What's a great ultra-cheap laptop for streaming and Zoom?

Acer Chromebook 314 on a table
(Image credit: Future)
Personal Shopper

Personal Shopper is TechRadar's weekly advice article where we answer questions from readers. Ever wished you could have your own tech expert who's tried all the latest gear so they can tell you what fits your specific needs? You can! Here's all the info about our Ask An Expert service – or you can click here to email AskTheExperts@techradar.comright away.

"I need a laptop under £200 to make Zoom calls, watch Netflix and do a bit of typing. What can I get that will last a while and won't feel horribly slow?"
Rachael, UK

Matt Hanson, Managing Editor, Core Tech responds:

If you’re on the hunt for a sub-£200 laptop in the UK that isn’t garbage, then you’re going to want to get a Chromebook. While there are some Windows laptops that can dip below £200, especially during big shopping events such as Black Friday, I’d actually recommend steering clear of those. To hit that kind of low price, these laptops usually have all kinds of compromises, especially when it comes to using older, under-powered, hardware, and small hard drives. While this makes them cheap, it also means Windows 11 doesn’t run well, and you’ll end up frustrated.

However, with the best Chromebooks, this isn’t an issue. ChromeOS, the operating system that runs on Chromebooks rather than Windows 11, has been designed to be a lightweight as possible, and this means it can run incredibly well on hardware that would struggle with running Windows. It takes up less storage space, and thanks to its integration with cloud-based services, it means getting a Chromebook with a small hard drive isn’t so much of a long-term problem, either.

Acer Chromebook 314

(Image credit: Future)

While there are some powerful and high-end Chromebooks, such as the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, most are affordable laptops that are best suited for day-to-day tasks, such as watching Netflix, browsing the internet and typing up documents – which is exactly what you’re looking for.

I would suggest the Acer Chromebook 314 is a great choice for right around your budget, or you can get a version with a touchscreen (the unsurprisingly named Acer Chromebook 314 Touch) for a little higher price, if you want that option. You can often find the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook for close to your budget as well.

While these may be slightly higher than the £200 budget you set depending on when you look, they often see price drops during Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day – which is only a matter of days away as we write this.

Written by
Image of writer Matt Hanson
Written by
Matt Hanson

Matt has been reviewing laptops for the best part of 15 years, and has been using them for a lot longer. That means he knows the essential ingredients that make the perfect laptop – long battery lives, dependable performance, solid designs and above all value for money. He's tried the super-cheap stuff all the way to ultra-elite workstation options.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.

With contributions from