Asus Chromebook C214 HeroSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

Best Chromebooks for Kids Android Central 2020

You'll have a few different priorities when buying the best Chromebook for kids than it would for an adult. Smaller, lighter-weight laptops might be preferable for younger children, and older kids might want a larger screen or need more powerful components for gaming (or homework). No matter what age, there's an extra emphasis on ruggedness, dependable performance, and battery since we need to at least get through the entire school day on a single charge. The single best Chromebook for kids is the ASUS Chromebook Flip, which offers durability, portability, and adaptability that should last your child for years.

Best Overall: ASUS Chromebook Flip C214

ASUS Chromebook Flip C214Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

The 11.6-inch ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 has been our favorite Chromebook for students since it first debuted because it has everything a parent could want in their child's Chromebook. It's small and light enough for younger kids to easily carry — especially with its anti-scratch non-slip coating — it's been tested 20 ways to withstand the chaos of a child, and it's a touchscreen 2-in-1, so your kid can interact with the C214 the way it wants, whether that's as a laptop, a tablet or a drawing easel with the built-in stylus.

The stylus isn't available on every model — you'll want the model that ends with -S — but I highly recommend it so long as a stylus model is available. It's quite useful for art, but more importantly, if your kid tends to miss touch targets while tapping the screen, the stylus should add some extra precision.

Styluses are coolSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

I believe all Chromebooks should be 2-in-1s, but it's extra important for kids for two reasons. Firstly, if it's a 2-in-1, it's almost certainly a touchscreen, and touchscreens are useful for kids who just want to tap the screen instead of using a mouse or trackpad. Secondly, a 2-in-1 means the laptop can flip over into tablet mode when your child doesn't need a keyboard. As a handy note, it can also fold into either tent or stand mode (like a built-in tablet stand) so that your kid isn't craning over a tablet in their lap.

No matter which model of the C214 you get, w, the C214 comes with 4GB of RAM and only 32GB of storage. I wish that there was at least a 64GB model available — microSD cards can add extra space for downloaded files, but you can't use them to store apps the way you would on a phone.

The ASUS C214's battery typically lasts 10-12 hours on a single-use — long enough for a full school day plus homework — and when it comes time to charge it, you have a USB-C port on either side of the laptop. Even if your child somehow breaks one of these reinforced ports, you still have another to keep the laptop working. The edges of the laptop are rubberized and the keyboard is spill-resistant, as well.

Pros

  • Durable, drop-resistant build
  • Spill-resistant keyboard
  • Built-in stylus (on some models)
  • 360-degree hinge
  • Great battery

Cons

  • Limited storage options

Auto Update Expiration Date: June 2026

Best Overall

ASUS Chromebook Flip C214

Rough, tough, and ready to learn

With a spill-resistant keyboard, a durable 2-in-1 design, and battery to outlast a full school day, the C214 is perfect for kids of all school ages.

Best for Older Kids: Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook

Lenovo Flex 5 ChromebookSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

If you trust your child to take care of their laptop and not drop it off the bed, you can get a 2-in-1 Chromebook with a bigger, crisper screen, a backlit keyboard, and a more powerful processor for about the same money as the ASUS C214. Meet our new best overall Chromebook, the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook, a Chromebook that checks all the right boxes without overloading the laptop or its price tag.

This Chromebook may not look like much on the surface, but she's got it where it counts, kid.

Despite being less than an inch bigger than the C214, the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook sports a 13.3-inch 1080p touchscreen under its unassuming gray lid. This laptop hasn't been ruggedized and life-proofed like the C214, but the Lenovo Flex 5 is as perfect for an older kid as it is for many adults. You get a comfortable, evenly-backlit keyboard for late-night procrastinated projects and a pair of big, front-facing speakers on either side of it to keep the tunes going while they do.

You can get either a Celeron or a 10th Gen Intel Core i3 — and really, you should get the i3 model if you can swing it — and while there's sadly no 8GB option for the RAM (only 4GB), you can get a model with 64GB of internal storage or even 128GB if you're willing to hunt for it. You get two USB-C ports, a single USB-A port for plugging in flash drives or older USB peripherals, a microSD card to expand the storage, and a headphone jack for when you don't have time to pair Bluetooth headphones.

Most schools likely won't upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 until your kid has already graduated out of it, but the Flex 5 supports it if you need it. The Bluetooth 5.0 should help give some extra stability when using Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth mouse. The battery will last the school day, but it'll probably want a charger once your child gets home.

Pros

  • Crisp 1080p touchscreen
  • Loud upward-facing speakers
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Headphone jack
  • Multiple storage options

Cons

  • Not as durable as the top pick

Auto Update Expiration Date: June 2028

Best Chromebook Overall

Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

Everything a teen could want

The best Chromebook for everyone is also great for middle or high schoolers with its bigger screen and backlit keyboard.

Best Tablet: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo Chromebook Duet is made for comicsSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

There have been several Chromebook tablets over the last five years — including several education models made specifically for classrooms — but the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is the first Chromebook tablet that feels like it gets everything right. The screen looks lovely whether you're watching science experiments on YouTube or reading e-books for class, the battery can go all day and then some, and the kickstand and keyboard come right in the box for when you need to use the Duet as a laptop instead of just as a tablet.

As a 10-inch tablet with a 10-inch keyboard, the included keyboard might be a bit cramped for older kids for extended typing, but for younger children with smaller hands, the Duet is a good size as a tablet that can occasionally pull double-duty as a laptop. I will say that the Duet isn't as durable as most laptops in this list, so you'll want to be sure your kid is responsible enough to not drop it or throw it. There's 4GB of RAM here and 64GB or 128GB of internal storage, which is important since the Duet lacks the microSD slot standard on most Chromebooks.

That's right, folks, there's only one port on the Duet — a single USB-C port — so you'll also want to invest in some Bluetooth headphones to go with it since the Duet's speaker is a bit on a quiet side. It's also worth mentioning that the charger in the box here is a 10W USB-A charger, so you'll likely want to swap that out for an 18W Power Delivery charger instead. You'll get 12 hours out of the battery on a single charge, but charging will still go significantly faster with a PD charger.

Pros

  • Bright 1080p screen for comics and videos
  • Kickstand and keyboard included
  • All-day battery life
  • Great storage for a Chromebook

Cons

  • Keyboard can feel cramped for some
  • Not durable
  • Slow charger in-box
  • No microSD slot
  • Only one port

Auto Update Expiration Date: June 2028

Best Tablet

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The best tablet experience on a Chromebook so far

Great as a tablet and even better as a compact Chromebook, the Duet is great for kids that might not need a heavier laptop yet.

Best Powerhouse: Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Acer Spin 713 ChromebookSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

If your kid is obsessed with having the latest and greatest specs in their laptop, the Acer Chromebook Spin is a Project Athena certified Chromebook. Project Athena is a program started by Intel working with manufacturers to produce laptops that will be fast, powerful, and reliable, and this one has a 10th Gen Intel Core processor, at least 8GB of RAM, and SSD storage rather than the eMMC most Chromebooks use.

In short, it's a powerhouse, and it's available for hundreds less than any other Project Athena Chromebook.

This is a Chromebook with a good selection of ports, with two USB-C ports, a USB-A and HDMI port, and a microSD card slot for adding on more room if you need it. The keyboard is backlit and the trackpad is nice and wide, though it could've been a bit bigger given all the extra space around the keyboard you get thanks to the 3:2 aspect ratio on the 13.5-inch screen. You also get a 2K screen for a crisper look on videos and small text while reading digital textbooks.

This is a more expensive Chromebook, to be sure, but with it getting Chrome OS updates until June 2028, this is a laptop that could potentially last your child through high school and all of college. Also, as the 713 is brand-new, it's not as widely available yet, and as such isn't seeing much in the way of discounts or sales yet.

Pros

  • Powerful futureproof specs
  • Bright 3:2 screen for productivity
  • Good selection of ports, including HDMI
  • A lot of updates

Cons

  • Not as durable
  • More expensive
  • Limited availability

Auto Update Expiration Date: June 2028

Best Powerhouse

Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Phenomenal Chromebook power, surprisingly decent price

All power comes at a price, but Acer won't empty your wallet just to get a quick-as-a-whip laptop with a 2K touchscreen and an Intel i5.

Best Value: Lenovo Chromebook 100e 2nd Gen

Set up your new ChromebookSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

If you don't want to spend a lot of money on a Chromebook for your kid because you worry they might break it, then this basic Lenovo education Chromebook is right up your alley. The Lenovo 100e 2nd Gen is a clamshell laptop — it'll fold flat to 180 degrees, but you can't fold it back into a tablet — with basically the same internal guts as the much-beloved Lenovo Chromebook C330, so it's got enough power for your kid's homework while being inexpensive.

Lenovo's education Chromebooks have been some of my favorites because they feel great in the hand and the lap when jotting up a quick report on the bus. The 100e's black/gray body has a nice grippy diamond texture on the outer shell and a horizontal grain on either side of the trackpad. These textures add grip and help avoid the 100e from feeling like just another black boxy laptop, and I especially love the texture below the keyboard where I rest my palms and wrists as I type.

You don't get a touchscreen here, which is a slight bummer, but if you're going inexpensive I'd rather recommend a good Chromebook without a touchscreen than an older, underpowered model with a touchscreen. Besides, if your kid broke their last laptop, they need to earn back having a touchscreen laptop.

If you just need something quick and dirty, this durable clamshell Chromebook should get the job done without making you shell out too much money for a decently-performing Chromebook. Also, do yourself a favor: buy the 32GB model. The 16GB model might dip lower in price, but 16GB leaves very little space for Android apps, which you can't run from SD on a Chromebook the way you can on a phone. Both models come with 4GB of RAM, same as most of the Chromebooks on this list, and also like most Chromebooks on this list, the battery tends to last 8-10 hours.

Pros:

  • Rugged and reliable
  • Great textures for grip
  • Inexpensive

Cons:

  • Limited storage
  • Not a touchscreen

Auto Update Expiration Date: June 2025

Best Value

Lenovo 100e 2nd Gen

A laptop your kid can use and abuse

This isn't the flashiest or newest Chromebook around, but it will get the job done without breaking at the first sign of trouble.

Best 8GB RAM Option: HP Chromebook 14A G5

HP Chromebook 14Source: HP

While 4GB is enough RAM in 2020, more RAM is always better when dealing with a laptop, and it's especially useful if your kid tends to always have a million tabs open at once. As far as Chromebooks with 8GB of RAM, most are expensive and more fragile luxury models — Dell offers it on the 3100 2-in-1, but that's back-ordered through the rest of 2020 — but HP offers it on the more affordable and accident-resistant HP Chromebook 14A G5.

We highlighted the HP Chromebook 14 G6 earlier in this roundup — and most of the features are the same between the two — but the newer model is only with 4GB of RAM right now. The G5 is available with ample choices for either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, 16-64GB of storage, and you can get it with your choice of either an HD or 1080p non-touch or touchscreen depending on how much you're willing to spend. It's also worth noting that since these are customized laptops, you will have to wait a little longer for the laptop to be assembled and delivered.

I recommend the configuration with the AMD A4, 8GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and the 1366x768px touchscreen. 64GB of storage gives you breathing room for more Android apps or offline content, and 8GB of RAM will allow you to have more open at once. If you have extra for the 1080p touchscreen, that's awesome, but having a touchscreen even at a lower resolution is better than having a 1080p non-touch Chromebook, especially for kids that will be tapping their way through "educational" games and various websites.

Pros:

  • Plenty of configuration options
  • 8GB RAM more than enough
  • Affordable
  • Spill-resistant keyboard

Cons:

  • Some options get expensive
  • Longer delivery times

Auto Update Expiration Date: June 2025

Best 8GB RAM Option

HP Chromebook 14A G5

Need more RAM for all the tabs?

Chromebooks with 8GB of RAM can be harder to come by, but it's easy to get from HP with the durable 14A G5.

Bottom line

There's a lot of good Chromebooks out there for younger users, but the ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 is the best blend of durability, dependability, and wide availability. The optional built-in stylus is a great addition for kids who will be sketching or doodling on their Chromebooks, and the 2-in-1 form factor means the keyboard can be folded out of the way when all they're doing is watch videos or tapping away at some Android game.

For older students that might need something a little less rough-and-tumble and a little more robust, there are a couple of options, including my favorite Chromebook for adults, the Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook, which is the laptop I am writing this guide on right now. It's hard to understate how useful a backlit keyboard is when you're more productive at midnight than you are mid-afternoon, and a Chromebook with loud speakers is a rare thing to find, especially at these prices.

But the best Chromebook for one child may not be the best for another, so you need to assess what's most important in a laptop for your child: durability, power, or value. Only you know what your child needs, so discuss some options with them before you go out and spend hundreds on a laptop.

Don't trust your kid with a laptop yet? Here's how to buy the absolute cheapest Chromebook without buying a dud.

Now and then, someone comes to me after their kid broke their laptop (again) and they're just wanting to spend as little money as possible to get the kid online. And while recommending a Chromebook under $150 hurts my soul a tiny bit — there are $250 Chromebooks out there that will last six years and have a touchscreen, after all — there's a few easy-to-remember rules for buying a throwaway laptop for a child who tends to throw their things.

  1. If it doesn't have USB-C, don't pay more than $100. If it has a proprietary charger, it's almost certainly an older model because pretty much every Chromebook released in the last two years has used USB-C Power Delivery to charge. A Chromebook without Power Delivery will take longer to charge and more importantly, it means that if your kid loses/breaks the in-box charger, it will cost more to replace it.
  2. Check the expiration date! Yes, Chromebooks come with one, it's called the Auto Update Expiration date, and Google has them listed for every single Chromebook model. When this date passes, a Chromebook is no longer guaranteed to receive Chrome OS updates, so it won't be as secure. Ideally, your kid won't be doing anything too sensitive on it, but it's still a good idea to get a Chromebook with at least 4 years left before its AUE date.
  3. Check local sales for deals. Retailers like to put cheap Chromebooks on sale for even lower values so that it can boast bold claims like "Chromebooks for less than $100". A Chromebook might sell out at the national (online) level but a local store might still have a few left, so check your local ads to see if they've got anything down into "if he breaks it, oh well" territory.
  4. Keep an eye out for education models. Chromebooks designed for the classroom have to meet certain standards, especially when it comes to durability. As such, while education models might be more expensive when new, older, and refurbished education-model Chromebooks are more likely to survive the abuse of a rambunctious child. If you can find one in your budget, it is always worth the upgrade when kids are the intended users.

It's hard to keep up with the Chromebooks in this price segment — prices are a roller coaster, older Chromebooks tend to go in and out of stock frequently — but these four tenets should help you navigate the Chromebooks available where you are and help you get your kid back on track.

Or at least get them away from your computer before they break that, too.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Ara Wagoner themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing help and how-to's, she's running around Walt Disney World with a Chromebook. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco. If you see her without headphones, RUN.

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