The SSC BYOD program requires Students to bring a device that meets the College academic requirements. This can be new or used, provided it is a suitable device.
What makes a device suitable?
It can run an operating system of either macOS or Windows 10
Computing performance sufficient to complete written and multimedia tasks
Built in physical keyboard
Good battery life
Light weight and portable
A repair strategy such as warranty and/or insurance policy or a 'spare' device that is available if the primary one breaks.
What devices are not suitable?
There's a lot of different devices out there and whilst there's a device fit for every purpose, there are many that simply don't work well within an education environment.
Whilst an iPad can work as a temporary backup device while a primary laptop is being repaired, it is not ideal as a primary device.
These are laptops which run ChromeOS. These devices have limitations which cannot be overcome and won't allow for certain tasks or applications.
iPhones, Netbooks (tiny laptops), Surface RT / Surface Pro X and Android tablets
All of these devices have limitations which cannot be overcome and won't allow for certain tasks or applications.
So what specific devices are suitable?
The ideal primary device will most often be a laptop. Some devices that meet requirements and are commonly used by students are;
Apple MacBook Air / MacBook Pro, especially the new M1 models
Dell Inspiron / XPS
Microsoft Surface Pro / Surface Laptop
There are many other brands and models that are ideal, provided they meet the minimum specifications.
When choosing a device to use, the below specifications show both minimum and recommended specifications.
Devices with the minimum specifications will allow for most tasks to be completed, including documents and web content, but it will struggle to complete multimedia projects such as image or video editing. Multi-tasking with multiple programs open concurrently will result in slower performance.
Operating System: Windows 10 / macOS 10.14 Mojave
CPU: Intel Core i3
Storage: 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD) or Conventional HDD
Screen Size: ~13"
Battery Life: 6+ hours
Wireless: Must support 5Ghz
These specifications include more memory, storage and CPU power allowing the device to operate faster and manage higher workloads before experiencing performance limits. Whilst it is possible to get faster machines, this specification represents a good balance between performance and cost.
Operating System: Windows 10 / macOS 11.1 Big Sur
CPU: Apple M1, Intel Core i5 / i7
RAM: 8GB / 16GB
Storage: 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
Screen Size: ~13"
Battery Life: 8+ hours
Wireless: Must support 5Ghz
When choosing a device, consider four predominant factors that determine practicality and suitability;
A measure of the processing power, memory and storage capacity. The higher the better making it easier to create, edit and save work and projects.
2. Battery life
An ideal battery life would provide at least 6+ hours of continuous real world usage, not necessitating a recharge during class. The College discourages students from bringing power chargers on campus. These can get lost or damaged and present trip hazards.
3. Size and Weight
Being compact and lightweight are important factors when using and carrying the device around all day every day. As a yard-stick, a MacBook Air and many Windows ultrabooks weigh 1.35kg.
4. System familiarity
MacOS or Windows are both good operating systems but often people find themselves more productive using one or the other. This can also be influenced by subject selection, eg a touchscreen that supports a digital pen might be useful for elective art, or macOS has easy to use video editing tools built in.
A quick word on Gaming Laptops
Gaming laptops are devices that have a powerful video processor built in. These laptops are designed predominantly to play video games with an added bonus that the video processors are much faster than a regular laptop with multimedia applications such as video encoding and editing, making editing and rendering much faster.
While that sounds great, the issue is that powerful video processors generate a lot of heat, which requires bigger and more powerful cooling systems, which require a bigger laptop frame, fans and components as well as using significantly more battery power. As such gaming laptops are not designed to be highly portable and do not have good battery life as the laptop is designed to be used on a desk and always plugged into a power socket.
Gaming laptops are not ideal student devices.
With all that in mind you may already have a spare device, or perhaps you were planning to buy a new one...
I already have a device
You may already have a spare laptop or 2-in-1 device that you can provide for your daughter. While this is common, when providing a pre-used device ensure that it is still in good functional condition, the battery is able to hold a solid charge and the device will not likely experience quirks or fail due to an existing issue.
As a yardstick, any Apple MacBook or Windows Ultrabook made within the last few years should be OK, but use the specification list above as a guide.
It is wise to buy an additional warranty and/or insurance policy on the laptop to ensure your daughter is not without if it is being repaired.
Click here for more information about providing an existing device.
I need to buy a device
If you need to buy a device keep in mind that there are many options available. New, refurbished or second hand devices can be purchased, provided they meet the minimum requirements.
That said, it's typically best to buy the newest and most capable device you can afford. The device should last at least three years, so viewing a new purchase as a long term education investment may help frame whether it is worth spending a bit more.
Apple MacBooks are very popular with students and whilst they're typically more expensive as a whole, they tend to last longer and have good ongoing support from Apple.
Click here for information about buying new, including the SCC Purchase Portal.
Whether or not you already have spare device or if it's a new purchase, it is highly recommended that your daughter is part of the selection process as she will be the one to rely on this device for many years. It will be carried to School and used every day.
Before buying it is wise to do some research. Online tech reviews can be particularly helpful, particularly reputable tech reviewers on YouTube. When researching be sure to specifically look for negative reviews that can offer different perspectives.