Hello! I work in a non-profit that was just awarded a grant to buy about 30 Chromebooks for our refugee youth and adult learners. Great news! The problem is that none of us has ever used Chromebooks! We want people to be able to use them to search the internet, access email/Google docs, use online English learning programs (like Burlington English, Rosetta Stone, maybe Learning upgrade, etc..), as well as to make digital stories using WeVideo. We've been using Zoom with some learners, but I've heard Zoom doesn't work well with Chromebooks, so perhaps we'd have to move to Google Meeting?
In any case, we'll get up to $250/device reimbursed, but the place we'd hoped to order (CDW) from has many on back-order (e.g., Acer and Samsung 4). We're looking at the following because they seem good in terms of durability, sound quality, screen quality, and memory.
Do any of you have experience to share? Advice? We have to order by Friday. Many thanks in advance!
Dell ends support on the Chrome OS between 5 and 7 years after a Chromebook's release date. So, it's good to check that out when buying one lest you get a so-called bargain that's near or past it's expiration date. I quickly checked the 3 you listed on Google's Auto Update Policy page (https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/6220366?hl=en). All three seem to be good until June, 2026.
I recently had to do a quick evaluation of Cisco's Webex (https://www.webex.com/webexremoteedu.html). I've never used it, but it looks like it might be a viable Zoom alternative.
Thank you, Robert. Do other folks know about/have experience using Zoom on Chromebooks?
The Chrome series are network appliances, meaning they are meant to be online for most of their activity. If you can get to it from a web browser, then it can normally be accessed from a Chrome device. You will typically not be putting anything on the local device (it does have some limited local storage). The Chrome OS that the devices use, is a cousin to the Android Operating Systems. So, if you visualize them as tablets (that just happen to look like a notebook) it might be easier when you try to think of how they can be used.
Google's Auto Update policy is something to be aware of, but it does not mean that they stop working either - they'll need to have the updates manually ran periodically after they exceed Google's support date. If you are going to be using the G-Suite (Google's contract productivity services) and/or the Google Management System (Google's network security / system management service), then the Auto Update becomes a more important issue - as that service won't support an 'expired' system...
Thank you, Marshall. We bought the devices today (!), and now I am wondering if you or anyone can explain the differences between G-Suite for Education or Non-Profits. We are a non-profit that works on refugee education, but we don't seem to fit into the categories listed in higher ed nor k-12. Just wondering if we can use all the Google products (docs, slides, and especially meeting) without the education account.
Chromebooks and boxes are fairly capable in what they do and from all reports, pretty reliable too.
As far as I know, there isn't a real difference between for Non-Profit and for Education, other than the grant process. Non-Profit may have a fee (for Education does not), the hope is that you'll want to use the more advanced services or their management system (both of which have additional fees).
Depending on how many systems and how you plan on using them, the Google Management System might be something else for you to look into, despite having a cost (@$50/individual system - 100 systems, $5,000). This system is also where the Auto Update Policy becomes pertinent - as in - as soon as a model ages out, they are not usable with the Management System. The plus side is that once it is configured, there isn't much to maintaining it. In Google's spiel to us, they mentioned that there were places where they'd turned maintenance over to Librarians to do (not to say they're limited). Other things it can do that I thought stood out:
- you can set rules to essentially lock a system down when it hasn't connected to your network in a certain amount of time and display a "Please return to" type message
- you can reset a system back to fresh install, removing users or installations
As long as the user has their own Google account, they would have access to the 'normal' tools. Using the G-Suite might be easier to facilitate some things, but if the student is saving files in their own account - it greatly simplifies other things. Specifically - they can access them from other devices and there is no need or worry about getting any files to them when they leave/graduate from your program.
The processing power, amount of memory, and type of storage affect how well an app will run, if at all. As far as specs are concerned, the three Chromebooks you're looking at are probably the best you can get for the price, but they appear to fall below the minimum requirements for running Zoom. I couldn't find Zoom's minimum requirements for running on Chrome OS, but my educated guess is that they're similar to those for OS X (Mac).
All three laptops you're considering have a Celeron processor, which is a low end processor from Intel. The lowest requirement for OS X is 2.5 GHz Dual Core Intel Core i5 and higher desktop CPU. A Chromebook using that processor would cost several hundred dollars more. Here's the link to the system requirements page from Zoom: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/204003179-System-Requirements-for-Zoom-Rooms
I also came across a discussion on problems with using Zoom on an HP Chromebook G6: https://support.google.com/chromebook/thread/44843383?hl=en
Thanks, Robert. We had to leap (due to grant requirements), so we put in the order! I appreciate your input, though. very helpful.