7th August 2023

Which Is The Best Laptop For Schools: Microsoft Surface SE Vs Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

Ryan Kelly

Both the Microsoft Surface SE and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook are hot contenders for the prestigious title of, Best Laptop For The Education Sector.

They are both highly affordable, light, and portable computer models, with robust cybersecurity. This makes these models a perfect fit for bulk leasing and especially suited to schools, thanks to the easy portability for pupils of all ages and the protections offered by the in-built security features.

However, schools very often bulk lease one type of device and many administrators will be wondering which of these two models will best serve their student population. Let’s do a comparison of these popular school laptops.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Features:Samsung Galaxy chromebook

Samsung Galaxy Chromebooks boast an impressive set of features that cater to the diverse needs of students.

  • The latest iteration of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook, which is the Chromebook 2 360, has a flexible hinge to allow pupils to swap between laptop, tablet, tent, and entertainment modes for the ultimate versatility.
  • The high-resolution 12.4-inch touchscreen display offers an immersive learning experience
  • The built-in stylus is perfect for jotting down notes and drawing
  • It is extremely lightweight and portable for taking from classroom to classroom and home to work on their assignments
  • The minimalist Chrome OS is adaptable yet less distracting than macOS and Windows operating systems, which often come loaded with software that students won’t require.
  • It is a versatile teaching tool offering efficiency and simplicity for teachers’ lesson plans, thanks to educational applications like Google Workspace and Google Classroom
  • Chromebooks are well known for their fantastic battery life and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 360 is no exception. It will last for the whole school day.
  • This Samsung Galaxy version has been praised as superior to other Chromebooks – Samsung has invested in faster processors and even more storage
  • The robust in-built security systems as standard are probably what will give schools the greatest peace of mind. Excellent antivirus protection, regular software updates and data encryption keep students safe from malware and seeing unwanted content.

The most important advantage of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is that it is keeping school laptops affordable while improving their quality and durability for schools.

Chromebooks received a lot of increased popularity during the pandemic because they were highly affordable, and people needed to get their hands on portable laptops quickly at the time.

This was especially true for schools that needed to bulk-source portable devices for students swiftly at reasonable price points.

However, the public perception of Chromebooks took a plunge in the last few years due to many devices, that were bought during the pandemic, lacking durability, and encountering tech issues and breakages after only three years.

This coupled with a lack of repairability led to the US Public Interest Research Fund advising schools against Chromebooks, due to their lack of reliability and sustainability.

Why then are we comparing a Chromebook to the Microsoft Surface SE? After all, Windows laptops have a much higher reputation for repairability.

Well, it is precisely thanks to Samsung that the Chromebook is experiencing a massive resurgence.

Samsung’s engineers have taken the review on board when creating the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 360. Their design has emphasised an improved durability but also a big step up in the repairability of these specific Chromebooks models.

This makes Galaxy Chromebooks an excellent choice for schools seeking affordable equipment that they can rely upon.

Summary of Samsung Galaxy Chromebook Pros:Samsung Galaxy chromebook

  • Sleek and modern design
  • High-resolution touchscreen
  • Stylus support
  • WiFi 6 for high data speed
  • Highly affordable
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Versatile with a 360-degree hinge
  • Long battery life – 13 hours
  • Cost-effective
  • Free reliable software like Google Workspace and Google Classroom
  • Easy to install third-party software as needed
  • Minimalist and free of software clutter
  • Renowned for excellent cybersecurity (Chromebooks have fewer vulnerabilities and utilise encryption and sandboxing to protect the device) 

Cons of Samsung Galaxy Chromebook:

Of course, no laptop is perfect in every single aspect. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is still a Chromebook, and these have some important differences compared to other laptops:

  • Limited storage capacity. Chromebooks rely on the cloud rather than in-built storage, but even still you may require additional cloud storage.
  • Less useful offline. Owing to their reliance on the cloud, there are fewer features that function offline. (However, applications like Google Drive are progressing and making it easier and easier to utilise certain features offline, for example accessing files and Gmail offline mode.) More apps that work offline are being made available for the Chrome OS.
  • Weaker in power than other laptops. This does not make them a strong contender for multimedia projects, such as audio and video editing. However, third-party creative apps like Canva can be installed for creative coursework projects. It is unlikely that most pupils will need higher power capabilities for multimedia work, but it is possible for some older pupils.
  • You cannot install the full versions of Microsoft 365 on Chromebooks.

It is also worth noting that, while the Galaxy Chromebook remains highly affordable for schools, the improvements Samsung have made to its durability etc, do seem to have given it a somewhat higher price point compared to other Chromebooks.

Microsoft Surface SE Features:microsoft surface SE

Microsoft has introduced the Surface SE Laptop, a powerful and versatile device specifically designed to meet the unique needs of schools. In fact, it is only available to the education sector, these laptops cannot be leased individually.

There are some big advantages to a device that has been solely created for the sector.

  • A simple, easy-to-learn, uncluttered interface, so children can adapt to the tech quickly
  • Very light and compact for even young pupils to easily carry and transport
  • A long battery of life of up to 16 hours so there is no need to hurriedly charge between classes
  • A curated pre-loaded portfolio of education-focused apps, including Zoom and Minecraft Education Edition
  • Students cannot add apps without teacher authorisation to limit distractions, protect pupils and put the control in teachers’ hands
  • A pared-down Windows operating system with a reduction in distracting and superfluous software.
  • Robust Windows security features to give pupils extra cybersecurity

While initially, the Microsoft Surface SE may appear to have fewer bells and whistles, this is actually a key feature of its benefits. Its emphasis is on distraction-free educational focus. The array of helpful education programmes allows teachers to create incredible lessons in any subject that also impart IT skills. 

Summary of Microsoft Surface SE Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Long battery life – 16 hours
  • Powerful enough to handle resource-intensive tasks, including multimedia editing projects and coding exercises
  • Decent security to keep young students safe
  • Very cost-effective
  • Curated portfolio of education-focused apps
  • Puts teachers in control of third-party apps
  • Comfortable keyboard
  • Windows 11 operating system but streamlined for distraction-free learning
  • Simple intuitive interface
  • High repairability
  • Microsoft 365 Education Edition

Cons of Microsoft Surface SE

The Microsoft Surface SE is quite unique among laptops. It is more powerful like a traditional laptop, compared to a Chromebook, yet in many ways shares Chromebooks’ qualities in that it is highly pared-down and simplified compared to other laptops. This is very intentional among school devices to facilitate that focus on study.

Still, some of that paring down can create missed opportunities for varied learning:

  • The Microsoft Surface SE lacks the touchscreen capabilities of the Galaxy Chromebook
  • It has a smaller display at 11.6 inches. For visual and interactive learning this is certainly somewhat limiting.
  • The limitations on third party apps might be an advantage for younger students but potentially hinder older ones.
  • It is less versatile as it lacks a tablet mode.

Final Thoughts Comparison & How To Source The Best Laptops For Schools

microsoft surface SE

While both the Microsoft Surface SE and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook are built for schools, only the Surface SE is built exclusively for schools. Only educational institutions can lease this device. In some ways that makes it more directly designed for the school environment. Yet, some schools will favour the flexibility of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook.

Ultimately, which device is best depends on the teaching style of the school staff. The age of the pupils and the subjects they are taking might also be a factor, as A level or GCSE students taking art or design will probably favour the Chromebook. Yet the SE, with its plethora of educational apps like Minecraft Education Edition, is such a powerful tool for teaching students in a wide range of subjects.

Fortunately, Hardsoft’s Devices For Education Teams allows schools to source either device for an inexpensive, manageable monthly lease, complete with a support wrapper, associated IT services, insurance for the devices, and deployment.

In fact, you don’t have to make a blind decision. The experts at Devices For Education Team can work with you to advise which will be best for your individual school or academy. You can also trial the devices before committing to be certain you are making the right choice.

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