Each year about this time my phone starts ringing and buzzing more than usual. Friends and family are reaching out to ask me what technology gadgets they should be considering for Christmas gifts. Sometimes I get texts that say, “Should I get [insert product] or [insert product].” No matter what, the answer always depends on personal situations and preferences, but I can usually steer people in a good direction. A couple of weeks ago, I posted about 5 Makerspace Items Kids Want For Christmas. Today, we’ll consider digital devices.
Chromebooks are definitely at the top of the consideration list this year. If you are used to using the Chrome browser, this device will have almost no learning curve. They are affordable, familiar (kids are using Google Apps for Edu at school), and useful for entertainment and “school stuff”. They have a battery life of approximately 8 hours and depending on its use, some can even get 11 hours. Unlike an iPad, they have a USB port. With all the cloud storage options this isn’t always a big deal, but sometimes, you just need a USB port. There are apps and extensions available in the web store that enhance the user experience and make tasks easier. Chromebooks DO NOT have internal storage, and you need to be connected to wi-fi to use it, but in our homes and at school or work, we are likely connected. Google Apps do offer an offline app, so you can work in that app and then once you are connected to wi-fi it will automatically sync. When purchasing a Chromebook, there are a lot of choices.
Best option: 4 GB Ram and 16 GB Hard Drive and 14″ screen
Almost the same, just a tid bit smaller screen. Schools like this model a lot.
Want a touchscreen?
Still a Microsoft Fan?
If you are a person who LOVES your Microsoft Office or are shopping for baby boomers in need of a tech upgrade, I recommend Hewlett Packard and Microsoft’s answer to Chromebooks — The Stream. It is a budget laptop meant to run mostly cloud operations just like the Chromebook, but it provides you access to your beloved Microsoft Suite. Also, do your kids play Minecraft? Do you want your kids to explore CAD software? At this time, if you want your kids to have access to Minecraft and 123D or TinkerCad, I would encourage you to consider the Stream. The software might not run great, but at least it is there. Minecraft takes minimal storage.
This is what it looks like (it only offers 11″ screen):
You can also get it without Microsoft Office 365:
Finally, I have to say, while Chromebooks are popping up in schools everywhere, I don’t believe the iPad is dead. My kids still LOVE theirs. I’m still a fan of the mini’s even though the pros are coming out and have lots more screen real estate. Maybe Santa loves me enough to upgrade me?
Happy Shopping! Let me know if this was helpful, and if you have more questions, drop them in the comments!