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Schools bought millions of Chromebooks in 2020 — and three years later, they’re starting to break

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 half open, seen from the back, angled to the left, with a white textured wall in the background.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Back in early 2020, as the covid pandemic drove classrooms online, school districts found themselves needing to bulk purchase affordable laptops that they could send home with their students. Quite a few turned to Chromebooks.

Three years later, the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund concludes in a new report called Chromebook Churn that many of these batches are already beginning to break. That’s potentially costing districts money; PIRG estimates that “doubling the lifespan of Chromebooks could result in $1.8 billion in savings for taxpayers.” It also creates quite a bit of e-waste.

One of the big problems is repairability. Chromebooks are harder to upgrade and repair, on average, than Windows laptops. That’s in part,…

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