Back-to-school tech-buying guide

Head back to school with the right laptop or tablet computer
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01.BYO computer, but which one?

BYO laptop

If you have kids at school, there's now an extra item on back to school lists: a laptop or tablet computer such as an iPad or Surface Pro.

Many schools will ask students to bring their own computer devices to school, including smartphones, tablets and laptops. That adds a weighty cost to the back-to-school outfit, so you need to spend wisely. 

Our back-to-school guide can help you beat the BYO-tech blues and pick the best model for child's your needs.

Buying tips

  • Check with the school for their minimum and recommended configurations.
  • Check if the school prefers a specific brand or model range. Windows PC or Mac? Laptop or tablet?
  • Don't skimp on memory (RAM) – 4GB is a good rule of thumb for laptops.
  • Consider buying from smaller retailers or online as well as national chain stores. Some smaller stores may have good deals. Also check online specials.
  • Go with a brand name, if possible, and check service availability/turnaround and warranty terms.
  • If shopping in-store, don't be afraid to ask for a deal. You can get a good price if you buy extra accessories and software at the same time.
  • Be wary of buying extended warranties – they offer little extra protection over your standard Australian consumer rights.
  • Depending on the type of device you go for and the variations in processor, memory (RAM) and storage (HDD or SSD), a take-to-school device can vary quite a lot in cost.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. Don't be tempted to buy expensive components that aren't necessary.
  • Microsoft and Apple offer discounted education pricing for university students.


There's no uniform technology policy across the country, so individual state and territory education departments may or may not have guidelines. It's generally left to individual schools to develop a policy, so it's essential to consult the school first to determine the requirements for the device you intend to buy.

Some schools such as private schools will build the cost of a laptop into the fees and provide the same computer to every student. This takes the onus off parents having to work out what to buy and ensures all the machines are standardised and can be managed through the school.

BYOD (bring your own device) and BYOT (bring your own technology) are the new catchcries. The difference is that with BYOD, a school requests a particular computer model, which the student must supply. BYOT means students can choose their own computers. However, be careful, as some may use the terms interchangeably.

Some schools will have their own BYOD policy setting out the basic requirements for processor, screen size, memory, wireless internet connectivity and software for laptops. This makes it somewhat easier as you can use the policy as a shopping list when comparing devices.



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