If you or someone you love will be heading off to college soon, a laptop will be absolutely essential. Nowadays, a student’s computer is just as important as his or her student ID. But where to start?

College is expensive enough so it’s important to shop smart. But not to worry. I and my EC team have done the hard part figuring out our picks for Best Inexpensive™ laptops for students of 2018.

First, determine what your student will need in a laptop. Not sure? Here’s a quick list of what I believe the typical college student needs in a computer:

  • Write papers
  • Access the Internet
  • Email
  • Store photos and music
  • Stream Netflix, movies and videos
  • Skype with friends and family

Both of our picks below—one Chromebook and one Windows-based—are best for college and graduate students, but they’ll work for those in high school, too. And you can expect these laptops to last at least five years, which in most cases will take a student through an entire college or grad school experience.

BEST INEXPENSIVE™ CHROMEBOOK LAPTOP

Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA. While not the cheapest Chromebook out there, we believe this Asus Flip is the best for the money. It works as both a laptop and notebook, flipping into either style. Super powerful with 4GB RAM and Intel core processor. Starts up in seconds and lasts all day, up to 10 hours. Weighs just 2.65 pounds. Backlit keyboard and touchscreen. A dream machine! More hereAbout $450.

By way of review, a Chromebook is a laptop computer that runs Chrome OS as its operating system and is designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, which is not a problem as WiFi is expected as part of today’s campus experience both from an educational as well a social perspective. Students expect fast WiFi so that they can learn anytime and anywhere on campus as well as always be available for friends and family.

There are countless Google apps (software) for Chromebooks and they’re all free. Just remember a Chromebook is not a Microsoft Windows computer. Chromebooks vs. Windows Laptops: The Real Story does a great job of listing the differences—and why a Chromebook is so much better (and so much cheaper) in many situations. A Chromebook operates with Chrome OS which is secure, fast and super simple.

A Chromebook laptop is ideal for the student who wants to be able to write papers, surf the Internet, communicate by email, stream movies and videos and manage lots of photos and collect tons of music, relying on cloud storage of documents and files. Chromebooks have become so popular, they now outsell Apple’s range of Macs.

 

BEST INEXPENSIVE™ WINDOWS LAPTOP

Asus ZenBook UX330UA.  For students enrolled in classes requiring the student have a Windows-based laptop to download powerful software so it’s onboard, this Asus ZenBook is our pick. This is a beautiful machine offering super-long battery life. It’s lightweight with 8GB RAM, 256 GB solid state drive (SSD); 13.3 inch screen with full HD and backlit keyboard. Comes with Windows 10 pre-installed. For the money, you just can’t beat this Asus ZenBookAbout $750.

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