You Shouldn’t Spend More than $300 on a Computer

I have written often about the advantages of Chromebooks, the low-cost laptop computers designed primarily for use with the cloud. (See for a list of my past articles about Chromebooks.)

Asus Flip-1Last year I purchased an ASUS Chromebook Flip 10.1-Inch Convertible 2 in 1 Touchscreen Chromebook and it has become my primary traveling computer. I paid more for it when it was new but I see the price for it has dropped to $249.99 on Amazon and that includes 100 gigabytes of FREE storage on Google Drive and UNLIMITED music from Google Play Music. (See for the details.)

This 2-pound computer includes a “flip screen” so that it can be used either as a laptop or as a tablet. It boots up almost instantly, never gets a virus, and the battery lasts 8 to 10 hours on a single charge.

ASUS Chromebook Flip-2Like all Chromebooks, this tiny laptop will run a lot of programs when offline (see for Everything You Can Do Offline With a Chromebook by David Nield). However, all Chromebooks are really intended for use when connected to the Internet.

Steve Kovach, Senior Correspondent at Tech Insider, has written two articles that I would recommend as reading for anyone considering purchasing a Chromebook: You shouldn’t spend more than $300 on a computer at and Here’s why Chromebooks are going to be so awesome at

If you are thinking of purchasing a low-cost laptop for yourself or for someone else, you might want to first read those two articles.


There are currently no cloud apps for genealogy databases that match desktop genealogy programs. That day may come, but it is not here today and I don’t see it coming anytime in the near future. Chromebooks don’t work for me.


Worth thinking about Dick now that they are getting more functional. I am wedded to my android tablet and pc/laptop setup because I like a big screen for working but need the lightweight portability of my tablet for research in the field. If the chromebook has a VGA or HDMI port to connect to a projector or large monitor I will seriously consider it.


Hi Dick
Certain programs automatically load Chome (unless you stop it) and it is obviously becoming more common. In my case it would upgrade an ‘old’ laptop that can’t handle W10. The problem might then be in synchronising the stuff on the cloud with that on my home system.
The problem would be the number of places (outside the home) that see internet access as an additional source of income. Personally I resent this. Here in UK this is perhaps more of a problem than for you in the US.
Attitudes need to change, or perhaps I am not technically enough.


I have been using a laptop for home and travel because I like to have my Family Tree Maker with me. I also have all my family history files on the laptop and research results which need to be processed into my tree. I connect to a large monitor and wireless keyboard & mouse for home use. I also use Crash Plan Central.
Using a chrome books appeals to me, but is there a way to have my FTM file with me?
I had read in the past that you travel with a mac book and iPad. Have you now switched to the chrome book?


    —> Using a chrome books appeals to me, but is there a way to have my FTM file with me?

    No. At least, not directly.

    If you synchronize Family Tree Maker with, the Chromebook can access your information that is stored on but will not directly access the information from Family Tree Maker. You might want to read my earlier article, Genealogy Apps for Android and Chromebooks, at

    —> I had read in the past that you travel with a mac book and iPad. Have you now switched to the chrome book?

    That depends on the trip. For most trips, I travel with either an iPad or a Chromebook or both. For instance, this past weekend I drove from Florida to Massachusetts. For this 2-day trip, I took both the iPad and Chromebook. Since I was driving a minivan, I had plenty of room for computers!

    However, later this summer I plan on traveling to New Zealand for a 2-week trip and in the fall I will be traveling to Ireland and England on another 2-week trip. I hope to use only carry-on luggage on the airplane so it will not be practical to carry multiple computers. I expect to travel with only the 2-pound Chromebook because it has a full-sized keyboard, a bigger screen, and more functionality than the iPad.


There are lots of options these days for small cheap devices. I purchased an ASUS T100HA for less than your U$300 and its a full Win10 computer which works adequately when I’m without an Internet connection and runs all standard Windows programs. Just not real fast but the battery life is 14 hours.
On the other hand if you expect to do real performance computing (video editing, simulation, virtualization, CAD, high level gaming, …) you aren’t going to get that for U$300 so the title is somewhat misleading.


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