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A few years ago, my MacBook completely crashed. It served me well for six years before we had to part ways. However, I couldn’t afford to buy a new MacBook (or even a Windows 10 ultrabook) at the time, so I opted for an inexpensive HP Chromebook 14 to hold me over until I could get enough money together to buy another Apple MacBook.
I needed something quick and reliable and felt that a Chromebook would be a good option as a “back up” laptop.
Well, that temporary laptop turned into my primary laptop for a year-and-a-half until I saved up enough money for a MacBook. I was honestly surprised how long the Chromebook lasted and how well it served me for 18 months. I wrote article after article, watched YouTube and Netflix, researched things on the internet, and teleconferenced into meetings using Google Hangouts on a Chromebook.
If your laptop is broken and you’re looking for a temporary laptop yourself, then a Google Chromebook or Windows 10 Streambook are good picks. They’ll surely tide you over until your old laptop is fixed. Who knows? One of these inexpensive, under $300 laptops just might last you longer than a year-and-a-half.
If you’re not familiar, a Google Chromebook is an inexpensive way to get a full internet experience without spending hundreds of dollars on a Windows 10 or MacOS machine. All you need is a free Gmail account to use a Chromebook.
Once signed in and connected to the internet, all of your bookmarks, extensions, documents, and music are already loaded on the laptop, as long as you used Google services for everything you need on the internet.
The Acer Chromebook R 11 is a robust machine that has the capabilities of a laptop and a touchscreen tablet. And since it’s a touchscreen display, Acer uses a hinge design to position the laptop for better viewing angles to make it more comfortable to use.
With up to 10 hours of battery life, this Chromebook features an 11.6-inch HD touch display, 4GB of memory, and 32GB of storage. You can get an additional 100GB of Google Drive storage for free when you pick up this laptop too.
Shop it: Acer Chromebook R 11, $230 (was $281), amazon.com
The stylish and sleek Lenovo Chromebook S330 offers a “traditional” laptop feel with its clicky keyboard and its 14-inch HD display. While it’s ideal for consuming media from YouTube and Netflix, the Chromebook S330 is also powerful enough for lite productivity tasks, such as Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and more. This is a purely “internet only” machine that’s good enough to get you through a day of work until your primary laptop is fixed.
Shop it: Lenovo Chromebook S330, $166, amazon.com
If Windows 10 is a must and you’re a Microsoft user, then the HP Stream 14 is a great pick. It features Windows 10 Home for casual use and lite productivity. Instead of offering Google Docs, this laptop has Microsoft’s full suite of productivity apps with Office 365. In fact, you get a year subscription to the service for free, along with 1TB of Microsoft One cloud storage. No Gmail account required.
This laptop features a 14-inch HD display, 4GB of memory, 32GB of on-board storage, and up to nine hours of battery life on a single charge. The HP Stream 14 is designed to just get your work done!
Shop it: HP Stream 14, $172 (was $220), amazon.com
The Lenovo Chromebook 330 2-in-1 shares the same features as its laptop counterpart (listed above) — except one is a laptop, while the other is a hybrid. However, this edition features an HD touchscreen display and hinge design, which can transform the Chromebook into various modes for a versatile computing and viewing experience.
It still has all the features you’d come to expect from a Chromebook, including Google Docs, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Drive, and more, which is all accessible with a free Gmail account.
Shop it: Lenovo Chromebook C330 2-in-1 Convertible Laptop, $250 (was $300), amazon.com
The HP Streambook is a compact and lightweight PC machine that offers the latest and greatest from Microsoft. It features Windows 10 S and Office 365 Personal for a seamless and smooth productivity experience, if you’re coming from another Windows 10 laptop. The HP Streambook, which offers up to 12-and-a-half hours of battery life, features Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, and Skype (free 60 minutes per month) for free for a year.
Shop it: HP 11.6-inch Streambook, $164, walmart.com
Armed with an 11.6-inch HD anti-reflective display, the Samsung Chromebook 3 is powered with the Intel Celeron processor for faster speeds and smoother graphics. It’s backed with 2GB of memory and 16GB of on-board storage. The Samsung Chromebook 3 is also backed with 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for free, along with all of Google’s productivity and entertainment apps. Not bad for only $139.
Shop it: Samsung Chromebook 3, $139, amazon.com
The HP Chromebook 14 is made with entertainment in mind with its wide 14-inch HD display and 180-degree dual speaker design, backed with Bang & Olufsen audio. It also has a battery life of eight-and-a-half hours with a one-year warranty and 24/7 support from Google and HP.
Shop it: HP Chromebook 14, $221 (was $280), amazon.com
The Samsung Chromebook is pretty popular with Amazon shoppers. It has a 4.0 out of 5 star review rating, with reviewers praising this laptop’s value, easy of use, and lightweight build quality — coming in at just over two pounds. This laptop features an impressive 11.6-inch display with two USB ports, a full-sized keyboard, and a large trackpad.
If you’re looking for an all-purpose “back up” laptop, then the Samsung Chromebook is a good pick.
Shop it: Samsung 11.6-inch Chromebook, $205 (was $500), amazon.com
Armed with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of memory, and 1TB of on-board storage, this HP 15 laptop is a powerful and speedy machine that runs Windows 10 Home edition. This is a full scale laptop for online and offline use, while it also features a long battery life of 10 hours and 45 minutes on a single charge. It has the best of both worlds with Windows 10 and Chrome apps via the Chrome browser.
If you’re looking for a laptop that’s a little better than a back-up, then try out the HP 15 laptop. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed with its power and value.
Shop it: HP 15 Laptop, $259 (was $399), walmart.com
This is the latest version of the HP Chromebook HD with improved battery up to 10-and-a-half hours and a more vivid WLED 14-inch display. It’s backed with 4GB of memory and 32GB of on-board storage with an additional 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for free. If you’re looking for the latest and greatest in a more traditional form, then the HP Chromebook HD is your pick.
Shop it: HP Chromebook HD, $249, amazon.com
The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.
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