Those interested in buying a new laptop may want to think twice before buying a Chromebook after a damning report highlighted a number of serious issues with the popular devices. A report from US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund warned that many of the affordable Chromebooks that schools in the US bought during the pandemic to facilitate remote learning had already begun to fall apart.
While the report focuses on the public school spending on Chromebooks in the US, it’s a stark warning to anyone interested in buying a seemingly cheap Chromebook anytime soon.
After the pandemic in 2020 shut down schools around the world, many school districts in the US turned to bulk-buying Chromebooks to send home with their students.
The biggest reason for opting for these devices was affordability, as some can cost less than £200.
However, the new report titled Chromebook Churn found that many of those laptops have begun to break within three years of being purchased.
While the initial cost of the laptop was low, the authors of the report estimate that this poor lifespan is likely costing schools money.
They estimate that “doubling the lifespan of Chromebooks could result in $1.8billion (£1.4billion) in savings for taxpayers.”
This suggests that if you were to buy a similar Chromebook, it would cost a whole lot more than you’d think, as you may need to spend extra on repairs, or just buy a new device altogether within just a few years.
If you thought you can just repair the malfunctioning Chromebook, you may be out of luck once again, as these devices are generally much harder to upgrade and repair than Windows laptops.
PIRG warned that one of the reasons for the lack of repairability is that replacement parts for vital elements like screens, hinges and keyboards are much harder to come by.
In their research, they found that nearly half of the replacement keyboards listed for Acer Chromebooks were out of stock online.
Meanwhile, over a third of keyboards available cost $89.99 or more, which was “nearly half the cost of a typical $200 Chromebook.”
As a result, PIRG reported that some IT departments ended up having to buy extra batches of Chromebooks just to dismantle them and use their components.
The report said: “These high costs may make schools reconsider Chromebooks as a cost-saving strategy.”
Another issue they found was with the auto-update expiration date on many Chromebooks, with the report warning that once a student receives a Chromebooks, the expiration is commonly about “four to five years away.”
Chromebook Churn also discusses the Chromebook’s auto-update expiration date — something users have been complaining about for years.
The paper warned: “When the software expires just a few years into a device’s use, schools are left with boxes of computers with working components that end up as electronic waste, and the need to buy even more Chromebooks.”
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