When it comes to teaching kids online on platforms like VIPKid, there aren’t many devices superior to laptops in this regard. First of all, they dispense with the need to worry about webcams. These days, most laptops have decent webcams built into them.
Apart from that, they also have a great internal microphone; unlike desktop PCs where you have to buy an external microphone in order to communicate. This way, you can achieve a nice teaching environment at home even if you don’t have headphones.
Of course, the trouble with laptops is that there are so many different options. Don’t worry, though — we’ve made a selection of the best laptops for teaching VIPKid in 2020; so stay tuned and take a look at our series of in-depth reviews of the top models. By the way, a good MacBook Bro is always hard to beat, but there’s more stuff out there, so let’s dive right into it!
We’ll start off with the highest-rated laptop on this list; though the rest are in no particular order. After all, the Apple MacBook Pro is the best laptop for plenty of purposes; teaching VIPKid classes included. While it is expensive, there’s definitely a reason for that. And whether its build quality and performance are reasons enough to pay the price is entirely up to your personal standards.
For starters, you should know that there are two versions of the MacBook Pro. When you look at them from a physical perspective, they’re practically the same device. Importantly, both of them are equipped with Apple’s Magic Keyboard, as well as the mini-screen above the magic keyboard dubbed the Touch Bar. This is a context-sensitive menu touchscreen that plenty of apps make use of; though it’s most useful when it comes to browsers.
Apart from that, the two versions of the MacBook Pro share the identical dimensions. In fact, the only distinguishing feature between the two of them is the number of external ports. The lower-grade configuration comes with two USB ports that are situated on the left side of the laptop. On the other hand, the more expensive version has an additional two ports on the right.
Things on the inside are a far different story. The lower-class configuration has the identical i7 core that was the driving unit for the previous generation of MacBooks. On the other hand, the $1,799 version of the laptop has a new and improved processor. And the CPU design isn’t the only thing that sets the newer generation chip apart. It’s generally better and faster at processing memory and graphics. Though, we have to mention that most VIPKid teachers will probably be served with the entry-level version just fine.
After all, the platform doesn’t contain any GPU or CPU-heavy procedures; at least nothing that the lower range of MacBook Pros won’t be able to handle with ease. The only thing you have to worry about with this laptop is the strength of your Internet connection.
Many have talked about the advantages of the Magic Keyboard compared to the design of the previous generations of Apple laptops. It should be pointed out that it’s definitely an improvement over the butterfly keyboard of old. In the Magic Keyboard, each switch has two distinct parts. First, there’s a rubber dome that compresses under pressure and gives a neat bounceback.
On the other hand, there’s also a scissor mechanism that serves to guide the movement of the keys. This combination does miracles in preventing any key wobbliness that users could notice and be frustrated with.
We wouldn’t tout this design as innovative as much as Apple enthusiasts believe it is. However, it’s definitely a nice, useful iterative piece of design. And it certainly improves the way keyboards for laptops have been manufactured in the past few decades. The previous butterfly design was also quite innovative, but ultimately not as useful in practice. It simply lacked the tactility of the current Magic Keyboard; when you used to press buttons, almost nothing happened as feedback. Those keys were more akin to a touch screen.
● A laptop powerhouse
● Innovative keyboard design
● Simply too expensive for just online teachingCheck Price on Amazon
As we’ve just pointed out, buying an Apple MacBook Air simply for teaching VIPKid may be something of an overkill. Sure, the laptop will yield all the performance you need; but if budgetary concerns are important for you, there are definitely ways to achieve the desired effect more cheaply.
While we’ll explore more budget-friendly laptops below, the first step down that ladder would definitely be the MacBook Air. Compared to previous Air models, it has an improved processor, the much-touted Magic Keyboard, and perhaps more importantly — a neat drop in the price.
When it comes to the external design, pretty much nothing has changed compared to the old MacBook Air model from 2018. The 2020 laptop has all of the physical features of its older brother, but it’s significantly cheaper!
The only new hardware feature that you could notice is the Magic Keyboard that the 2018 model did not have. And if we’re being funny, we’ll note that this keyboard adds 40g to the heaviness of the previous model. But then again, that’s probably something ordinary users simply won’t notice.
MacBook Air definitely comes with a screen that doesn’t do anything to smear Apple’s good name. Plus, now it’s enabled with the company’s True Tone tech. In practice, this means that the colors on the screen will shift tonally depending on the external light ambiance. If you’re working long hours as an online teacher, this will do wonders to make sure your eyes adjust to the changing light more delicately.
We won’t go into many technical details regarding the Magic Keyboard, as we’ve described how it works while talking about the MacBook Pro. However, we’ll touch more — all pun intended — on how it feels to touch and use. It’s important to point out that this evolutionary, if not really revolutionary, keyboard design definitely makes stuck keys a non-issue. Also, the fact that keys actually travel upwards and downwards in a noticeable way means that the typing experience is more familiar and satisfying.
Also, speaking of paraphernalia; the trackpad which Apple has utilized in this model remains the finest you’ll find on any laptop currently on the market. It’s both silky smooth and incredibly precise; while also covering enough space to be optimally used. All in all, it’s a joy to work with.
There’s an added layer of security to this laptop, though that would be more useful in a real classroom than a virtual one. Still, if you value the privacy of your laptop, you’ll be happy to learn that this one comes with a useful fingerprint scanner. It’s built using Apple’s Touch ID technology, so successfully utilized on its iPhones.
It does an excellent job if you need something other than a password. Though, it’s not really household-friendly, as it only memorizes three fingerprints at a time. Still, there’s a chance that Apple will include the exquisite Face ID mechanism in latter models; a feature that Microsoft has already included in their competing laptops.
In general, the performance of the MacBook Air is more than admirable — especially for online teaching needs. We’d say that this is a better choice than the more expensive MacBook Pro – if this is the only use you expect to have out of the laptop.
● Touch ID security
● Excellent display
● Magic Keyboard
● Less powerful CPUCheck Price on Amazon
Speaking of competing Microsoft devices — let’s take a look at one of the premier choices for portable computer devices these days. Now, we should note that, unlike the Apple laptops we’ve reviewed above, Microsoft does not update the Surface Pro 4. Instead, there are simply newer models that come after it.
So, when we’re reviewing the Surface Pro 4, there are two newer versions on the market — the 2017 Surface Pro, and the Surface Pro 6. The equivalent would be reviewing the 2018 MacBook Air, for example.
Still, that being said — we have to point out that this is one of the most influential devices in its niche four years ago. And there are reasons for that — one of them being the fact that this laptop-tablet hybrid comes with a full-fledged Windows 10 installation. So, you’re not getting shortchanged in terms of software capabilities.
And while it pretty much amounts to incremental design improvements upon the previous Pro 3 model; there’s plenty to love about this laptop. The device’s biggest selling point would definitely be the Surface Pen stylus that comes with it. For teachers who do a lot of drawing and show and tell; this is going to be a huge boon.
We’re pretty much talking about the best stylus we’ve ever used; certainly on a Microsoft device. It has better pressure sensitivity compared to all other models, and some additional buttons on it to boot.
The second Surface Book (and some of the other laptops on this list) are pretty enormous, but the strength of the Surface Pro 4 isn’t in its size. In fact, the device is intended to be smaller compared to the competition; the point of the device is to be more compact, but still powerful enough for any kind of freelance professional. Sure, graphic designers that use GPU-heavy software might need to get a different device — but for freelance online teachers, this is more than enough.
Of course, the Surface Pro 4 doesn’t come without its limitations. One of the bigger ones is the battery life that’s simply subpar compared to others on this list. But that’s only important for people who want to use it in tablet mode. Seeing as you’re more likely to utilize it as a bona fide laptop, it’s not such an obstacle. After all, VIPKid teachers rarely create lessons outside or somewhere on the go.
Moving on, the display of the Surface Pro 4 is definitely not a drawback; it’s not Apple’s Retina screen, but the colors are still clear enough for online lessons.
So, how good of a choice is the Surface Pro? Well, it depends on how much you love Apple’s iOS compared to Windows. If you’re not too big of a fan of iOS, then this is the laptop for you by all means. Plus, teachers for art and math classes that do a lot of work with their styluses or fingers will find that this is one of the better choices. Conversely, it may be just a bit too expensive if you’re solely going to use it as a laptop.
● Best stylus
● Decent overall performance
● High price for Windows configuration
● Low battery lifeCheck Price on Amazon
Our penultimate pick is one of the most affordable models on this list; if you’re only going to be teaching online classes, it doesn’t get much cheaper than the Acer Chromebook Spin. First of all, it’s still a tablet/laptop hybrid device, meaning that you can use it for other activities as well. But perhaps more importantly, this model won’t set you back more than $400. This is quite a price drop from the $800-upwards laptops that we’ve talked about above.
Obviously, that kind of affordability shows, and this isn’t a powerhouse by any stretch of the imagination. However, the Intel Celeron chip you’ll find underneath is certainly respectable; though it can get laggy in tablet mode. But then again, that’s not your primary concern as an online teacher.
Moving on, this Spin 11 model looks very attractive from the outside, with a nice silver finish and a smooth texture on the cover. Of course, seeing as the plastic is not as durable as the materials for the Apple MacBook models; you shouldn’t expect the same level of manufacturing quality. Also, the Spin 11 is a little too heavy for a tablet-laptop hybrid; but you’re not likely to carry it around all that much during your lessons.
When it comes to connectivity, the Spin 11 proves to be a decent model. There’s a USBC port on one side and a traditional USB port on the other. Also, you’ll find a microSD port on the left that acts as a card reader. Also expectedly, there’s a jack for microphone or headphone devices.
Now, the real question is how the touch panel fares compared to the competition. It’s definitely precise and accurate, but only when compared with the Asus Chromebook below. On this list, it can’t really fare well against the stylus that comes with the Microsoft Surface Pro. Of course, if you’re not looking for incredible precision and simply want a device that you can use with a reasonable degree of accuracy for navigation; it will do just fine.
Also, we should note that the speakers on this model are definitely nothing to write home about. If you’re listening to something on the Spin 11 in a crowded area, you aren’t likely to discern anything of note. However, most online teachers have headphones for the microphone and listening functions, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
All in all, this device has some drawbacks — but it will definitely put far less of a strain on your personal budget than the higher-end models listed before.
● Far more affordable than others
● Decent port connectivity
● Less durable manufacturing
● Weak speakersCheck Price on Amazon
The final pick on this list will probably turn out to be the winner for the average online teacher. The Asus Chromebook Flip is, in short, everything that the Acer model is — but better. Sure, Chromebooks are generally regarded as cheap, low-spec machines that can’t hold a candle to traditional laptops in terms of performance.
However, the flip side is that – when you put the Chrome OS on an excellent piece of hardware — it literally flies. This computer is simply lightning-quick. You won’t get better CPU performance for this price tag literally anywhere else.
As an everyday computer, it will pretty much fill all of your needs. And it will completely dispel the notion of buying a three-times-more-expensive Pixelbook; there’s simply no need for that. This Chromebook is the one that can take care of all of your online teaching needs, and then some.
Of course, ASUS has been producing quality laptops for years now, and their Chromebook game has been getting better and better. However, this iteration of the Flip series is where it truly shines. This is the premium-end of Chromebook computers, but it’s not expensive by any stretch of the imagination. You can get it for $500 — a real steal compared to the Apple computers above.
There’s an 8GB version that’s pretty much all you need for any extended teaching sessions; though we haven’t noticed the 4GB model struggling with the required software either. And if you need more storage than 64GB, there’s always a neat microSD slot available.
The screen is quite amazing for a Chromebook, and everything is clearly visible even when you’re using it outside. Also, and we can’t stress this enough — the battery life of this ASUS laptop is something out of this world. You can go for more than 10 hours of extensive use on a single charge; something unparalleled on this list.
● Amazing battery life
● Far less expensive than competing models
● Excellent screen quality
● Low storage space
● Chrome OS might be a pain for someCheck Price on Amazon
Considering all of the laptop models that we’ve reviewed above — which one is the best laptop for teaching VIPKid in 2020? Well, that’s a tough question; one whose answer depends more on what you plan on doing besides teaching.
Let’s face it — for VIPKid and other teaching platforms, each of the laptops on this list could do just fine; the ACER Chromebook is the only one where you might encounter occasional hiccups. So, if you intend on this being your main computer, where you do everything else as well — investing in an Apple MacBook Air model might be the best call. It’s the second-most powerful laptop on the list besides the MacBook Pro. But if the price factor is out of the equation, the MacBook Pro is the best option.
On the other hand, if you have another, bulkier laptop or a desktop computer — you could use these for other purposes that don’t require extensive hardware power. In that case, a Chromebook unit like the ASUS one is the most cost-effective choice.