Buying a cheaper Chromebook laptop? BEWARE! Check this warning first

A report has shed light on the consequences of buying cheaper Chromebook laptops. Know what it says.

| Updated on: May 01 2023, 13:54 IST
An affordable Google Chromebook laptop can be a good idea only for the short term! Here's why. (Unsplash)
An affordable Google Chromebook laptop can be a good idea only for the short term! Here's why. (Unsplash)

For the budget-conscious people out there, while buying a new laptop, finding an affordable one with good features and specs is likely the obvious choice. This applied especially during the pandemic. With the widespread adoption of remote learning, school districts in the US, and elsewhere in the world, had been searching for a cost-effective laptop that can be purchased in large quantities and distributed to students. For many, Google Chromebook appeared to be the best solution. A few years down the line, these affordable Chromebooks that schools in the US purchased during the pandemic to support remote learning have started to break down, a report by the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG) warned.

The report further added that during the final quarter of 2020, sales of Chromebooks had skyrocketed by 287 percent compared to the previous year. However, three years later, these laptops are increasingly failing, resulting in the accumulation of electronic waste and burdening these schools with extra expenses.

BOOST of e-waste!

The production of a computer requires a significant amount of resources and energy. As a matter of fact, the information technology industry is believed to produce greenhouse gas emissions at a similar level as the airline industry, the report suggested. In the first year of the pandemic alone, over 31 million Chromebooks were sold worldwide, resulting in approximately 8.9 million tons of CO2e emissions. However, when such technology, including Chromebooks, is not built to last, our environment bears the consequences- only one-third of the electronic waste is appropriately recycled.

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Why this is happening to Chromebooks

Chromebooks are designed with a predetermined "end-of-life" date, which marks the end of software support. The certification of the model determines this date, not the purchase date. Currently, Google has an average expiration date of four years for all devices listed. Additionally, locating replacement parts to repair Chromebooks is a difficult task, which forces schools to consider third-party providers. However, the procedure becomes hectic and uneconomical.

What are the solutions available?

To reduce the e-waste generated by Chromebooks, the simplest way is to acquire a sustainable model. The report suggests that if Google could increase the lifespan of Chromebooks, the problem can be solved to a great extent.

Here's what else can be done:

1. More Chrome OS software: End of software updates can make the Chromebooks prone to attacks by malware. Google can extend the Automatic Update Expiration (AUE) date.

2. Life enhancement of Chromebook hardware: The study suggests that by collaborating with Chromebook manufacturers, Google could encourage them to create spare parts and establish a standardized part design to the highest degree possible. This effort could decrease electronic waste and improve the repairability of Chromebooks.

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First Published Date: 01 May, 13:52 IST