Chromebooks are only four years old as a computing category, but they’ve helped give a new lease on life to a flagging PC industry in this ‘Post PC’ world. They’re almost always inexpensive and low maintenance, thanks to being almost entirely browser based. But now, four years later, there are so many options on the market, it’s hard to know what to buy. Here’s our guide on the best Google-powered notebooks out there…
Toshiba Chromebook 2 – The All-Rounder
Chromebooks are cheap and normally that means there are a few compromises. Usually, that includes using a poor quality screen, but Toshiba has managed to cram in a whole 1080 x 1920 full HD resolution panel. With it only being 13-inches diagonally, that makes it incredibly sharp. It’s crisp, bright and vivid and so much better than what you’ll find on any other Chromebook at a similar price-point.
It also features 4GB RAM, a 2.16GHz Intel Celeron processor and 16G of solid state storage. You may find it starts to stutter and slow once you have multiple tabs open at once, but given the screen quality and audio performance, that’s a compromise that’s worth living with. All this in a laptop which costs less just $279. If you want a non-HD model (which we don’t recommend), you can buy one for $50 less, but you will lose half the RAM and have to settle on a 1366 x 768 display.
Acer Chromebook 15 – The Big One
While the default screen size for Chromebooks these days seems to be 13-inches, some people want as big a screen as they can get on their laptop PC. 15.6-inches of full HD IPS gloriousness should easily do the trick for most. What’s more, with 9 hours of battery life and a handful of useful ports including USB and SD card reader, you should have plenty of flexibility with the Chromebook 15 by Acer. As an added bonus, you also get stereo speakers on either side of the keyboard.
Acer’s Chromebook 15 is available in a few different combinations, but you’re going to want the one with a full HD 1080 x 1920 display. It costs $299 for the 16GB model with 4GB RAM and Intel’s Celeron processor. If you wish, you can pay extra to upgrade the storage to 32GB, or pay to upgrade to a Core i5 or i7 processor. Maxed out, the Chromebook 15 will cost you $500.
Dell Chromebook 11 – The Small One
If both 13- and 15-inch displays are too big, and you’re looking for a device more netbook-sized, you should consider the 2015 Dell Chromebook 11. It has an 11.6-inch display, is 1-inch thin and weighs less than 3 pounds. It’s small, so battery life isn’t quite as long-lasting as larger Chromebooks, but 7 hours should still be plenty for you to get enough work done during a work day.
It may be small, but it’s pretty powerful for a computer of this kind. Dell opted to shun the Celeron processor in favor of a Core i3 chip, making it a lot faster and more capable of handling multiple tabs than most. For $299 you’ll get a device with 4GB RAM and 16GB storage. It’s the perfect balance of performance, speed and portability. It’s available to buy from Dell’s small business site.
ASUS Chromebook Flip – The Wild Card
The Chromebook Flip by ASUS is the new kid on the scene, and it’s an unusual one and might appeal to the customer who doesn’t want to have a laptop and an Android tablet. ASUS’ new Chromebook Flip has a 360-degree rotating touchscreen complete with 10-point multi-touch and a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. As a laptop, the display is a little on the small side at 10.1-inches, but as a tablet, the screen is ideal. What’s more, it’s capable of running Android apps and is built in to a sturdy metal chassis.
There are two options for the Chromebook Flip. You can either opt for the bog standard model with 2GB RAM and a quad-core 1.8GHz processor for $229, or go for 4GB and spend just over $300. You’ll get Bluetooth 4.1, a micro HDMI port, two USB 2.0 ports and a memory card reader to boot.
Chromebook Pixel – The Premium
Many people won’t see much point in the Pixel, but I think it definitely has its place. For those who want premium design, specs and performance but don’t need a “full computer”, the Chromebook Pixel is awesome. It’s easily the best Chromebook around, but it does cost a lot of money. In the US, it’ll set you back an eye-watering $999 to get your hands on this beautiful and powerful metallic web browsing machine.
That cash will get you a machine with a 2560 x 1700 resolution 12.85-inch display with 400 nit brightness and 178 degree viewing angles. The lowest spec model ships with an Intel Core i5 processor clocked at 2.2GHz with 8GB RAM while the high-end one ships with a 2.4GHz Core i7 and 16GB RAM. What’s more, you’ll get two USB Type-C connectors, two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader plus a 720p wide angle embedded webcam. It supports 2.4GHz and 5Hz wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 and 4K video out over DisplayPort or HDMI.
As the icing on the cake, you can supposedly get 12 hours of use from the Pixel, and when it runs out of battery juice, it uses Quick Charge to get you back up and running in no time. It’s available from Google’s Play Store.
Dell Chromebook 13 – The Upcoming Gem (Honorary Mention)
It might not be available to buy yet, but if you can wait, it could be one of the finest Chromebooks ever released. It offers a sturdy metal build combination of aluminum and a magnesium alloy, giving it a very premium look and build quality. It also features the same glass trackpad found on the well-received XPS13 Windows laptop. As well as that, it’ll ship with a high resolution 1080p display and will be available in a number of configurations from September 17th.
The bottom end device will ship for $399 (still a bargain), and if you add high end configuration options, you can go all the way up to almost $900 for a device with 8GB RAM, a glossy Gorilla Glass display and an Intel Core i7 processor. For enterprise users, there are also a bunch of awesome security features built in to help keep your device and work protected.