Best Laptops for Online Teaching and Remote Learning

Distant learning, also referred to as online learning, is not really a new concept. Today we leverage technology and access remote classrooms, however, the concept is over a hundred and seventy years old, when education was imparted by mail. In this day and age, virtual education is easier than ever. Online learning has really undermined the traditional way of teaching in a classroom, where both teachers and students get to interact in person.

Back in the day, instructors would only sometimes conduct lectures online using a PowerPoint deck for visuals and a mic for audio. Over the past year, there has been a surge in online enrollment of students, and the advocates of online learning believe that this pedagogical format is evolving and opening up new methods of teaching and learning. What was once confined to a classroom has now become a global affair, and that too, at a nominal cost.

Most schools today prefer to teach online through Zoom, a video conferencing tool, to get a synchronized environment for both teachers and students. The meeting time is communicated to students, and then both teachers and students join a Zoom meeting. It is an easy-to-use tool designed for virtual collaboration, no matter where you live. All you need is a 60 to 100 KBS internet connection, and you are good to go. You can download the software and instantly join a Zoom meeting. You can use Zoom on laptops, tablets, desktops, and even on smartphones.  

The emergence of COVID-19 at a global level has changed education forever. With social distancing, schools all over the world have been forced to close their doors and the need for online learning has skyrocketed. Remote learning through digital platforms has resulted in the distinctive rise of online teaching.

Getting to the point, what would be the best laptop for online teaching? If you are a teacher, then you don’t necessarily require a high-end laptop unless you teach in a computer science or engineering program. You can deliver live lectures and even record them on a pretty basic machine. So, without further ado, lets jump into a detailed overview of some leading laptops that can make your job of online teaching a wonderful experience!

Minimum Specifications for Video Conferencing

Before jumping into the reviews, you can quickly have a look at the basic requirements for video conferencing laid out by Zoom. The reason why I chose to go with Zoom is because it is the leading video conferencing tool out there. Even if you use another software or application, the specifications are going to be more or less the same.

Internet Connectionbroadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
Speakers and a microphonebuilt-in, USB plug-in, or wireless Bluetooth
A webcam or HD webcambuilt-in, USB plug-in
Supported OSmacOS X with macOS 10.9 or later, Windows 7, 8 or 10, most Linux OS are okay as well
BrowserIE, Chrome, Safari, Firefox (update to latest). Some features in the web client are not supported on Internet Explorer.
RAM4 GB recommended
Bandwidth 1:1 Video Calls600kbps (up/down) for high-quality video
1.2Mbps (up/down) for 720p HD video
Receiving 1080p HD video requires 1.8Mbps (up/down)
Sending 1080p HD video requires 1.8Mbps (up/down)
Bandwidth Group Video Calls800kbps/1.0 Mbps (up/down) for high-quality video
For gallery view and/or 720p HD video: 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps (up/down)
Receiving 1080p HD video requires 2.5Mbps (up/down)
Sending 1080p HD video requires 3.0Mbps (up/down)
Bandwidth For screen sharing only (no video thumbnail)50-75kbps
Bandwidth For screen sharing only (with video thumbnail)50-150kbps
Bandwidth for audio VoiP60-80kbps
Bandwidth for Zoom Phone60-100kbps
 Bandwidth for Webinar AttendeesFor 1:1 video calling: 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2Mbps (down) for HD video
For screen sharing only (no video thumbnail): 50-75kbps (down)
For screen sharing with video thumbnail: 50-150kbps (down)
For audio VoiP: 60-80kbps (down)

Dell Inspiron 14 5400 2 in 1 Review

Dell is one of the most well-known laptop manufacturers in the market. Their laptops offer a great value for money due to their exceptional build quality, unique material, and powerful specs. Without compromising the performance and providing versatile features, they are worth every penny, available at reasonable prices, and all of this keeps them in high demand.

For online teaching, the Dell Inspiron 14 5400 is capable of delivering exactly what you need! This beast comes with a 14-inch FHD Touch screen (1920 x 1080) IPS resolution LED-Backlit display which is vibrant and offers a great resolution. The screen size is good enough for video conferencing, reviewing assignments, and also watching movies or playing games. Although you can easily get a bigger screen, a 14 inch laptop will generally be lighter and more portable, so you can easily move around.

For online classes, a touch screen is a helpful feature as it is responsive and makes teaching more comfortable and flexible, giving you better control. The 2 in 1 feature gives you the option of converting your laptop into a tablet or using it in stand or tent mode. This makes it convenient for teaching since it allows you to teach in different styles.

For an online teacher, the speed of the processor matters a lot. Faster is better for a smooth teaching experience, and an Intel Core i7 gives you excellent speed and reliability. Besides the processor, it has 12 GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD which are the excellent specs for video conferencing without lag and allowing you to multi-task, and store or load large files easily.

Along with a built-in graphics card, this Dell machine also has an excellent webcam with a privacy camera shutter which gives you the option of blanking your camera out if you are not actively teaching. The audio system is not as great as you would expect, however, it is good enough for your purposes. If you are someone who listens to a lot of music, or if you prefer really loud audio, then you have the option of pairing your laptop with external speakers or headphones for better results.

The Dell Inspiron comes equipped with a built-in fingerprint scanner and a responsive backlit keyboard that enables you to type smoothly. For online teaching, you need blazing fast internet speed! the Dell Inspiron 14 5400 offers excellent connectivity with the Wi-Fi 6! You also get the Bluetooth 5.0 and various connectivity ports which include an SD Card Reader, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, Headphone/Microphone Combo, Wedge-shaped lock slot, a power jack, HDMI 1.4b, USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C™ (DP/power delivery). 

The laptop weighs 4.89 lbs. and measures 12.77 x 8.78 x 0.74 inches. It is a little bit on the heavier side, however, it isn’t as bad! Still pretty portable and convenient.  Lastly, battery life is important when you are teaching for a long time, and this laptop comes with a Lithium-ion battery which gives you a battery life of about 4 to 5 hours, pretty decent for a Windows laptop. Overall, it is an affordable device good for a lot more than just online teaching!

PROSCONS
PortableA bit heavy
2 in 1 feature (Laptop and Tablet)Audio feature is not the best
Backlit keyboard 
Touch screen 
Fast processing speed 
Good network connection 
Finger print sensor 

HP 14 Review

Hp is another great option for online teaching. The company offers budget-friendly laptops with excellent build quality for the price. The Hp 14 is a multifunctional laptop that comes with all the specs required for online teaching purposes, and according to its price, it is definitely a good purchase. The laptop comes with a 14-inch micro-edge BrightView backlit HD touchscreen display with a (1366 x 768) resolution. Similar to the Dell Inspiron, the touch screen is responsive, quick, and excellent in terms of quality, providing you convenient access to different apps or files on your computer.

The 14-inch screen with narrow bezels and a (1366 x 768) resolution gives you a broad view and fine graphics for performing professional tasks. The screen size makes this laptop portable, and the viewing experience is okay. The resolution of the laptop is not the best for watching movies or playing games with high quality. However, for online teaching, running Zoom or any other video conferencing program, making presentations, web surfing, or anything like that, it is a perfect match. It has a stylish design for a budget laptop and comes in silver color, quite formal.

It is powered by Windows 10 Home in S Mode, a 64-bit operating system, AMD Ryzen 3 3200U (2.6 GHz up to 3.5 GHz, 4MB cache) processor, and AMD Radeon Vega 3 graphic coprocessor. Along with this reliable processor, it has 8GB DDR4 2400 MHz of RAM and a 256GB SSD hard drive. The keyboard also works great and has raised keys for convenient typing.

The speed of the processor with the given memory can easily handle everyday tasks quick enough for teaching. You may face a little trouble while downloading or uploading large files simultaneously, but nothing too bad. Most modern programs are perfectly executable with the current specifications of this machine. If you are a power user, then there is an option to upgrade RAM for better results.

Since video conferencing is vital, this laptop offers HP TrueVision HD Camera with an integrated digital microphone. For connectivity it has a Realtek RTL8821CE 802.11b/g/n/ ac  (1×1) (19a) Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth 4.2, along with excellent HD Audio with stereo speakers . The connectivity ports include 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C, 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A 1, an HDMI 1.4b, 1 RJ-45, 1 AC Smart Pin and a headphone/microphone combo jack. All these connectivity features allow you to have an excellent teaching experience. The network speed helps you stay connected all the time. 1.2 MP rear webcam resolution gives you great quality for video conferencing.

All these amazing features also include the dimensions of 12.76 x 8.90 x 0.78 in (324.10 x 226.06 x 19.81 mm). The laptop has a fast charging 45 WHr 3-cell Lithium-ion battery. The manufacturer states a battery life of 7 to 8 hours, however, the actual life depends on the usage and does depreciate with time. The weight of the laptop is 3.25 lbs, which is quite reasonable. Over all, this is a good laptop which satisfies all of the perquisites for online teaching and comes with a ton of other features that you can leverage for various other purposes.

PROSCONS
Touch screen displayStorage is on the lower side.
Reasonable weight of 3.25 lbsNot the best resolution
Fast charging 
Good connectivity features 

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop Review

If you are on a budget and are searching for an inexpensive laptop that fulfills your needs, then Acer laptops in general can be a good choice. Acer is another well-known brand known for offering good computers at rock bottom prices. The Acer Aspire 5 has a slim and sleek design with a big 15.6-inch full HD IPS display. The LED-backlit widescreen on this machine has a (1920x x 1080) resolution accompanied by AMD Radeon Vega 3 Mobile Graphics that provide awesome visual results.

The widescreen display has a thin bezel, which makes the screen look spacious and fun to work on. There is no touch screen system on this machine, but other features make it suitable for online teaching. The large size does affect portability, however, if you are working from home, then it will be just fine. The IPS LCD panel offers various viewing angles for your comfort and ease. Better resolution along with the bigger screen size make watching movies and playing games more fun. It comes in silver color and has a simple design with an aluminum covering, giving it a really nice look.

The AMD Ryzen 3 3200U Dual-Core Processor (Up to 3.5GHz) with 4GB DDR4 Memory and 128GB PCIe NVMe SSD hard drive satisfies the basic teaching requirements. There is an option to upgrade the RAM as well as the SDD hard drive if you choose to do so. Adding more memory and disk space will allow you to perform all those tasks which you are unable to do as more RAM could do better. You can upgrade the hard drive with M.2 or a SATA drive or you may install a 512GB SSD drive. The processor speed can also be better by swapping it with an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U or AMD Ryzen 7 3700U for faster results.

The HD Webcam (1280 x 720) gives you a high resolution for video conferencing. With clear graphics, you can enjoy connecting with your students, friends, and family. There are Two Built-in Stereo Speakers and Two Built-in Microphones that work fine for usual tasks. For online teaching, it is necessary to have a good microphone and audio system. The default systems work just fine, but if you are looking for something more, you can buy external speakers and microphone for better results.

Another great spec for online teaching includes the 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and the 1 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, 2 USB 2.0 ports and 1 HDMI port with HDCP support. Due to having an 802.11ac wireless capability, you will have a strong internet connection to interact with your students. The laptop’s networking capacity can maintain the network even if you are on route to somewhere. With the given ports, you can connect your PC with a monitor, modem, mobile, or even a smart TV.

It comes with the Windows 10 S operating system and a backlit keyboard. The operating system can switch out of S mode as well. The keyboard is comfortable and allows you to enter your commands smoothly. The keys are soft, flexible, and easy to use. This powerful and portable device with dimensions of 14.31 x 9.74 x 0.71 inches, weighs 3.97 lbs., and is excellent with a 15-inch display. The average battery life is 7 hours but can last for min 3-4 hours with brightness and continuous use, and 5-6 hours with power saver. If you are looking for something cheap and reliable, this laptop should be your top choice.

PROSCONS
AffordableNo touch screen
Bigger 15 inch displaybasic storage
Backlit keyboardbasic RAM
Affordable 

Final Words

Whether we like it or not, online teaching has become a part of our life. Due to COVID, the traditional education system has changed with schools providing online lectures to their students. While the Internet has made it easy for teachers to deliver lectures and technology has enabled us to save time and keep costs down, for quality education, you also need to have quality equipment.

You can teach from anywhere in the world but you must have a portable device with a strong connection that will enable you to perform your task efficiently. A good portable laptop with strong network and connectivity specs, an HD display, a good webcam, processor and memory, along with a reasonable battery time is enough for this purpose. The three laptops reviewed in this article are great for online teaching and you can buy the one that suits your requirements.

The Dell Inspiron 14 5400 2 in 1 laptop has all those versatile specs which you are looking for to get the job done. The HD display screen allows you to have an excellent visual experience, and the screen size is perfect for all types of work. The tablet mode and the touch screen offer great convenience. The fast processor and exceptional memory with a 4+ hour battery life will strongly affect the overall performance. You can perform multiple tasks at the same time without any trouble. Along with all these features, you also get a strong WiFi connection.  Honestly, the Dell Inspiron is good for a lot more than online teaching. If you are looking for something that you can use for several different purposes, and if the higher price tag is not an issue, then this machine is an excellent choice! However, if you are only looking for a laptop for online teaching, this may be a bit of an overkill. But all things considered, if you have the budget, this is not a bad option as it will last you for a while and you will not need to do any upgrades.

The Aser aspire 5 is the most inexpensive option on this list, and it also gives you all those features which are necessary for online teaching. Along with the large, wide display, the other features perfectly meet the requirements for online teaching. The processor’s speed and default memory are perfect for usual tasks, and with the option of upgrades, it is convenient for you to get a device at a lower price which satisfies all your requirements initially, and if you wish to later on, you may get upgrades. The resolution is fine for online lectures and the webcam and audio features also work for your needs. If you are on a budget, this is the machine to go for since the default features satisfy all your requirements. However, if you want to play games or run multiple programs simultaneously, this is not a good choice.

The HP 14 is the mid-tier option with excellent features. This one is not as expensive and has all the features you need to deliver your lectures and do a lot more. You will enjoy the graphics and the display while working as well. Its processor speed may be lower as compared to the Dell Inspiron, but it is much better than the Acer 5 and in general good enough for running multiple programs. The memory is reasonable for doing a lot of things and you can share and save heavy files without any trouble. The wireless connection and versatile connectivity ports are there to offer strong connection between you and the students. The battery life is exceptionally good, as compared to the previous one. At a more reasonable price, you will get an excellent device! I would advise you to purchase the HP 14 since it offers the best bang for your buck!