Chromebooks are a fantastic learning tool for children, and you won't break the bank buying one for the student in your life

Choosing to buy a computer for a younger student making their way through elementary or middle school is more of a necessity than a choice nowadays, but you'd be right in thinking there needs to be some thought put into which you buy. Given the scope of their work and the amount of money you are likely to want to spend on a child's computer, a Chromebook can end up being a fantastic laptop choice for your young scholar.

Add to that the number of schools that are embracing one-to-one computer programs, Google Apps for schools and other online curricula and a Chromebook can be a fantastic learning tool. Chromebooks offer fantastic security, battery life and a variety of size options as well, all at affordable prices. There are only a few that should be considered for the younger student in your life, though, and we're here to help you choose the right one.

Best choice: Acer C720P Chromebook

Acer C720 Chromebook

It's hard to find a situation in which we wouldn't recommend the Acer C720 Chromebook, and this roundup is no exception. While the C720 starts at an amazing $199 price, we're going to go ahead and recommend against the cheapest model this time, instead recommending that you pick up the C720P touchscreen variant.

It's no secret that children are growing up in a touchscreen world, and you might as well give them the ability to use multitouch gestures and interact with their computer. The C720P starts at $279, comes in two different colors, and offers more than acceptable performance and battery life for anything they can throw at it.

You could spend nearly $200 more for a model with higher specs all around, but we don't think that it's worth it — the big thing here is the touchscreen, which builds on the C720's proven platform as a fantastic Chromebook. You really can't go wrong with this machine for a student of any age, but the thin and light design is certainly a plus for younger kids.

Runner-up: ASUS C200 Chromebook

ASUS Chromebook

Keeping with the thin and light theme, a close runner-up to the C720P is the ASUS C200 Chromebook (the smaller brother of the C300). The C200 weighs just 2.5 lbs, which is great for young kids, provides even better battery life at an advertised 11 hours and doesn't have any fans either.

Performance is a bit lacking when compared to the C720P, but the younger kids aren't likely to have any complaints about that. The C200 doesn't offer a touchscreen, but it's just $219 and offers a great value in terms of being ultra portable, durable and nice looking.

Wild card: Maybe a Chromebox is best

HP Chromebox

We understand that the prospect of handing over a full-fledged computer with an internet connection to a young child may be a point of contention. For those who wish to keep a young student's computer usage in a more "public" area of the home, a Chromebox may be a better choice. You get all of the simplicity and power of a Chromebook in a more stationary machine that can be kept in a place where the parents can keep a lookout.

Chromeboxes do require a bit more setup than a Chromebook, though, as in many cases you'll be providing your own keyboard, mouse and monitor to supplement the little box. If you're not opposed to the small amount of setup and bulk, though, the HP Chromebox is a fantastic choice at just $179 including a wireless mouse and Chrome OS keyboard (which is important). It has plenty of horsepower — comparable to leading Chromebooks — under the hood, a tiny form factor and all the ports you'll need.

If you already have a keyboard and mouse to attach and want to save the $30, we wouldn't hold it against you. You can pick up the HP Chromebox without the peripherals for just $149 in black, turquoise or white. Not a fan of the HP? You can pick up a comparable ASUS Chromebox for about $167. Both are great choices if you want a desktop-style machine instead of a laptop.

No matter what kind of computer you're looking to give to a young student, you have great options here with these Chromebooks and Chromeboxes.


Reader comments

Back to school: The best Chromebooks to consider for young students


Touchscreen for touchscreen sake is silly. I have a touchscreen laptop and I've tried chromebook out on ut. Nothing about the chromebook interface lends itself to touchscreen over a mouse.

I'd go so far as to say that touchscreens on any laptop form factor are a waste. Save your money.

I love touchscreen if you can get it for a bargain, and even if there's nothing extra for toushcreen users, I enjoy it for the casual card games I happen to enjoy. It's also easier to use the touchscreen for certain tasks, and with more touchscreen Chromebooks, hopefully the system will be tweaked to better handle it in a few more builds.

I have a dell venue 11 pro, you have to have touch screen on 2 in 1. Also makes sense on Lenovo yoga

Posted via Android Central App on 1+1

for student or anyone - i'd rather have a real Windows machine like this than a Chromebook -

New! Acer - Aspire 11.6" Laptop - Intel Celeron - 2GB Memory - 320GB Hard Drive - Cool Silver
Model: E3-111-C0WA SKU: 7498239
64MB dedicated graphics
Windows 8.1 64-bit
Technical details: Intel® Celeron® processor; 11.6" display; 2GB memory; 320GB hard drive
Special features: Bluetooth; HDMI output
Note: DVD/CD drive not included

Best Buy

that is going to be much slower than a chromebook. even though they have the same processor windows 8 is slows it down because it is a very heavy operating system.

I disagree on the Windows 8 part because I tried it on a much lower spec machine and it ran smoothly

Posted via Android Central App

That machines going to be slow as molasses, not to mention what it'll be like after an 8 year old has their hands on it for a month.

Posted via the Android Central App

it will be just fine for Email, Web, REAL MS Office/Word/Excel - you know - REAL WORK - (which Chromebooks can't do among other many things). and this is only $179. pay $100 more and go faster if you need - which is comparable price to the Chromebook anyway. much more powerful/capable/productive bang for the buck than a Chromebook IMO.

Dude, Windows 8 is light.... Must not that light. Better than 7,no where near ChromeOS. Chrome books can do real work, I've used Google Apps on Windows machines when I don't feel like waiting for office to lag up. Teach the kid how to use it and it will work fine, the build quality is typically better than the super cheap Windows machines, and the battery life is miles ahead.

Posted via Android Central App

What elementary school kid needs "real" Word and Excel? Not even taking into account that you can do anything you need in Docs or Sheets and export as a .doc/.xls file if required...

When it comes to email, web browsing, light document work, etc. a Chromebook is the perfect machine. Particularly when you think about the security aspect of a small child using a computer.

Chromebooks are fine for elementary age kids or grandparents but I would rather have what Gekko just recommended anyday. Heck, I would take a 4 year old netbook running Windows 7 over a Chromebook if I had to use it for actual work and productivity (as long as it had at least an 11.6" 1366x768 screen)

My father has a 4 year old W7 network. Even after we upgraded it to 2 GB RAM and an SSD, it's still so slow its unusable. Especially when he tried to run MS Office, which he actually uninstalled in favor of Google docs because it was basically unusable.

Oh my terrible... Those specs with win 8 would make me cry, and the word "celeron" always makes me feel a little nauseated.

Posted via Android Central App

I feel your pain bro. The processor shouldn't exist. Why is there anything lower than an i3?

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Lol I had a eMachine desktop from 1998 that had a 266 mhz celeron in it and I thought it was adequate I only used it for Web browsing and office so that's probably why but nowadays a celeron shouldn't be used for anything besides word processing and Web browsing

Posted via Nexus 7 2013 or Galaxy S5

I thought it was designed for tablets? Well the haswell series definitely is. The thing is chrome os doesn't really need like a core i3 or something cause it simply wouldnt use most of the power. I've used chromebooks and they are much faster than any laptop I've ever used (but then again ive only ever used pentium processors on my laptops)and they are on lower specs. Its the ssd and the lack of programs using the ram and the os is much lighter than windows

Posted via Android Central App

How long would it take to boot that thing until it is usable (including signing in)???? Probably 2 minutes, LOL. How long does it take on a Chromebook? 4 seconds.

I have an Alienware notebook with W7 and it takes like 4 or 5 minutes to boot and load the desktop. I only use it when I really have to use it, otherwise I rock the Chromebook (Acer C720) 95% of the time.

Every time I toy with the idea of owning a chromebook I just head to Best Buy and look at the shitty displays they have and then the desire is gone.

Posted via the Android Central App

Yeah its fucking brutal. Imagine spilling coffee on your laptop screen and never wiping it off. Its kinda like that. All I want is a 15 inch screen that doesn't look like crap but if I want that I have to get a pixel :/

Posted via Android Central App

With chrome os getting the ability to run android apps, will regular chrome on windows and Mac be able to do the same?

Posted via Android Central App on 1+1

Doubt it. Google needs to get a few aces up ChromeOS's sleeve, and this sounds like a great one to keep exclusive. Makes it more like an OS instead of a glorified browser.

Posted via Android Central App

Well I backed console os on Kickstarter, so I should be able to run android Natively on my dell venue 11 pro by end of year

Posted via Android Central App on 1+1

Yeah, the reason to get a chromebook is not price, there are to many equally good cheap netbooks out there running Windows at nearly the same price point. The reason for a chromebook is battery life and security as most internet threats won't work on the chromebook. That's a big reason too as kids surf the web without thinking about security, clicking anything and everything. Also, they can't go installing minecraft, etc which is just another distraction from schoolwork (that's what we got them this thing for right?)

Chrome books are a rip. You can get a Windows laptop for $250 all day long, and it'll do EVERYTHING that a chrome book can do, and more. Including root your android phone. LOL.

Dude its Crazy. My daughter in the 6th grade....They start their homework at school, and then save it to drive.....and finish it at home on her C720.....mind blown

Don't think its a great idea to expect a little kid to carry around a 4+ lb laptop with a 14" screen. That's why I focused on smaller/lighter models here.