Chromebooks for College Students
Navigating the landscape of technology options can be daunting for college students and their parents. Plenty of devices promise the moon and stars, but the key lies in finding the one that delivers the goods without taking a massive chunk out of your budget. One such viable and increasingly popular option is a Chromebook. But is it the right device for you or your child? In this detailed guide, we delve deep into the world of Chromebooks for college students.
Top Chromebooks for College Students
Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook 12.2"
List Price: $349.00
Model Number: 82XH0001US
Processor: Quad-core 3.40 Ghz (max 3.40 Ghz) Intel Processor N100
RAM: 4 GB
Storage: 64 GB
Display: 12.2" touch screen with a resolution of 1920x1200 pixels.
Battery Life: 12.0 hours
Pros: Sturdy all-plastic build, handles everyday tasks well, long battery life, bright 16:10 FHD+ screen, provides great value for money
Cons: Lack of USI pen support, keyboard and trackpad feel cheap, poor camera quality
The Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook 12.2 inch is a fantastic choice for kids, offering a perfect blend of durability, performance, and value. Its sturdy all-plastic build and compact size make it easy to handle and use in various settings. The Chromebook handles everyday tasks effortlessly, thanks to its Quad-core Intel N100 processor, and offers an impressive 8-10 hours of battery life on realistic usage. The 12.2-inch, 16:10 FHD+ screen shines with 300 nits of brightness, delivering a clear and bright viewing experience. The keyboard and trackpad, although not top-tier, are more than serviceable for the needs of children. The device operates on Chrome OS, identical to all convertible Chromebooks, simplifying its usage. The lack of USI pen support might be a disappointment for some, but overall, the Lenovo Flex 3i provides exceptional value for its $349 price point. It is worth noting that the speakers are solid for spoken word content, but the camera quality leaves room for improvement. All in all, the Lenovo Flex 3i Chromebook is an excellent investment for your digital learning needs.
Model Number: 82M7004CUX
Processor: Dual-core 3.00 Ghz (max 4.10 Ghz) Intel Core i3-1115G4 Processor
RAM: 8 GB
Storage: 128 GB
Display: 13.3" touch screen with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.
Battery Life: 10.0 hours
Pros: Great performance, very nice screen with touch support, lightweight
Cons: No backlit keyboard, no pen or stylus support, mediocre battery life
The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i is a high-performing and portable laptop ideal for college students. It features a dual-core 3.00 GHz Intel Core i3-1115G4 Processor and offers either 128 GB or 256 GB SSD internal storage, providing ample space for academic files. The laptop's 13.3 inch IPS touch screen ensures a good viewing experience, and its WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 support ensures fast and reliable connections. However, it lacks a backlit keyboard and stylus, which may limit its utility in certain scenarios. Additionally, the limited number of ports and a battery life of 10 hours may pose challenges for all-day use.
ASUS Chromebook Flip CX3 (CX3400)
Model Number: CX3400FMA-DH586T-S
Processor: Quad-core 1.80 Ghz (max 4.00 Ghz) Intel Core i5-1130G7
RAM: 8 GB
Storage: 256 GB
Display: 14" touch screen with a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.
Battery Life: 11.0 hours
Pros: Powerful processor, lots of RAM and storage, great screen, good battery life, excellent value for money
Cons: Heavier than other Chromebooks, not fanless
The ASUS Chromebook Flip CX3 is a versatile and powerful laptop suitable for college students. It offers up to a quad-core 2.10 GHz Intel Core i7-1160G7 Processor and up to 512 GB NVMe SSD storage, providing plenty of power and space for academic work. The laptop includes a garaged stylus, a backlit keyboard, and supports WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, enhancing its utility and connectivity. However, its weight of 3.64 lbs might be a bit heavy for some, and the lack of HDMI or Thunderbolt ports could limit its connectivity options. Additionally, its battery life of 11 hours may not last a full day of classes and studying, and the lack of a fanless design could lead to noise during intensive tasks.
What is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is a laptop computer that runs Google’s Chrome OS (Operating System). However, unlike your traditional Windows laptop or Mac, a Chromebook primarily relies on cloud computing.
Chromebooks also stand out for their simplicity and security. They boot up quickly, undergo automatic software updates, and offer built-in virus protection, making them a convenient choice for students.
Is a Chromebook Good for College Students?
Now, to the all-important question: Are Chromebooks a good fit for college students?
On the positive side, Chromebooks offer several attractive benefits for students. They’re relatively inexpensive compared to most laptops, and they come with a suite of Google apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides, which are perfect for classwork. In addition, their portability and long battery life make them ideal for bustling campus life.
However, they also have some drawbacks. For instance, while Chromebooks can run the online versions of Microsoft Office and certain Android apps via Google Play Store, they do not support the entire Windows or Mac versions of some software. This can be a significant limitation if your university course requires specific software or you’re majoring in graphic design or engineering, which often needs more specialized software like Adobe’s suite or CAD tools.
Chromebooks primarily operate best when connected to the internet. While they have offline capabilities, it’s a pared-down experience compared to their online functionality.
So, the verdict depends mainly on the specific needs of a college student. A Chromebook is more than capable if the primary uses include taking notes, writing papers, keeping up with emails, web browsing, and streaming videos or music.
Understanding Chromebook Specifications
When choosing the best Chromebook for college students, consider several specifications.
First, let’s talk about the processor. The processor is what gives your Chromebook speed! It affects the device’s speed and performance. Chromebooks usually have different processors, from Intel Celeron to Intel Core i3, i5, or i7. Generally, an Intel Core i5 processor, like in the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, offers a solid balance between cost and performance for most students.
Next, we look at the graphics. Many Chromebooks use integrated graphics, such as Intel UHD Graphics or Intel Iris Xe Graphics. While these won’t match the performance of high-end standalone graphics cards, they’re sufficient for a student’s typical tasks on a Chromebook.
Storage is another crucial aspect. Most Chromebooks feature eMMC (embedded MultiMediaCard) storage, which is slower than SSD (Solid State Drive) but cheaper. SSDs are more common in premium Chromebooks like the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook.
Finally, and importantly for college students, is battery life. Long battery life is critical for a day filled with classes. So look for models that promise and deliver longer battery life, like the Asus Flip and the Lenovo Duet.
Can I Do Online College Classes on a Chromebook?
Absolutely! Chromebooks are well-suited to handle online classes. They have built-in webcams and microphones, essential features for participating in video conferences or virtual classrooms. They can also browse and video stream, which is crucial for accessing online learning materials and lecture videos.
Additionally, Chromebooks seamlessly integrate with Google Workspace, a suite of productivity and collaboration tools that many educational institutions use, which includes Google Classroom, Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more. This makes it easy to complete assignments, collaborate on group projects, and communicate with classmates and professors.
Platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams are readily available on the Google Play Store for classes requiring video conferencing. As for performance, given the cloud-centric nature of these tasks, most Chromebooks should handle them without a hitch, provided you have a stable internet connection.
Choosing the best Chromebook for college students is influenced by many factors, including your field of study, software requirements, budget, and personal preferences. While Chromebooks may have their limitations, especially regarding specific software needs or offline usage, they provide a cost-effective, portable, and practical solution for most college students.
Ultimately, the best Chromebook for college fits your personal and academic needs. So a Chromebook is perfect for you, whether it’s note-taking, essay-writing, web browsing, or binge-watching your favorite series between study sessions.
Remember to check your college’s technology requirements and consider your needs before deciding. But one thing’s for sure: with the right Chromebook, you can have a reliable companion to see you through your college journey and beyond.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use Microsoft Office on a Chromebook?
Yes, but not the full desktop version. You can use the online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office apps. They’re available through Office.com and as apps from the Google Play Store.
Can Chromebooks run Adobe Photoshop?
Chromebooks can’t run the full version of Adobe Photoshop. However, cloud-based alternatives like Adobe Photoshop Express or photo editing apps available on the Google Play Store could work for basic editing needs.
Is a Chromebook sufficient for computer science students?
It depends on the specific needs of your coursework. There are several online IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) and cloud-based tools like Google’s Cloud Shell for coding. However, a Chromebook may only be sufficient if your coursework requires specific software that only runs on Windows or Mac.
Can a Chromebook replace a laptop?
A Chromebook is a type of laptop, but it might not be able to fully replace a Windows or Mac laptop, depending on your needs. If you’re heavily reliant on specific apps that are not available or have limited functionality on Chrome OS, a traditional laptop might be a better fit.
How long does the battery of a Chromebook typically last?
Battery life varies by model, but most Chromebooks boast a long battery life. You can expect around 10 hours on average, with some models lasting even longer. This makes Chromebooks a good choice for students needing a device that can last a full day of classes.
Are Chromebooks good for gaming?
Chromebooks are not designed for heavy gaming. However, casual games from the Google Play Store or cloud gaming platforms like Google Stadia or Nvidia’s GeForce Now can be used on a Chromebook.
How much storage do I need on a Chromebook for college?
The amount of storage you need will depend on your usage. Most Chromebooks come with 32GB to 64GB of internal storage, but some premium models offer up to 256 GB. Remember that Chromebooks also have additional cloud storage on Google Drive, and some support expandable storage through SD cards.
Can I use a Chromebook offline?
Yes, you can use a Chromebook offline for various tasks like editing Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, reading and writing emails, viewing your calendar, and more. However, since Chromebooks are designed to work best with an internet connection, some functionality might need to be improved.
Is a Chromebook secure for online banking and sensitive tasks?
Yes, Chromebooks have built-in virus protection and sandboxing that provide a secure environment for your online activities. Regular automatic updates ensure your system is always updated with the latest security patches.
Do Chromebooks have a headphone jack?
Most Chromebooks come with a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. This allows you to connect headphones or speakers to your device. However, it’s always best to check the specific model’s specifications.
Can I install software on a Chromebook like on a regular laptop?
Unlike traditional Windows or Mac laptops, Chromebooks don’t support installing desktop applications. However, you can install Android apps from the Google Play Store, Chrome extensions, or web apps.
Can I connect my Chromebook to an external monitor?
Yes, most Chromebooks have HDMI or USB-C ports that you can use to connect an external display. You might need an adapter if your monitor uses a different connection.
Are Chromebooks durable?
While durability varies by model, some Chromebooks are designed to be rugged, with features like spill-resistant keyboards and military-grade durability. These might be particularly suitable for younger students or those who need a more robust device.
Can a Chromebook handle video editing?
While a Chromebook might not be able to run professional-grade video editing software like Adobe Premiere Pro, several online tools and Android apps can handle basic to intermediate video editing tasks.