Buying notebooks for kids
Question : We're going to purchase notebook computers for our two kids this year - 12
and 13 years old. What should we be looking for?
Answer : The kids might be focusing on screen size, brand name, or maybe even some
technical specifications, such as processor type or whether there's a built-in
Webcam. But as the parents of two youngsters, your focus should be on two
things: durability and warranty.
Put simply, most kids are tough on notebook computers. And to make matters
worse, many notebooks today aren't exactly built for the rough treatment they
can receive in the hands of kids. A short fall to the floor can irreparably
damage a notebook's screen, for instance, and being anything but gentle in
closing a notebook's lid can, over time, cause the plastic around the screen in
some notebooks to crack.
So whichever model you consider purchasing, be sure to budget for "no fault"
warranty coverage, if offered by the vendor. In fact, if a "no fault" warranty
is not offered by the dealer, you might want to look elsewhere. No-fault
warranties cover the equipment if it fails to operate correctly for just about
any reason - even if it's because one of your kids drops the notebook onto
concrete. Yes, this type of coverage will cost a bit more, but it's generally
well worth the piece of mind.
You could also be on the lookout for models that are advertised as "durable" or
"tough." Panasonic makes a Toughbook series of notebook computers that
consistently win "torture tests" published by trade journals. Lenovo Thinkpads
are reported to be quite durable, as well, and some of Dell's business notebooks
have sturdier cases.
But you'll generally pay more for these road-ready notebook computers than you
will for the budget-line models generally aimed at students. So if money is an
issue, you'll have to weigh the cost of getting a less expensive notebook with a
no-fault warranty against the higher cost of a rugged notebook without one.
No matter which model you purchase, also budget for protective notebook carrying
cases, and spend some time with your kids discussing how to take care of these
machines. With careful handling, a notebook computer can last for many years.