Acer Spin 713 ChromebookSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

2020 has been the year of the Chromebook, as millions turn to the inexpensive workhorses to work from and learn from. Of course, millions of folks all trying to buy laptops at the same time has led to a Chromebook shortage that will take months to subside. Most of our Best Chromebooks picks are either back-ordered or out of stock entirely, save for horrible price-gougers.

Since Amazon Prime Day is later in 2020 than previous years, it thankfully avoided the worst of the shortage in late July — when back-to-school shopping picked back up — but do not expect Chromebook supply to be recovered by then. If anything, by October things will be even more picked over than they are right now.

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That means if you want a new Chromebook for you or your children this fall, you should buy as soon as possible.

Lenovo Flex 5 ChromebookSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

From the latest Chromebooks like the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 and the Lenovo Flex 5 to older, trusted models like the ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 and the Google Pixelbook Go, stock has been spotty and prices even more so. We saw this back in March, and even now some Chromebooks still haven't been properly replenished, like the ASUS C214, which has seen impressive price gouging this summer as parents hunt for a durable Chromebook for their kids.

Supply for other education Chromebooks is similarly backlogged; the Dell 3100 2-in-1 is back-ordered until March and both HP and Lenovo's websites are completely sold out of education Chromebooks. Manufacturers are working to replenish supply as fast as they can, but right now that's coming in small spurts and brief batches.

This means that instead of waiting for Prime Day when the masses will come running expecting deals, you should be hunting right now.

Asus Chromebook C214Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

Case in point: I checked our Best Chromebooks three times today. In the morning, the Lenovo Flex 5 had just been restocked. By lunch, the Flex 5 was out of stock again, but Best Buy had restocked the i3 variant of the Lenovo C340-15. A few hours later, Amazon got in a batch of ASUS Chromebook Flip 214 — the stylus model, which has been even more of a unicorn to find.

So while most of the good Chromebooks may be showing as back-ordered or out-of-stock at any given time, if you keep checking back, you can jump on it once it's available again. You might have to check for several days — weeks, even, for more newer models like the Acer Spin 713 and the Lenovo Flex 5 — but by looking now, you're competing with fewer buyers than Prime Day when tens of thousands of people will be looking to replace their aging computers.

You might think that waiting til Prime Day means you'll get a good discount on the Chromebooks that are in stock when October rolls around, but I'm sorry to say that just isn't true. Yeah, Amazon will likely discount 2-3-year-old Chromebooks back to the price they should be at — even old, outdated Chromebooks are sitting at inflated prices right now — but Amazon has no incentive to discount good Chromebooks when they're already selling out within hours of restocking.

Make the most of your ChromebookSource: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

Without deals, there's no reason to wait a month, especially when you'll have to wait 4-6 months in order to see most Chromebooks consistently in-stock again. So start looking now, and maybe you can spend Prime Day on your new Chromebook looking for deals on Chromebook accessories which I can confidently say will be on sale.

If you don't know what you want yet, we have the buyer's checklist that can help you narrow down your search to a few specific models. After following Chromebook inventory the last few weeks, I recommend keeping an eye on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet and Lenovo Chromebook C340-11, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, and the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434. Each have been restocking more frequently than most, and Acer 713 in particular has been a great value at $630.

Looking for a Chromebook for your kid? There are a few more things to keep in mind.

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