Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Bad Investment in Windows Lappies

A local private school made a bad investment. Since it's a private school, there might be a reason for the poor expenditure. Perhaps a parent of several enrolled children was selling the PCs. Maybe there was a fund that needed to get used up. Perchance, someone in administration got a kickback. But the result was, nevertheless, more money spent, even if the only reason was dinosaur-teachers who wanted their Windows security blanket. Let's look at the damage.

The school is not large. 200 students or so. But that's too large for a 1 to 1 system, based on how much was probably spent on, let's say 30 laptops. Low-end, we're talking $250, like this Acer PC. (It's $100 more if you want Office.) Compare it to this Acer Chromebook for about $220.

The problem is that it's a low-end Windows machine versus a mid-to-high-end Chromebook.

More than likely, the laptops the school got were around $300, and a comparable experience could have been gotten from a $150 Chromebook. But even if we stay at a little over $200 each, that's not where it ends.

The school is using Google Suite, so all of that needed to be installed on the Windows machines. Windows isn't setup AS a Chromebook, but that's what the school really wanted. Maybe someone felt the Windows machines would offer a more robust computer. But I've used both Windows and Chromebooks for the past several years, and I can tell you there's very little difference for most of what I do, and that's more than what most of these students do. Basically, making a Windows laptop into a Chromebook can be done, but it's kind of silly. And the only reason to get the Windows operating system is if you want Windows programs.

On top of the hassle of trying to make Microsoft play nice with Google, this school now has computers with half the battery life. Take a look at the links above. Both are Amazon Choice machines, but one (Windows) claims 6.5 hours of battery, while the Chromebook can last 12 hours.

While I know the school day is not a full 6.5 hours, I can confirm that Windows laptops will die during the day. I have used my Chromebook as a scrolling presentation at a conference for a good 6 hours, all while powering portable usb lights and charging my phone via usb. The single most important aspect of why Chromebooks (which basically do what Apple and Microsoft do for kids in schools) are better is the battery life. Kids know how to use these computers, any of them, but they can't use something that is dead.

Anyhow, if we assume $300 for the Windows computers versus $150 for the Chromebooks, at 30 computers, that's $9,000 versus $4,500. Some bigger schools (like the one I worked at) will often go ahead and get the $500 Windows machines, or even the $1,000 Macs ($30,000!). My advice for any tech person or principal is to just buy a $120 Chromebook (like I did), and try it out. And not the teachers, but some students. Have them work on the same assignments (Office-like) as their PC and Mac counterparts. Not high-end video editing or audio-whatevering that Macs do well. Just normal, everyday assignments like they will do 95% of the time in 95% of their classes. The Chromebook will be just as well, sometimes better.

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