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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. We urge parents and caregivers to consider this when they are looking to purchase a new device for their child.

Research has indicated that the creation of more diagrams, symbols and numbers when using pen (stylus) interfaces 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 also is touchscreen and has a stylus. Our recommended device range reflects this.

What experience has shown us

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

ICT and Music specialisation

A small number of Year 10–13 students specialising in certain areas of Music at a high level may wish to use a Macbook, as an Apple laptop offers more software and peripheral compatibility, although school iMacs are available to students if required. Accordingly, parents of students specialising in this area are encouraged to contact both the Head of Music, Duncan Ferguson, at and the Director of ICT, Dave Hart, at for advice.

Transitioning with a Macbook

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. 

This Year's Recommended Devices

St Andrew's College has four recommended devices (one with two configuration options). Each have 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.

Acer TravelMate Spin 4 Convertible

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

$1,499.98 incl gst

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 the cheapest laptop in the recommended device range, it's specifications meet the demands of a standard class, but may struggle a little in resource heavy programs such as those used in Arts and Music (used in NCEA Year levels particularly). Overall it performed well in our testing. We did find it a little heavy to use – particularly noticeable in tablet mode when digital inking.

HP Probook X360 435 G8 Convertible

Ryzen 5 5600U processor, 8GB RAM , 256GB solid state drive with stylus, Radeon Graphics, 3 year warranty (onsite).

$1,799.98 incl gst

A step up in performance and build quality versus the Acer Spin 3, 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.

MS Surface Pro 7+

i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 128GB solid state drive with stylus, 3 year warranty (includes Next Business Day Replacement not typically available from high-street suppliers).

$2,079.99 incl gst

The Surface Pro 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, specific for commercial and education (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). 

When compared with the Acer and HP options on this webpage, this version of the Surface Pro has half the storage space which may become an issue if non-school related applications are installed.

The Surface Pro is the only device 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 much lighter than the Acer and HP.

Finally, Surface comes with the 'Microsoft Surface Pro Hardware Only Service Plan', meaning each Surface not only has a total of 3 Years Warranty like those above, but also includes Next Business Day Replacement.

MS Surface Pro 7+

i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB solid state drive with stylus, 3 year warranty.

$2,299.99 incl gst

As per the above description of the Surface Pro 7+, but with a 256GB solid state drive. A 128GB drive is typically sufficient for school purposes, but if the laptop is also used for non-school related applications then doubling the drive size would be of benefit.

Dynabook Portégé

i5 processor, 16GB RAM, 256GB solid state drive with stylus, 3 year warranty.

$2,299.99 incl gst

We liked the matte screen and how light it was to hold. We also liked the camera on the keyboard so when it is folded round it can take rear photos/videos. The extra memory could be useful for those students using memory intensive software and we liked the fact there is ready stock available.

The stylus works well (and the cap was good to see to help prevent damage which does sometimes occur to the nib), but we did feel it might easily be lost as it is completely separate from the device (i.e. no tether or dock for it). This factor, combined with a higher cost due to a larger allotment of memory than other devices we recommend, should be kept in mind. However, we include the device here as we are told stock is readily available whereas some of the other devices on this page may have supply issues due to the ongoing global pandemic.

Minimum Device Specifications

We have some minimum requirements, and that is for a “full” operating system. This means Windows 10, Window 11 or MacOS (the latter only applicable for those students transitioning with an existing device).

By inference, this excludes Operating Systems such as Apples’ iOS (commonly found on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touches) and Google’s Android or 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:


  • 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.

Screen Size:

  • 11” minimum;
  • 15” maximum.


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

Battery Life:

  • ideally six+ hours on a single charge.

Preferred Supply Partner

Cyclone Computers is a New Zealand owned company with head offices in Christchurch. We recommend them as a great company to work with, however there is no requirement for you to purchase from them and we do not profit from purchases of devices through this channel.

  • all devices have a three-year warranty in the buy price;
  • all models have a Solid-State Disk (SSD) for storage. This results in faster speeds, lower failure rates and better battery life;
  • all recommended devices are of a sufficient specification to last for at least three years.

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

To purchase please click here.