PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A school supply list likely looks different this year for a lot of Pacific Northwest parents.

Online learning is forcing parents to make decisions about how to setup a virtual classroom. Many families are looking to purchase laptops.

“For most school-aged kids, a Chromebook is fine. Pretty much any Chromebook. That’s because students are going to be using web-apps and you don’t need anything special to run these apps,” said Nicholas DeLeon, Consumer Reports tech editor.

Online learning file image

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DeLeon admits the price tends to go up for parents of college students.

“College is a different story, and often that’s because it depends on what your child is studying. Often the college will recommend specs or programs or just give you a list of computers to choose from,” he said.

Some colleges offer a discount if you buy directly through the school.

Consumer Reports says it’s hard to go wrong with a MacBook Air. For those who prefer Windows, Consumer Reports recommends the Lenovo Flex 15.

Studies show parents of school-aged children plan to spend an average of $789 on back-to-school shopping this year. That goes up to $1,059 for families of college students.

If now is not the right time to spend that money on a new computer, there is software that can help. According to Consumer Reports, free software called CloudReady can install the Chromebook operating system on old laptops that will work well for students.

Related: Consumer Reports computer buying guide

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