A customer makes some inquiries about electronic devices at the CPA Computers outlet in Scarborough. Electronic devices have been hot items ahead of the start of the new academic year online under COVID-19 measures.

On average, it will cost Tobagonians anywhere from $2,000-$5,000 to outfit one child with the basic tools required to access online classes for the new academic year.

Tobago Today made checks with three major computer providers ahead of next Monday’s (September 14) official start of the new school term, which will be delivered online in keeping with the COVID-19 guidelines.

The shopping exercise revealed that start-up costs for virtual classroom access varied from the lower end of the spectrum with tablets to high-end desktops.

Collin Ramsey, of CPA Computers, revealed what would be necessary to acquire a basic classroom-ready system.

“A tablet would cost about $700 and parents often buy a headset with the microphones, especially if they have multiple kids in the house—those range from $200-$400,” Ramsey explained.

He said many parents are also purchasing wireless keyboards because they believe it’s easier for the children to navigate. Those additional devices range from $250 to $400.

Laptops, however, would cost parents a bit more, he said.

“A basic, yet functional laptop computer on average would cost $3,500. It would also require a microphone and headset. Parents have also been buying a wireless mouse to go with it because they think it navigates easier.”

Ramsey cautioned, however, that laptops have a longer life expectancy of three to four years while tablets have a life expectancy of one year.

“Most times, we have repeat customers upgrading from tablets to laptops because children tend to drop tablets, and when that happens, most of the time, that’s it—it is destroyed,” Ramsey said.

Accessing the virtual classrooms will require internet connectivity to complete the learning/teaching circuit.

Two service providers on the island offer similar basic packages at a monthly rate of $170.

Ramsey, who has been in business for almost 20 years, said the pandemic had changed the game.

“Before the pandemic, things were very slow, but if you check with almost all computer stores now, we are all out of stock of the electronics.”

He said this was brought on by global demand for devices. He said comparatively, Trinidad and Tobago is a relatively small player in the global market place for electronic learning devices.

He said customers have also been asking for other related items, such as printers/scanners and computer desks to complete the virtual classroom experience.

Checks with two other stores in the Scarborough area revealed that the prices and brands of the learning devices are within a similar price range.