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

It looks like most people already know what a Chromebook is and does. Compared to a MacBook or Windows laptop, this might be a more affordable option.  However, almost all Chromebooks don’t run in Windows system, unlike most computers. As the alternative, they make use of ChromeOS from Google. Despite being different, you can do pretty much anything you would do online on a Chromebook, including browsing websites, checking email, watching videos online, and many more.


For a significantly lower cost than a usual laptop, many people find that a Chromebook can handle almost all of their tasks. That being said, this does not mean that a Chromebook is the best option for everyone. The majority of Chromebooks, for example, have relatively small hard drives. This is because Google expects you to have Internet access all the time, so you need to store the majority of your files like documents, photos, and other files, in the cloud. Chromebooks also have a downside of running ChromeOS, which makes it impossible to install Windows standard apps like Adobe Photoshop. If you are planning to play games on it or use third-party software, a Chromebook probably is not the best choice in this situation.

a chromebook from acer

We are going to talk about the best budget-friendly Chromebook that students can use for distance learning or for academic purposes in this article. There are many different models of Chromebooks that range in price from $200 to under $1k. If you want to buy a Chromebook for yourself, then you should probably check the recommendations first before you buy one so you can compare them and which one is the better choice. Please remember that since this is a subjective choice, you might find that some of them are not suitable for your purposes which is fine, considering not all people need the same specifications for their devices.

Acer Chromebook Plus 515

It is not difficult to recommend the Acer Chromebook Plus 515 when talking about Chromebooks. This doesn’t come without a reason. There are some factors that suggest this Chromebook worth to be in the list of recommendations. This device with an Intel Core i3 Gen-11 processor is great value. It also has Intel UHD Graphics installed for the graphics card. Although it is not the most powerful graphics card, it is more than enough to display the images with clarity and sharpness. Additionally, 8GB of RAM is installed in the device, so you can have better capability to do multitask with it. Considering that it has a 15.6-inch FullHD monitor with refresh rates of 60Hz, it is difficult to find direct competitors in the same class for the display department. Finally, connectivity is a decent feature for this price. Acer Chromebook Plus 515 has three USB ports, divided into two USB type-C and one USB type-A port. Additionally, it has an HDMI port that you can use to connect it to any other display, including a projector or external monitor.

Still, this Chromebook is not without downsides. The storage is an obvious issue, as it only has 128GB. It is still important to mention it since some users might want larger storage, even though there is an option to extend for a larger storage that comes with an extra microSD. Before buying this Chromebook, you should also be aware of the screen brightness. It is difficult to use this Chromebook under the sun because it is not bright enough. Because of this, it is difficult to suggest this device to someone who is extremely busy and often uses it outside. One last flaw is the screen which is not touchscreen model. Though you have keyboard and trackpad on it, this device feels rather old because this feature is missing.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3

Given its low cost, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 3 is a worthy addition to the list of budget Chromebooks. The battery life is one important factor that makes this device highly recommended. It might not need another charge for the whole day once it is fully charged. That is to show you how good the battery life is. The keyboard is another positive thing from this Chromebook. Typing on it feels enjoyable and fun because of the satisfying clicky-feeling. Since this Chromebook has a privacy shutter to cover the webcam, you can disable it manually anytime if you are worried about forgetting to disable it during a video call. It also has a 1336×768 IPS touchscreen display that supports 360-degree hinges to let you use this device as a tablet.

When it comes to the areas that could be improved, performance is one of them. Despite having a 4GB RAM and Intel Celeron N4020 Dual-Core processor, the overall performance seems less impressive. In addition to the performance, this Chromebook also feels outdated due to its extremely thick bezels. Another component to note is the screen. The low resolution, which makes the images look pixelated, is not the only issue. The brightness of the screen with the maximum of 250 nits is not enough, even for indoor usage. You will find glares on the screen which is pretty annoying to have.

HP Chromebook X360 14

When it comes to distance learning, audio and video are the most important features to look for in a Chromebook. Fortunately, for these reasons, the HP Chromebook X360 is an excellent choice. These two features are the strongest points of the device, allowing you to join the virtual class without any issue. The webcam is surprisingly good for a conference call, producing natural-looking color and working well even in low-light conditions. This Chromebook has two microphones installed, so your input sound can be heard to the people you talk to clearly. The audio, in addition to the webcam, is an excellent feature of this device. The sound is clear and there is no distortion, though it could be a bit louder for a better experience.

After discussing the key features of the Chromebook, let’s get into the details of the component specifications. With Intel Core i3 1115G4 processor and 8GB RAM, the HP Chromebook X360 14C should provide decent performance for multitasking and opening multiple Google Chrome tabs at the same time. You don’t have to be concerned about the screen because it is a 14-inch touchscreen with Full HD resolution and an IPS panel, making it ideal for enjoying entertainment from it. However, the charging time is not impressive, as you can only get 55% for an hour charge. Furthermore, the battery only lasts less than 7 hours, which is only average in this category. If you are planning to use it outside more often, you should look into the other options because the screen brightness on this Chromebook is limited to 250 nits. It will be difficult to see the screen clearly directly under the sun. After considering all the aspects, you should be able to decide whether or not you want this model. The conference call feature is excellent, which is why it is a good choice for distance learning, but the rest of the features are not particularly appealing for other purposes.

Acer Chromebook 317

For a tight-budget Chromebook, Acer Chromebook 317 is a budget good option. This device has Intel Celeron N4500 processor and 4GB of RAM, which is adequate for running basic software but not powerful enough for multitasking. The 17-inch screen with Full HD resolution is what makes this device interesting. When compared to 720p resolution, the image on the screen is shown sharper and less pixelated with the screen. This gives you joy for staring at it for a long time. Connectivity is also one of the good parts of it. Having two ports for each USB A and USB C, plus the microSD slot for storage extension makes this Chromebook flexible to connect with other devices. This could be an important feature for kids in order to do their daily tasks at school.

After you discovered the positive aspects from this Chromebook, we will now discuss the negative aspects. The limited storage space on this Chromebook is an important consideration to think about. Acer Chromebook 317 only has 64GB of storage capacity, which is standard for most Chromebooks, but it seems that you will not be able to store much data inside. The only way to increase storage is to insert an SD card into the microSD slot, which not everyone is willing to do. Another flaw is the lack of an HDMI connection option. You will not be able to give a presentation on an external monitor or projector because this Chromebook lacks the necessary connectivity. The battery life is the final consideration. This may not be a problem because it has a battery life of up to 9 hours, which is enough for most people. However, if battery life is your top priority, you can find other devices that provide better value.

Acer Chromebook Spin 714

We save the best for the last, which is Acer Chromebook Spin 714. Specification-wise, this is one of the most powerful Chromebook available in the market. Coming with the latest generation of Intel processor, Intel Core i5 1335U, this device has to be a perfect suit for those who want to complete any tasks at all, even for heavy multitasking. It is supported with Intel Iris Xe Graphics GPU and 8GB RAM, you can easily outperform any other Chromebook you can find. The design also feels solid with the aluminum chassis that makes it look premium with the grey touch. You can also make this Chromebook as a tablet just by bending the hinges 360 degrees. As for students, one of the most important aspects is battery life. They might need to bring the Chromebook to school, and the last thing they want to do is to forget the charger. Luckily, the battery life is outstanding with the usage time of almost 15 hours in just one full charge. This means you can charge it fully and end the day with the battery still having some power. To finish the good aspects of the Chromebook, it is the storage. The storage capacity of 256GB SSD will allow you to save files and install applications more freely since it is large enough for this purpose.

Talking about the flaws, it is hard to mention one because everything inside this Chromebook is one of the best among the other devices. The only possible struggle to bring this item home is probably the price. Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is quite expensive for a Chromebook. To give you an idea, you can get a budget gaming laptop with decent specifications for the same price range. However, with the impressive components inside, the price tag seems to make sense and you will get a quality device which you can rely on for your study. Also, if you buy this item on Black Friday, you might get a huge discount which makes the price is more affordable.

That’s all the top 5 Chromebooks that can help you with your study at school or university. Starting from the budget option to the most premium one, you can choose which one suits you better. You don’t have to buy the best one if your purpose is only to use it for doing homework or browsing on the internet. Any Chromebook which comes with a low price is capable of doing all the basic stuff such as typing, watching movies and browsing. But if you want to have flexibility, meaning that you want to choose one that fits for every situation, then it is better for you to invest more to get the premium one. By getting the best possible device, not only that you are getting better specifications of the device itself, but also you can potentially save money in the future for not having to upgrade your gadget because you already have one that is reliable to use for some time.

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