Should I Buy a Chromebook? Buying Guide and Advice

A Chromebook is a laptop of a different race. Instead of Windows 10 or macOS, Chromebooks run Google's Chrome operating system. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, and most applications and documents live in the cloud. Chromebooks have performed well in the education market, but their appeal has expanded.

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How much do Chromebooks cost?

In general, there is a fairly low price range for Chromebooks, and it is at the most affordable end of the spectrum. You can purchase the affordable and lightweight Acer Chromebook R11, which has an 11.6-inch HD screen, an Intel Celeron N3150 CPU and 2 GB of RAM, for $ 169. Rare models ask you to go higher, such as the Samsung Chromebook Pro for $ 549, a 12.3-inch laptop equipped with a stylus with a 2400 x 1600 pixel display, an Intel Core M3 processor and 4 GB of RAM.

You'll probably end up paying more for a Windows 10 laptop, since the average selling price of a PC is $ 448, according to NPD. There are more affordable options, as we have detailed here, but the portable PC market has a much higher limit than the Chromebook market.

You can even end up spending as much as $ 1,199 on the 12.3-inch Pixelbook, which will soon be priced higher when the Core i7 model of $ 1,649 is available. The $ 999 model is probably the best Pixelbook for most, with 128GB of storage, 8GB of RAM and a Core i5 processor, enough for Chrome and Android.

But is a Chromebook right for you? Our Chromebook purchase guide has the answers to these and other questions.

Chromebook Price
Best Overall Chromebook Asus Flip C302CA $ 499
Budget Selection Lenovo N22 Chromebook $ 159
Best for school [19659012] Dell Chromebook 3189 $ 329
Best for business Google Pixelbook $ 999

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, the operating system of Google, so they have the set of applications from Google and many times depend on an Internet Connection operation. Although you can sign in to Chrome OS as a guest, we recommend that you log in to the system with a Google account to have the best experience.

News and Rumors

  • As we discovered, not all Android games will be running on Chromebooks, including PUBG Mobile on Google Pixelbook.
  • Acer announced the Chromebook Tab 10, the first tablet based on Chrome OS, in April for $ 329.
  • At the Mobile World Congress 2018, Lenovo introduced a trio of Chromebooks, the 100e ($ 219), the 300e ($ 279) and the 500e ($ 349).

MORE: How do you stack the new Apple iPad on Chromebooks?

Applications

The history of applications on Chromebooks improves every day, but these machines were still originally optimized for Google applications, such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive. This deep integration can be positive or negative, depending on how you use a PC. Chromebooks will be easy to configure if you already use those applications.

MORE: Best available Chromebooks now

Android apps are now reaching Chromebooks, however, only a few select systems can access the Google Play Store at this time. The idea is to give Chromebooks access to more games, productivity options and other applications to make these machines more versatile, although applications apparently run through an emulator, with mixed results. Unfortunately, not all Android games run on Chrome OS.

Currently, Chromebooks with Android capabilities include the Samsung Plus Chromebook, the Asus Chromebook Flip, the Dell Chromebook 3189 and the Google Pixelbook itself. If you're looking to bring a Chromebook to school with you, make it one of those, or one of the models listed here.

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Unfortunately, popular software applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office Suite, are not available in all Chromebooks. However, the Android version of Office is being extended to Chromebooks with access to the Google Play Store. If you need Office, but your machine does not yet have Android applications, it is limited to Microsoft Office Online, the free version in the Office cloud through the Chrome browser.

 google pixelbook 001 [19659006] You may want to keep Office applications for Android or Office Online if you already have many Office files that you bring to your Chromebook. There are often formatting problems when importing third-party documents into Drive. Fortunately, Google Drive allows you to save documents in Microsoft formats, so you can still share files with non-Chromebook users.

On the other hand, there are a handful of photo editors available for Chrome OS, which include Pixlr (free), which looks a lot like Photoshop. But those with existing files have no luck: there is no Chromebook application that can edit Adobe .PSD files.

Offline Use

Chromebooks are designed to rely heavily on the Internet, which means that many applications will simply not work if you're out of Wi-Fi range. There are more than 200 offline Chrome apps that can work without Internet connectivity, including Gmail, Pocket and Google Drive, and many of the Android apps that will be launched soon will also work offline.

Games

You can still play games on the Chromebook, but your options are slim. Chrome Web Store offers casual titles like Bejeweled and Cut the Rope, but it will not have the same selection as on a Windows or Mac machine. Of course, Chromebooks with Android support get more modern titles like Fallout Shelter, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Minecraft.

 games

Chromebooks generally have limited graphics processing power, so you'll want to stick to titles less demanding.

Special features

The Google Assistant landed on the Chrome operating system platform on the Pixelbook. While you can activate it with the Pixelbook Pen, that $ 99 accessory is not necessary when you have the dedicated auxiliary key on that laptop's keyboard. While the initiator is currently integrated with Google Now, and provides information cards for the current weather and local news, we could see it change to Google Feed.

Google redesigned the on-screen keyboard for use on the touch screen, making it easy to use 2-in-1 like the Asus Chromebook Flip. With a minimalist design, the on-screen keyboard recognizes your scribbles and gives you text options to enter. When we tested that characteristic, it was almost always necessary to recognize our writing. In addition, soon, Android smartphone users will be able to receive text notifications and pop-up calls on their desktop.

Battery life

Chromebooks generally offer exceptional battery life, but not as much as they used to. Of the 10 Chromebooks we've reviewed in the last year, we've seen a average of 9 hours and 15 minutes of resistance in the Portable Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous web browsing through Wi-Fi.

At the top end, you'll notice highlights like the Chromebook R 13 running time of 11:00, although the average is less than the time we found earlier. The Google Pixelbook, disappointingly, offers a relatively short juice consumption of 7 hours and 43 minutes.

 acer chromebook r 13 nw g02 We recommend shooting for at least 9 hours of juice, which half of the Chromebooks we have reviewed offer. While some affordable Windows 10 laptops, such as the Lenovo Miix 310 (12:24) and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (13:39), offer incredible battery life, the average of ultraportable laptops is 8 hours and 21 shorter minutes.

Durability

Similar to business laptops manufactured to survive falls and other minor disasters, Chromebooks for Work is designed to withstand falls, scratches and similar punishments. In our tests, Acer's Chromebook 14 for Work proved to be durable, scratch-free, and fully functional after our Dropbot 5000 test bench dropped it from a 48-inch height on a plywood board.

Both the Acer Chromebook 14 for work and the ThinkPad 13 Chromebook (another For Work model) are MIL-STD-810G certified, which means they are able to pass the tests of durability that US military equipment must pass. UU The Acer Chromebook 14 for work can survive extreme temperatures (minus 20.2 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit), humidity, vibration, rain, sand and dust.

Durable Chromebooks are not just for adults. The Chromebook 11 N7 C731T laptop for kids survived a glass full of water that spilled on your keyboard, as well as the 48-inch drops of our Dropbot 5000. It may have been scratched on the road, but it is a good choice for users more clumsy.

Manageability and Security

Chromebook for Work models also offer tools that IT managers need to manage laptops in and out of the office. The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook and the Google Pixelbook include the Trusted Platform Module a security chip that helps keep malicious attackers away from their passwords.

What size screen do I need? [19659030] Most Chromebooks fall between 11 and 13 inches. That means you'll have no trouble choosing a smaller model, such as the 11-inch Acer Chromebook 11 N7, the 12.5-inch Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA and the 13-inch ThinkPad 13 Chromebook.

These models often weigh less than 3 pounds, which makes them the most portable and excellent options for children. However, the size of the screen and keyboards may seem narrow for adults.

 acer chromebook 15 g01 The Acer Chromebook 15 is the only laptop with a 15-inch Chrome operating system available.

Those looking for more real estate to surf the web, work, watch movies and play games can choose the 14-inch Acer Chromebook 14 for Work, or the 15-inch Acer Chromebook 15, the only Chrome OS notebooks earlier than 13 inches. Unfortunately, both are at the oldest end of the spectrum, since there has not been much demand for large Chromebooks. Do not even look for a 17-inch Chromebook; they are not there.

What specifications do I need?

Because Chromebooks are primarily intended for online use, the specifications are not as important as they are for Windows laptops, but you still want to know how much power and Storage gets for your money. Here is a quick guide.

RAM

When it comes to RAM, Chromebooks come with 2GB or 4GB. While 4GB models are more expensive, we have found that the difference is worthwhile for multitasking.

MORE: How much RAM do you really need?

Both the HP Chromebook 14 (4GB RAM) and the Lenovo 100S Chromebook (2GB RAM) featured the same Celeron N2840 processors, but the HP laptop handled more than a dozen open tabs without any problems while the Lenovo stuttered with 10 open Chrome tabs and Spotify playing. Our testing of the Windows version of the Lenovo Ideapad 100S ($ 180) shows that PCs with similar specifications can handle a large number of tabs.

CPU

The processor in your Chrome The operating system machine helps you determine how well your Chromebook works, especially when you have multiple tabs open and are streaming video or playing.

We found Intel Celeron chips in many Chromebooks, and they often offer acceptable speed. The Acer Chromebook 11 N7 C731T for $ 229 (Celeron N3060, 4 GB of RAM) for example, could run 8 simultaneous Chrome tabs, but stuttered after we opened another.

You can get a Windows 10 laptop with similar specifications and price, such as the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 ($ 229), but you might not be as capable. That machine has the same processor and memory, but while it lasts more than 13 hours, its performance was lower than that of the 11 N7.

If that does not seem enough, sure Chromebooks include Intel Core CPU for even greater speed. The biggest drawback of these Chromebook Core M, such as the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA ($ 499) and the Samsung Chromebook Pro ($ 549) is its highest price. Do not worry about the powerful CPU that affects battery life, since the Samsung Chromebook Pro (Core M3) provided more power and greater longevity (8:05) than its brother Chromebook Plus (ARM MediaTek, 7:46) weaker.

If you want a Chromebook with enough speed to run your favorite Android applications, consider laptops with Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, such as Pixelbook.

If you want an Intel chip-free Chromebook, there will always be the Acer Chromebook 13 of 2014, the only machine with a Chrome operating system with an Nvidia chip (the Tegra K1). While it offers excellent graphics performance, it does not offer a touch screen.

Storage size

Since the Chrome operating system is very lightweight, Chromebooks often do not need a lot of storage space. Most pack only 16 GB of integrated storage, and that's all you'll need at this stage. Once Android support comes to the platform, users will find ways to use the SD card reader in laptops like Acer Chromebook 14, where you can expand storage up to 64 GB.

Spring for a 32GB model now if you're buying with Android apps in mind. Similarly, Windows-priced laptops often include 32 GB by default, but that operating system takes up so much space that it has a similar amount of free storage left as a 16 GB Chromebook.

Google offers you 100GB of free storage in Google Drive with each Chromebook purchase, though it will only last two years, after which you will only have the standard 15GB of free space.

Screen

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The size of the screen is not the only thing that matters. While we appreciate the bright and color-accurate panel of the $ 179 Samsung Chromebook 3, its dimensions of 1366 x 768 pixels mean it's better to write and read. But if you want sharper images, video and graphics, skip one with Full HD screen (1920 x 1080 pixels), like the Chromebook R 13 for $ 359.


 screen reso3

Windows 10 has been created for touch screens, but you can get the same functionality in Chrome OS. You just need to know which one to get and expect to pay a $ 100 premium. The $ 280 Acer Chromebook R 11 can be folded into a tablet, making use of its IPS touch screen.

 asus chromebook c302c nw g01 The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA is our favorite Chromebook in general. Image: Jeremy Lips / LaptopMag.

The $ 449 Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA also has a touch screen, and is one of the few that currently supports Android applications, although others will get that support later this year. If the prospect of using the What's application, Super Mario Run and other applications on a Chromebook sounds like an option to you, make sure your next Chromebook includes a touch screen.

Pixelbook offers one of the best screens we've seen on a Chromebook, with a QHD resolution of 2400×1600 pixels and 421 nits of brightness.

Who do you buy it for?

In general, the best way to know if someone will enjoy owning a Chromebook is if you know that they already spend most of their time in the Chrome browser. These users will carry the notebook naturally.

If you are buying this Chromebook for someone else, you should take a few minutes to consider how they will use the device. Chromebooks are especially good for younger students, because they are easy to use and quite safe.

Children who are still learning to use computers may be more receptive to learning how a new operating system works, and although there is no official Minecraft title for Chrome OS, Minecraft: Pocket Edition based on Android will be available in certain Chromebooks later this year.

 children [19659006] Some older relatives never understood Windows enough to use their PC frequently, but others who learned enough to do so may be frustrated because they need to relearn where they are going downloads, or because your favorite application is not available for Chrome.

But if your office is compatible with Chrome OS, you may want to consider having your company come to spring for Pixelbook. Its monobloc aluminum design is incredibly thin and features elegant details of Gorilla Glass and Silicon.

Conclusion

Chromebooks are affordable and offer decent performance, and the introduction of Android applications is increasing their capabilities. Microsoft is struggling with claims that Windows 10 S mode will give laptops better performance and battery life, but if you're looking for a simple way to connect and prefer Google services, you'll be happy with a Chromebook.

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Author Bio
  Henry T. Casey

Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College, a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in the publication and development of products at Rizzoli and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom & # 39; s Guide and LAPTOP wrote for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts and mastering his cold coffee process. Content governs everything around you.
Henry T. Casey,
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