Computers for Students Print

At Home

Access to a reliable computer is an important part of life as a Distance Education student. For home use, students are encouraged to purchase a device that best suits their needs, circumstances and budget. The buying guide below sets out some minimum standards and recommendations to consider before making a purchase.

At School

When students visit the SDEHS for study days and lessons they are welcome to use school computers and laptops. However, students may bring their own device if desired. In that case they will be subject to the SDEHS Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy (see below).

The BYOD policy covers students using personally owned devices at school for the purpose of learning. The BYOD Student Agreement sets out how the device can be used while at school, and most students would have signed one as part of the enrolment process. 

Students who BYOD are still subject to the Department of Education’s filtered internet service and are responsible for the care and maintenance of their devices. Please be aware that SDEHS can only offer basic technical support during school visits to troubleshoot WiFi connections.


Buying Guide

Laptops are a popular choice for students due to their portability, although desktop machines are of course suitable for home use. Please avoid tablets, Chromebooks and gaming devices as they don't provide the same functionality as a full operating system.

Many suppliers offer educational discounts so it's worth asking in order to get the best possible price.

The following table contains recommended specifications for devices. Aim for a device that meets the minimum standards highlighted in bold.

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 7, 8.1, 10, or

Apple Mac OSX 10.10 or later


If you intend to bring your device to school, it must have 5GHz 802.11n wireless support.

This may be advertised as “Dual Band Wireless”, “802.11abgn”, “802.11agn”, “802.11ac” or “Gigabit Wireless”

Form Factor

- Choose a desktop or laptop computer, not a tablet.
- Devices should have a separate keyboard, not an on-screen touch keypad.
- Screen size should be at least 10”
- Consider the size and weight of the device if you intend to travel with it frequently.


Minimum 4GB RAM

Note: If Adobe Creative Cloud software such as Photoshop is required for your subjects, then 8GB RAM or more is recommended.

Battery Life

For laptops, a battery life of at least 4 hours is recommended.


- Webcam – either built in or external
- Headset with microphone
- At least one USB port


- Microsoft Office 16 – free to students
- Adobe Creative Cloud (certain subjects only) – free to students
- Anti-virus security software
- Web browser such as Chrome or Firefox – free online
- Java – free online

You can access your free student software via the Free Software link on the school website.

Suggested Devices

The following devices are suggestions only and prices are approximate at June 2016. There are many other suitable devices on the market including desktops. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

RRP Approx. $1300

  • 12.3" Touch Screen
  • 6th Generation Intel Core m3 or Core i5 Processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB or 128GB Solid State Disk

Microsoft Surface 3

RRP Approx. $830

  • 10.8" Touch Screen
  • Latest generation Intel processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB or 128GB Solid State Disk

Lenovo ThinkPad 11e

RRP Approx. $550

  • 11.6" HD Screen
  • 4rd Generation Intel Processor
  • 4GB RAM, 128GB Solid State Disk

Acer Travelmate B116

RRP Approx. $599

  • 11.6” 1366x768
  • 4GB RAM

Lenovo ThinkPad X250

RRP Approx. $1100

  • 12.5" HD or FHD Screen
  • 5th Generation Core i3 or i5 Processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB Solid State Disk

Apple MacBook Air 13"

RRP Approx. $1850

  • 13.3" 1440x900 resolution screen
  • 5th Generation Core i5 Processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 128GB or 256GB Solid State Disk


SDEHS follows the standard NSW Department of Education BYOD Policy which is subject to the Online Communication Services: acceptable usage for school students document.

Student Responsibilities are as follows:


The primary purpose of the use of personal devices at school is educational.

Internet connection

Student devices are only permitted to connect to the Department of Education Wi-Fi network while at school, which is subject to internet filtering.

Theft and damage

Students are responsible for securing and protecting their own devices while at school. Any loss, theft or damage to a device is not the responsibility of Sydney Distance Education High School or the Department of Education.

Maintenance and support

Students are solely responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their devices. Sydney Distance Education High School can only offer basic technical support during school visits to troubleshoot Wi-Fi connections.

Data back-up

Students are responsible for backing-up their own data and should ensure this is done regularly.

Insurance and Warranty

Parents/Carers should be aware of the terms of insurance policies/warranties for the device and are responsible for arranging their own insurance cover.

Digital Citizenship

Students are required to demonstrate good digital citizenship, specifically:

  • Showing respect for others’ privacy in a digital context
  • Protecting their personal safety
  • Demonstrating awareness of the life of digital content uploaded on to the internet
  • Ensuring that content containing offensive or inappropriate language, images or multimedia is not viewed or uploaded
  • Demonstrating an awareness of ‘netiquette’ – accepted online communication protocols.