If I Could Get 1 Piece of Technology for My Classroom, It Would Be…

A Chromebook of Course!

– a review of the Acer and Samsung Chromebook – 

Imagine being able to open up a world beyond your classroom walls without breaking the bank.  I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a Chromebook ever since I did a presentation up north with my friend John Sowash.  John and I spent a day working with a district that was rolling out iPads and Chromebooks.  I did the morning session on iPad training, and John did the afternoon session on Chromebooks.  I was blown away.  Of course, John is a wealth of knowledge and an amazing presenter, but I was honestly more captivated by the possibilities the Chromebook could have to help transform the educational landscape.  The biggest draw for me was that it was now quite affordable to put the devices in the hands of students so they could begin connecting, collaborating, creating, and sharing.  

An Elementary Teacher’s Opinion
Staples recently contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reviewing a few pieces of technology.  When I saw Chromebooks on the list, I immediately replied that I would be interested.  I was fortunate enough that they sent me both the Samsung and the Acer to compare.  Both are Chromebooks – just different brands.  
Keep in mind as you’re reading this review that I am not a technology specialist.  The ideas shared from this review will be from the perspective of a classroom teacher.  I may miss sharing a specification or technical term.  My goal is to share which brand I would prefer for my classroom.  I am a mom, and I teach second grade.  This review will be honest and simplistic.  I get overwhelmed when trying to decide what to purchase in the technology departments at stores.  Trust me, I spent days trying to decide whether to buy a  Mac book Air or a Pro.  So, my goal is to paint a simple and beneficial picture of what I like about each device and why.  
What is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is an affordable laptop that allows one to connect to the Internet and access the full suite of Google Applications.  Because the OS (operating system) is through Google, there is little one can do with the device without being connected to the Internet.  However, several of the applications can be ran offline.  
Amazing Points About the Chromebook:
  • the price point is low and affordable
  • it boots up super quick – and we all know how each second counts in the classroom
  • many of the applications can be ran offline
  • access your content – anywhere, anytime – everything is saved ‘in the cloud’

What Can My Students Do on a Chromebook?
When you have your students work on a computer, what are they usually doing?  Chances are… they can also do that same work on a Chromebook.  If you’re use to having your students compose content in Microsoft Office, they can now use Google Drive to do virtually the same tasks.  

The Chrome Web Store has several additional applications you can download for your Chromebook.  They even have an educational category to make searching and shopping easier.  
Should I get the Samsung or the Acer?
Both are Chromebooks and both work well.  When I posted this question to my PLN, personal learning  network, the response was overwhelming.  Most stated they would get the Samsung.  In fact, my friend Brett Clark just purchased 8,700 Samsung Chromebooks for his district.  
Samsung and Acer:
At first, you will notice the Samsung’s price point is $30 cheaper than that of the Acer.  Another obvious difference is that the Samsung device is a lighter silver color while the Acer is more of a metallic gray.  The Samsung is also a bit lighter in weight, so it’s easier to transport (especially for little learners).  The Acer does have a hard disc drive, which makes it a bit heavier.  The screen size is the same for both devices.  The battery life is about the same on both devices (Samsung 6.3 hours and Acer 6 hours).  The processor speed differs a small amount from each device as well: Samsung 1.7GHz and Acer 1.1GHz. One downside I have noticed about the Samsung is that is does not have an HDMI port.  This means, you will not be able to project directly from this device by plugging in your cord.  If you have a lot of natural light in your room, the Samsung screen might be able to be seen better since it is matte.  The Acer screen is a bit more challenging to see in brighter lighting since it tends to be a glossier screen.  You can view the complete comparisons by clicking here to see the Samsung and here to see the Acer specifications.  
Left: Samsung – Right: Acer
On a personal note, when working on both devices, I do find that the Samsung is more comfortable.  I like the way the screen attaches to the keyboard better on the Samsung.  The Acer has two latches that connect the screen on each side.  While they are durable, I wonder about their ability to withstand constant use by many children over time.  The Samsung has a more steady feel.  I am more confident allowing my five year old, Jacob, to play with the Samsung.  
In short, both devices are wonderful.  If you are super technical, I’d recommend reviewing the exact specifications.  However, if you’re simply looking to purchase devices for your students or own children and price is a factor, the Samsung not only gives your a better deal but also is lighter in weight and seems to be more durable in the hands of elementary students.  The trackpad is also slightly larger on the Samsung which makes it easier for children to use.  As far as basic functionality, both are fantastic.  We’ve had a tremendous amount of fun learning on the two devices over the past few weeks.  Thank you so much to Staples for the opportunity to test out the Samsung and the Acer Chromebook.  
My Vote: Samsung
a.  it’s lighter in weight for my second graders
b.  it’s more affordable
c.  the screen is matte – easier to see in natural and brighter light (our classroom has many windows)
d.  larger trackpad for to support developing fine motor skills
e.  sleek design and thin (takes up less storage space)
Full disclosure: Staples.com provided me with these products for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own. Feel free to shop their entire line of tablets, laptops and accessories online.


Mother. Teacher. Keynote. Author

Erin Klein is an award winning educator, national keynote speaker, author, and mother.

  1. Finally! A review that makes sense to me! Maybe it's because I teach first grade, but your criteria are the ones I care about: weight, durability, and cost. Thanks for sharing and saving me some time.

  2. Hi Jenanne,

    Thanks so much! I teach second grade, so I know what you mean. :) Sometimes the super techy reviews don't mean much to me as a classroom teacher. I'm more curious how it will work for my learners. I am so happy you found the review helpful.

    I really appreciate your feedback,


  3. Very good review! I couldn't wait to try out a chromebook, so I ran Chromium OS on my old Acer Aspire One netbook to try out the experience. Pretty easy to set up, and worked really well. (Wrote a blog post about it here: http://goo.gl/XYJ9ka ). I've made no secret about my pro-Google stance when it comes to Ed Tech.

  4. Hey Erin,

    In your review mention that the Samsung didn't have an HDMI Port. The one I have from school does have one; I just need to get an HDMI to VGA adapter and I can present. I am wondering if it is a different model.

    My school adopted the HP Chrome book. It is a little bit bigger (1" screen size.) I asked out tech guy why the HP. It boiled down to a state of Michigan grant that dropped the price + a rebate that made them cheaper than the Samsung. Fortunately for me, he is letting me keep the Samsung for the foreseeable future so that I can continue to see if I can break our Google configuration. An entire summer of Writing Project didn't do it; a week at school has been a breeze. Ironically, the Chrome Browser is the only one that runs our upgraded, cloud based gradebook (eSchool). IE is the default on the desktops, so my little Chromebook has become the go to machine.

    Hope to see you soon and I still have your book.

  5. Good to see a comparison of the two. Note that this review does not consider the education version of the C7, That version has an SSD drive and an upgraded battery. I'm also wondering about the projection capability from the Samsung. This seems to be a changing area. I read today that the latest updates actually bring mirroring capability to the Samsung 303 series. One concern with the 303 is the poorly located power port. It's just where you don't want it, especially if used in a cart situation.

    BTW, here's a newspaper interview in which I discussed some Chromebook aspects.


  6. Great Post! At my school we have a portable cart of Samsung Chromebooks, and I prefer them over the cart full of laptops! :) The kids are able to work on things in class using google docs, and easily continue work at home regardless of their platform. It's amazing what they can do with just an internet connection! LOVE IT. Great choice.

  7. I have a Samsung Chromebook 303c and I do like the feel and quick startup. I have a Case Logic carrying case (not originally made for the Chromebook), cloth, with a couple of handles (so it does look like a handbag). I think the earlier versions required an video adapter, but mine has a standard HDMI port and it hooks up easily to my HDTV. I then have a dual monitor system. I can view/project video on the TV while I either take notes or check email from the Chromebook's smaller screen. *If you have old Windows PC running on the network, you can use the free "Chrome Remote Desktop" software to connect to them from the Chromebook and run the Windows programs as if they were on your Chromebook. It also pushes the audio from the PC to the Chromebook pretty well (depending upon which app you are using). **WordPress.com offers free blogging accounts. You can set them up so that you could publish to your site "via email" or "via voice". That means that any device that can create an email (Chromebook, iPad, Android smart phone, etc.) can be used to publish to your WP site. Taking notes via email is possible this way.

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