GadgetGuy’s back-to-school computer guide for 2016

Mid-range: $500 to $999

Need a little more power than what a sub-$500 offering can deliver? These options should help out, jumping up from the Celeron processors found underneath to something with a little more portable grunt, and maybe a bit more battery life to boot, too.

HP Pavilion x2 10


Price: $599

A different take on the budget market, the Pavilion x2 is HP’s detachable take on a laptop and tablet with a magnetic hinge, allowing someone to go from laptop to tablet without thinking.

HP has provided a nifty USB Type C port for charging the laptop, though it’s only a USB 2.0 variant, so don’t expect high-speeds out of this. It also comes in colour options, so if you need something to stand out, this may well be it.

Toshiba Satellite Click 10


Price: $699

Another 2-in-1 just like the above laptop from HP, the Click is Toshiba’s take on the category with a tablet and laptop hybrid.

One thing we already like about the Click is the second battery, with up to 15 hours of life possible thanks to the two batteries. Unfortunately, there’s no USB Type C here, but given microUSB is a more universal standard, you’ll find that on this tablet/laptop/machine.

Read our review…

Microsoft Surface 3


Price: from $699

A good compromise between tablet and laptop, Microsoft’s Surface 3 is a good little all-rounder designed to look like a modern tablet even though it’s all computer on the inside.

There’s a stand built into the body, a lightweight design, and a solid day of charge possible, plus it charges from the microUSB standard most phones charge from.

The downside? You’ll need to buy a keyboard separately, which means ponying up at least $180 for the privilege of adding a set of keys.

Read our review…

Lenovo ThinkPad 11e


Price: $909

Once the machine of choice for the education system, now it’s a computer parents should seriously consider if they fear the worst from the way kids hold and carry laptops.

Seriously, the ThinkPad made for education was built to survive some pretty serious situations, with a MILSPEC rating making it designed to withstand falls and drops thanks to a reinforced plastic body strengthened by glass-fibre. Fun stuff, especially if you’re afraid that the little one will break the laptop without thinking.

Just make sure to get this computer with Windows, because there is a Chromebook variation which we’ve reviewed, and unless the school wants Chrome, you’ll likely be needing Windows.

Read our review…

High-end: $1000 to $2000

If money is no object and you’re after something with a little more prowess than the rest, the options below should suit, while also delivering a little more in terms of design and build quality.

Apple MacBook Air 13


Price: $1549

It’s hard to go past Apple’s ultra-light Air, with its superbly thin aluminium body, exceptional keyboard, and a design that just screams lovely.

Right now, the MacBook Air runs on fifth-generation Intel processors, making them due for an update in just a few months. When that happens, the current models will still be excellent, and we might even see a screen change, the one thing we wish Apple would fix.

Mind you, the screen is no big issue, because the MacBook Air is still one of the more lovely ultra-light machines you can find.

Read our review…

Microsoft Surface Pro 4


Price: $1499

Without doubt one of the better tablets you can find today, the Surface Pro 4 arrives with an Intel Core i5 processor, at least 4GB RAM, and a design that makes it replace the tablet in your life.

A pen is also included, as is one of the sharpest screens you’re likely to see in a laptop, though the keyboard is optional, meaning you’ll have to spend another $200 to add this to the package.

Read our review…

Dell XPS 13

Dell XPS 13 (2015)

Price: $1799

One of the better thin and light Ultrabooks you can find around, Dell’s take is a sleek and sexy machine featuring one of the most elegant uses of a 13 inch display you’ll find because it’s practically borderless.

Beyond this excellent screen, there’s a decent supply of storage, 4GB RAM, and even some Adobe software included, which could be handy if you’re into free Adobe software.

HP Spectre x2


Price: $1899

One of the machines we’re looking at now, HP’s Spectre is a dead ringer for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4, with a stand, magnetic fabric-covered keyboard, and a pen.

We’re already intrigued by the use of USB Type C, with a port on either side to charge the tablet however you want to, left or right, and HP has even been kind enough to include the keyboard free of charge, something Microsoft charges for.

The screen isn’t quite as high end, that said, but HP’s Spectre x2 is one very pretty tablet.

Read our review…

Apple MacBook Pro 13 with Retina display


Price: $1999

The computer we’d probably buy if you needed a lot of grunt in a small form-factor, Apple’s MacBook Pro 13 is hard to go past.

You’ll find up to 10 hours battery life with this one, a few processor options, and Apple’s Force Touch trackpad too, making it up to date. The only thing missing from the package is a new Intel sixth-gen processor and a Thunderbolt 3 port, though we’re sure that will arrive in the next few months, too.

Right now, though, the MacBook Pro 13 is one stellar machine, even if it does cost a pretty penny.

Read our review…