It’s that time of year again and whether you have a student returning to a brick and mortar building or staying home for school, the emails and queries on social media have been flooding in that all pose the same question: what Chromebook should I buy for my child that is going Back to School? We decided to tackle this question in a few ways. First, we want to offer up 3 solid suggestions for you to just go and buy. We have extended coverage of two of these Chromebook suggestions if you need it, but you can know that these recommendations are solid, affordable, and worth your money.
As a second step, we’re also putting together 3 puchasing tips in the event that you don’t like our suggestions or you find them out of stock at some point. There are things we look for in affordable Chromebooks that can help you keep from getting taken advantage of while still getting a good deal, so we want to be sure you are armed with those tips.
Finally, we have an awesome giveaway that you can enter below to win a brand new Lenovo Chromebook Duet provided by Lenovo themselves. As this device is our top recommendation for best devices to buy for your Back to School child, we’re beyond excited to have one to give away to a lucky winner. All the details about how to get entered can be found below, so be sure to get in on that before you head out from here. Now, let’s get into these recommended devices and purchase tips.
Our 3 picks for best Back to School Chromebooks
Our first choice for best Back to School Chromebooks is the very affordable Lenovo Chromebook 3. This device offers up a solid processor in the Celeron N4020 and at the crazy-low price of $169, it is unbeatable in its value. Sure, it’s all plastic and the screen has poor viewing angles, but the N4020 processor is fast and the 4GB of RAM will keep your student moving along nicely. It is not surprisingly low in storage, but you can quickly add an SD card to extend that capacity and, again, there’s just not much to complain about with a device that runs only $169.
Next up is the new and not-yet-tested Acer Chromebook 315. This device follows in the footsteps of the 314 we have here in the office that we’ve not yet reviewed. Being in the same family, however, I can tell you that this all-plastic device is solidly built, has a 1080p 15.6-inch display, and the same Celeron N4020 processor mentioned above paired up with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Oh, and it makes room for a numeric keypad as well. For longer hours in front of the screen, we think this will make for a fantastic student device across the board and it has been on sale from its standard $259 asking price down to $219 for at least a week at this point, so there’s hope it will remain there for a bit of time.
Finally, our top pick for Back to School is the excellent Lenovo Chromebook Duet. With it’s stellar design, tablet-first layout, and included keyboard, this device makes a fantastic and versatile Chromebook for students. The build on this device is far better than the price would suggest and the screen competes with Chromebooks twice the price, so the MSRP of the Duet really delivers a staggering bang for the buck. Starting at $299 for the top-tier 128GB version, you can also find the 64GB variant on sale from time to time for around $250. Either way you can’t go wrong with this one.
3 Back to School Chromebook buying tips
In the event that those 3 Chromebooks don’t really suit you or your student, let us provide a few buying tips to consider if you want to do a bit of comparison shopping on your own. Unfortunately, there are resellers on Amazon or Walmart that will attempt to sell you years-old Chromebooks as if they are new. The titles are misleading and, let’s be honest, cheap Chromebooks don’t really evolve in their looks from year to year, so the appearance in product shots can be a bit convoluted as well. There are a few key things you should be on the lookout for and we want to assist in that purchase decision if you strike out on your own.
First, pay close attention to the processor. Take the time to scroll down to the device specs and see what processor is inside. There are devices on the internet from years ago that you simply don’t want unless they are offering ridiculous discounts on them. Most entry-level Chromebooks are powered by small-core Intel chips and fall in the Celeron line. All Celerons are not equal, though, and the latest Celeron chips are far faster than previous generations. You want to be on the lookout for Chromebooks with the Celeron N4000 or N4020 and steer clear of the N3050, N3060, N3350 or N3450. Basically, if there’s not a 4 after that N, look elsewhere. The AUE (auto updates) on those older chips will expire far sooner and the performance is just bad. The N4000 chips are much better and are being sold at very low prices, so be sure you aren’t getting cheated.
Second, find the display type. Many low-end Chromebooks come with TN panels that look bad off-angle and get washed out pretty quickly. IPS panels are far better and, if you are shopping, you may come across a similarly-priced Chromebook that upgrades to an IPS display for the same asking price. This is an upgrade you want to take advantage of and one of the reasons the sub $300 Lenovo Chromebook Duet is such a stellar deal. It’s panel is IPS and is bright, making it a rarity in the low-end Chromebook market. Lower-priced devices with IPS screens may be hard to find, but if you know what to look for, they are out there.
Finally, pay attention to internal storage. Even looking at our three suggested Chromebooks, within a price range of $130 we go from 32GB of internal storage all the way up to 128GB. Chromebooks do well with little storage and you can expand things easily with an SD card, but if you are comparison shopping and two similar Chromebooks have 32GB and 64GB of storage, you need to keep an eye on that and purchase the one with the larger storage capacity. It sounds simple, but sometimes these specs aren’t presented right up front and, if you aren’t careful, you’ll throw away money on a device with a smaller drive inside without realizing it.
Now, about that giveaway
That’s it for the suggestions and tips. We’re really hoping this quick post and video can help many of you navigate the increasingly-crowded waters of affordable Chromebooks. As more and more device get added, these purchase decisions only continue getting tougher. Armed with a few examples and some buying advice, we’re confident you can wade into those waters and make a solid, informed purchase for your student that will be a great fit for the upcoming school year.
To help out at least one family, Lenovo has given us a brand new Chromebook Duet to give away. This is the higher-end model with 128GB of storage as well, so we’re talking about a $299 Chromebook that we feel is likely the best fit all-around for students headed back to school in 2020. All you have to do to get entered is follow the steps below and we’ll be drawing a winner in just a couple weeks. Good luck!
Lenovo Chromebook Duet Giveaway