A Chromebook is a barebones laptop without the bells and whistles of a regular laptop. It does cover all the essentials though, mainly centered around your web browser. Our team have taken a look at the best Chromebooks available in 2017.
Before buying a Chromebook, its important to understand what they can and can’t do.
So is a Chromebook just a basic laptop?
Err no, laptop and chromebook are not interchangeable. A laptop will have a lot more hardware underneath the hood and it can do a lot more. But sometimes you don’t need to do all that. Then what are they good for? Chromebooks are ideal for people who do a lot of web browsing and very little else. These are great for battery life, great on trips and great for 99% of the possible users of a laptop.
What kind of programs can you run?
You can’t actually install programs like you would on a PC. If its not on the Chrome Web Store it doesn’t work on your Chromebook and that’s the long and short of it. When the web store first started out it was pretty barebones but nowadays you can find pretty much everything you need, even down to the nitty gritty like advanced widgets for your browser.
Can Chromebooks run Microsoft Office?
Sort of. There are Microsoft Office web apps that you can log in to via your Chrome browser. These allow you to do all the usual editing and saving of documents, presentations and spreadsheets. Can they run games like Minecraft? You’re not going to be able to play games like Minecraft or anything modern. Truth is there are a lot of time wasters on the Chrome web store but you won’t be able to play anything that doesn’t already work in your browser.
How’s the battery life?
Because you don’t have so much hardware to drive you don’t really need that much power and with a battery about the same size as you’d find in a normal laptop, Chromebooks can last you pretty much the whole day.
Are they better than tablets?
I typically don’t recommend tablets if you’re going to be doing a lot of web browsing and not much else. You can type faster and better with a full keyboard and a Chromebook is going to cost you a little bit less. On top of that, the battery life is going to last you a lot longer.
How cheap are they?
There’s a lot of entry level options that range between $150 and $250.
Now let’s take a look at the different Chromebooks available at the moment.
Samsung Chromebook 3: Buy on Amazon
Samsung Chromebooks are inexpensive but have good processors, meaning they can handle having a lot of tabs being open without choking up. The Samsung Chromebook 3 is their latest model with a fast CPU and improved display compared to its predecessor, the Samsung Chromebook 2. A little heavier than most but this also gives the Chromebook 3 a tougher feel. I like the keyboard and trackpad too – very responsive and easy to use.
Acer Chromebook R11: Buy on Amazon
There’s one Acer Chromebook that’s really impressed us in 2016 and that’s the R11. It’s white body is sturdy but also pretty light so you can chuck it in your bag and carry it round all day with no problems. It’s 11.6 inch touchscreen display is clear, bright and doesn’t hurt your eyes (this can be a problem on some Chromebooks).
Asus Chromebook Flip: Buy on Amazon
Our favorite Asus Chromebook is the Chromebook Flip. If you’re looking for a small, portable device then this is the one for you. It’s touchscreen and has a hinge that lets you flip the screen round 360 degrees. Although a little gimmicky, this feature is actually pretty useful and enables the Flip to function as a tablet when you want it to.
HP Chromebook 13: Buy on Amazon
We’ve got mixed feelings about HP Chromebooks to be honest. Whilst they offer great multitasking performance and have the loudest speakers we’ve seen, their displays let them down. They lack the brightness and clarity of their competitors. Their battery life is pretty average too. On the other hand HP are one of the most reputable PC brands though, known for producing machines that last several years. In 2016 they’ve stepped up their game with the HP Chromebook 13 – its the thinnest and lightest Chromebook on the market. They’re way more expensive than competing Chromebooks from Asus and Acer though.
Dell Chromebook 11: Buy on Amazon
If you don’t need a touchscreen then you should seriously consider the Dell Chromebook 13 this Cyber Monday. With one of the best screens out there and ridiculously long battery life its a great performer. The 13 inch display is big enough for enjoying movies whilst small enough to still be portable. The downside to the Chromebook 13 is its price.
Google Chromebook Pixel
Chromebook Pixel: Buy on Amazon
Any discussion about Chromebooks wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Google’s offering, the Chromebook Pixel. This is a phenomenal machine and its specs knock other Chromebooks out the park. But we don’t think anyone should pay this much for a Chromebook, not at its normal price anyway.