I Chromebook over time they have become one of the main choices of US schools and parents for their children’s first computer, thanks to their usually very affordable price. In the period of the confinements from COVID-19 they recorded a real boom in sales and allowed many students to follow lessons from home. Too bad that, according to a new report by the American Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), yes they break with great ease, creating large “piles of electronic junk“.
According to the study it has been verified that many of the Chromebooks purchased by schools three years ago are already breaking, ending up putting an economic burden on the shoulders of the community.
I school computers they are usually used quite roughly by students and often need to be repaired, but doing so with Chromebooks has unusually high costs due to lack of replacement parts. For example, 14 out of 29 Acer Chromebook keyboard replacement parts are out of stock, while ten of the 29 cost $90 each. In another case examined, HP only supplies cables and power supplies as spare parts, rendering Chromebooks unusable if broken. These unexpected costs could make US schools completely reconsider adopting Chromebooks, which are cheaper than ordinary laptops only in the short term.
Another problem underlined is that Chromebooks were built in a “state of death”, meaning that when they no longer receive software updates they can no longer access some sites. Google provides eight years of support for its Chromebooks, but only from the launch date. To save money, some schools buy hardware that is a few years old, but with very little support.
In short, Chromebooks do not appear to be built to lastboth in terms of hardware and software, with often some specimens still in excellent condition castrated by the end of software support.
The result is a big one environmental impact of all waste. According to PIRG, doubling the life of all Chromebooks sold in 2020 (about 31.8 million) could cut CO2 emissions by 4.6 million tons, the equivalent of taking 900,000 cars off the road for one year. For this they have asked Google to extend the life of updates, to increase the availability of spare parts and to allow users to install alternative operating systems such as Linux.