Google touts new Chromebook repair tool for education


Google announced today through its Google for Education blog that it is launching a recovery program to help schools fix Chromebooks in-house and turn them into a valuable education opportunity for IT students.

Google says 50 million students and educators use Chromebooks, making bold claims about the durability these laptops bring through efficiency and added durability. A study commissioned by Google, cited on the page, says the manufacturer partners build hardware that uses 46 percent less energy than competing products.

This post comes from VP of Chrome OS John Solomon, who wrote how the company also “worked with the same partners to make Chromebook components interchangeable, reusable, and securely disposable.” Another blog written today by Chrome OS product manager Racha Slaoui highlights the “new line” of Chromebooks that have been curated into an education-focused site to help school IT departments buy the right Chromebooks.

Many of the models presented are not entirely new: the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 came out last year and the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is a minor update of its Windows predecessor. On the software side, as long as the models are newly built, they should have eight years of Chrome OS security updates — but manufacturers still have control over how hardware is supported in general, including what happens to warranties when self-repairs are made:

Before making a decision about self-repair, check with the manufacturer of your device to learn about the implications of your warranty. Some device manufacturers can provide in-depth repair training to protect your warranty, and others may only recommend self-repair for out-of-warranty devices.

Chromebook sales exploded during the pandemic, with OEMs shipping a total of 30 million of the laptops in 2020. Google already had a foothold in the K-12 education market, as nearly 60 percent of all computer purchases were reportedly Chromebooks in 2018.

The Surface Laptop SE comes with Windows 11 SE.
Image: Microsoft

Two key issues for education IT departments looking to manage a fleet of new computers are cost and the ability to integrate the technology into their environment. Windows computers fit into many settings that run on an Active Directory environment, but the cost of purchasing Windows PC laptops at scale compared to Chromebooks is quite high. Microsoft is trying to change that by announcing the very Chromebook-esque Surface Laptop SE last year, which at $249 would be both cheap and easier to deploy for environments that haven’t switched to G-Suite yet.

Google picked an opportune moment to launch its Self-Repair program, which took lawmakers’ right to restore advocacy to such an extent that companies like Apple and Microsoft were recently forced to respond.

Educational institutions that have not yet refreshed their distance learning technology offerings now have more options to consider as more students return to fully face-to-face learning. IT departments opting for new Chromebooks can buy certain Acer and Lenovo models that have a better knowledge base on repairs, or get more familiar Windows options that are finally catching up with the cheap Chromebooks. iPads priced at $299 are another option, but adding cases and keyboards, AppleCare, and the need for an additional mobile device management platform like JAMF can quickly make the multimedia-friendly tablets more expensive.

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