Laptops are the new T.P. shortage, everyone’s stocking up as supply chain issues and trade tariffs add to months-long delays in meeting meteoric demand due to the pandemic. 

My mantra here is GO CHROME AT HOME. You can still find some fabulous Chromebooks that can do everything most students — especially K-8 need —  for a fraction of the cost. 

But not all lower-priced Chromebook models are the same — and there’s some buyer-beware advice especially this Holiday weekend. 

There are very few in-stock at most big box stores — and the ones you’ll see discounted at prices less than $200 — might not last through the end of this year, let alone through the school year. 

Go for names you recognize. Two of my favorites in stock right now include: 

  • This 128 gigabyte Lenovo Chromebook Duet ($300) sold only at Best Buy and still in stock at most stores across the country. It’s surprisingly sturdy at this price point, has two cameras — perfect for class Zoom calls — great all-day battery life and comes with a detachable keyboard so that kids can use it as a tablet or laptop. 
  • Dell Chromebook 11 3100: on sale for $250 @ Dell’s own website is another model that durable take whatever your kids can dish out, including drops and spills. It can survive 30-inch drops onto steel and its keyboard can take an entire cup of water getting dropped on it. 

Also — If you can’t find what you need at the places you normally shop online like Amazon, or Walmart, check out electronics retailers like Newegg, Adorama, and B&H Photo, which is where a lot of us tech-savvy folks shop. 


You want one that seamlessly runs on the Google platform for compatibility with most schools…

And don’t be afraid of “open box” or clearance offers, as you can often score deep discounts on models that are still in great condition. Just make sure to check the specs, see if there’s a warranty, and make sure there’s a good return policy. 

Also – go for refurbished gadgets – You can also find great deals on refurbished laptops or Chromebooks – especially from the manufacturer’s own outlet. When you buy a refurbished product directly from Apple, Dell, or Lenovo —  you’re getting a device that’s been thoroughly inspected and repaired, and one that comes with a much better warranty.

If you’re a bit computer-savvy, you can turn an old laptop into a Chromebook using free software called Neverware Home Edition. (It supports more than 350 models.) The download process is somewhat involved (it takes about an hour) but you’ll be able to squeeze a few more years out of an obsolete computer.


Sign up to get the first alerts from stores: The big tech-savvy brick and mortar retailers — like Best Buy has special student deal portals — sign up for those to get exclusive offers on tons of back-to-school tech must-have’s …  

Also — at Best Buy specifically, an insider hack is that if you can sign up on their app and websites to get alerts sent right to you when something hot is back in stock. That gives you a little leg up on other parents trying for the same devices. 

Services like NowInStock and zooLert can help you track products at several outlets at once, including stores that don’t offer alerts on their own.