How to buy a Chromebook this Black Friday

HP's Latest Chrome OS Products, The HP Chromebase All-In-One And Chromebook Detachable, Underneath A Spotlight
(Image credit: HP)

Chromebooks are great little laptops that won't break the bank and don’t weigh a ton, and that’s why we love them. With the upcoming Chromebook Black Friday deals, this is the best time to snag your new productivity machine. 

Why are these such great gifts for yourself and others? Chromebooks can be the perfect laptop for work and play, as long as you keep your expectations in check, and the sheer breadth of the Chromebook range means there’s something for everyone. Chromebooks also come with special perks like three months of Canva Pro, YouTube Premium, Nvidia GeForce Now, and 100GB of cloud storage, which is a pretty impressive bundle.

There are so many types of Chromebooks out there that it may feel a bit overwhelming, but we’re here to help you make the right choice for your needs. From stand-alone Chromebooks and 2-in-1 convertibles to detachables, you’ve got a lot to choose from.

Detachable Chromebooks are great for kids who can use them as traditional laptops during the school day, and then in the evening and on weekends, they can quickly remove the keyboard to turn it into a tablet. Meanwhile, convertible Chromebooks can be great for students who need to switch quickly between writing essays and virtually attending lectures. There’s so much use you can squeeze out of the right Chromebook once you’ve got it.

Black Friday is a good time to buy a Chromebook with all the deals and price drops. The challenge that comes with that, however, is the fact that there are so many deals on so many products, it can be a bit overwhelming. But, we’re here to help you look for the best Chromebook that suits your needs. 

So, without further ado, let’s start looking. 

What to look for...

When you’re sifting through all the different types of Chromebooks looking for the one for you, the key is knowing exactly what you'll be doing with a Chromebook. While a huge choice of models is great, it does mean you’re more likely to end up with a device that doesn't suit you if you aren’t careful.

Being honest about what you need and want out of your device is important: you don’t want to pay more for a 2-in-1 detachable Chromebook when really all you need is a device for typing up essays and reading emails.

Setting a budget early and really looking into what sort of Chromebook you can get on your budget is super important as well, Chromebooks don’t just come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, but also in different prices as well, so whatever budget you set, you’ll find a laptop that fits in it. 

... in a Chromebook for work or school

If you're a businessperson

There aren’t a huge amount of differences between a Chromebook you’d get for school and a Chromebook you’d get for work. In both cases, you’ll be looking for something portable, lightweight, and reliable.

Users in both categories will likely be using their Chromebook every day, and depending on your job or course you’ll want a machine that can handle a lot of demanding software. However, before you go any further keep in mind that if you use super-specific software you will need to check if runs on ChromeOS. 

If you are a business user looking to dive into the world of Chromebooks, you’ll be looking for a lot of features commonly found on a student laptop: good battery life, durability, and so on. However, you might have a bigger budget to spend and can probably splurge on higher-end laptops. You might want to look carefully at the specs of a Chromebook’s webcam, so you look sharp in meetings. Plus, with a bigger budget comes an opportunity to invest in a nice, very sleek-looking laptop like the HP Elite Dragonfly

If you’re a student and you’re after a device that’ll give you a good work-life balance:

A Chromebook 2-in-1 is probably your best choice. You can enjoy all the benefits of a portable little laptop and detach the keyboard, or fold the device and have a tablet to take notes or watch lectures. 

Chromebooks are great first laptops for kids since they’re super durable and pretty easy to navigate if you’re after only a few applications. Plus, most offer comprehensive parental controls so you can rest assured your little ones are not going crazy with their screen time or surfing the web on their lonesome. If you’re buying a Chromebook for your kid, you need a device that’s rugged enough to survive being dropped or thrown about, and with enough battery life to last through the school day and beyond. 

We have a whole list of the best Chromebook for kids, featuring a number of good choices. One of our favorite recommendations from that list is the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet Chromebook, which is an incredibly lightweight 2-in-1 that gives your kids the best of both worlds for a lot less. The IdeaPad has a battery life of 21 hours, which will definitely carry your kids through their school day and more, so they can seamlessly swap between a full laptop for homework and switch to tablet mode when they’re done. 

Whether in the form of a detachable 2-in-1 like the IdeaPad above or a convertible that lets you flip the screen like the HP Chromebook x360 12B, the touchscreen is definitely your friend here. It’s great for tactile learning and lets your kids interact with either their learning programs or the games they’re playing in tablet mode, and gives them something to switch to if they’re on the younger side and typing on a keyboard is still something they're grasping.

Chromebooks aren’t really gaming devices, at least as of yet. You’ll be able to play all the games that you’ll normally find in the Google Play Store, though you can also use cloud gaming services like GeForce Now and Amazon Luna if your internet connection is strong enough. 

Things to avoid this Black Friday when shopping for a Chromebook

An HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook on a wooden desk

(Image credit: Future)

No matter who you’re buying a Chromebook for this Black Friday, you'll want to steer clear of these pitfalls. 

First, if you’re after a laptop for work, don’t settle for anything less than 8GB RAM, especially if you’re planning on doing presentations or using statistical analytical software on a daily basis. Your Chromebook will be your primary device and should be able to handle your workload and more, and anything less than 8GB won’t cope well. 8GB of RAM may seem like overkill for Chromebooks, as Chrome OS can run on machines with as little as 1GB. However, if you’re buying it to work on, it’s worth investing in a Chromebook with more RAM so you don’t get frustrated by poor performance.

Second, it’s tempting to just grab the most expensive Chromebook you see and think you’re getting the most for your money. Don’t get us wrong, Chromebooks are one of the cheaper laptop variants, but that doesn’t mean they can’t creep into expensive territory. The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is a superb bit of kit but very pricey, and there’s no need for you to pay $1,149 (about £999 / AU$1,699) if you’re just going to type up some notes while binge-watching your favorite show. 

Third, don’t go into Black Friday unprepared. There are loads of Chromebook deals right now, and this can be the best time to grab one, but do your research! As we said above, not all programs are compatible with ChromeOS, so make sure you know you can use the software you need on the new OS before you buy it. Or think about how much you really need a Chromebook if you want to play PC games. Because there’s not a lot of gaming to be done on these. 

Some Chromebooks like the HP Chromebook X2 11 are essentially just tablets with keyboards. They might suit younger children but are definitely not going to work well as a college or work setup, particularly if you're plugging in peripherals.

If you’re looking for a place to start, we have a whole list of the best Chromebooks money can buy, and if you’re ready for the next step, there are loads of Black Friday Chromebook deals right now that might save you a buck or two. 

Today's best Chromebook deals

Muskaan Saxena
Computing Staff Writer

Muskaan is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing writer. She has always been a passionate writer and has had her creative work published in several literary journals and magazines. Her debut into the writing world was a poem published in The Times of Zambia, on the subject of sunflowers and the insignificance of human existence in comparison. Growing up in Zambia, Muskaan was fascinated with technology, especially computers, and she's joined TechRadar to write about the latest GPUs, laptops and recently anything AI related. If you've got questions, moral concerns or just an interest in anything ChatGPT or general AI, you're in the right place. Muskaan also somehow managed to install a game on her work MacBook's Touch Bar, without the IT department finding out (yet).