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
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
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
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.