A Chromebook is the easiest to use, affordable notebook computer available. Learn how you can get an ultra modern Chromebook with 100GB free cloud storage from Google, for just $149.
Our mission at CheapInternet.com is to help people on tight budgets get high-speed internet access at the lowest possible price. But you can’t get online if you don’t have a computer or other device that you can afford to purchase.
Smartphones and tablets may be sufficient for people who have simple needs. But for doing more sophisticated tasks, such as word processing, working with spreadsheets or just heavier browsing, you really need a traditional keyboard and a larger screen. This means you need a desktop, laptop, netbook or Google Chromebook.
Knowing our audience well, we understand that they want something very inexpensive, easy to use, and that doesn’t require any special technical knowledge to keep it up and running.
The problem with most desktops, laptops and netbooks is that they run Microsoft Windows. That’s fine if you are technically-skilled, and can handle system upgrades, keep Windows working right, defend against viruses, install/upgrade software, and do backups. If you are the typical non-technical user, a Windows computer will eventually become a living nightmare for you.
In addition, Windows on a low-priced computer is going to be severely underpowered. This goes for desktop, laptops and netbooks. Chromebooks aren’t necessarily more powerful, but they require less speed and memory to run their applications since they don’t run Windows. While you can’t run everything on a Chromebook that you can a Windows computer, most of those applications would not run well on a cheap, underpowered Windows computer anyway.
Note that Windows 10 is coming soon, and we’ll reevaluate our stance when we see the rumored $150 Windows 10 notebook computer. Microsoft promises a new experience, but given the history of Windows, we remain wary.
At this time, we can only recommend Chromebooks to our readers who want a usable, easy to run and maintain computer with keyboard at the lowest possible cost. This comes with the caveat that the user is just interested in web browsing, emailing, watching videos, word processing and spreadsheets, photo editing, social media and other basic functions for the least amount of money and the fewest problems.
What is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is actually a type of netbook. Netbooks are small laptop computers that are designed to be used primarily, but not exclusively, when connected to the internet. Netbooks generally use Windows, and so suffer from all the issues involved with that operating system. A Chromebook, on the other hand, runs on Google’s Chrome OS operating system.
Chrome OS is an easy-to-use operating system that was designed from the start to be used in the modern world of cloud computing. Chromebook apps exist in the cloud, which is where your files such as word processing documents, spreadsheets and images will also live. And Google gives you a whooping 100GB of cloud storage free with every Chromebook.
Chromebooks began shipping in 2011 and schools became the largest customer by 2012 and due to their low price and ease of use. Since then, Google has broadened its customer base to include individuals looking for a simple computer experience.
Using a Chromebook
The first thing you’ll notice when you boot up a Chromebook is that you are up and running in just seconds, thanks to the quick Chrome OS loaded on the computer’s fast solid state drive. Once up you’ll sign into your Google account and be presented with a desktop where you’ll have icons for the Chrome browser, Gmail, and the apps you installed from the Chrome Web Store in the cloud.
Installing apps is as easy as going into the Chrome Web Store and selecting and installing from the cloud. Installing Chrome OS apps in this manner rather than installing traditional applications in Windows virtually eliminates the need for anti-virus software.
Aside from the familiar email and calendar apps, the most important and useful are Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides. These replace the need for office applications such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Powerpoint. While these apps may not be as sophisticated as their Microsoft counterparts, they are easily sufficient for most all uses.
While a Chromebook is made for working while connected to the web, many apps also let you work with them offline. For example, users can access Google apps such as Gmail, Calendar, Google Drive and the family of Google Docs apps while offline. And Chromebooks come with a built-in local music player, photo editor and document viewer that work without the internet.
Buying a Chromebook
Google invented the Chrome OS, which is the required operating system in order for a computer to be called a Chromebook. Google sells some Chromebooks themselves and licenses other companies to manufacture and sell their own Chromebooks. In addition to buying from Google, you can get a Chromebook from names like Acer, ASUS, Dell, Haier, Hisense, HP, Toshiba, Samsung and others.
Prices vary from $149 for a couple new Chromebooks being released now, to well over $1,000 for beautiful, high-end models. Higher prices gives you faster performance, larger and higher definition screens, more memory and storage, better components and higher quality build.
But we’re CheapInternet.com and our readers want cheap computers go to with their internet. We’re going to keep away from anything over $200, and focus on newer models rather discontinued or aging ones. The Chromebooks we list below are all new for 2015 so you can be sure of getting the best product for your money.
Currently we recommend three models. The Hisense Chromebook is available now at Walmart online. The Haier Chromebook 11 is exclusively sold at Amazon, and the ASUS Chromebook 201C available at Amazon and other retailers.
All three Chromebooks have very close to the same specs, so it may come down to your brand or store preference.
Haier Chromebook 11
The Haier Chromebook 11 features an 11.6-inch screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, a 1.8 GHz Rockchip processor, 2GB RAM, 802.11ac wireless, two USB ports, an SD Card reader, HDMI output, stereo speakers and a 720p webcam.
It weighs in at only 2.54 lbs, has a full-size keyboard and promises 10 hours of battery life. The price is just $149. Available exclusively at Amazon.
The Hisense Chromebook specs are very similar to the Haier Chromebook 11. It also has a 11.6-inch screen, 2GB RAM, 802.11ac wireless, 16GB flash storage, two USB ports, an SD Card reader, HDMI output, stereo speakers and a 720p webcam.
The Haier Chromebook 11 weighs in at 2.3 lbs, has a full-size keyboard and promises 10 hours of battery life. The price is just $149. Available exclusively at Walmart.
ASUS Chromebook C201
The ASUS Chromebook C201, scheduled for release in May 2015, is another new Chromebook that uses a 1.8 GHz Rockport quad-core processor to power the compact computer. It comes with 2GB RAM (option for 4GB), 802.11ac wireless, 16GB flash storage, two USB ports, an SD Card reader, HDMI output, stereo speakers and a 720p webcam.
The ASUS Chromebook Chromebook C201 weighs only 2.16 lbs, has a full-size keyboard and says it’s battery will last an astounding 13 hours. The price is just $169 and it is available at Amazon and many other retailers.