If you’re heading back to school this fall, you might want to consider a Chromebook. They’re perfect for students (I should know — I’m a recent graduate myself) because they’re cheap, light, fast, and do everything you need.
Think of them as laptops that run only Google’s Chrome browser. That might sound limited, but you can type documents in Google Docs that automatically save and research on the internet to your heart’s content — all for much less than an overpowered Windows laptop or MacBook.
But once you’ve decided to go the Chromebook route, how do you choose which is best for you? Well, it depends on what you need. Here’s a list of the best Chromebooks for students in 2016.
All-Around Best Chromebook
If you’re looking for a middle-of-the-road Chromebook, check out the Toshiba Chromebook 2. It’s 13.3″, landing it square between the too-small 11.6″ Chromebooks and the too-big 15.6″ Chromebooks. It goes for about $300, making it neither the cheapest nor the most expensive Chromebook out there.
Performance-wise, though, it has everything you need: a Full HD 1080p IPS display, 4GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, and a backlit keyboard. Its Celeron processor would be slow on a Windows computer, but Chromebooks are much less demanding, making this one of the fastest Chromebooks out there (you can even upgrade to an i3 processor if you want).
If you’re not searching for anything in particular, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is a safe bet.
Buy: Amazon ($469)
All-Day Battery Life
If you’re going to be at school all day, freedom from power outlets makes your life a lot easier. With a Chromebook, it’s easy to get all-day battery life and spend your time working outside, taking notes in class, and even writing essays that evening.
The Asus C201 gets about 13 hours of battery life, which is amazing for any laptop or Chromebook. It also just happens to be one of the cheapest at $169 for the 2GB version (though the 4GB version is a little more expensive).
The Google Store sells the C201 in Dark Blue, but you can find it on Amazon in Gold/Red or White/Light Blue. Its Rockchip processor isn’t the fastest, but it gets the job done. The little 11.6″ screen is only 720p, and the small size can make the keyboard feel cramped — but that also makes it inexpensive, lightweight, and super portable. If you want something that won’t weigh down your backpack and will last the whole day, definitely go with the Asus C201.
The first is the Asus Chromebook Flip — my personal Chromebook for the last year and one I couldn’t live without. I reviewed it a year ago and loved it so much I bought one for myself. It’s a small 10.1″ device with a touchscreen that flips back on a 360-degree hinge so that you can use it in laptop mode, tent mode, presentation mode, or tablet mode.
After using a touchscreen on a Chromebook, it’s so hard to go back. Why use the tiny trackpad when you can scroll using the whole screen? Plus, the tent and presentation modes are perfect for watching videos on an airplane or during a train ride. At $249 for the 2GB RAM version, it’s cheap, but not the cheapest, though thankfully, the 4GB upgrade is only $279 (or $249 from Amazon).
Your second touchscreen option is the Acer Chromebook R11. It has a faster Celeron processor, but no 4GB RAM option. It’s a little larger at 11.6″, which could give you a better typing experience, but the white casing looks cheaper than the silver Chromebook Flip.
Otherwise, its 360-degree hinge design mirrors the Flip’s design. If 10.1″ is too small for you, go for the R11.
Best Big Screen
If all this talk of 10.1″ and 11.6″ screens has you cringing, don’t worry! Larger Chromebooks exist — the best of these is probably the Acer Chromebook 15. This one might be a little harder to fit in your backpack, but if you really can’t give up that screen real estate, it’s the way to go.
The Chromebook 15 is pretty customizable, reaching from a 2GB RAM, HD screen, and 16GB storage configuration for $199 to a 4GB RAM, Full HD screen, and 32GB storage configuration for $349 — though prices are a little different on Amazon because it only offers the Full HD screen.
With this Chromebook, you get a spacious keyboard and trackpad, as well as upward-facing speakers for improved audio quality. Those willing to lug around a nearly 5lb beast might appreciate its roomier typing experience.
If you’re broke, the cheapest Chromebook around is the Acer Chromebook 11. It features the bare minimum specifications: 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 720p HD screen, and a Celeron processor. It’s honestly not a bad device. It still has an IPS display and 9 hours of battery life. For being the cheapest device out there, it certainly could be much worse.
For the most basic Chromebook that will let you get work done without breaking the bank, the Chromebook 11 should be your choice. It outperforms even the cheapest Windows laptops by a long shot.
Which Is Your Favorite?
There are a lot of great Chromebooks on this list, but which one is best for you depends on your needs. Some people might love small 10.1″ devices, while others couldn’t imagine using them — a lot of it is just personal preference. Whichever you go for, though, it’s undeniable that these are great devices for students.
So which one suits you the best? Which will you be taking to class this fall? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credits:Back to school by Maglara via Shutterstock