Six Clicks: The best Chromebooks for school

Six Clicks: The best Chromebooks for school

Summary: School will soon be in session and a Chromebook may be just what you need for the coming academic year.

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  • Dell Chromebook 11

    The Dell Chromebook 11 was made for education, but as ZDNet's Steve Ranger pointed out, Dell's Chromebook is too good to be left to the kids.

    This model is powered by Intel's 1.4GHz dual-core Celeron 2955U processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics. You can get it with either 2 GB or 4GB of RAM. If you're the kind of person who likes to have dozens or hundreds, of tabs open at the same time spend the cash for the extra RAM. You'll be glad you did.

    It comes with an 11.6-inch display, 16GB of internal storage and an SD card slot, plus two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI connector and an audio jack. There's no wired Ethernet port. For wireless connectivity there's dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

    Many reviewers really like the Dell Chromebook 11. The 2GB model costs $279, while the 4GB version runs $299. If, that is, you can get one. Dell's run short of them. That's both because of demand, and sources tells me, there's an Intel Haswell i3-powered model coming real soon now. If you can get one, do so.

    CNET: Back-to-School Tech Gift Guide

  • Acer Chromebook C720P

    Another worthy Chromebook for the student is Acer's new Chromebook C720P. This model was the first Chromebook — outside of my beloved, but much too expensive Chromebook Pixel — to come with a touch screen.

    I've found a touch screen to be useful in a Chromebook but not worth the extra $100 that brings its price up to $299.

    This model does, however, also come with a 32GB SSD — unlike its excellent older brother the Acer C720, which only has a 16GB drive.

    Otherwise, the two models are identical. Each comes with an 11.6-inch display; a SD card slot; one USB 2 and one USB 3.0 port; an HDMI connector; and an audio jack. For wireless connectivity, it uses dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

    Finally, if you want to try this model at faster speeds and more RAM, the C720 Chromebook with Core i3 has just been released. ZDNet's own James Kendrick, the only person on the planet I know who has played with more Chromebooks than I have, found it the "fastest Chromebook I've used, with the exception of the Chromebook Pixel." At $379.99 list price, it should be!

  • HP Chromebook 11

    The HP Chromebook 11, with its dual-core 1.7GHz Exynos ARM processor and 2GB of RAM isn't the fastest Chromebook around, but ZDNet's Matthew Miller really likes both its display and keyboard.

    Like almost all of the Chromebook family, the HP Chromebook 11 comes with a 16GB SSD drive , a SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and a headphone jack. One interesting addition is that this model uses a mini-USB port for its charger. This means you may be able to use your Android smartphone charger in a pinch if you've left its real charger at home.

    Beside supporting dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0, you can also get this device with a Verizon 4G option. The ordinary one costs $199. With 4G it will run you $299. I travel a lot and there have been times I've needed 4G, but if you spend most of you time at your Wi-FI equipped school, office, and home all have Wi-Fi, I wouldn't bother with the 4G.

Topics: Hardware, Dell, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Laptops, Lenovo, Linux, Samsung, Education

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66 comments
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  • It's a good thing

    I'm glad to see what Google is doing with the Chromebooks in the educational market. It will eventually gain a much wider acceptance in the future for the general public because these devices will get better and better. No wonder Microsoft is worried. I'm looking forward to receiving mine shortly. However, I'm sure the anti-Chromebook pundits will populate the comments section here with the usual "You can do more on a Windows/Mac machine" rhetoric. I suppose those other brands can do more but, unfortunately, the true purpose of a Chromebook is missed by so many. Fortunately,
    housepianist
    • I think that you are the one who is missing ...

      ... the true purpose of Chromebook: COLLECTING DATA FROM THE USER.
      wackoae
      • LOL. Wacko for sure

        Try to speak the truth please.

        Google is funded by Ad revenue and that's it.

        These incessant attempts to use Straw man arguments is becoming increasingly tiresome and redundant.
        GotThumbs
        • ChromeBook got 3,7% marketshare of notebooks (Q2 2014)...

          ... about one million sold to schools during the last 3 months (April-June). So it's not just a big hit of Amazon online sale. During Q1 2014 the marketshare was 2,4%.

          World is abandoning old Windows world and moving to mobiles, cloud, Linux and open source software. 1990's will never come back. Take that under consideration.
          Frankie1965
          • And then

            you woke up and smelled the coffee..
            Blogsworth
      • true purpose of any device

        babysit kids while union teachers and admins get rich producing 50% illiterates and dropouts.
        everss02
        • Seriously?

          Regardless of the other flaws of unions in schools, the average starting salary for a teacher coming out of college is just over $30K/year and very few teachers make over $60K/year with those that do generally have an advanced degree (masters or higher). You call that getting rich? Almost any other job with the same education requirement will pay more and in most cases, significantly more. Please get your facts straight before opening your mouth.
          asaturley
    • One problem

      well, 2 actually... Outside the USA most educational software is Windows only. That means finding websites that can replicate the learning software or rewriting the curriculum.

      The other problem, again outside the USA, is that Chromebooks are just too expensive. The ARM based Acer costs more than a Celeron based notebook over here. If the pricing reflected American pricing, the Chromebook might catch on.

      Just done a quick look on Amazon, the ARM based Chromebook isn't even on sale over here. The cheapest I could find was the Acer C720P Celeron 2GB RAM at $373 for $360 you can get a Lenovo G505 AMD 4GB RAM, Windows 8.1. And you have the benefit of being able to run existing educational software.

      Their problem at the moment is, that they are more expensive and do less than Windows machines. That they are cheaper in the US is their main advantage, for somebody who only surfs the net or uses cloud services.

      Add in the US Governments current move to try and make it illegal for non-US citizens to use US based cloud services and the Chromebook is on wobbly legs outside the USA.
      wright_is
      • Patience

        This is still in it's ground floor stages (IMO) and developed most likely using US Schools as the focus for now.

        In time, I'm confident solutions can/will be developed to fit other nations and their unique needs/system.


        OR

        you could design something for your own nations. Innovation is NOT only limited to the US...is it?
        GotThumbs
      • There is a lot of ignorance out there.

        1) The ARM Chromebooks are similar in price to the Celeron ones with the same screen resolution, size etc.

        2) Most Chromebooks at the moment have Haswell Celeron CPU, and are cheaper than Windows laptops with the same build quality and performance.

        3) The TCO cost of Chromebooks is less than a third of Windows laptops - at least that is what schools and businesses that have deployed them have found. The big savings are in IT support and admin labour costs, not hardware. Hardware is dirt cheap nowadays, but skilled IT labour is very expensive in comparison. This is not a problem for a computer hobbyist user, or a home user who has a computer hobbyist as a friend who will maintain it for free, but businesses and schools have top pay IT staff to do desktop support and maintenance, maintain authentication servers etc.

        Windows is very labour intensive to provision, maintain, and support. By contrast Chromebooks do not need in house servers for authentication, and when linked to a Google Domain, can be remotely managed entirely by setting policies via a "web console", and they are Zero Maintenance Zero Touch Administration clients (ie. System Admins never need to touch or log into a Chromebook - it is all done by policies and cloud based policies, and user data is not stored on the Chromebook). This means that there is no desktop disk imaging, no logging in for app installation, no salvaging or transfer of data when re-imaging disks or transferring laptops from one student to another at the end of the year.
        Mah
  • Oops..not done yet..

    ...Fortunately, millions of people DO get it so that's all that matters.

    ZDNet, you really need an edit feature here!
    housepianist
    • Yep an edit

      feature is really needed.
      wright_is
    • I don't think millions of "people" bought chromebooks

      considering only a few million chromebooks have ever been sold and those have primarily been sold to cash strapped schools, I do not think those sales represent millions of actual people buying them.

      Schools buying chromebooks are doing so out of necessity to save money.

      Those schools that do have chromebooks now have fleets of computers that they absolutely cannot administer. They have zero control over the device and effectively rely on Google to run everything.

      The problem there is that ChomeOS exists for one reason and one reason only, to spy on users and harvest as much information as possible in an effort to market to them. Talk about putting then fox in charge of the hen house.

      Additionally, those students using chromebooks are using device that are not being used in real world cases they are being trained for. Almost any other device would at least somewhat line up with what they will engage with in post school environments and workplaces.


      I keep wanting to see the advantages of chromebooks, but the disadvantages always outweigh the benefits. Especially now that the cost advantages are vanishing.
      Emacho
      • " spy on users "

        Dude, get over it.

        Ad revenue allows Google to provide lots of FREE services and funds lots of FREE products to the public.

        I'ts long past time to smash that broken record of selective ignorance IMO.
        GotThumbs
        • Chromebooks are not free

          and you did nothing to disprove anything I said.

          In fact, Google promised not to collect data on students using Chromebooks, but already admitted they do.

          If this was some other company like McDonalds providing free OS to schools in return for collecting data and marketing rights to kids parents would be storming school board meetings. I fail to see why it should be different for Google. The fact that they provide free services elsewhere doesn't change what ChromeOS was designed to do.

          I get plenty of free services elsewhere without the depth of invasive tracking that Google does. No one is stopping you from enjoying what Google offers, but that doesn't change what they do, how they do it or the issues surrounding those two aspects.
          Emacho
          • How to disprove?

            It will be very hard to disprove something as whacky as your claims. Educational Chromebooks are NOT tracking anything. Next up, you will claim that a Google Map car ran over your puppy. You Microsoft people are very persistent. Would be better if Microsoft got around to improving software and spending their time there instead of propaganda against Google.
            mytake4this
          • More of the same, personal attacks do not replace discussion

            No matter how hard you try to label me or put words in my mouth, all you do is confirm the validity of my statements when all you can do is attack me personally.

            Something that is true isn't propaganda. read it for yourself.

            http://safegov.org/2014/1/31/google-admits-data-mining-student-emails-in-its-free-education-apps#.Uv6DDltXqOo.twitter

            How many times does Google have to be caught intentionally circumventing privacy settings, laws and promises in order to get the information they want from users they come in contact with.

            Googles entire business model depends on getting as much of your information as possible. They have proven beyond a doubt that they cannot be trusted in any comments about not mining your data.
            Emacho
          • Everybody knows Google gathers information

            They direct adds to people based on that information.

            Those people are not obligated to spend money based on those adds.

            Those people benefit from the search results provided by Google.

            It all seems very fair to me.

            Perhaps you prefer the Yellow Pages metaphor, where the phone company does not know what adds you are reading and therefore does not benefit unless you call a number of a company that you found in the Yellow Pages.

            Most of the time I use Google as a free up to date encyclopedia.
            donw1234
          • safegov.org is a microsoft front organization

            Did a duckduckgo search for safegov.org. Found out that Steve Mutkoski, Worldwide Policy Director, Microsoft is on the advisory board of edu.safegov.org. Not exactly an unbiased source of information about google, IMHO.

            Emacho, is your real name steve m?

            Bless the power of the internet!
            jimbo689
          • oops. forgot the link.

            http://edu.safegov.org/about/
            jimbo689