Even if your kids are back in the classroom, today’s homework pretty much demands the use of a computer. And while you’re all about sharing, knowing all it takes is a hefty drop or an upturned glass of apple juice to destroy your $1,200 laptop can make you a little hesitant to put the gadget in your third grader’s hands. That’s what makes Chromebooks so appealing: They tend to be lightweight, durable and affordable. And they’re different than a laptop in that they run on Google’s Chrome operating system, and anything you create is stored in the cloud. That keeps costs for the computer down, but it also means that to get the most out of a device, you’ll need an internet connection. (Though Google will be rolling out “offline mode” in its Classroom Android app, allowing kids to review attachments and write up assignments, even if they’re not connected to wifi.)
What to Look for in a Chromebook for Your Kid:
At least 2 GB RAM (all featured here have 4 GB)
8 hours+ battery life
Durable (look for features like Gorilla Glass screens and rubber bumpers)
Weighs less than 4 pounds (all on this list are 3 or less, unless otherwise noted)
Bonus: solid speakers, webcam and microphone for video chatting
1. Acer Chromebook Spin 513
Parents and experts alike recommended this model, which wowed us with its versatility (as a tablet and traditional computer), budget-friendly price tag and ability to withstand drops and uh, enthusiastic kids’ poking and prodding of the screen (thanks to its Gorilla Glass touchscreen). So much so, in fact, that it earned our 2021 Happy Kid Award for Best Chromebook.
4 GB RAM
Zippy Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
Doubles as tablet
14-hour battery life
Not as sleek as other models
2. Lenovo Chromebook Duet
The Duet may not be the newest model on the market, but if you’re looking for a reliable Chromebook that costs less than $300, this model is worth considering. The 10.1-inch screen makes for a smaller device overall, so it’s easier to tote around, and the keyboard fully detaches, allowing it to function like a true tablet.
4 GB RAM
Solid processor; doesn’t lag between apps
Keyboard can be tricky to attach at times
Writing longer essays can be a bit tedious, due to small size
3. ASUS Chromebook C403
When it comes to the 10-and-under set, you don’t need anything fancy; you need something that will help them research 20 fun facts about panda bears—or help you navigate common core—without breaking the first time it flings off the counter (which will, inevitably, happen). What this baby lacks in looks, it makes up for in durability, with its rubber bumpers, spill-resistant keyboard and extra-strong hinge. It even has a texturized finish, making it easier to hold onto—and harder to notice scratches and scrapes over time.
4 GB RAM
Can withstand 4-foot drops without breaking (passing MIL-STD-810G tests)
Weighs almost 4 pounds
Less storage than other models (32 GB vs. 64 GB)
Best for basic tasks
4. HP Chromebook x360 14b
Best for Middle School and High Schoolers
Increasingly complex school assignments mean you need a computer with serious power—and in a larger size that’s comfortable to type out that 10-page essay on. This 14-inch screen makes it easy to view multiple windows at once, and its Intel Pentium Silver processor is snappy enough to keep up without freezing. It also features a wide-vision HD camera and Bang & Olufsen speakers, so your kid—and anyone they’re chatting with—come through crystal clear on calls (provided your wifi isn’t acting up, of course).
4 GB RAM
Weighs about 3.5 pounds
Screen display didn’t seem as vibrant as other models
5. Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook
Best for Creative Types
Like the Acer Chromebook Spin 513 on this list, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5’s screen can bend 180 degrees, so you can use it as a tablet, a traditional clamshell or turn it into a stand while streaming Netflix or chatting on Zoom. The 13-inch screen makes it great for doing just that; any smaller and it can feel too close to a cell phone, any larger and it can be bulky and hard to stuff in a backpack. But where this Chromebook really shines is its combination of an Intel Pentium Gold processor and touchscreen, giving kids the power and flexibility to work on all kinds of creative projects, from sketches to video editing.
4 GB RAM
Built-in microSD reader to easily upload images
10-hour battery life
Hinges can break easily after months of repeated use
6. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2
Best for College Students and Beyond
If its candy apple hue didn’t get your attention, maybe this will: Its QLED screen is vibrant enough to rival MacBooks that cost twice as much, it has a 13-hour (!) battery life and the speakers’ Smart Amps are 178 percent louder than regular amps. While the Galaxy Chromebook 2 may not have all the bells and whistles of its predecessor, it makes up for it in its affordability. At $549 for a 4K UHD screen, 4 GB RAM and 64 GB of storage—as well as the aforementioned features—it’s a solid buy that can help students survive every all-nighter college (or um, procrastination) can spring on them.
4 GB RAM (can upgrade to 8 GB too)
4K, ultra-vibrant screen for watching videos
Touchpad can be a bit finicky
Not powerful enough for hardcore gamers
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