5 best Chromebooks for school in 2018

These work for anyone else who want a top-notch laptop.
1 of 6 Acer

Best 5 Chromebook laptops for school in 2018

Some people still think you need a Windows PC or an Apple device for school. That's so not true. But you don't have to take my word for it. By FutureSource's count, 59.6 percent of K-12 schools bought Chromebooks in 2017. You should too.

It's easy to see why. While Microsoft is pushing its new cheap Surface Go, there are many great inexpensive Chromebook available for a few hundred dollars. Apple? Its first real mass market may have been in education, but it's been decades since the Apple II arrived. No, today's education market belongs to the Chromebook.

As as FutureSource pointed out, Chromebooks combine "affordable devices, productivity tools via G-Suite, easy integration with third-party platforms/tools, task management/distribution via Google Classroom, and easy device management remains extremely popular with US teachers and IT buyers alike."

Chromebooks also feature low prices and long battery lives. True, there are expensive Chromebooks, like Google's super high-end Pixelbook, but you can get all the laptop you'll ever need for less than $500.

In addition, you can now run many Android apps on Chromebooks, and soon, you'll be able to run a full Linux desktop on your new Intel-based Chromebook.

In short, for school -- or home or work -- you can't beat the multi-operating system, easy-to-use Chromebook. Here's the best of the best for this coming school year.

2 of 6 CNET

Asus Chromebook Flip C302a

This year's' Asus Chromebook Flip C302a comes with a a 12.5-inch screen and 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution and a 360-degree display hinge, and it weighs in at less than 2.5 pounds. With Apple-like looks, it's a pleasure to use, and you can carry it use it and anywhere. And, at a street price of $450, it's a heck of a lot less than any Apple laptop.

With a 2.2GHz Intel Core M3 processor, it's won't any any speed records, but then Chrome OS doesn't need a fast processor. Add this to its 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC flash storage and two years of 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage, and you have all the power you need for any work you'd want to do on a Chromebook.

For connecting to the outside world, the Flip uses 802.11ac Wi-Fi and a pair of USB-C ports. Unfortunately, these ports don't support the faster Thunderbolt 3 technology.

If you want a good-looking Chromebook with decent performance, a 10-hour plus battery life, and a street price tag of $450, the Asus Chromebook Flip is a great laptop.

3 of 6 CNET

Acer Chromebook Spin 11

OK, so maybe you don't want to put a $500 or so Chromebook in your fifth-grader's backpack. I get that. So, for the cheapest -- but still good -- Chromebook, I recommend the Acer Chromebook Spin 11.

At $400, it's not as cheap as Chromebook laptops get, but other Chromebooks at lower price points can't handle having a kid standing on it, a full soda spilled on it, or a drop from the desk. With its MIL-SPEC 810G rating, the Spin has a fighting chance of surviving middle school.

The Spin has an 11.6-inch IPS touchscreen with 1,366-by-768 resolution and a 360-degree hinge. That way, whether you want to use it as a laptop or a tablet, you're covered.

It's powered by a 1.1GHz Intel Celeron N3350 dual-core processor. Slow? Yes, but still fast enough for me to work with half-a-dozen browser tabs while watching The Band's The Last Waltz on YouTube in another window.

It also comes with 4GB of memory and 32GB of eMMC flash storage. This is backed by a free 100 GB of Google Drive for two years.

For connections, the Spin comes with two USB-C ports, either of which can power the Chromebook, and a pair of USB 3 ports. It also supports 802.11ac.

With an all-day battery life, over 12 hours, this is the Chromebook I'd send my kids to schools with.

4 of 6 CNET

Samsung Chromebook Pro

You probably know Samsung best for its smartphones. It turns out, now that Android apps run on Chromebooks, they can make a mean Chromebook, too: The Samsung Chromebook Pro.

At a list price of $599, but street prices at down to $480, the Samsung's affordable if you look for a deal on it. The comes with an excellent 12.3-inch 2,400-by-1,600 touchscreen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Like the other Chromebook devices mentioned so far, it has a 360-degree hinge, making it ideal for laptop, mini-theater, or tablet use. It also comes with a stylus for when you need fine control on the screen.

It has only a 900MHz Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor and 4GB of RAM. Still, it worked well with multiple tabs while streaming HD video and running four Android applications at once. I was impressed by how much I could do on this low-powered laptop.

The Pro also comes with dual USB-C ports, 802.11ac Wi-FI, 32 GBs of SSD storage, and, once more, 100 GB of free Google Drive for two years.

The battery life, at not quite nine hours, is good, but not exceptional. Think about that for a moment, though: A few years ago, we would have killed for that kind of battery life.

In short, the Pro is a good solid Chromebook with excellent Android compatibility. If Android apps are essential to you, this is the Chromebook to buy.

5 of 6 CNET

Acer Chromebook 15

Is bigger better in your book? Then, you'll probably want the Acer Chromebook 15. And, besides, you can't argue with its $199 price for its 15.6-inch, 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution display.

Of course, at that price, you only get a 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3060 dual-core processor with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of SSD storage, plus the Google 100GB cloud storage, of course. Still, even that works quite well. If you want you can crank it up a couple of notches with a 1.10 GHz Intel Pentium N4200 quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage room for a list price of $399.99.

All models come with two USB 3.0 and an USB-C port. For Wi-Fi, they use 802.11ac.

The battery life comes in at over 13 hours. With such a big screen, that's impressive.

This is a simple call. Do you want a big screen? Yes? Then, this is the Chromebook for you.

6 of 6 ZDNet

Google Pixelbook

I started my "portable" computer life with a 22-pound KayPro II in 1982. Since then, I've used IBM and Lenovo ThinkPads, Compaq luggables, Nec Ultralites, Dell XPS 13s, the list goes on and on. These days, my laptop of choice is the Google Pixelbook.

At a starting price of $999, this is not a Chromebook for everyone. But, if you want to make the most not just from Chrome OS, but from Android and Linux as well, it's your Chromebook.

There are often discounts for the Pixelbook. You can also get a 10-percent discount on the Pixelbook if you're a student.

At a minimum the Pixelbook comes with a 1.2GHz 7th gen Intel Core 7Y57 processor, 256GB of SSD storage, and 8GB of RAM. Unlike the others, the Pixelbook comes not with a 100GB free Google Drive storage for two years, but 1TB of free storage for two years. That's a value of almost $240 alone.

The Pixelbook also has Google Assistant, built-in. You can get to it via its own dedicated button on the Pixelbook's keyboard or by simply saying "OK Google." It's context sensitive, so it will open with search results for what you already have on screen.

This luxury-model Chromebook comes with a pair of USB-C ports. One of these, however, is used to power the system up. For Wi-Fi, it uses 802.11ac.

With a battery life of about 10 hours, it won't last long as some of the others, but then you can do a lot more with it. On my high-end model, I've had over 100 tabs open, while running Android and Linux applications.

You sure wouldn't want to give this Pixelbook to an elementary student, but an advanced high-school or college student would be another matter. The Pixelbook is meant for power users and developers, if that describes your daughter or son, then get them this one. You'll be glad you did.

Related Galleries

Holiday wallpaper for your phone: Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, and winter scenes
Holiday lights in Central Park background

Related Galleries

Holiday wallpaper for your phone: Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year's, and winter scenes

21 Photos
Winter backgrounds for your next virtual meeting
Wooden lodge in pine forest with heavy snow reflection on Lake O'hara at Yoho national park

Related Galleries

Winter backgrounds for your next virtual meeting

21 Photos
Holiday backgrounds for Zoom: Christmas cheer, New Year's Eve, Hanukkah and winter scenes
3D Rendering Christmas interior

Related Galleries

Holiday backgrounds for Zoom: Christmas cheer, New Year's Eve, Hanukkah and winter scenes

21 Photos
Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza

Related Galleries

Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6: Electric vehicle extravaganza

26 Photos
A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

Related Galleries

A weekend with Google's Chrome OS Flex

22 Photos
Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

Related Galleries

Cybersecurity flaws, customer experiences, smartphone losses, and more: ZDNet's research roundup

8 Photos
Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'
Full of promises!

Related Galleries

Inside a fake $20 '16TB external M.2 SSD'

8 Photos