PROS / The CTL Chromebook J5’s kid-proof design is well-suited to the classroom.
CONS / It lacks some of the features found on top Chromebooks such as support for Android apps and USB-C.
VERDICT / The CTL Chromebook J5 is a great choice for the classroom. Its rough-and-tumble design can survive the most boisterous of student, while giving them the tools they need to succeed.
Chromebooks have rapidly grown in popularity over the years since Google first launched its Chrome OS laptops, and nowhere more so than in education. In classrooms across the country, students are using Chromebooks, and the CTL Chromebook J5 may be the best of the bunch.
The J5 is built for affordability and basic performance, with an Intel Celeron N3060 processor, a low-powered 15GHz CPU, paired with 4GB of RAM. While its performance would be considered disappointing in a regular notebook computer, this processor and RAM combination is well-suited to the lightweight Chrome OS. The small notebook computer is outfitted with 32GB of storage.
The J5 is one of the smallest Chromebooks we reviewed, measuring 11.5 x 8.22 x 0.88 inches and weighing just 3.3 pounds. It has an added dose of ruggedness, with a drop-tested design, a polycarbonate lid and chassis, and a splash-resistant keyboard that should withstand the dangers of an elementary school classroom.
The compact laptop also has a convertible design, with a 360-degree hinge that lets the display fold all the way around for use as a tablet. You can tap and swipe on the 11.6-inch touchscreen in either laptop or tablet mode, but unlike the top-rated models in our Chromebook comparison, the J5 does not offer Android app support. In addition, the display has 1366 x 768 resolution, which is lower than the full HD screens of top Chromebooks. Still, it is fine for basic web browsing and school tasks.
While many of the newest Chromebooks on the market include advanced ports, the J5 sticks to the basics with three USB 3.0 ports and none of the USB-C ports found on top Chromebooks. For a Chromebook built for the classroom, this is actually a very smart decision, as it prioritizes connectors that offer the broadest compatibility. The small notebook computer also boasts a microSD card slot as well as an HDMI output to connect it to a TV or second monitor.
CTL covers the Chromebook J5 with a one-year warranty, but the company only offers support via phone, email and live chat on its website. There are no support materials online, so you need to hang on to the printed user manual or reach out to support staff for a digital version. That said, the J5 is made for classroom use and will often be used in conjunction with Google’s free classroom management tools, and CTL’s support staff is both knowledgeable and helpful on that front.
If you’re one of the many parents looking to pick up a laptop for a school-aged child, the CTL Chromebook J5 is one of the best Chromebooks for the money. Its rugged design, capable Intel Celeron processor and the flexible 2-in-1 design make the J5 a great choice for the classroom, even if it’s not the most powerful Chromebook out there.