Looking for the finest, cheapest Chromebook (or other laptop)
November 27, 2020 5:36 PM   Subscribe

Hi folks. I am looking for a low-price Chromebook or regular laptop as a gift. This needs to be new in box, so nothing refurbished or used.

It will just be used for internet and other very basic things, so it doesn’t need to have super-fancy graphics or a ton of storage or anything. Simple is good, cheaper is better. Screen size can be anything normal—11” or higher should be fine. Price is the main priority. I was going to get the $120 Chromebook at Target but obviously they don’t have anymore. Any suggestions? eBay, Amazon, local, anything is fine.
posted by Slinga to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
I've recently purchased Acer 512 chromebooks for my kids, on the grounds of spill resistance, a 3:2 screen and support until 2026. They are standing up well.

Remember to check how long your Chromebook will be supported here before buying. I would not consider purchasing one that stopped getting updates before 2024 at the earliest.
posted by mhoye at 6:05 PM on November 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

The Wirecutter on the question.
posted by metabaroque at 7:35 PM on November 27, 2020

How about an android tablet instead?
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:20 PM on November 27, 2020

I am a fan of Chromebooks. I will continue to buy them and I mostly use mine as my primary computer (I have a couple of other laptops I pull out when necessary, but that's not every day). However, I don't buy expensive ones and I never expect them to last that long (I've had Chromebooks several times over the years and netbooks before that. I went to a full Windows laptop for a bit before deciding I'd rather just have a Chromebook again).

For what you want, I'd play with the options here and find the one that suits the features you need at the price you want (and also is available!). At a certain price point, they're mostly all the same, although some bells and whistles might be different (a touch screen! it's convertible! a larger hard drive!).

I also agree you should check to see how long the ones you're looking at are supported. It has been my experience, though, that most Chromebooks crap out after 3ish years (if you're lucky, but Iike I've said, I've only bought the sub ~$300 ones).

I definitely recommend them. I don't know the upper limit of your price range (and personally, I think once you start getting much above $300-400, just buy a Windows laptop) so I can't give specific recommendations, but I also think if you were happy to buy the $120 Target one, you're probably going to be OK with whatever the cheapest one you find is.
posted by edencosmic at 8:40 PM on November 27, 2020

My apologies for piggybacking here on your question, but it's very close to something I've been thinking about -- does anyplaces still sell ChromeBOXES anymore? Years ago I bought a Chromebit -- the candy bar shaped thing that only had to be connected to a TV -- for my parents, and that's worked great as a primary desktop, but it's reaching the end of updates this December. I can't see anywhere that Chromebits are sold with a longer life, so I can replace it with a Chromebox too if those are available and have longer service life.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:37 AM on November 28, 2020

I purchased a Samsung Chromebook maybe 2 years ago, mostly out of curiosity. It was about $150 out the door at Best Buy at the time. I think it was on sale, but I wasn't particularly choosy at the time, I walked in and that's what they had. I saw that it had 2 USB ports, a MicroSD port, HDMI and headphone jacks and an Intel processor. I think it has 4GB ram, maybe 2. 32GB storage. The only thing, besides price, that attracted me was the possibility of running Linux. Has pretty long battery life.

I'd thought of buying some kind of tablet or tv dongle ChromeOS device, but the Chromebook was cheap and all in one. Turns out it's probably the best computer buy I've ever done. It just works for the majority of my computing needs. In retrospect, the only downside I find is that the built in speakers/sound isn't as loud as I would like. The Linux ability sounded better in theory than in practice. It's just more convenient to use a real Linux box for serious computing. It's possible that an ARM type processor might provide longer battery life, but as is, it lasts longer than any other laptop I've used. A quick check shows that an equivalent Samsung Chromebook isn't immediately available for the same price, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy another.
posted by 2N2222 at 8:29 AM on November 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

The super cheap Acer C720 (Intel, not ARM) we bought at least 7 years ago still works, though it quit getting updates earlier this year so its use is somewhat more limited just to be safe. A couple of the keys on the keyboard quit working after a particularly large spill a couple months back, but it'll still stream video just fine and still lasts at least a few hours on battery.

I had Linux running on it for a while, but didn't bother reinstalling after it got wiped when someone accidentally took it out of developer mode. The "it just works" nature of the thing is quite appealing, though I could never use it as literally my only computer. Pretty damn close, but not quite.
posted by wierdo at 4:45 PM on November 28, 2020

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