The nonprofit Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) in a New report Criticism of the durability of Chromebooks. Cheap laptops are widely used by schools and are often purchased for homeschooling during the Corona years.
According to PIRG, if something breaks on a Chromebook, schools are saddled with relatively high repair costs. Repairs will also be hampered by a shortage of parts among Chromebook manufacturers. HP only sells cords and adapters for some of its Chromebooks, according to the report, at inflated prices. PIRG believes that “these higher costs may prompt schools to rethink Chromebooks as a cost-cutting strategy.”
In addition, some Chromebooks are said to have designs that make repair unnecessarily difficult. These factors mean that Chromebooks will be phased out much sooner. According to PIRG, this results in a significant amount of unnecessary carbon dioxide emissions due to the purchase of new laptops.
The organization also believes that Google should continue to provide updates for a longer period. PIRG spokesperson Lukas Gutermann said, “Google needs to extend the expiration date for automatic updates to 10 years after the Chromebook’s launch date. Why throw away a still-working computer just because a certain date has passed” against the Registry.
The organization is also calling on manufacturers to make repair parts more readily available. There’s also a lot to improve on the design of Chromebooks to make replacement and maintenance easier. “We can’t keep making too many disposables,” Gutermann said. “They have to be built to last.”
“Using longer is more sustainable”
Google asserts in its claims about the durability of Chromebooks that laptops use relatively little power. But energy use, according to Elizabeth Chamberlain, principal at repair company iFixit, doesn’t have the greatest impact on the environment. “Using devices longer is the most sustainable electronics choice.”
In 2020, Google extended Chromebook software updates from five years to eight years after the release date. After the “expiration date,” Chromebooks are still partially usable, but with an outdated ChromeOS version, according to education experts, some important programs, such as those for taking quizzes and exams, no longer work.
Google said in a response to The Register that it’s working with manufacturers on devices with “certified recycled and materials that are more salvageable” and on “production processes that reduce emissions.”
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