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mamakelly

Chromebook or inexpensive laptop?

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I need to buy our daughter a new computer for school this year. Last year she was able to check out a Chromebook from our homeschool program. But this year she'll need her own. She's a senior in high school, and taking community college classes. Next year she will be going to college and majoring in either studio art, art history or art education. I was going to buy her a Chromebook, that's what she used last year and had no issues with it, it fit her needs just fine. But when I was looking at Chromebooks at Costco, the guy showed me a Lenovo laptop that was on sale for only $150 more. I'm wracking my brain to try and decide what would work better for her. Any reason why a college kid might need a lower end laptop vs a Chromebook? Thoughts? 

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My DD got her new Lenovo Laptop (Windows 10) at UNC yesterday.  Windows machines are more of a PITA, however, one can do just about anything with a Windows PC.  I vote for the Lenovo Laptop. Good luck with whatever you go with. What does the university she will go to suggest/require students have?

ETA: The Chromebook would *not* meet the requirements at UNC, but apparently would at many universities.

Edited by Lanny
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We are facing this question with our youngest. Our oldest (science major) has done fine with a Chromebook - hers died and she liked it so well, she replaced it with another Chromebook. 
Youngest, however, will major in business, so we have decided (I think, we haven't actually purchased anything yet!) on a regular laptop due to the fact for her Business S/W class, she will need to install Microsoft Office on her laptop. At least one class requires you to bring your laptop, so it seems to make more sense. 

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I'm biased toward computers over chromebooks, but I'm old. I have a chromebook for work, but I find that when I really need to make something (word document, excel spreadsheet), I use my mac at home. I was subbing as a math teacher last year, and I needed to use an equation editor. The online version of word or powerpoint they could give me did not include an equation editor (and google docs is no good)--not good for a math teacher. My chromebook is heavier than my mac but has a smaller screen. Things seem to take longer--just scrolling to get to the rest of a screen is just more awkward and slow. I just feel like I can do more and work more efficiently on my mac. But my dd does all of her schoolwork on googledocs and prefers the convenience of that to Word, so I could see the younger crowd voting differently than I would.

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I like laptops with disk drives. I like to be able to watch DVDs on our laptops. 

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Is your daughter the careful sort?  If not I recommend a refurbished ex lease dell latitude.  Not pretty, not light but very tough.  We have a 6000 and a 5000 series but you can get 7000 series for not much more.

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When my laptop died, I bought myself a Chromebook. I teach web development at the college level, and it's fine for answering emails, grading web pages, using Google apps, and web browsing. The price and weight was right.

But I can't use it for the applications that I teach and use myself because it doesn't have enough memory, and it isn't designed for installing that type of application which is storage- and memory-intense. If there's any chance that she has to have certain applications for school, you're going to need a laptop. I primarily use Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Captivate, and there's no way I can do that on just a Chromebook. I have a regular desktop PC for that.

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My first thought with the art major is that she might be using Adobe suite or other such apps, something she can't do with a Chromebook, I don't think. So I'd look ahead and decide based on that. Apparently lots of students take Chromebooks to college and some colleges even specifically encourage them. But some students need a "real" laptop with enough storage to run other programs.

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Jumping in to say Thank You for this thread!  I've been debating the same thing for my oldest who is starting CC classes.  I know she will need Office, so I'll go with a cheaper laptop.   I've been trying to find one with both touch screen and a DVD player.  I think we are going to have to pick one bc I can't find anything with both in my price range!

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One of my kids used a Chromebook for CC. It was mostly fine, though there were few things he had to do on the home desktop - I don't remember what they were. There were also some difficulties with saving documents in the correct format for submitting online.  He's transferring to a 4-year to finish his degree, and just got a Windows laptop because he didn't want to get stuck having to go to the library or computer lab to do something if it wouldn't work on the Chromebook.  He really liked the simplicity of the Chromebook though. 

 

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My son has both. He got the laptop intending it to be a replacement for the chromebook but the battery life on the chromebook and ease of use continue to see it getting regular use (when he was carless he especially preferred the chromebook for on the bus) but as a radio and television production guy, he needed the laptop for extensive editing processes. There are definitely things you can do on a laptop you can't do on a chrome! 

My kids prefer the Google suite to office, I still use office. My youngest can make Google sheets sing and calculate orbital dynamics lol ... it has a lot of functionality.  I think that's pretty standard for them, just those of us who learned/mastered office have a preference for it.  Theres more functionality in the Microsoft suite, but most users, especially students, arent using those additional functions. 

Edited by theelfqueen
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Thanks for the insight. She comes home today from a trip, so I’ll ask her if she has a preference, but I’m leaning towards Chromebook. Her school doesn’t have a requirement and we have a large screen desktop with the whole Adobe suite, and Office suite. 

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14 hours ago, kiwik said:

Is your daughter the careful sort?  If not I recommend a refurbished ex lease dell latitude.  Not pretty, not light but very tough.  We have a 6000 and a 5000 series but you can get 7000 series for not much more.

 

We were just weighing this. I want her to get a cheap Chromebook. She can use Docs instead of MS Office, IMO. She’s resisting. She had an HP elitebook previously. Her brother has a Dell Latitude from the Dell Outlet. It’s what she wants as well. I have to admit that thing is a rockstar. If it can survive this kid, it can survive anything. I think his was a 5450?

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4 hours ago, mamakelly said:

Thanks for the insight. She comes home today from a trip, so I’ll ask her if she has a preference, but I’m leaning towards Chromebook. Her school doesn’t have a requirement and we have a large screen desktop with the whole Adobe suite, and Office suite. 

 

Just as an aside and it may or may not matter, our university offers free MS Office suite but can’t put that on a Chromebook.

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Sounds like in the OP's situation a laptop would be needed for the art software. 

Dh is in CC now and does not use Office he has used Libre Office and Google Docs for all the papers he has had to do, we've not had a machine that ran Office in ages, it has worked fine for him. I love Chromebooks, the battery life, light weight, cheap and quick. If you need to download anything they don't work but for most things they are awesome.

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I guess it depends on the model or brand,  but just to throw this out there....my dc's have Asus chromebooks (not sure what model) from their high school and they have office 365 installed on them.  So for those that are writing off the chromebook because of that,  you may want to look at the specs for the particular model your researching. 

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15 minutes ago, lispy said:

I guess it depends on the model or brand,  but just to throw this out there....my dc's have Asus chromebooks (not sure what model) from their high school and they have office 365 installed on them.  So for those that are writing off the chromebook because of that,  you may want to look at the specs for the particular model your researching. 

Ds has a Chromebook from his highschool too, no clue if it has Windows on it though.

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43 minutes ago, lispy said:

I guess it depends on the model or brand,  but just to throw this out there....my dc's have Asus chromebooks (not sure what model) from their high school and they have office 365 installed on them.  So for those that are writing off the chromebook because of that,  you may want to look at the specs for the particular model your researching. 

 

Office 365 is cloud based. You don't have it installed on the chrombook, you use the chromebook to access it on the web.

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The recent posts brought a thought to mind.  I don't know if it is relevant to the OP's situation or not, but, if your dd is going to need to work offline at times, then that would be a reason to get a laptop, and get the needed software loaded onto it.  

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1 hour ago, vonfirmath said:

 

Office 365 is cloud based. You don't have it installed on the chrombook, you use the chromebook to access it on the web.

Ah. Ok.  I have never realized that,  even though office 365 is what I use every day on my desk top,  lol.  This is why I shouldn't be commenting in threads related to computers of any sort 😃.  

 

Edited by lispy
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If she goes this route you're probably looking at a laptop that will get her through this year until she knows what the requirements of her university will be. My daughter's roommate was an art major and she said all the art majors needed MacBooks once they were accepted into the program in order to handle the required software for digital design . All the art computer labs were Mac as well. 

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Comparing a chrome book to a laptop is like comparing a bicycle and a car. If you live in a city, and only ever travel within a 1 mile radius a bicycle might get you where you’re going easier than a car. The person on the bike is like “oh, you really should be using a bike! It’s awesome- so much cheaper than a car. I don’t have to deal with parking or gas, or traffic. It’s so much better than a car!” And they’re right- within their one mile. But the first time the person with the bicycle needs to leave their block, they’re going to realize that - oh, crud. There is actually no comparison to a car. Maybe the bike is simpler, cheaper, easier, and less of a hassle for that limited list of normal everyday things...but once you get outside of those things there is literally no comparison- you literally can’t make the bike work for what you now need it to do.

I taught a basic tech class at our homeschool co-op last year and the kids with the chrome books were not able to do a single assignment in full. And it was literally tech. 101. I ended up having to round up laptops to lend to all the kids with chrome books so they could do their assignments. (Even the kids with like 5 year old crappy laptops could do their assignments- but the kids with brand new chrome books couldn't complete a single one of them). 

That doesn’t make chrome books bad- but you don’t want to buy one thinking of it in comparison to a laptop- it’s really just a tablet with a good keyboard. If you are positive thats enough that’s great- but if there is any chance you are going to want to “venture out of your neighborhood” then you are going to need a “car” (laptop)- and the chrome book will end up being a waste of money. 

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