In May of 2011 the Chromebook line was first announced, immediately finding itself a target of mixed reception. Many felt a computer that was “limited to the web” would ultimately struggle to find a following, and yet despite this the Chromebook market has exploded in recent years.
While the Chromebook market might still be a very niche one, there a growing number of people that are looking for an affordable, virus-free computing experience that serves as their gateway to the web. The fact that Chrome OS only has a number of true offline apps simply doesn’t matter to this type of web-centric user. Especially now that a growing number of new devices are starting to offer Android app support via Google Play.
In the early days, there were only a limited number of Chromebooks to choose from, but in 2016 there are dozens of models to pick from. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a few models that we feel are the very best Chromebooks on offer right now.
Google is showing that it can make a high-end Chromebook once again with the recently announced Pixelbook. The 12.3-inch display on the laptop, like many recent Chromebooks, has a hinge that allows it to fold around 360 degrees so it can be used as a touchscreen tablet if needed. The Pixelbook is the thinnest and lightest Chomebook made by Google. It weights just 1.1kg (about 2.4 pounds) and is 10.3mm thick, which should make it easy to transport anywhere.
The Pixelbook is also supposed to have solid battery life, with up to 10 hours of use for a single charge, plus you can get up to 2 hours of use after just 15 minutes of charging. If you own an Android smartphone, the Pixelbook supports instant hotspot tethering with those phones. It also includes two USB Type-C ports and a headphone jack,
Of course, the Pixelbook will be able to connect to the Google Play Store so it can download and play Android apps. It’s also the first laptop that supports Google Assistant, which you can access by saying “Ok Google” or pressing the dedicated Assistant key. The keyboard of the Pixelbook is backlit for better use at night.
Google is also selling the Pixelbook Pen stylus for the touchscreen laptop for $99. It offers 10ms of latency, 60 degrees of angular awareness, and over 2,000 points of pressure sensitivity.
Along with its high-end features, the Google Pixelbook also comes with a much higher cost compared to most Chromebooks. Prices start at $999 with an Intel Kaby Lake Core i5, 8 GB of RAM, 128 GB of storage, You can also get the same Pixelbook with 256 GB of storage for $1,199, or you can get one with a faster Intel Core i7 chip, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage for $1,699.
- 12.3-inch LCD display with 2,400 x 1,600 resolution
- 8/16 GB RAM
- 128/256/512 GB internal storage
- Seventh Generation Intel Core i5/i7 processor
- Connectivity: 2 x USB Type-C ports, Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, 2×2 (MIMO), dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz), Bluetooth 4.2
- 41 Wh battery, rated for about 10 hour use
- Dimensions: 11.4″ x 8.7″ x 0.4″, 2.4 lbs
- Google reveals new Pixelbook 2-in-1 Chromebook and Pixelbook Pen
- Google Pixelbook hands-on: Great hardware, if the price tag doesn’t put you off
Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus
Samsung took the wraps off of the new kings of the Chromebook jungle back at CES this year, the Chromebook Pro and Plus, and these are definitely going to be the devices to beat in this segment. Both these devices offer the capability of rotating the display a full 360 degrees to use them in a tablet mode, but that isn’t all these have to offer.
The best part, obviously, about both these Chromebooks is that they will be among the first to be able to run Android applications. The execution may be a touch lacking as we found in our review, but the idea is chock full of potential, and adds a whole other layer of productivity to the rather simple Chrome OS. Both also come with a S-Pen like stylus that comes with a lot of the features of its smartphone counterpart.
Both the Pro and Plus feature beautiful 12.3-inch LED display with a 2400 x 1600 resolution, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, two USB Type-C ports, and a headphone jack, and the clickpad, keyboard, and general dimensions are identical as well. The only real difference between the two is that the Plus is powered by an ARM-based chipset, whereas the Pro comes with a more powerful Intel Core m3 processor.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus is currently available for a discounted $378.74, and the Pro is currently available with a price point of $549.99. Without a doubt, if you are looking for unique features you won’t find elsewhere, then you’ll easily agree that the new Samsung line is one of the best Chromebooks on the market.
- 12.3-inch LED display with 2400 x 1600 resolution
- 4 GB RAM
- 32 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card
- ARM-based processor (Chromebook Plus)/Intel Core m3 (Chromebook Pro)
- Connectivity: 2 x USB Type-C ports, 802.11ac 2 x 2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- 5,140 mAh battery, rated for about 9 hour use
- Dimensions: 11.04″ x 8.72″ x 0.55″, 2.38 lbs
ASUS Chromebook Flip C302CA
We already loved the Flip series, but it’s weaker processor made it hard to consider it one of the best Chromebooks out there. Thankfully, the latest generation of the ASUS Chromebook Flip has received a significant upgrade when compared to its predecessor, with it now being powered by an Intel Core m3 processor, and featuring a larger 12.5-inch display with a Ful HD resolution.
It retains the portability and multi-purpose features of the previous generation though, and remains ideal for those looking for a single device that can function as both a Chromebook for basic productivity, and a tablet for media consumption.
As good as its predecessor was, the Chromebook Flip an upgrade is specifications and features was required to have it compete more effectively against other current generation Chromebooks. These upgrades are not without their consequences though, with the price point being bumped up significantly as well, with the latest Chromebook Flip being currently priced at $469.
- 12.5-inch LCD screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Intel Core m3 processor
- 4 GB RAM
- 64 GB on-board storage with SD card slot for expansion
- Connectivity: 2 x USB Type-C ports, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- 39 Wh battery rated for about 10 hours use
- Dimensions: 12″ x 8.3″ x 0.5″, 2.65 lbs
HP Chromebook 13 G1
Normally when we think of Chromebooks, what we’re imagining is something affordable and basic. Indeed, there aren’t really many options for anyone looking to run a more upscale Chrome OS experience. If budget isn’t your priority, but you’re not quite willing to go all out for the now retired Pixel, then the HP Chromebook 13 G1 might just be the device for you.
This version of the HP Chromebook 13 sports an Intel Pentium processor powered by 4GB of RAM. For productive members of society on the go, the HP Chromebook 13 G1 comes with a 13.3-inch display with a 3200 x 1800 resolution, You’ll naturally find the usual connectivity features like a USB 3.0 port, 2 USB Type-C ports, a headphone jack, a microSD card slot to expand upon its 32 GB SSD, and of course Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities.
This version of the HP Chromebook 13 G1 is priced at around $500, placing it in the comfortable middle ground between the standard sub-$350 fare of most Chromebooks and the pricier Pixel.
There are a few other variants available as well, including a lower model powered be an Intel Celeron processor and featuring a 1080p display, and higher-end models, with them being powered by Intel Core m3, m5, or m7 processors, featuring 4 GB, 8 GB, or 16 GB of RAM, and with them coming with a display resolution of 3200 x 1800 as well. The price goes up to around $1000 depending on the version.
- 13.3″ Anti-Glare IPS Wide Viewing Angle Display with a 3200 x 1800 resolution
- Intel Pentium 4405Y processor
- 4GB RAM
- 32 GB storage
- Connectivity: 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB Type-C port, 802.11ac 2 x 2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- Dimensions: 12.59″ x 8.64″ x 1″, 2.69 lbs
Acer Chromebook R13
Alongside Samsung, Acer was one of the first manufacturers to jump into the Chromebook fray. Since then, they’ve released numerous models with different screen sizes, processing packages, and more. One of their newer offerings is the Chromebook R13, which features a display that can be rotated a full 360-degrees and is a touch screen, and comes with a premium construction that looks great.
Other specifications include a MediaTek MT8173C quad-core ARM processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of built-in storage, and the rotating touch screen is a 13.3-inch display with a Full HD resolution. One of the biggest selling points of this Chromebook is the impressive battery life that you are able to get. The Acer Chromebook R13 is currently priced at just $349.
- 13.3-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, touch screen, 360 degree rotation
- 2.1 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT8173C processor
- 4 GB of RAM
- 32 GB of on-board storage, with SD card slot for expansion
- Connectivity: 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB-C port, 802.11ac 2 x 2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- 4,670 mAh battery, rated for about 12 hours use
- Dimensions: 12.8″ x 9″ x 0.6″, 3.3 lbs
Dell Chromebook 11 3189 for Education
The Dell Chromebook 11 series has seen many an iteration over the years, and the latest series is the 3189. These fall in the affordable segment of Chromebooks and are focused on students as the target market, with features like a spill-resistant keyboard and rubberized edges for drop protection. Priced between $320 and $400, there are a few variants of the Chromebook 3189 that are available.
All versions of the device come with an 11.6-inch display with a HD resolution, and all of are touch screens that can be rotated 360-degrees. All models are powered by the Intel Celeron N3060 processor and backed by 4 GB of RAM. The only different between the three models is with regards to storage, with options ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB.
- 11.6-inch LCD display with HD resolution, with touchscreen and 360-degree rotation
- Intel Celeron N3060 processor
- 4 GB of RAM
- 16/32/64 GB of on-board storage, with SD card slot for expansion
- Connectivity: 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 3.1 port, 802.11ac 2 x 2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
- Battery rated for 10 hours of battery life
- Dimensions: 12″ x 8.2″ x 0.8″, 3.22 lbs
Acer Chromebook 14 for Work
The Acer “Chromebooks for Work” series bring a lot of the power to the table, and while it falls in the mid-range to high-end of Chromebooks, it remains relatively affordable when considering its competition running Windows 10 or MacOS.
To start with, this Acer Chromebook looks and feels more premium than its price point would suggest, with its metal chassis, a top cover protected with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and ultra thin bezels around the display. An added design feature includes a spill resistant keyboard, that diverts an spilled liquid away from internal components and out through two drain holes.
In terms of specifications, you get a 14-inch Full HD display, a choice between an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage that is further expandable via microSD card, and a battery that promises up to 10 hours of battery life. Depending on the processor you choose, the Acer Chromebook for Work are currently priced at $543 and $686 for the i3 and i5 versions respectively.
- 14-inch IPS LCD display with 1080p resolution
- Intel Core i3 or i5 processor
- 8 GB RAM
- 32 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD
- Connectivity: 1 x USB Type-C port, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2
- 3,950 mAh battery, rated up to 10 hours of battery life
- Dimensions: 13″ x 8.9″ x 0.9″, 3.2 lbs
Acer Chromebook 15 (2017 edition)
- 15.6-inch touchscreen display with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
- 4 GB RAM
- 32 GB internal storage, microSD card slot for adding more storage
- Intel Pentium 1.1Ghz quad core N4200 processor
- Connectivity: 2 x USB Type-C ports, Two USB 3.0 ports
- Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0
- Battery rated for about 12 hours of use
- Dimensions: 14.9″ x 10.1″ x 0.7″, 3.97 lbs
Best Chromebooks – Conclusion
That’s that! While there are many more models out there, these are the Chromebooks we felt deserved a little extra highlight. Agree with our picks for best Chromebooks on the market right now? Have another you feel deserves a place among the best? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.