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Best 5 Affordable Chromebooks for Back-to-School or Distance Learning

Best 5 Affordable Chromebooks for Back-to-School or Distance Learning

Linsey Knerl
Reading time: 7 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.

1. HP Chromebook x2 11

HP Chromebook x2 11
The HP Chromebook x2 11 balances productivity and price, offering a full-sized keyboard and an 11-inch diagonal touch screen 110% sRGB display. It’s big enough for streaming videos but won’t take up too much room on a desk. This device doesn’t have a headphone jack, but the Bang & Olufsen speakers offer superior sound for those times when your student isn’t using wireless headphones.
This laptop doesn’t contain a traditional hard drive with moving parts, so it’s less likely to become damaged from regular use. It also features an aluminum case and a detachable keyboard, making it a true 2-in-1 Chromebook.
Key features:
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 7c processor
  • 5MP front-facing and 8MP rear-facing cameras, both with dual array digital microphones
  • Qualcomm Adreno™ 618 GPU
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB eMMC storage
  • Battery life of up to 11 hours and 15 minutes
  • A fast battery charge of approximately 50% in 45 minutes
  • Ports: 2 SuperSpeed USB Type-C® and 1 microSD media card reader
  • Weighs 1.23 lbs without keyboard and stand
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.

2. HP Chromebook 11

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.
Key features:
  • MediaTek processor with Octo-core CPU and Integrated Graphics
  • 720p HD front-facing web camera with microphone
  • 4GB memory
  • 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.

3. HP Chromebook 14a

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.
Key features:
  • 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.

4. HP Chromebook 14b

HP Chromebook 14b
The HP Chromebook 14b boasts an HD touch display and Intel UHD graphics, with options to increase both the memory and storage. This makes this Chromebook ideal for working both offline and in synchronous classroom settings.
The built-in camera privacy shutter provides a bit of protection against prying eyes, and the high-quality B&O speakers deliver excellent sound. Plus, the 720p graphics mean your student can game without an additional graphics card, making this the best Chromebook for high school students.
Key features:
  • 11th Generation Intel Core™ i3 processor
  • HP Wide Vision 720p HD camera dual microphones
  • Intel UHD Graphics
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 128GB SSD storage
  • Ports: 2 SuperSpeed USB Type-C, 2 SuperSpeed USB Type-A, 1 HDMI, 1 headphone microphone combo, and 1 microSD media card reader
  • Fingerprint reader
  • WiFi 6
  • Up to 11 hours and 30 minutes battery life
  • Supports fast battery charge of approximately 90% in 90 minutes
  • Weighs 3.31 lbs
Who it’s best for: Older teens and college students who will use their device for work and play.

5. HP Chromebook Enterprise

HP Chromebook Enterprise
For a truly professional experience, consider the HP Chromebook Enterprise. The 14-inch HD display is ideal for movies, class webinars, video chatting, and more, and it’s powered by an AMD processor and graphics. It’s full of business-class features for peak productivity anywhere your student travels.
The aluminum exterior and 180-degree lay-flat hinge take the design to another level. Plus, it’s tested to withstand wear and tear, spills, and more, so you can feel confident knowing it can withstand just about anything in the classroom.
Key features:
  • AMD Athlon™ Silver processor
  • AMD Radeon™ Graphics
  • 720p HD privacy camera
  • 8GB of RAM
  • 64GB eMMC storage
  • B&O speakers
  • Ports: 2 USB Super Speed Type-C, 2 Super Speed USB Type-A, 1 headphone microphone combo, 1 HDMI, and 1 microSD
  • Full-sized keyboard resists minor spills and key removal
  • Chrome Enterprise Upgrade includes enterprise mobility management support
  • Weight starts at 3.38 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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