Chromebooks are cheap and versatile machines and often don’t get the credit they deserve for the power they possess. They’re a unique and attractive option, especially for students who are normally on very tight budgets.
Can a Chromebook be a college laptop? The answer is quite simple. Yes! Absolutely, a Chromebook can be a college laptop. However, there are many things to consider when purchasing a college laptop and we will be discussing all of them below.
Things to Consider
There are a few things students should think about before purchasing a Chromebook. While they are tough and powerful machines, they may not be right for every college student out there. Remember to keep these things in mind before making that big decision.
1. What is your budget?
You’ll likely be looking for a laptop that’s relatively cheap because, let’s face it, most college students don’t have a lot of cash to burn (or even a lot of cash) regardless of how many hours you work in the summer.
Chromebooks are insanely cheap for the power you get with decent models averaging about $250 and higher end models just brushing the $700 mark.
2. What sort of device is best for you as a college student?
Next, you’ll be looking at versatility. You’re going to need a laptop that will be able to keep up with your busy schedule as a student. Is a Chromebook going to be able to meet all your needs?
This is the age of tech after all, and many of us often have several smart devices at our disposal. With a Chromebook, you can save not only money but space as well because most Chromebook models are 2-in-1s: tablets and laptops combined.
This offers quite a lot of versatility to your laptop as you’ll be able to switch to whatever device is most comfortable for you without having to lug two devices about and dig around in your bag for them.
3. What is your major and what sort of technical equipment might you need for it?
This is a huge question, obviously. If you’ve just been accepted to university, you may not have chosen your major yet and that’s ok. But ask yourself what sort of tech you’ll need to get through your classes.
Are you an English major? Communications? Business? Are you majoring in the humanities? For these majors and many more that likely won’t be requiring that you use a lot of specialist, hardware intensive software, you will definitely be able to get by quite comfortably with a Chromebook. Their perfect for basic word processing, research, note taking and more.
Are you a Computer Science major? Engineering? Art or media? For these majors and those like them, you may need access to specialist software that a Chromebook is simply not going to be able to accommodate. So keep in mind what you’ll be needing beyond just a word processor and internet browser in your college laptop.
4. What do you plan to do with what little downtime you’ll have?
On those occasional days that you’re not drowning in homework or papers, you’ll likely want to just chill out on your computer for a little while. If you’re the type that uses their downtime to watch Netflix or movies, or surf the web, a Chromebook is perfect for you.
However, if you enjoy playing video games, editing photos or videos, or doing more intensive work on your laptop, a Chromebook may not be able to meet your needs.
Due to their small storage and often meager memory and processing, these laptops simply don’t have to power to run games or intensive software like Adobe apps.
…Chromebooks are incredibly budget-friendly and very decent models can be purchased…
As mentioned before, Chromebooks are incredibly budget-friendly and very decent models can be purchased for just under $200. This definitely makes them attractive to college students. On top of this, they offer quite a lot of power for such a small price tag and that’s going to be very important for students.
You’ll find that they are quite fast and efficient when it comes to processing and multitasking with an all day battery life to boot. That’s something not even the best cheap windows and mac options can offer all at once.
…you won’t have to worry as much about this because all of your documents will be saved to the cloud…
Chrome OS is cloud-based which means that the work you’ll be doing on your Chromebook isn’t saved to the device but rather to your Google Drive. This can be a lifesaver when you least expect it.
When I was in college, I remember countless presentation days where students forgot their flash drives, experienced a blue screen of death minutes before submitting their assignment, or, worst of all, their laptop was stolen and all their documents and data with it.
With a Chromebook, you won’t have to worry as much about this because all of your documents will be saved to the cloud and you can get back on your feet quickly even if the worst happens.
Chromebooks have great all day battery life which is obviously something you’ll want as a student. This is mostly because their hardware, while powerful, is not as intensive as other laptops and so does not drain as much of its battery.
You can easily pull 12-13 hours of battery life out of your Chromebook which is great for those lecture halls that have maybe 5 outlets for 500 people. You’ll be able to find those perfect study spots in the library or at your local cafe without worrying about hugging a wall with your charger.
Limited software capabilities
..Most models don’t boast more than 32 GB of storage and this will not be enough for most specialist software…
The biggest con for Chromebooks is their limits to the types of software you can use. This is mainly due to the lack of storage space on the laptops.
Most models don’t boast more than 32 GB of storage and this will not be enough for most specialist software needed for those tech intensive majors like the ones listed above.
There are workarounds to this, like installing Linux, using a virtual desktop or simply using your university computers and work labs.
Not for gamers
If you’re a gamer of any sort, casual or hardcore, a Chromebook really isn’t ideal. Their storage is so tiny, you’ll never be able to fit any games on your hard drive.
Their graphics cards will struggle to run 8-bit games if you’re lucky. They’re just not for the gamer and if that’s how you spend your free time, it may be best for you to look elsewhere for your college laptop.
You’re going to want a laptop that will last you your entire college career and a Chromebook can definitely do that for you. Keep in mind your major and what sort of tech you’ll need for it.
A Chromebook is going to be a great fit for a majority of majors but if you need a specialist software, remember the options available to you and what is most realistic for you.
Additionally, your downtime is just as important as your classes in college so make sure you can still have fun with your laptop while you’re at school. Chromebooks are amazingly fast, capable machines and make great cheap college laptops.