Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

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jco
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Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by jco »

Our family is getting to a stage where we really need to get another laptop due to the number of children needing a computer for school. We generally buy mid-range laptops (think Dell Inspiron 5000 series) but I don't think we need (or want) something that nice for our kids. They're pretty hard on laptops.

In terms of functionality, a Chromebook would be fine. A Windows laptop has more capabilities but I'm moot on that. And we have Windows computers they can use if needed.

My main questions are:

1. Are there serious differences in build quality for cheap Chromebooks vs cheap Windows laptops? The main difference I know about is that Chromebooks always have SSDs, giving them a serious speed advantage of a cheap Windows laptop with a 5400 RPM hard drive. However, hard drives are easy to upgrade. Are there other major differences in build quality? Could I expect a Chromebook to last longer for other reasons?
2. What size laptop do you find best for your children (think 8-15)? We've always had 15" laptops at home. I have a 13" for work and I hate working on it without an external display. Which is the ideal size for a child? 11", 13", 14", 15"?
3. Have you found touchscreen capabilities helpful for your child's school? I haven't grown to love it, personally, but perhaps I'm just too old to appreciate it.
onourway
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by onourway »

I think the question would be a little different depending on the exact age of the kids. Our boys who are 9 have school provided Chromebooks, they look to be about 11" or so. They seem perfect for the job at hand. No hassles of administering a full operating system. They have a touchscreen which the kids like but I don't gather it's essential.

At this age while the screen is small and the interface not the best, most of the learning curve is in simply learning how to use the software and do the assignments. The kids are flexible in what form factor they use. An older kid, doing more complex assignments, may appreciate a larger screen, but I'd still generally prioritize portability and add an extra screen as needed.
getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

I'd go with as cheap as possible. You're probably not going to upgrade a laptop (realistically), and if they're hard on them (being kids), might as well not be out too much. I'd go with 15", Chromebook, and not bother with a touchscreen.

For what my kid (7) *needs* anything with a web connection is sufficient. He's using an old 15" laptop of ours that I think is running Windows 8. It's fine for Google Meet and his school's education apps.
pshonore
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by pshonore »

getthatmarshmallow wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 11:40 am I'd go with as cheap as possible. You're probably not going to upgrade a laptop (realistically), and if they're hard on them (being kids), might as well not be out too much. I'd go with 15", Chromebook, and not bother with a touchscreen.

For what my kid (7) *needs* anything with a web connection is sufficient. He's using an old 15" laptop of ours that I think is running Windows 8. It's fine for Google Meet and his school's education apps.
If you're running Windows 10, get at least 8GB of RAM.
HoosierJim
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by HoosierJim »

Friend who manages hundreds of these Chromebooks really likes them.

Unless you need some pc application that was unavailable on a Chromebook, I would never get another PC to deal with Windows, backups, program loading, etc.
CascadiaSoonish
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by CascadiaSoonish »

Chromebooks have the advantage of relatively bulletproof integration with school e-learning infrastructure if they're using Google Classroom. Shared PCs end up with multiple logins and accounts and screwed-up permissions in our household. The Chrome machines just work.

Taking an old laptop and throwing Chromium OS on it is also an option. We did that with a couple older machines in the house and it is functionally equivalent to a Chromebook in our experience. Grab a USB stick and follow the instructions to create a bootable drive and it can be done within a few minutes.
rooms222
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by rooms222 »

Many Chromebooks used and/or distributed for home use by schools are ruggedized and extra durable. I would get one of those. Many of them are in the lower price ranges of Chromebooks. I would look at capacity and how long the official Chrome support lasts on the machines. Currently, some older Chromebooks no longer get updates and security updates when their life expires. There has been talk that Google will start to provide security only updates for these machines, but that is not certain.

You also should look at the specs to some degree. I would look for at least 4 GB memory and a long remaining end of life date as well as ruggedized construction for your purpose.

For example, something like this: https://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Chromebook- ... B01DBGVB7K

The one above by HoosierJim above is also good.
mega317
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by mega317 »

The age ranges of your children is wide. An 8 year old I would image will get by with anything. The 15 year old might want his/her "own" which can be used for school and other things like games.
CascadiaSoonish wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 11:55 am Taking an old laptop and throwing Chromium OS on it is also an option. We did that with a couple older machines in the house and it is functionally equivalent to a Chromebook in our experience. Grab a USB stick and follow the instructions to create a bootable drive and it can be done within a few minutes.
Like this:
viewtopic.php?t=255339
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
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mmmodem
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by mmmodem »

I'm not a fan of Chromebooks. They are good if all you do is on the internet. I want to be able to run tax software and be able to run office software without an internet connection. There are good and bad build quality Chomebooks just as there are for PC's. It depends on the price range.

Last month, I bought a Dell 7250 12.5" laptop on Dell Refurbished for $225 after a 45% off coupon. These coupons are offered all the time, just wait for them. It's an i5 processor with 8 gb of ram, 128 gb SSD and a touchscreen. It's perfect for my 3rd grader to use for school at home. I specifically wanted a work grade laptop because I know they will bang it up pretty hard. It is noticeable thicker and heavier than consumer grade laptops. It originally came with Windows 8 but Microsoft is still offering windows 10 upgrades for free.

I think when they become teenagers, then I'll get a 15.7". For now, they sometimes plop on the couch and my 15.7" is too unwieldy for elementary kids. I'm always afraid it will smash to the ground. They are much better at securing the 12.5" screen. The touchscreen is a novelty. They and I hardly ever use it. I also hate working on external displays that's why my laptop will be minimum 15.7" screens.
jhsu802701
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by jhsu802701 »

Buy a used PC for under $100 and install MX Linux on it. You can get a better price if the PC does NOT come with WIndows. The rapid depreciation is bad news for those who buy new but great news for those of us who buy used. Even a PC laptop that's several years old is likely much faster than a new Chromebook.

Ever since I first started using Linux in 2007, I've only bought used PCs and never new ones.
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jco
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by jco »

jhsu802701 wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:20 pm Buy a used PC for under $100 and install MX Linux on it.
Why MX Linux, specifically? I've installed several variants of Ubuntu. I like the strong support due to its popularity. A lighter weight build like Lubuntu is generally fine. I do so that MX Linux is quite popular on distrowatch.com.
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JoMoney
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by JoMoney »

I've had my Cheap Acer Chromebook for about 5 years now (paid less than $120 for it at a Target store). It's traveled with me all over the place, and was my primary daily use computer for at least a 1 year period somewhere in there. Still going strong. I enjoy the easy portability of it being light-weight and smaller screen (11" I believe). If I want something bigger I plug it into my TV/monitor.
My primary daily use computer is an Asus "Chrome-box" connected to my TV. When I was using the Chromebook as my primary it was also plugged into the TV (with a remote keyboard).
The old Chromebook works as well as ever, none of the slow-down lag that inevitably comes with Windows PC's after all the bloated patching that happens over time. If/when I occasionally need a Windows computer I can remote-desktop into one.
The only complaint I have with my old Chromebook is it doesn't have the Android app capability my newer one has. If you have the android functionality a 'touch screen' might be more useful, but it doesn't bother me to use the mouse/touchpad with those either.
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham
jhsu802701
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by jhsu802701 »

jco wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:50 pm
jhsu802701 wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:20 pm Buy a used PC for under $100 and install MX Linux on it.
Why MX Linux, specifically? I've installed several variants of Ubuntu. I like the strong support due to its popularity. A lighter weight build like Lubuntu is generally fine. I do so that MX Linux is quite popular on distrowatch.com.
MX Linux is user-friendly and stable. It's also so fast and lightweight that it works well on 10-year-old PCs with little or no resale value. MX Linux comes from the same people behind antiX Linux, which has been around since 2007.
go_mets
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by go_mets »

The only thing I do not like about Chromebooks is Google's Auto Update Policy which essentially means that after X years a Chromebook stops receiving security updates. You'll want to buy new so that you don't end up with an obselete Chromebook.

check the list : https://support.google.com/chrome/a/ans ... 0366?hl=en

It is harder to repurpose a Chromebook to allow install of Linux or Windows.

.
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JoMoney
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by JoMoney »

go_mets wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 5:14 pm...
It is harder to repurpose a Chromebook to allow install of Linux or Windows.
While many Chromebooks (especially cheaper ones) aren't built with the resources needed to run Windows, most of them are quite capable of running Linux.. ChromeOS is built on Linux.
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham
go_mets
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by go_mets »

JoMoney wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 5:19 pm
go_mets wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 5:14 pm...
It is harder to repurpose a Chromebook to allow install of Linux or Windows.
While many Chromebooks (especially cheaper ones) aren't built with the resources needed to run Windows, most of them are quite capable of running Linux.. ChromeOS is built on Linux.
They can run Windows, but have you tried installing Windows or any other OS on one?
It is not just plug and play.
I had to jump through hoops to install Cloudready on a Lenovo X131e Chromebook.

.
Momus
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by Momus »

Not a fan of chromebook. They suck. You can't run various programs on them. It's not versatile enough for a student.

Motile 14 inch laptop - like new condition
https://www.ebay.com/itm/124024800061
$255 after 15% discount, sale is being refreshed every day. Keep checking every 15 mins from 6-9am est.

250GB SSD, 8GB RAM, Ryzen 5 3500u quad core, built in Vega 8 graphics, weigh 2.5lb. Absolutely NOTHING beats this value laptop for that price. This laptop can even do very light gaming decently.
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cockersx3
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by cockersx3 »

Don't forget about battery life. That's a big advantage for Chromebooks in a school setting. The batteries on those things last forever, while for a cheap Windows laptop it may not last a full day. If the kids intend to use it at school, this is really important since they won't have a way to charge the thing mid day.

I would go with Chromebooks. Most schools have infrastructure geared around Google, so they just work. My kids both have them and they work great...they have no need or desire for Windows since the Chromebooks can run everything they need. My kids have 13" screens on theirs and are fine with them. This makes them lighter and easier to get into backpacks and on small school desks, and also helps with battery life.

Touch screen is nice but not a must have. I have one that has a touch screen and one that does not, and while they both do what they need it does cause some jealousy between my kids.

Finally, durability (or disposability) is important. A laptop in a school setting will undergo a lot of abuse from kids housing around. Not necessarily YOUR kids..could be others nearby that are acting up and causing damage. Again, my experience is that one gets more power per dollar on a Chromebooks vs Windows. Yes, there are applications that a Chromebooks cannot run. But for most kids, this isn't an issue since they generally won't need to use those apps.
ncbill
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by ncbill »

If his school is using Chromebook that's all your kid needs.

That's what all the K-12 schools here have done...public & most of the private.

Why bother with Windows service/support issues if you don't have to bother?
mrsbetsy
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by mrsbetsy »

I would be careful about Chromebooks because they do not have a full operating system.

I'm an Educational Therapist in private practice serving 2E students and now all my students are online. While it is fine for Zoom, some multisensory programs like Whizzimo are not supported by Chromebook. They don't allow remote control to be given to the student for a shared project. They are notorious for poor audio and echoing is a problem.

I will not accept a student until they have a laptop with a full operating system. No tablet, no phone, and no Chromebook because there are too many hurdles. I find Mac to be the most child-friendly.

If they are just using it for you tube and some games, it's fine. Schools like them because they are cheap, but I'd look for a better option. I agree with you on the screen size especially if they will be doing anything on Zoom or other virtual platform.

Just as an aside, please look into f.lux or some other blue light filtering app to help with their eyes. A pair of blue light filtering glasses is also a good choice if they will wear them. My students are complaining a great deal about their eyes hurting from so much virtual learning. Whenever possible, get their eyes off a screen.
02nz
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by 02nz »

mrsbetsy wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 10:14 am Just as an aside, please look into f.lux or some other blue light filtering app to help with their eyes. A pair of blue light filtering glasses is also a good choice if they will wear them. My students are complaining a great deal about their eyes hurting from so much virtual learning. Whenever possible, get their eyes off a screen.
Windows 10 has a built-in Night Light feature, it can simply be enabled all the time.
mega317
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by mega317 »

mrsbetsy wrote: Sat May 16, 2020 10:14 am While it is fine for Zoom
Except the zoom app doesn't let you do backgrounds :(

A pair of blue light filtering glasses is also a good choice if they will wear them. My students are complaining a great deal about their eyes hurting
Did the blue light glasses resolve the pain?
https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=6212
New Providence
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by New Providence »

My kids have school-issued Chromebooks, but I also bought them Apple laptops. Chromebook is perfect for school, but Minecraft and some other stuff are better on Apple. I don't go cheap on home IT at all. Kids must be fully IT literate to compete in the future and I believe in high personal CAPEX.

If we were farmers I'd buy them expensive tractors to improve their productivity.
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by stimulacra »

I'll be a bit contrarian and will suggest getting a robust business-oriented laptop for your kids.

Lenovo Thinkpad and Dell Lattitude are two solid product lines here.

1) They tend to be rugged and solidly built.
2) Plenty of modern and legacy ports
3) Can usually find a decent sale for them but Costco is a good no-fuss option
4) They're not flashy but kids will grow to appreciate the nice little touches here and there.

I've had a great experience with a Thinkpad T480 for a 4th grader. I would suggest a ThinkPad T490 or ThinkPad X1 Carbon. You can go a generation or two back. Spring for the high resolution display, you'll spare them eyestrain and fatigue over the course of staring at a screen all day.

With online learning and Zoom conferences with teachers and classmates being a semipermanent thing, having a minimum viable Chromebook doesn't seem as optimum a strategy it once was. Children are being tasked with navigating a myriad of online tools and platforms, most of the poorly designed and resource intensive, and parents are being tasked with providing 24/7 IT support for these.

If you want to be a bit more indulgent, you can go in the ultrabook direction, or in the gaming laptop direction, MacBooks are their own other thing if your household is in the Apple ecosystem.

At the end of the day, Chromebooks are fine, I just find most of them anemic and indifferent in terms of design and ergonomics. The few that I don't mind are up there in price that it makes more sense to jump over to actual laptops.

The pandemic has greatly highlighted the chasm which is the digital divide in our society. Investing in your kids' digital literacy is a good thing.
discman017
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by discman017 »

stimulacra wrote: Sun May 17, 2020 10:16 am I'll be a bit contrarian and will suggest getting a robust business-oriented laptop for your kids.

Lenovo Thinkpad and Dell Lattitude are two solid product lines here.
I'm with you. My kids are both in elementary school, and they both have older Thinkpad laptops. One's a T530, and the other is an L430. You get enormous bang for the buck with these. They're rock-solid. If you drop one, it's more likely to dent the floor than the laptop. The keyboard and touchpad are outstanding. The anti-glare HD displays are fantastic.

Each of these has a 3rd-gen Intel i5 processor. We've upgraded the RAM and put in SSDs. They run Minecraft just fine, and certainly everything the kids do for school. Their school is all Google, but of course all the Google apps are available on Windows computers.

The T530 and L430 are from about 8 years ago, so the one thing you don't get is an HDMI port. But they have a mini DisplayPort (Thunderbolt) port, so you just need a $4 adapter to HDMI if you care about that.

The inexpensive Chromebooks seem pretty fragile, and the more rugged ones are quite a bit more expensive. I'll take an old Thinkpad business laptop over a Chromebook as the better value hands down.
Momus
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by Momus »

Momus wrote: Fri May 15, 2020 12:51 am Not a fan of chromebook. They suck. You can't run various programs on them. It's not versatile enough for a student.

Motile 14 inch laptop - like new condition
https://www.ebay.com/itm/124024800061
$255 after 15% discount, sale is being refreshed every day. Keep checking every 15 mins from 6-9am est.

250GB SSD, 8GB RAM, Ryzen 5 3500u quad core, built in Vega 8 graphics, weigh 2.5lb. Absolutely NOTHING beats this value laptop for that price. This laptop can even do very light gaming decently.
I just picked this up today for $207+tax for a spare toy laptop. If that's not value for the money, I don't know what is.
tibbitts
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by tibbitts »

jhsu802701 wrote: Thu May 14, 2020 3:20 pm Buy a used PC for under $100 and install MX Linux on it. You can get a better price if the PC does NOT come with WIndows. The rapid depreciation is bad news for those who buy new but great news for those of us who buy used. Even a PC laptop that's several years old is likely much faster than a new Chromebook.

Ever since I first started using Linux in 2007, I've only bought used PCs and never new ones.
I"ve bought many used laptops over the years and overall have been pleased with them, but it's not a free lunch. Several years of use for a laptop is a lot for most people. Many of the laptops available are off-lease business or school laptops, so they've been extremely heavily used. I've had to do things like replace worn-out hinges, etc. Plus I've always had to immediately upgrade memory and hard drives so you have to add that to the price.

On the other hand, anybody who buys one of my used laptops will be able to reconstruct an entire Pop Tart from the crumbs under the keys, so ... bonus!
Gadget
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by Gadget »

I get the impression that most people trashing chromebooks haven't used a nice one. And they're comparing a $200 chromebook to a $2000 laptop.

I can't imagine a scenario where a chromebook won't work for a child. I'm a software developer. I get there are some niche programs that only work on Windows, but those days are numbered. Software like that is going to go away in the future. No, I can't run Visual Studio on my Chromebook. I can't run Turbotax CD version (which I admit I like better than the online one). But I can run any Android app, and Google docs/sheets is just as capable as Excel for almost everything. A child wouldn't even know the difference in Office vs Google docs/sheets. For investment tracking like bogleheads are doing, I prefer Google sheets over Excel by a wide margin.

I have a really nice/fast Lenovo Thinkpad laptop from work for software development. I have a MS Surface Book. I never use either for personal stuff anymore. My Pixelbook feels faster and works better for 99% of everything I do on a computer for home use. I don't have to mess around with a million Windows settings, or worry about Windows patches killing my machine. A chromebook just works.

The telling fact is that my wife, who hates learning any new technology, now reaches for our Pixelbook or Samsung Chromebook Pro over our Windows laptops. She refused to for the longest time, and now begrudgingly admits that the Chromebooks feel faster and are easier to use.
Luke Duke
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by Luke Duke »

I'd get a Chromebook for an elementary or middle school aged child and a laptop for a high school or college kid.

In my large urban school district all students in grades 3-5 are issued an Amazon tablet and grades 6-12 are issued chromebooks.
jhsu802701
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by jhsu802701 »

Gadget wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 11:22 am I get the impression that most people trashing chromebooks haven't used a nice one. And they're comparing a $200 chromebook to a $2000 laptop.
I've looked at Chromebook specs and found them to be low-end. I understand that they're geared for people who do everything in the cloud Google Docs. While they're cheap compared to new PCs, they're still more expensive than many used PCs. Of course, I haven't bought any new PCs since becoming a Linux user - only used ones.
Gadget
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by Gadget »

jhsu802701 wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 1:16 pm
Gadget wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 11:22 am I get the impression that most people trashing chromebooks haven't used a nice one. And they're comparing a $200 chromebook to a $2000 laptop.
I've looked at Chromebook specs and found them to be low-end. I understand that they're geared for people who do everything in the cloud Google Docs. While they're cheap compared to new PCs, they're still more expensive than many used PCs. Of course, I haven't bought any new PCs since becoming a Linux user - only used ones.
The specs are lower end when comparing Windows vs Chromebook hardware. I'll give you that.

The part you're missing is that using Chrome browser on a chromebook is just way faster than using it on an equivalent Windows laptop. Even one with "better" hardware. Chromebooks were designed to run chrome. No Windows OS overheard. And all that lower hardware spec on a chromebook that most people don't miss is made up for in significantly increased battery life.

If you're just going to run Linux on it, then yeah, a used Windows laptop will definitely get you better hardware than a Chromebook. I don't think that's the average user's use case though.
mrsbetsy
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by mrsbetsy »

Gadget wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 1:26 pm
jhsu802701 wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 1:16 pm
Gadget wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 11:22 am I get the impression that most people trashing chromebooks haven't used a nice one. And they're comparing a $200 chromebook to a $2000 laptop.
I've looked at Chromebook specs and found them to be low-end. I understand that they're geared for people who do everything in the cloud Google Docs. While they're cheap compared to new PCs, they're still more expensive than many used PCs. Of course, I haven't bought any new PCs since becoming a Linux user - only used ones.
The specs are lower end when comparing Windows vs Chromebook hardware. I'll give you that.

The part you're missing is that using Chrome browser on a chromebook is just way faster than using it on an equivalent Windows laptop. Even one with "better" hardware. Chromebooks were designed to run chrome. No Windows OS overheard. And all that lower hardware spec on a chromebook that most people don't miss is made up for in significantly increased battery life.

If you're just going to run Linux on it, then yeah, a used Windows laptop will definitely get you better hardware than a Chromebook. I don't think that's the average user's use case though.
I am not a programmer so I do not know why, but Chromebook doesn't work well with Zoom because I need to give control of my software over to a student and it will not allow it. There is a workaround called Chrome remote that we can both install, but it adds an additional step, requires a password each time and makes the lessons less fluid.

Do you know why? Why doesn't Zoom allow remote control for a shared project. It works well with Miro Board IF the student also has an account, but it doesn't work with other platforms for realtime collaboration.

If students are getting any private multisensory instruction, Chromebooks are awkward to use. Perhaps it's really a Zoom problem and not a Chromebook problem but I have zero headaches with anything else. The Google options are still not up to speed and cannot match anything Zoom can do.

Internet speed can be an issue, but we troubleshoot and remedy that long before lessons begin.

What's the difference?
Gadget
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by Gadget »

mrsbetsy wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 1:38 pm
I am not a programmer so I do not know why, but Chromebook doesn't work well with Zoom because I need to give control of my software over to a student and it will not allow it. There is a workaround called Chrome remote that we can both install, but it adds an additional step, requires a password each time and makes the lessons less fluid.

Do you know why? Why doesn't Zoom allow remote control for a shared project. It works well with Miro Board IF the student also has an account, but it doesn't work with other platforms for realtime collaboration.

If students are getting any private multisensory instruction, Chromebooks are awkward to use. Perhaps it's really a Zoom problem and not a Chromebook problem but I have zero headaches with anything else. The Google options are still not up to speed and cannot match anything Zoom can do.

Internet speed can be an issue, but we troubleshoot and remedy that long before lessons begin.

What's the difference?
I've only used zoom on a chromebook for video sharing. Not for screen control. According to my quick google search review of similar complaints, it sounds like Zoom just hasn't implemented this capability on both Android or Chrome OS. There are quite a few people asking zoom to implement this feature.

I have used google meet on a chromebook. I like it better than zoom, even though it isn't as popular. https://meet.google.com/ You can share screens and pretty much do all the same things as zoom. I also like the security track record for google a lot better than zoom. Zoom basically ran all their data through Chinese servers until very recently. Zoom just claimed to be end to end encrypted, even though it wasn't (supposedly it's fixed now).

With competition from Google, Facebook, Cisco, and Microsoft, I really have no idea how Zoom will stay solvent as a company in the long run. All the other competitors make money in other ways and can subsidise the video conferencing functionality. Zoom somehow just became the most well known during coronavirus.
mrsbetsy
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by mrsbetsy »

Gadget wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 4:48 pm
mrsbetsy wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 1:38 pm
I am not a programmer so I do not know why, but Chromebook doesn't work well with Zoom because I need to give control of my software over to a student and it will not allow it. There is a workaround called Chrome remote that we can both install, but it adds an additional step, requires a password each time and makes the lessons less fluid.

Do you know why? Why doesn't Zoom allow remote control for a shared project. It works well with Miro Board IF the student also has an account, but it doesn't work with other platforms for realtime collaboration.

If students are getting any private multisensory instruction, Chromebooks are awkward to use. Perhaps it's really a Zoom problem and not a Chromebook problem but I have zero headaches with anything else. The Google options are still not up to speed and cannot match anything Zoom can do.

Internet speed can be an issue, but we troubleshoot and remedy that long before lessons begin.

What's the difference?
I've only used zoom on a chromebook for video sharing. Not for screen control. According to my quick google search review of similar complaints, it sounds like Zoom just hasn't implemented this capability on both Android or Chrome OS. There are quite a few people asking zoom to implement this feature.

I have used google meet on a chromebook. I like it better than zoom, even though it isn't as popular. https://meet.google.com/ You can share screens and pretty much do all the same things as zoom. I also like the security track record for google a lot better than zoom. Zoom basically ran all their data through Chinese servers until very recently. Zoom just claimed to be end to end encrypted, even though it wasn't (supposedly it's fixed now).

With competition from Google, Facebook, Cisco, and Microsoft, I really have no idea how Zoom will stay solvent as a company in the long run. All the other competitors make money in other ways and can subsidise the video conferencing functionality. Zoom somehow just became the most well known during coronavirus.
Thanks for that explanation.

I apologize to the OP for hijacking their thread.
stimulacra
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by stimulacra »

Gadget wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 11:22 am I get the impression that most people trashing chromebooks haven't used a nice one. And they're comparing a $200 chromebook to a $2000 laptop.
It's true, I haven't. I haven't made the investment in time or energy but am willing to consider them for the next time around. Having a cloud-based laptop for light duty does have it's appeal.

I am curious, assuming for 3-4 year ownership period:

What's the sweet spot in price one should be looking at for Chromebooks? $400, $500, $600?

What would be a reasonable configuration for RAM, storage, processor?

Also at what point is there diminishing returns in terms of a top-of-the-line premium Chromebook?

For kids that want to run Steam on their system to play games. What's the workaround?
Gadget
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by Gadget »

stimulacra wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 7:16 pm
Gadget wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 11:22 am I get the impression that most people trashing chromebooks haven't used a nice one. And they're comparing a $200 chromebook to a $2000 laptop.
It's true, I haven't. I haven't made the investment in time or energy but am willing to consider them for the next time around. Having a cloud-based laptop for light duty does have it's appeal.

I am curious, assuming for 3-4 year ownership period:

What's the sweet spot in price one should be looking at for Chromebooks? $400, $500, $600?

What would be a reasonable configuration for RAM, storage, processor?

Also at what point is there diminishing returns in terms of a top-of-the-line premium Chromebook?

For kids that want to run Steam on their system to play games. What's the workaround?
In pre corona pricing terms, it was probably the $400-$700 range for a great Chromebook depending on how fancy/fast of a laptop you were used to. In today's lack of supply, it seems like everything is $200-$300 more expensive because nothing is on sale. Chromebooks always used to go on sale quite a bit. For instance, I paid $650 for my Pixelbook and $450 for my Samsung Chromebook pro. Even though those systems are much older now, you can't find them anywhere near that today.

Honestly, I'm not sure the RAM, storage, or processor matters near as much on a Chromebook as it does on a Windows machine. It matters, but not to a point where you need to pay attention to those specs as much. You may have needed lots of RAM to run Chrome smoothly for certain things on a Windows laptop, but 4 GB of RAM on a chromebook seems just as fast somehow. ALL the resources are going to running Chrome browser, not Windows.

What does matter on a Chromebook is the screen/display, keyboard, touchpad, and any tablet or screen rotation functionality you want. Those and the build quality can all vary wildly on Chromebooks, and that's usually what you're paying for on the higher end models. My Pixelbook keyboard and touchpad are Mac level quality. But if you try a cheaper model and still love the keyboard and screen out in the store, it's probably going to be just as good of an experience.

Storage doesn't matter at all on a chromebook. You're supposed to use cloud storage. It almost forces you to. If you don't believe in saving your pictures in Google Photos and documents in Google drive or some other cloud service, then a Chromebook probalby isn't for you. Now that I do, I can't imagine going back to non cloud storage.

I don't play Steam. But supposedly steam is coming to Chromebooks. With some effort, you can install a beta like version right now. https://chromeunboxed.com/how-to-instal ... hromebook/. I do play some Android app games on a chromebook, and those work well.

Basically, a chromebook caters to the 90% use case, and it does it really really well. If you happen to want something in that other 10% use case, then a Chromebook isn't for you. But the vast majority of users fall into the 90% use case without even realizing it.
acegolfer
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by acegolfer »

Big fan of chromebook (we own 3). It's 99% fine for my kid's school except for 1 drawback with Zoom. Whiteboard annotate feature only works in Zoom program/app. It won't work in web browser. Nevertheless, I'd get another chromebook for my kid because 1) we have backup windows PC, 2) security, 3) more bang for money.
Topic Author
jco
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by jco »

OP here. Thank you all for the recommendations. There seems to be a lot of good options (and opinions!)

For the immediate future, I decided to take the value-oriented approach. We have a very old Apple laptop that still functions well mechanically, though the processor is too slow to handle the modern OSes. However, it is officially supported by NeverWare's CloudReady OS (https://www.neverware.com/freedownload# ... n-overview), which is essentially a third-party version of Chrome OS, which is what Chromebooks run. I bought a $25 120 GB Crucial SSD, installed CloudReady with ease, and have been using it since yesterday. It works great. The speed is snappy enough on the old machine. It will give us an opportunity to see how well we like using a "Chromebook" for only $25. And the OS will get security updates for another 2+ years.
stimulacra
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by stimulacra »

OP.

Which era MacBook did you repurpose for CloudReady? I have access to a bunch of 2015 era MacBook Pros destined for the recycling center that I might request to be donated for a more socially responsible purpose.
Topic Author
jco
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by jco »

stimulacra wrote: Thu May 21, 2020 9:35 am Which era MacBook did you repurpose for CloudReady?
We have a 10+ year old MacBook Pro 5,5.

The list of certified compatibile devices is here:
https://guide.neverware.com/supported-devices/

I bet yours would qualify. To check more easily, determine the model identifier by clicking the Apple symbol in the top left corner of the desktop screen, click About This Mac, then click System Report. The model identifier should be in the second line.

If your computers don't already have an SSD, I found a certified compatible SSD through crucial.com. There were slightly cheaper options on Amazon that probably would have worked, but I decided to pay a few extra dollars to get guaranteed compatibility.
Afty
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Re: Cheap Chromebook vs Laptop PC quality/options for child

Post by Afty »

stimulacra wrote: Mon May 18, 2020 7:16 pm For kids that want to run Steam on their system to play games. What's the workaround?
If running Steam is important to you/your kids, I would choose a Windows laptop. Chromebooks are just not designed to run local applications. You might be able to hack it enough to work, but I would guess that the experience won't be very good. I say this as a proponent of Chromebooks in general.

The cloud-native solution to this would be a game streaming service like Stadia or GeForce Now.
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