Can’t Afford a PC for Online Classes? Get These Instead

woman having an online class

As we enter another pandemic phase, we must acknowledge that online learning will be a part of the new normal. Going to class will be a challenge for some people because they don’t have gadgets or computers of their own. Also, building a PC can be quite costly.

Fortunately, technology has advanced enough that alternatives to PCs were made. These devices work just as well and have all the features needed for your online classes.

Mini PCs

A major drawback to desktops and PCs is the bulk and size of it. This will be a problem for those that live in smaller apartments or dorm rooms. One thing you can have instead is a mini PC. These are highly compacted versions of a desktop that you can plug into a TV or a working computer. Although you may not play a triple-A videogame on it, it has all the basic features needed for online learning.

Despite its size, you can do many things on a mini PC, such as writing essays, creating presentations, watching Youtube videos, and sending emails. There are different models, and some can handle heavier features than others. They can be moved between different monitors, and they can be upgraded by getting additional RAM.

Most would recommend getting at least an 8th-generation Intel NUC, and if you want something that plays modern games, then a higher generation is better. For those that want to learn how to program, a Raspberry Pi is often used, but the problem is that it cannot run Windows. Most computer brands have created their own version of a mini PC, so there are those made by Lenovo, Dell, and HP.

There are numerous benefits to getting a mini PC. For one, it is significantly more affordable than building your own PC or getting a laptop. When it comes to power consumption, a full-sized PC will also take up more energy because of its parts. Overall, this is a better choice if you need something functional but have limited funds.


If you don’t have immediate access to a monitor or TV, a tablet can also do the job. It is portable, compact, and easy to use. These also have a lot of the same features that a computer has. Before you get a tablet, you should understand the needs of your class. Some tablets don’t have USB ports, but some do. That is why it is important to consider what you might need.

Tablets today come with a variety of applications that mimic software on desktops. Nowadays, you can already install Windows on a tablet. Specifically, you can get XP, 7, 8, and 10. There are even mobile versions of Microsoft Office apps. Others also make use of Google Drive to transfer documents. It has even evolved to include apps that let you scan and edit documents.

For those that have more money to spend, an iPad can be a good use of your investment as well, but it is undoubtedly expensive. Those that are taking graphic design, arts, and editing classes will benefit the most from this. However, it is also said to beat a regular tablet in a variety of ways. The quality of images, as well as its compatibility with apps, make it a superior choice. Even a cheap iPad can outperform a tablet of a similar or higher price.


The other obvious alternative to a PC is a laptop since it is literally a computer made portable. Although the initial price of buying a laptop will be higher than a desktop, the daily energy consumption is where it will make a difference. Since PCs have more components that need to be plugged in, they will use up more energy. Aside from that, it does not have the benefit of having a battery like a laptop does.

A laptop would have all the same functions that a desktop would have. It can also be upgraded if you need things like additional memory. Compared to a tablet, this is a better option for viewing classes because you have full access to your screen. Whereas for tablets, a part of the screen is covered by the keyboard. You can also bring this to school if you have internet connection problems at home.

online studying

Not Recommended: Phones

The least ideal option is phones. Although it has similar apps with a tablet, you have a lot more limitations. For one, you are working with a smaller screen, so if a PowerPoint is used, then you will have a harder time reading it. This also has all the disadvantages of a tablet, which are the lack of ports. There are currently no phones that can resolve this. When it comes to doing homework, a phone would be more challenging because navigation in browser tabs will be harder.

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