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TechLab: 5 Classroom Notebooks, $450 or less

Best bets for affordable notebooks.

Scholastic Administrator TechLab puts the latest in educational technology-from notebooks to projectors to interactive whiteboards to tablets-through their paces at our top-secret proving grounds. Our rigorous evaluations rely on a mix of benchmark tests, comparative measures, and subjective assessments.

The Challenge: Find the best classroom notebook-for $450 or less. These midrange models may not be the fastest or fanciest out there, but they'll all get the job done without breaking the budget. 

Click here to download the PDF.

Classroom Alternatives
If even the sleekest of the five notebooks we tested is too big, heavy, or plain-looking for your taste, there are other possibilities. From small Android tablets to Ultrabooks, you'll find a world of choice out there.

Brainchild Kineo
The Kineo has an inviting white plastic case and a 7-inch screen that's tiny compared with even the smallest classroom notebook. The key is that Kineo uses Android software and comes with three programs that put instruction and assessment front and center for the K-8 crowd: Mechanics offers lessons in basic reading, math, vocabulary, and writing. Achiever administers an assessment test to gauge proficiency before and after each lesson in language arts, math, and science, and creates reports that are suitable for district officials or parents. GlobalSYNC connects kids to their next lesson on any Kineo via Wi-Fi and sends  the results back to the teacher. Price: $388 to $428 (depending on volume).

Samsung Series 5 Ultra
Less really is more when it comes to the 13.3-inch Series 5 Ultrabook. Its razor-thin case and 3.2-pound weight make it look like something an alien visiting Earth might use. The system comes with a pair of old-school USB 2.0 ports and a faster USB 3.0 port, as well as HDMI, and it can communicate with a projector using wireless WiDi technology. Price: $900 to $1,100 (depending on model).

Toshiba Satellite L755D
At $480, the Satellite was just a little too expensive to make it into the test group, but it has a lot of classroom potential. The S5241 model weighs 5.5 pounds, and unlike the Intel gang, it comes with an AMD E-350 processor. There's also a 15.6-inch screen, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive, and a DVD drive. Its bright red case, however, makes it a classroom notebook that doesn't look like one.   

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