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. 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.
What is the best laptop for online teaching?
The best laptop for online teaching and working online in general will be a laptop that is no bigger than a 15 inch laptop. While you can teach with a desktop or a larger 17 inch laptop, with online teaching you’re going to want to prioritize mobility and functionality.
17 inch laptops are simply too big for work related tasks and tend to be marked more towards those into playing video games. So while a 17 inch laptop has the power you need, it’s weight and size make it cumbersome and annoying to actually take with you.
Instead get a laptop that has a 15.6 inch screen or less. In addition, consider getting a device that has a built in graphics card. While not required for online teaching it will take the load off your processor when doing video chats or running programs like Many Cam.
What is the best laptop for online teachers?
As an online teacher, the ideal laptop will be a Windows powered machine that has 13 inch display and is light weight like the Zenbook Ultra Slim (which is our #1 pick). Using a small, high quality, light weight device will enable you to have a lot of flexibility with where you teach as well as allowing you to be more mobile.
Imagine you decide to go on a quick vacation somewhere and you want to teach from a hotel room. Having a small, lightweight device makes online teaching easy because you can manuver the laptop to get the perfect background. It also won’t take up much space and won’t be a burden to actually take with you.
Your background is important when teaching online. Having a small laptop makes it easy to move on the fly when you need to connect to wifi, your space is noisy for some unexpected reason or you want to setup a nice background in say a hotel room or something and want to position your laptop just right. With a bigger machine this can be a pain.
Best Laptops For Online Teaching – Our Top 3 Picks
Below is our list of our top 3 laptop picks for the best laptop for online teaching.
|Surface Pro (Editors Choice)||14" Screen / Core i7 / 16GB RAM|
|Acer Swift (Budget)||15.6" / Core i5 / 8 GB RAM|
|Samsung 15 (Overall)||15" / Core i7 / 16 GB RAM|
Best Laptops for Online Teachers – The 13 Laptops You Need To Know About
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.
ASUS Zenbook (Check Price)
This is an excellent laptop for work related tasks. Slim, light and packed with the performance you need to get work done. You can’t go wrong with the Zenbook Ultra Slim for your online teaching classes. If you’re needing a laptop for video editing I would keep looking but if your in the market for a powerful, affordable non-Apple related product that performs well stop reading and go get yourself a Zenbook. Learn more.
- Medium size body
- Light weight
- Excellent performance
- Feature rich and a price point to match
- Track pads on most ASUS notebooks have poor performance
Macbook Air (Check Price)
Expensive, but a solid choice for an online teacher. Having a small, powerful laptop like this with a high quality built in web cam will make teaching online from anywhere headache free. Like the Zenbook, I would not get this laptop if my intention was to ever edit videos (both devices can – they’re just not ideal if you’re say a YouTuber. Learn more.
- Amazingly thin and light.
- Excellent performance due to the hardware.
- More expensive than laptops with similar specs
Surface Pro 6 (Check Price)
The Surface Pro 6 from Microsoft is basically a tablet on steroids. With a 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 all tablets.
This means you get a device that is wonderfully flexible. Want a tablet, laptop and Windows 10 combination device? Look no further than the Surface Pro 6 from Microsoft. Learn more.
- 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.
- It’s a hybrid. Some will like it, others may find the detaching keyboard annoying
Acer Swift 3 (Check Price)
A thin, budget friendly laptop sporting a 14 inch screen. This laptop is ideal for the person who just wants to get a simple device to teach online, surf the web and do light video editing and other types of online work without the expense of other laptops. If you care more about affordability and could care less about having an ultra thin laptop; the Acer Swift 3 may be a good choice for you. Learn more.
- Quality hardware including an SSD
- It’s not the fanciest laptop or the laptop with the highest specs.
Samsung 15.0 (Check Price)
A nameless laptop, literally called the “Samsung 15.0” 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 laptop for multi-purpose reasons this is an ideal laptop to be aware of.
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, if not the best laptop for the money on this list. Learn more.
- An excellent laptop overall, one of the best on the market if you’re looking for a MacBook alternative.
- Being a more premium laptop, it has a price point to match.
Dell XPS 13″ (Check Price)
Originally marketed as a gaming laptop, the XPS has been re-branded and transformed into Dell Computer’s luxury offering. Feature rich, light weight and sporting a 13 inch screen. 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 laptop.
If mobility, light weight, small and powerful is what you’re after the XPS is an excellent laptop for any professional online teacher. Learn more.
- Gorgeous screen.
- Small body and thin.
- Excellent performance.
- If you’re needing to do something like video editing, the small screen size you may find annoying
HP Pavillion 15.6″ (Check Price)
The first “work horse” laptop as I like to call them. 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. Learn more.
- An excellent laptop for work and general use.
- No frills laptop with quality performance.
- Not designed to be particularly thin or light weight.
- Has 2 TB hard drive, but it’s the older and slower HHD style (not SSD)
ASUS VivoBook F510UA 15.6” (Check Price)
The VivoBook from Asus has a small footprint and overall frame for a 15.6 inch screen. It’s also quite light at about 3.6 lbs. This is the best work horse laptop on the list if you’re looking for something a bit bigger than a 13 inch laptop, but that still has a more affordable price than other models.
This is an ideal laptop for online teachers due to it’s thin frame, large screen and quality hardware that enable some high level performance without the expensive price tag. Learn more.
- ASUS makes some of the best mid range laptops around.
- Sleek deign and good performance
- Same with the HP Pavillion. It has an older style hard drive (1 TB) which bottle necks the overall performance.
Lenovo Premium (Check Price)
A very affordable mid range laptop with excellent hardware you need to get work done. While not the smallest on the list, if you’re looking for a quality laptop that is bigger than a 13 inch machine, but has the capabilities of a more expensive laptop then the Lenovo Premium may be for you.
The Lenovo Premium 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. Learn more.
- Great specs for the price! 15.6″ screen, 8 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.
- Has a DVD drive which adds weight. For most people, DVD’s are a thing of the past.
MacBook Pro 15′ (Check Price)
The MacBook, Apples flagship product. The MacBook is an excellent choice for teaching English online and then some. While Windows machines are more ideal for online teaching due to most programs and in-house teaching solutions being designed for them, the MacBook still has all the capability you would want and need as an online English teacher.
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 English online. Regardless, going with a MacBook is an excellent option as this laptop will serve you well for your online teaching career. Learn more.
It’s a MacBook – You’re buying into the Mac IOS ecosystem so everything just works well
You’re buying into the Mac ecosystem. Lack of competition drives prices up
2018 Dell Inspiron 15″ (Check Price)
Another no frills work horse computer. The 2018 Dell Inspiron sports a 15.6 inch display, a good amount of ram for any sort of resource heavy task and powerful process. This makes it an ideal laptop for work and play. The only drawback of the 2018 model is that it still comes shipped with a hard drive instead of the more modern solid state drives which are significantly faster.
You could always replace the 1 TB hard drive for an SSD if you like. But out of the box, the 2018 Dell Inspiron is an affordable laptop for an online English teacher. Learn more.
- A bit smaller body than a 15.6″
- Excellent performance for teaching and everyday web usage
- Lacks a graphics card and is powered by an older Intel Core i5. Not ideal for gaming or rendering animation
Asus 12.6″ Chromebook (Check Price)
Chromebooks are the reinvented netbooks (which got replaced by tablets). Low on the list for a reasons, this laptop is only ideal if you’re tight for cash and simply need a device that will allow you to video chat, browse the web, type and use a mouse. Unlike other laptops on the list, the Chromebook by Asus (and Samsung) comes with a standard web cam, not an HD web cam. Again, having an HD web cam is not essential but it is something to take note of.
Chromebooks lastly come with Chrome IOS NOT Windows. Chrome IOS is similar to Android but you’ll have to use a mouse to interact with the on-screen commands. For the price, the Chromebook by Samsung is a great choice if you understand what you’re getting.
What’s particularly useful about the Asus model is that is has an articulating screen where you can flip the keyboard behind the screen and use it like a laptop. Learn more.
- Price and novelty.
- Flipback screen.
- Camera is mediocre.
Samsung 11.6″ Chromebook (Check Price)
Last on the list, the Chromebook by Samsung is smaller than the one made by Asus and has less features with a price point to match. This glorified tablet is a simple laptop designed for basic web usage. Watching videos, writing content, listening to music and web browsing. The camera on this device is a standard web cam and it’s powered by Chrome IOS.
I suggest getting this laptop as a last resort as an online teacher looking for the most budget of budget options. Learn more.
- Price and novelty
- Camera is mediocre
Additional things to consider
As we began this list, you have multiple options for choosing a laptop for online teaching. What is the BEST laptop for online teaching? That really comes down to budget and personal preferences. I (David, the founder of teachandgo.co) currently use an Asus laptop I bought back in 2016 for teaching online. It has a 15.6 inch screen, dedicated graphics card, and a core i7 processor.
It’s not particularly light or thing however. But I do more than just teach. I create YouTube videos for TeachandGo.co and need something that can accomplish that with ease.
If you’re strictly looking for a laptop to teach English with I would get the Asus Zenbook Ultra Slim. Asus is my company of choice for laptops and the Ultra Slim laptop is just the perfect combination of weight, screen size, performance and price.
I have a desktop, do I really need a laptop?
I get it, some of you are old school. You have kids, you have a “computer room” in your house. If you’re fine with setting up the room where you desktop is into a classroom I would say you don’t need a laptop but it’s something you’ll want to think about when you’re in the market for a new computer.
Having a laptop for online teaching allows you the flexibility you’re going to want and need so you can teach and go on the road.
Laptop Screen Size
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 thing 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 amble 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. My first laptop was a 17′ machine. 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, 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.
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. Good web cam, small and lightweight 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 Surface Pro from Microsoft. The small form factor, affordable price, touch screen and hardware performance make this laptop the best laptop for online teachers.