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Chromebook vs. a Laptop for College or School

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Best Chromebook for Students

Calling all students! It’s that time of year again - the back-to-school season is nearly upon us. And you know what that means—it’s Lenovo.com ramps up our year-round back-to-school savings and discounts on a wide range of products and school supplies.

If you’re looking for a new laptop to see you through this academic year, now’s the perfect time to buy it. The question is: which laptop should you choose?

Chromebooks are a great option for students. Their ruggedness, low price point, ease of use, and integration with tools like Google Drive and the Google Docs Editors suite make them ideal for academic use.

Chromebooks are great for students of all ages, from elementary school to college. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

In this article, we’ll answer some common questions about the best Chromebook for students.

What is a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are laptops that run the Chrome OS - Google’s operating system. The Chrome OS is a relatively new operating system that was only released back in 2011, so it’s not quite as popular or well-known as Windows or Mac just yet. However, it comes with a lot of benefits that make it uniquely suited to students.

For example, Chromebooks are lightweight laptops with limited processing power, which means they don’t require powerful chips or CPUs to run. This keeps costs low, which makes them ideal for cash-strapped college students, parents of elementary, middle and high school students looking to save money. They can also be right for anyone working from home.

Chrome OS and the apps it runs also don’t require a lot of storage space. It integrates with apps like the Google Docs Editors suite so you can save your documents to the cloud, which means you don’t need a large hard drive.

What’s the difference between Chromebooks and Windows laptops?

Aside from the fact that Chromebooks use Google’s lightweight Chrome operating system, there are a few other things that make Chromebooks different from Windows laptops. Here are some of the main differences you should know about.

  • Apps.Chromebooks come preloaded with many useful apps including mail, calendar, and more. Plus, you can download a ton more via the Google Play store. Many of the app icons on the Chromebook desktop actually link out to online, cloud-based apps like Google Drive.
  • Cloud-based storage Chromebooks were designed to store most of their files in the cloud, which minimizes the need for onboard storage.
  • Lightweight design The lack of powerful hardware components means Chromebooks are much lighter and with greater battery life than most Windows laptops. This is useful if you’re a college student planning on lugging it around campus all day.
  • SafetyThe Chrome OS is very locked down, which makes it a good choice for parents who want to limit their children’s access to the file system.
  • AffordabilityAgain, because Chromebooks are built with lower-performance components than typical Windows machines, they’re usually less expensive. You can often find a Chromebook for half the price of a Windows machine.

Of course, all of the above also comes with some downsides. For example, Chromebooks are less performance-oriented than other, more expensive laptops, so they can struggle with resource-intensive tasks like gaming and video editing. Plus, the lack of storage means they’re very dependent on internet connectivity.

Are Chromebooks good for school?

Chromebooks aren’t just a great choice for college students, they’re also a good option for school-aged children for several reasons.

Firstly, they’re durable. As we all know, accidents can happen especially when your student transports their laptop from home to school, but thanks to the lack of sensitive internal components, Chromebooks can handle most bumps, drops, and spills better than other kinds of laptops.

Chromebooks can also handle most of the tasks elementary school students will need. For example, they can play music and videos, handle general browsing and social media usage, and more.

Another reason Chromebooks are great for school is the Google Classroom app comes preloaded. Google Classroom is an app that makes it easy for students to communicate with their teachers and complete assignments remotely. Chromebooks also boot up fast and are very secure.

You can find out more about the best Chromebooks for school here.

How to choose the best Chromebook for students?

Lenovo has a huge selection of Google Chromebook laptops available. When you’re shopping around, here are some things to think about: Another reason Chromebooks are great for school, is that they come with:

  • Price.Most Chromebooks are very affordable but prices vary across models. If you want better performance and more storage space, you’ll want to look at the higher-end of the market.
  • Processor.The processor, or CPU, is kind of like the laptop’s ‘brain’ if you will. Chromebooks typically use less powerful processors. If you plan on using your Chromebook to play games and need as much performance as possible, look for an Intel i3 processor or above.
  • RAM.The amount of RAM the Chromebook offers also affects speed and performance. The more RAM, the better. Most models will have around 2GB-4GB of RAM.
  • Hard Drive. As we mentioned earlier, the great thing about Chromebooks is that you can save most of your files to the cloud. However, having more onboard storage space still comes in useful. If storage is a priority, look for a model with 64GB or more space.
  • Screen size. Chromebooks are typically smaller and more lightweight than full-size laptops. Screen sizes typically range from "11 - "14. The larger the screen, the crisper and clearer images will look. However, the tradeoff is that it’ll also make the laptop bulkier. Choose a screen size that’s suitable for your needs.

What devices can be connected to a Chromebook?

Chromebooks often come with USB ports and will work seamlessly with a wide range of companion devices and peripherals. You can browse Lenovo’s catalog of Chromebook accessories to find mice, headsets, and laptop sleeves from leading brands.

We know choosing the right laptop for your studies is an important purchase. Make sure to check the specifications and warranty coverage before you make a purchase so that you can find the right model for your needs whether it a Chromebook or one of the many other Lenovo laptops featured on Lenovo.com

Chromebook vs. a Laptop for College or School

Computers have long been a required part of every student’s back-to-school toolkit, and the increasing prevalence of remote learning have made them even more important.

So as students return to school, many are considering the purchase of a new laptop. But with literally dozens of options available, it’s difficult to know which one is the best choice. Although Windows machines have long been the dominant players when it comes to a computer for school, in recent years Chromebooks have emerged as an education upstart.

The critical question in the Chromebook vs. laptop debate, then, is which one is best for my needs? Should I buy a Chromebook or a Windows machine?

As with many things, the answer is, “It all depends.” Who will be using the machine? What’s your budget? Will the computer be strictly for school, or do you plan to use it for other tasks as well? Those are just a few of the questions to be considered.

Let’s break down the choices:

Advantages of a Chromebook

Chromebooks have certainly emerged as a popular choice in the education market in recent years, but many people aren’t aware of just what exactly a Chromebook is.

Instead of the more popular Windows, Chromebooks run on Google’s Chrome lightweight operating system. Chromebooks come preloaded with a number of apps, including mail, calendar and text editor programs, with thousands of others available via the Google Play store. Apps run in the Chrome browser, meaning that most program icons on the Chromebook’s desktop are actually links to online programs. Most Chromebooks offer a camera suitable for video conferencing and remote learning.

Chromebooks were originally designed to store most files in the cloud, and as such offer limited onboard storage. They don’t include a large hard drive, a DVD player or a dedicated graphics card.

Because they don’t include many of the internal components that are a part of a Windows laptop, Chromebooks are much lighter and offer a longer battery life that most Windows machines. The Chrome OS is locked down and extremely stable, making them a good choice for young children who may be tempted to explore the file system. Updates occur in the background with no action required on the user’s part.

Chromebooks are generally built with lower-performance processors than a Windows machine. As a result of that and the lack of those internal components, Chromebooks are often less expensive than a Windows laptop, although some recent models are more powerful (and more expensive).

On the other hand, because Chromebooks are dependent on Internet connectivity, features can be limited when offline or slow if your connection is slow. Because they only run apps from the Google Play store, users can’t load third-party programs on a Chromebook. And thanks to those lower-performance components, a Chromebook isn’t likely to be able to run your favorite games.

Advantages of a Laptop

One of the key advantages of a Windows laptop is the popularity of the OS. More than half the computers around the globe run some version of Windows, meaning that it’s rare to come across a software package that Windows won’t run.

Windows 10 is the latest version of the Windows operating system, with features specifically designed for students including easy document conversion, new apps for taking screenshots and tools to increase available storage. For those late-night study sessions, Windows 10 includes Night Light, a feature that displays warmer colors to put less strain on your eyes. Windows 10 was designed with touch in mind, so if you desire tablet functionality it’s a great option.

Windows 10 laptops can be customized to suit the user, so if you require additional power for resource-intensive tasks such as video editing or you want a laptop that can double as a gaming machine, there are plenty of options available.

Unlike a Chromebook, a Windows 10 machine isn’t limited to the Chrome browser. Although that may not seem important, the Chrome browser tends to use much more RAM than Microsoft’s new Edge browser, potentially offering a speedier Web experience.

Of course, those features come at a cost. A Windows 10 laptop is likely to be heavier than most Chromebooks, which can be a consideration if you have to carry it to class. And while the price of Windows 10 laptops has come down over the years, they are still likely to be more expensive than most Chromebooks.

Chromebook vs. Laptop for K-12 School

As mentioned above, when it comes to the Chromebook vs. laptop choice the factors to consider include who’ll be using it and for what it will be used. That’s particularly important when choosing a laptop for kids.

Along with having an operating system that’s simple to use and nearly impossible to disrupt, because Chromebooks lack many of the sensitive internal components found in a Windows laptop, they stand up much better to being bumped, jostled or dropped. That may make a Chromebook a better choice as a first computer for an elementary school student. In addition to being able to handle most tasks required at early grade levels, Chromebooks allow students to play music, watch videos and keep in touch with friends via social media. And if a Chromebook is lost or damaged, the impact to your wallet will likely be less than if the same thing happened with a Windows computer.

As a student moves up in both age and grades, though, the advantage tilts toward a Windows machine.

A middle-or high-school student will likely want a computer that can not only play music and videos but can handle the latest games as well. In addition, the types of tasks in which those students will be engaged with likely require much more in the way of resources, so a Chromebook may not be up to the task.

Fortunately, Lenovo offers a laptop designed to meet the needs of virtually any student, whether they’re just entering elementary school or preparing to leave home for college. Lenovo options run the gamut from basic, budget-friendly models to top-of-the-line powerhouses that can crunch numbers and render images with ease.

When it comes to choosing a laptop for elementary or high school students , Lenovo’s ThinkBook line offers outstanding performance in a lightweight package. But recognizing kids will be kids, every ThinkBook undergoes stringent tests to withstand spills, bumps, drops, dust and extreme temperatures.

Chromebook vs. a Laptop for College

When it comes to the right computer for a college student, the choices become even more clear.

Unless the work in which a college student is engaged is limited to conducting research and writing term papers, a Windows 10 machine is the way to go.

A Windows laptop can serve as an all-around education and entertainment machine, playing movies and music as well as running virtually every productivity application on the market. With the right Windows 10 machine, users can accomplish tasks ranging from the simplest social media application to the most complicated and resource-intensive video processing program.

For gamers, Windows 10 includes an Xbox app and other Xbox-related features, providing access to Xbox Live community features, remote control and even second-screen functionality with selected games and applications.

And when it comes time to graduate from college and take your place in the world, a Windows laptop is the perfect companion for virtually any career.

Whether you're a K-12 student or heading to college, Lenovo’s IdeaPad laptops are affordable, easy to use, and ready for the modern collaborative classroom. Plus, with a long-lasting battery and built-in speakers, these lightweight IdeaPads are a perfect entertainment center for those times when students are taking a break from their studies.

Weighing the options

For young students who may not be as mindful of a sensitive piece of electronic equipment, need a simple interface, have only a few basic applications they need to use and are on a tight budget, a Chromebook is certainly worthy of consideration.

But if you’re looking for a powerful, all-around computer that can handle tasks ranging from the simplest to the most complicated, a Windows laptop may be the better choice. No matter what the job, there’s a Windows computer that can accomplish it with ease.

Still need help with your laptop decision? Let the experts at Lenovo help!

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