This year has seen an incredible number of consumer-minded Chrome OS devices released. Combined with the latest advancements of Chrome OS, including Linux app support, there’s never been a better time to give your friends or loved ones a Chromebook. We’ve distilled the best down to five for this year’s Chromebook gift guide.
THE BEST CHROMEBOOKS
Still the premier Chrome OS experience
What more can we say about the Pixelbook at this point? Since its debut last year, Google has been using the Pixelbook to show the world what Chrome OS can be. How Google managed to pack so much performance into the Pixelbook’s small, lightweight package is still astounding.
While many high-end Chrome OS devices have come in the intervening months, some seen below, the Pixelbook still wears the crown for best Chromebook as it still offers some (decreasingly) exclusive features. While the biggest of those exclusives, the Google Assistant, should be arriving on “all Chromebooks” soon, the Pixelbook is (for now) the only device with a dedicated Assistant key on the keyboard.
Additionally, just as Google’s Pixel phones receive best-in-class Android support and features, so too does the Pixelbook quickly receive the latest features to land on Chrome OS, like Linux app support which some devices will never see.
This year, almost every retailer in the US is offering $300 off all three models of the Google Pixelbook, bringing the prices down to $699, $899, and $1349.
Where to buy the Google Pixelbook
Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
The best Chromebook with (optional) LTE
While any Chrome OS device can automatically use mobile data from a Pixel phone, for the rest of the world without a Pixel, it’s nice to have options for staying connected while on the go. The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is your best choice in that department, being a great Chromebook that also has Verizon LTE support.
One of the subtle selling features of the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is the device’s width. Where many recent Chrome OS devices have copied the 3:2 aspect ratio used by the Pixelbook, the Plus V2 has opted for 16:10, allowing for a wider screen and therefore a wider, more comfortable keyboard.
With an Intel Celeron or m3 processor and 4GB of RAM, the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 has enough power to handle your Android apps and your (too many) Chrome tabs.
As our Ben Schoon notes in his review, the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is possibly the best bang-for-your-buck Chromebook on the market. If you’re not interested in LTE, Best Buy and Samsung are both offering $150 off for Black Friday, bringing the price down to a fantastic $349.
The Verizon LTE model rings in at $599, or $100 more than the retail price of the standard Plus V2.
Where to buy the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2
Google Pixel Slate
The perfect all-in-one tablet
Admittedly, the Google Pixel Slate has not been released yet, nor has it been given it a proper review. However, from our hands-on time with it at the 2018 Made by Google event, it looks like the Google Pixel Slate is going to be the all-in-one device we’ve always dreamed of.
Just as Chrome OS has been becoming the best all-in-one OS, with both Android and Linux app support, the Google Pixel Slate is the best all-in-one hardware. Primarily a tablet, the Pixel Slate is well-balanced to be handheld and offers interesting stylus interactions with the optional Pixelbook Pen. Connect a keyboard to the Pixel Slate, like the official Pixel Slate Keyboard or the Brydge G-Type, and it becomes a traditional Chromebook.
With 5 models with specs ranging from an Intel Celeron with 4GB of RAM all the way to an Intel i7 with 16GB of RAM, there’s a Pixel Slate for all budgets. If you’re not afraid to buy a device before its been given a proper review, the Google Pixel Slate is an excellent gift.
Where to buy the Google Pixel Slate
Acer Chromebook Spin 13
The best high-performance Chromebook
Part of the allure of devices like Google’s Pixelbook and Pixel Slate is their ability to not need fans or other external ventilation. This leads to using a different type of processor than you would find on a traditional laptop, one that doesn’t generate quite the same heat.
So, when I say that the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is the best high-performance Chrome OS device, you may be briefly confused as it only offers up to an Intel i5 processor compared to the Pixelbook and Pixel Slate’s i7 options. The truth comes when you see that, in PassMark benchmark tests, the Intel i5 used in the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 scores over double what the Pixel Slate’s Intel i7 can achieve. Backing its Intel i5, the Spin 13 features 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2256×1504 IPS display.
With the world of possibilities that has just opened up to Chrome OS devices thanks to Linux app support, including the ability to develop Android apps via Android Studio, the demand for a high-powered Chrome OS device is higher than ever. If you’re looking for the perfect balance between high-performance, small-form factor, and a drawing tablet, the Acer Spin 13 is the best choice on the market, for $899.
Where to buy Acer Chromebook Spin 13
Lenovo Chromebook C330
The best Chromebook under $300
To round out this list, I thought it best to include the best budget-friendly Chromebook, the Lenovo Chromebook C330. Unlike the rest of this list, the Lenovo C330 runs on a MediaTek processor instead of one from Intel, but still has a solid 4GB of RAM and 32GB of Storage.
By using an ARM processor, the Lenovo Chromebook C330 should have very solid Android app performance, in addition to the already solid overall experience offered by Chrome OS. On the flip side, you should note that the Lenovo C330 is not your best choice for using Chrome OS’s Linux apps support. For the majority of users though, that shouldn’t be an issue.
With a retail price of $279 (and previous sale prices as low as $179), the Lenovo Chromebook C330 is a great gift choice, that won’t break the bank.