At the writing of this post, students all across the United States are transitioning to online or distributed learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In my state, all students are out of school until at least the end of April and as a result, I’ve been on the hunt for Chromebooks for our elementary-aged kids.
Why have Chromebooks replaced Apple or Windows computers for many technology users?
There are a few reasons:
- Speed: Chromebooks boot up lightning-fast, load and work with apps effectively, because of ChromeOS’ efficient and lightweight nature
- Battery life is incredible: many models can get 8-10 hours of battery life
- They’re 2-in-1 devices: with a screen and keyboard, Chromebook models look like any other laptop – but you can flip some around and use as a tablet as well
- Easy maintenance: ChromeOS requires no regular patches, updates or maintenance
In my journey, I wanted my kids to have Chromebooks that were cost-effective yet would provide the performance for years’ worth of use. I found many, many options when it comes to purchasing a Chromebook.
After talking to many of my fellow nerd friends that have been down this Chromebook road before, I developed my list of criteria:
- Refurbished is fine. There’s nothing wrong with buying a renewed Chromebook, many of which come with warranties, just like their new counterparts
- 4GB of RAM is required. I’ve seen models with 2GB of RAM, which is insufficient for performance
- Look for Chromebooks with touch screens. For our kids, they’ll enjoy the tablet mode
Buying brand new
Sure you can head to Best Buy or any other retailer and buy a new Chromebook for $500. There are great models available at every technology retailer or similar store.
Buying refurbished on Groupon for less than $75
If you go to Groupon or Woot, you can find very inexpensive models for under $100. These are typically 3-5 year old models that are being re-sold. I know two people who have bought this way and are happy with their purchase – they spent about $60 and bought a refurbed Acer
My choice – buying refurbished but spending ~$200
In my hours of research, I made a realization – when you pass the $100 price point with refurbished Chromebooks, it unlocks a quality and performance boost that’s worth the extra bump in spend.
So – in the end – here’s what we bought for the kids, the Acer Spin 11, from Acer Recertified for a cool $170 each.
One big tip: shop around
Once you’ve settled on your Chromebook of choice (or 2-3 favorites), do your homework and shop around. I found big price differences in our chosen model. We bought from Acer directly for $170 each but saw this same unit for Best Buy for $200 and Amazon had it listed for $220…a $50 difference.
Also, depending on your timeline, pay attention to promised ship dates. For Amazon, they weren’t going to have our laptop to us for 2-3 weeks, while Acer shipped within 2 business days of my order.