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Device Recommendation

Over the last few years, the College has increasingly seen the value for students whose devices support touch and a stylus. A stylus is a pen where the tip is able to be detected on a touchscreen computer. We urge parents and caregivers to consider this when looking to purchase a new device for their child.

Research has indicated that the creation of more diagrams, symbols and numbers when using a stylus has the potential to stimulate ideation, problem-solving, and inferential reasoning, when compared to keyboard/mouse-based interfaces. These are key skills we seek to encourage from our students, as they lead to deeper understandings. A laptop device with inking capability gives students the best of both worlds – when they need to type, it functions as a standard laptop, when they need to ideate, draw and annotate, they can use the stylus – and all of this is recorded and able to be accessed again at any time. The stylus does not replace pen and paper, but enhances the capability of students to record, share and develop ideas in a way that pen and paper does and typing does not.

Accordingly, we have for a few years now highly recommended that any student-owned device in the Secondary School is touchscreen and has a stylus. Our recommended device range reflects this.

New from 2021 in the Preparatory School

We require that any newly purchased student-owned device for a student in Year 8 and below supports touch and has a stylus. Students are required to bring their own devices from Year 7 and above. They are optional below Year 7 as College provided devices are made available for use during the school day.

What experience has shown us

We are increasingly finding students that have non-touch devices, who observe their peers using a stylus, are asking their parents and caregivers to swap them to a device that does support touch and a stylus.

Transitioning with an existing device

We recognise that students either transition from a previous school with a Macbook, or inherit one from a family member. As such, we do support Macbooks, but ask that parents and caregivers strongly consider the points above when purchasing a new device for their child’s education at St Andrew’s College. 

Recommended Devices for 2023

In comparison with previous years, St Andrew's College has increased the number of recommended device types for 2023. This will hopefully help avoid any issues with device availability.

Each device type has been trialled by the ICT team and have their own particular selling points. Please refer to the short summary below that briefly outlines what the team found that might help you make your decision on a new device to help support learning at St Andrew's College.

For the first time we are now providing two recommended suppliers, Cyclone and PB Tech. We have done this to provide increased choice and flexibility around device selection.

Acer TravelMate Spin P4 Convertible

Link to our supplier's portal for this device: CyclonePlease note: Cyclone apply their special discounts by default.

Specification: i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB solid state drive with stylus, 3 year warranty (return to depot).

We really liked the fact that the stylus is docked within the laptop itself and charges (very quickly) when it is in there. While this is on the more cost-effective end of the device range, its specifications meet the demands of a standard class. However, it may struggle a little in resource-heavy programs such as those used in Art and Music (in NCEA year levels particularly). Overall it performed well in our testing and sports a 14" screen. We did find it a little heavy to use – particularly noticeable in tablet mode when digital inking.

HP Probook X360 435 G9 Convertible

Link to our suppliers' portals for this device: Cyclone and PB Tech. Please note: For PB Tech, use the School code STACBYOD at the top of the page as soon as you login (not at checkout) to get special discounts. Cyclone apply their special discounts by default.

Specification: Ryzen 5 5625U processor, 8GB RAM or 16GB RAM, 256GB or 512GB solid state drive with stylus, various options available regarding warranty.

This model is a step up in performance and build quality versus the Acer Spin 4, which might be advantageous for students that want that extra power for specialist subjects. We weren’t so keen on the tethering for the stylus and can see them potentially being lost or damaged if the owner doesn’t take good care of it. As per the Acer, a little heavy to use in tablet mode but that said we were impressed with how well the laptop performed during testing.

Lenovo ThinkBook 14s Yoga

Link to our supplier's portal for this device: PB Tech. Please note: Use the School code STACBYOD at the top of the page as soon as you login (not at checkout) to get special discounts.

Specification: i5 processor, 16GB RAM , 256GB solid state drive with stylus built-in, various options available regarding warranty.

A good build quality and good specifications for the price. The stylus is built-in and charges when docked. It is one of the heavier laptops on our list. The stylus is small and we had concerns about its battery life. However, according to the manufacturer the battery life of the stylus may only be 45 minutes but it also takes just 15 seconds to charge it back to 85%.

Lenovo 13W Yoga

Link to our suppliers' portals for this device: Cyclone and PB Tech. Please note: For PB Tech, use the School code STACBYOD at the top of the page as soon as you login (not at checkout) to get special discounts. Cyclone apply their special discounts by default.

Specification: Ryzen 5 5625U processor, 16GB RAM , 256GB solid state drive with stylus, various options available regarding warranty.

We felt this offered really good value at this price point when considering its specification. It has a 13" screen and built-in stylus. It has a sturdy feel to it when compared with other laptops at a similar price point, but aesthetically perhaps is not as pleasing.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

Link to our supplier's portal for this device: PB Tech. Please note: Use the School code STACBYOD at the top of the page as soon as you login (not at checkout) to get special discounts.

Specification: i5 processor, 8GB RAM , 256GB solid state drive, various options available regarding warranty.

Good specifications for the cost, but for a similar price point the 13W Yoga (above) offers more value if you are happy with a 13” screen. If a larger 14” screen is preferable then this is a good option on the more cost-effective end. A stylus does not come with this model and we have bundled the Wacom stylus with it as we feel this stylus represents a good price/performance balance versus others we tested. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 7+ and 8

Link to our suppliers' portals for this device: Cyclone and PB Tech. Please note: For PB Tech, use the School code STACBYOD at the top of the page as soon as you login (not at checkout) to get special discounts. Cyclone apply their special discounts by default.

Specification: i5 processor, 8GB RAM, either 128GB or 256GB solid state drive with stylus, various options available regarding warranty.

The Surface Pro range has formed the backbone of our recommended device lists for a number of years now and is still used extensively by our staff.

The Surface Pro 7+ is an upgraded version of the Surface Pro 7, specifically designed for commercial and education use (i.e. these devices likely can’t be purchased in high-street stores).

While the form factor/physical Surface Pro 7+ is identical to the Surface Pro 7, there are a number of advantages over a Surface Pro 7 including better battery life, better processor performance (11th gen Intel) and better graphics performance (Intel Iris). The Surface Pro 7+ has the smallest screen in our recommended range at 12.3".

When compared with some of the other options on this webpage, the 128GB SSD version of the Surface Pro on offer has half the storage space of the alternatives which may become an issue if non-school related applications are installed.

When compared with the Surface Pro 7+, the Surface Pro 8 is a more premium device. It has Thunderbolt 4 support and a slightly bigger display (13"). The remainder of the summary for the Surface Pro 7+ applies to the Surface Pro 8.

The Surface Pro range are the only devices on this list with a removable keyboard (rather than a full laptop), giving it a form factor that we feel is best suited for inking or moving around a classroom environment. Helped further by the fact it is lighter than other recommended devices.

The STM Dux Shell and Armor-X cases are great extra protection for the Surface Pro range, and are available from the St Andrew's College Cyclone and PB Tech portals respectively.

Finally, Surface comes with the 'Microsoft Surface Pro Hardware Only Service Plan', meaning each Surface not only has a total of three years' warranty like those above, but also includes next business day replacement.

Other Surface Pro Models

Usually new Surface Pro models are announced annually by Microsoft near the end of each calendar year. This page and supplier portals will be updated to reflect any new models if they meet our recommendation criteria.

Minimum Device Specifications

We have some minimum requirements for a “full” operating system. This means Windows 10, Window 11 or MacOS.

This excludes Operating Systems such as:

  • Apples’ iOS (commonly found on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches);
  • Google’s Android;
  • Chrome OS (commonly found on various tablets, smart phones and Chromebooks).

If a student has a full operating system then generally they can overcome most compatibility issues that may present themselves.

It also means that our teachers can plan with confidence that the student devices will support certain applications or file formats they choose to use. Additionally, students of St Andrew's College qualify for a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 (desktop version and online version).

Further minimum device requirements are as follows:

Storage:

  • Solid State Disk (SSD) instead of traditional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) – SSD are much faster and provide longer battery life;
  • 128GB minimum.

Memory / RAM:

  • 8GB minimum.

Processor CPU:

  • Intel i5 or equivalent capability.

Screen Size:

  • 11” minimum;
  • 15” maximum.

Networking:

  • wireless 802.11n/ac;
  • laptop must support 5Ghz WiFi.

Battery Life:

  • ideally six+ hours on a single charge.

Preferred Supply Partners

To provide choice and flexibility for parents/caregivers when selecting a device for their child, St Andrew's College now works closely with two providers, Cyclone Computers and PB Tech.

To avoid disappointment when preparing for a new school year, we strongly encourage parents/caregivers to place an order as soon as possible. Due to high demand and supply levels, some models already have long lead-times.

Please click the links below to see the StAC portal pages of each of our preferred suppliers:

Cyclone - Special discounts applied by default when you login to the StAC page.

PB Tech - Use the School code STACBYOD at the top of the page as soon as you login (not at checkout) to get special discounts.