them persuade you otherwise! However, many pupils prefer to use their own device so that they can personalise their experience and we are supporting this with WiFi in the boarding houses and by uploading content, such as Christmas revision, onto the VLE.

The IT Department unfortunately can’t make specific recommendations about which device to purchase as it’s such a personal choice and will depend on many different factors, so instead we are developing a ‘minimum standard’ for devices which will guarantee your son or daughter can make the best use of technology to help with their studies.

Tablets such as iPad/ Galaxy/Nexus/Surface are fantastic for consuming information and staying in touch plus they are light and have a great battery life but without a built-in keyboard and with relatively small screens they are not as versatile for creating and storing content, e.g. essays, spreadsheets or presentations. We are therefore recommending laptops as the best all-round device for general work and most new entry-level machines, whether that be PC or Mac, are more than up to the job. As a guide something with an i3 processor, 1GB of RAM, 120GB Hard drive and a 13”-15” screen will be more than sufficient.

However, if your son or daughter wishes to use their own device for more intensive work such as graphic design or music and video production, then a faster processor (i5-i7), increased RAM (4GB+), large hard drive (300GB) and wider screen (15-17”) are advisable although this is well above what is required for general use.

Laptops should also have standard office software capable of reading and saving Microsoft Office 2007 files and a modern web browser such as IE9, Firefox, Chrome or Safari to be able to access the VLE. To be compatible with the School network, laptops need to have up-to-date antivirus software and WiFi capability (most do). Pupils will also be required to agree to the School’s Acceptable Use Policy which is based on principles of appropriate usage and with specific regard to time and place.

Our final piece of advice to parents is to purchase a good warranty (3-5 years) in case of faults or accidental damage as the School is unable to directly support personal devices and don’t forget a case too that can be labelled!