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Best 5 Affordable Chromebooks for Back-to-School or Distance Learning
July 25, 2023
Reading time: 8 minutes
The past few years have introduced new educational trends into our schools and homes, from remote learning to homeschooling. And for schools that continue with in-person classes, the one-laptop-one-child model has become very popular. It’s now more common for kids of all ages, even the youngest ones, to have their own device tucked securely into a backpack or bag.
For parents, this means finding an affordable laptop for back-to-school season. The Chromebook is a leading option and it’s designed with education in mind. Here’s why this laptop is an ideal pick for back-to-school lists, and the products you should look for the next time you shop.
Benefits of the Chromebook
Not all parents get to pick their child’s laptop, and your school may require you to rent or purchase one through them. However, many schools use Chromebooks, because they’re affordable. This allows administrators to purchase and deploy them at scale with less fuss than other options.
If you are free to choose a laptop or notebook for your kid, you’ll be pleased to know there are benefits to the Chromebook family:
Chromebooks are durable, with sturdy cases and screens made to handle the wear and tear of a typical student.
The operating system is based on the same technology as the Chrome browser and integrates with tools your student likely already uses, such as Gmail, Google Classrooms, YouTube, and popular Android apps.
The hardware is streamlined to do more work on the cloud, so you can avoid overpaying for unnecessary RAM, processing speed, and storage.
They offer hours of battery life to get through the school day.
Chromebooks have evolved over the years to become more performance-based. While there are many budget-friendly devices for distance learning, you can find Chromebooks aimed at business professionals, creatives, and those with more robust computing needs.
The name “Chromebook” is no longer associated with just students or kids. In fact, business Chromebooks are a growing category in tech, and they offer enterprise-level specifications.
Best affordable Chromebooks for back-to-school
The latest generation of Chromebooks has pulled out all the stops and includes far more features than when remote schooling was first expanding. With a Chromebook for just about any use case, you can likely find something just for your student or even for yourself! Here are the best affordable Chromebooks for back-to-school season, along with the user most likely to benefit.
You can also find all you'll need for the school year, whether you're a student or teacher, on our HP Back to School Guide, featuring bundles and curated PC and accessory options picked for your specific education needs. For special discounts every day of up to 40% on tech for school, join the HP Education Store Program - no student ID is required!
HP Chromebook 11
The HP Chromebook 11 is one of the most affordable Chromebooks available. It has just the right amount of productivity features to support classroom learning but doesn’t break the bank.
The 11.6-inch High Definition (HD) display isn’t a touch screen, but it delivers 1 million pixels of detail in full, amazing color. It also boasts a full-sized keyboard, Chrome OS, and standout security features, making it easy for any user to hop on and use with little to no computer background.
MediaTek processor with Octo-core CPU and Integrated Graphics
720p HD front-facing web camera with microphone
32GB eMMC storage
Battery life of up to 15 hours and 45 minutes
11.6" diagonal HD display
Ports: 1 USB 2.0 Type-C, 1 USB 2.0 Type-A, 1 headphone microphone jack, and 1 microSD media card reader
Weighs 2.36 lbs
Who it’s best for: Elementary students and those shopping on a budget.
HP Chromebook x360 11 G4 Education Edition
With its 2-in-1 features and touch display, the HP Chromebook x360 11 G4 Education Edition is a versatile laptop for students. Not only can students use the Chrome OS in traditional laptop mode, but also in tablet or tent modes. Its 360-degree hinge adjusts to however your student learns best. It includes an Intel Celeron processor under the hood, ensuring students get through any computing task of the day.
This education edition Chromebook is also graded for durability, with a keyboard that resists picking, minor spills (up to 350 ml or 11.8 oz), and dust. It’s also able to withstand drops of up to about 48 inches. The Chromebook x360 11 G4 has also undergone MIL-STD 810H and HP education testing, giving you more assurance this laptop can hold up to use.
Intel® Celeron® N5100
Front-facing 720p HD, and rear-facing 8MP cameras
Intel UHD Graphics
8GB of LPDDR4x-4266 MHz onboard RAM
64GB eMMC storage
Ports: 2 USB Type-C (USB Power Delivery, DisplayPort™ 1.4); 2 USB Type-A; 1 stereo headphone/microphone combo, and 1 microSD media card reader (supporting SD, SDHC, SDXC)
Nano Security lock slot
WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2
Full-size island-style keyboard
Weighs 3.33 lbs
Who it’s best for: Older teens and college students who will use their device for work and play.
HP Chromebook 14a
If a super-affordable laptop with a larger screen is more your style, the HP Chromebook 14a may be your best choice. It uses Intel® hardware for processing and graphics with enough memory to browse, learn, and chat with others, too.
You can also customize this laptop at checkout, so you can upgrade the components that matter most while still sticking to your budget. Choose between HD and Full High Definition (FHD) screen resolutions, and upgrade to a touch screen if your budget allows. This is the best Chromebook for students who like to get hands-on with their work.
Intel Celeron® N4500 processor, customizable up to 2.8 GHz, 4MB L3 cache
HP Wide Vision 720p HD camera
Intel UHD Graphics
4GB of RAM
32GB eMMC, customizable up to 64GB
Ports: 2 SuperSpeed USB Type-C, 1 SuperSpeed USB Type-A, 1 headphone microphone combo, and 1 microSD media card reader
WiFi 5 or 6 available
Full-sized keyboard (backlit optional)
Comes in three colors: Mineral Silver, Ceramic White, or Forest Teal
Weighs 3.24 lbs
Who it’s best for: Junior high and high school students wanting computing perks on a small budget.
HP Chromebook x360 Laptop (14ct-cd000)
The HP Chromebook x360 laptop is a prime pick for a school laptop, with touch screen and 2-in-1 features, ample storage, and a powerful 12th Gen Intel Core processor at its heart. This Chromebook will have no problem tackling lengthy essays, virtual group meetings, or an evening of binging your favorite shows. Bang & Olufsen speakers offer superior sound for those times when you’re not using wireless headphones, and its backlit keyboard makes navigating in low light a breeze.
Options to configure this Chromebook with an improved Core processor, more solid-state drive (SSD) storage, improved graphics, and more memory make it a great choice for customizing to your workload. With an integrated fingerprint reader, webcam switch, and microphone mute button, you can rest assured that you’re operating with security and privacy on your side.
Starting at Intel Core i3-1215U processor
HP True Vision 5MP camera with temporal noise reduction with dual array digital microphones
Intel UHD Graphics
8GB of RAM
Multitouch-enabled WUXGA display
Starting at 128GB PCIe® NVMe™ M.2 SSD storage
Ports: 1 USB Type-A ; 2 USB Type-C ; 1 headphone/microphone combo; and 1 microSD media card reader
Weighs 3.34 lbs
Who it’s best for: Students and teachers at any stage who use the same computer for school and life. Also great for homeschool families who may share a device.
HP Chromebook Laptop (15at-na000)
This 15-inch HP Chromebook laptop will keep up with you throughout the day, with all-day battery life and support for fast charge to about 50% in 45 minutes. You won’t find yourself rushing to find an outlet to charge up often or for long. And you definitely won’t want to, with its beautiful 15.6-inch HD (1366 x 768), micro-edge display (upgradable to FHD), you’ll enjoy working with crisp resolution whether work or play.
This Chromebook is also made with ocean-bound and post-consumer recycled plastics, so you can be proud to rock this device across campus. And whether you’re stationary or on the go, HP QuickDrop will help you quickly transfer files to your laptop. The 15-inch Chromebook’s HP Wide Vision Camera will also make sure your ideas are communicated clearly across virtual meetings.
Intel Celeron N4500 processor
Intel UHD Graphics
HP Wide Vision 720p HD camera with temporal noise reduction and integrated dual array digital microphones
4GB of onboard RAM
64GB eMMC storage
Comes in Mineral silver and Forest teal finishes
Ports: 2 USB Type-C (USB Power Delivery, DisplayPort™ 1.4); 1 USB Type-A; 1 headphone/microphone combo, and 1 microSD reader
Full-size, island-style keyboard with numeric keypad (can be upgraded to backlit keyboard)
H1 Secure Microcontroller and mic mute key for added security
Weight starts at 3.74 lbs
Who it’s best for: Teachers and administrators who need more security, storage, and processing power. This is also a contender for the best Chromebook for college students.
Additional tips for picking the right Chromebook
With more families needing a device for every adult and child, the Chromebook line can help you manage even on a dwindling budget. You no longer have to decide who gets a device, because there’s a price point just right for every need.
With lower-priced options for younger kids, you can feel good about their back-to-school list. Plus, even the enterprise models represent significant savings over other business-class laptops with similar features.
One of the best aspects about purchasing a Chromebook for school is that they come with everything you need to get your student started on the right foot. And if you have a specialized tech need, like more RAM or touch screen capabilities, you can upgrade many models before completing your purchase. Just look for the “customize” option when shopping, and pick your tech specs for the learning experience that’s right for your family.
If you choose wisely, you can expect to use your student Chromebook for many wonderful years – stretching this affordable PC beyond distance learning and school.
About the Author
Linsey Knerl is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Linsey is a Midwest-based author and public speaker. She has a passion for helping consumers and small business owners do more with their resources via the latest tech solutions.
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