It's a Chromebook Christmas!

Hi Kennedy Families!

I have had several parents contact me asking about Chromebooks as Christmas gifts and what should they be looking for in a model (whether they are purchasing themselves or writing a list to Santa). I am a BIG fan of Google Chromebooks and Google Drive. I earned my Google Certified Educator Level 1, and many of my training sessions when I worked at the Educational Service Center were based around Google Drive and the Chromebook itself as more and more schools move away from iPads and Windows machines to Chromebooks.

What is a Chromebook anyways? I often use the phrase "it's the internet in the form of a laptop." A Chromebook uses Google's Chrome OS (not Windows or Mac). It feels a lot like Windows, with the launcher in the bottom left corner and the ability to pin apps to the taskbar. You have to have a Google account (@gmail or are both Google accounts) to log into a Chromebook.

A Chromebook runs online apps-- you can't download anything. No iTunes, no Skype, no Photoshop. You can play Pandora, do a Google Hangout, or utilize PicMonkey for those tasks though. The biggest change that people of my age or older will note is that there is no Microsoft Office-- no Word, Powerpoint, or Excel. Don't worry! Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets are a great alternative. Your kids are probably already used to using them because they are FREE and allow for easy collaboration. Some other limitations of a Chromebook include the inability to play DVD/CDs or hardwire print (you can cloud print if you have a wireless printer). Some great things about a Chromebook are that you don't need any additional software or virus protection. The price is right and the Chrome OS will automatically update, for free. Also, the battery life can be up to 8 hours without charging!

There are a few options for Chromebooks. One is clamshell vs. convertible. Clamshell means that the top only opens like a flip top up to 180°, while the convertible opens all the way around to create a tent or tablet. The convertible format is always touchscreen capable, whereas the clamshell can be a touchscreen or not.
Examples of convertible configurations
The other thing to consider for a Chromebook is the memory. Most work on a Chromebook is done "in the cloud" so there isn't a need for a lot of memory. A hard drive size of 64 GB is most common and probably sufficient, although some can go up to 1 TB. Some Chromebooks have USB ports for jump drives and some do not.

Screen size can also vary with the Chromebook. Students at both upper and lower use 11.6" screens but you can get them as large as 15.6". If you are getting a "family" Chromebook that will stay at a desk or table, a larger screen may be the answer. The 11" are great for portability and weight.

Lastly is "brand name" value. Big hitters like Samsung, Dell, and HP all make Chromebooks. You can also look at more bargain names like Lenovo, ASUS, and Acer.

Santa brought my girls Lenovo N22s last Christmas. These are clamshell, non-touch screen versions of the Chromebook. I wanted them to acquire mouse and keyboard skills instead of using a touchscreen (which they are very good at through iPhones and iPads). The students at Upper and Lower have been supplied with HP 11 G4 Education Editions. When looking at demo Chromebooks for the school, my second choice was the ASUS 11.6" Ruggedized and Water Resistant.

The links will bring you to Amazon, but you can find great deals at Best Buy, Walmart, or Target as well. I would suggest looking at the models in person if possible, then looking for the best price. With Black Friday coming up, I am sure that Chromebooks will be on the list of great deals. My target price for a clamshell, non-touchscreen, 11" screen would be $180.

If you have any questions about purchasing a Chromebook for Christmas or sending the specs to Santa, you can comment below or email me.


Alyse Consiglio


  1. College student here. I'm a super cheap guy and have worked with a few school Chromebooks (Samsung and Asus) in high school. I'm really just wanting a typing interface for classes to take digital notes with as I like keeping my MacBook at home and my Fire and Bluetooth keyboard are terribly slow and don't pull up desktop pages well. I'm thinking of getting a decommissioned Chromebook off of eBay, ideally for $50 or less. Think that's a good idea?

    1. *by decommissioned I mean from school use

    2. Chromebooks used in schools were probably used daily and put in and out of a cart several times a day. If the Chromebook is 3 years old or less, I think that is a viable option. Anything over that you may be better off with a new one (I have heard of Black Friday deals approaching $100).


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