Should I Buy a Chromebook? Buying Guide and Advice

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A Chromebook is a pc of a unique breed. Instead of Windows 10 or macOS, Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS. These machines are designed for use essentially whilst attached to the Internet, with maximum programs and paperwork residing within the cloud.  Chromebooks have accomplished rather neatly within the training marketplace, however their attraction has broadened.

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How Much Do Chromebooks Cost?

For probably the most phase, there is a lovely slim worth vary for Chromebooks, and it is at the extra inexpensive finish of the spectrum. You can select up the inexpensive and light-weight Acer Chromebook R11 — which has an 11.6-inch HD show, an Intel Celeron N3150 CPU and 2GB of RAM — for $169. Rare fashions ask you pass pass upper, such because the $549 Samsung Chromebook Pro, a stylus-equipped 12.3-inch pocket book with a 2400 x 1600-pixel show, an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB of RAM.

You’ll most certainly finish up paying extra for a Windows 10 pocket book, as the typical promoting worth for a PC is $448, consistent with NPD. There are extra inexpensive choices, as now we have detailed right here, however the PC pc marketplace has a miles upper cap than the Chromebook marketplace.

You will also finish up spending up to $1,199 at the 12.3-inch Pixelbook, which is able to quickly have a fair upper most sensible worth when the $1,649 Core i7 type turns into to be had. The $999 type is most likely the most efficient Pixelbook for many, with 128GB of garage, 8GB of RAM and a Core i5 processor, sufficient for each Chrome and Android.

But is a Chromebook best for you? Our Chromebook purchasing information has the solutions to those and different questions.

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, Google’s running gadget, in order that they closely characteristic Google’s suite of programs and incessantly instances depend on a running Internet connection. Although you’ll log in to Chrome OS as a visitor, we suggest you log in to the gadget with a Google account to have the most efficient revel in.

News and Rumors

  • Samsung could also be running on a removable 2-in-1 Chromebook, code-named Nautilus, which it might expose at CES 2018, a yr after it confirmed off the Chromebook Pro and Chromebook Plus.
  • The record of Android app-supporting Chromebooks is rising via the day, take a look at this web page to peer if yours is supported.
  • The Android model of Microsoft Office is touchdown on Chromebooks with toughen for the Google Play Store.

Apps

The tale of apps on Chromebooks is getting higher on a daily basis, however those machines had been nonetheless at first optimized for Google’s apps, corresponding to Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive. This deep integration can also be both sure or unfavorable, relying on how you employ a PC. Chromebooks will probably be simple to arrange should you already use the ones apps.

MORE: Best Chromebooks Available Now

Android apps at the moment are coming to Chromebooks, then again, handiest a choose few techniques can get admission to the Google Play retailer at the moment. The thought is to present Chromebooks get admission to to extra video games, productiveness choices and different apps to make those machines extra flexible, despite the fact that the apps are reputedly run by the use of an emulator, with combined effects.

Currently, Android-capable Chromebooks come with the Samsung Chromebook Plus, Asus Chromebook Flip, Acer Chromebook R11 and Google’s personal Chromebook Pixel. If you’re having a look to take a Chromebook to university with you, make it a type of.

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Unfortunately, well-liked instrument programs, corresponding to Adobe Photoshop and the Microsoft Office suite, are not to be had on all Chromebooks. However, the Android model of Office is rolling out to these Chromebooks with get admission to to the Google Play Store. If you want Office, however your gadget does not have Android apps but, you might be restricted to Microsoft Office Online, the loose cloud model of Office by the use of the Chrome browser.

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It could also be highest to stay with the Office Android apps or Office Online if you have already got a large number of Office information that you are bringing over for your Chromebook. There are incessantly formatting problems when uploading third-party paperwork into Drive. Fortunately, Google Drive lets you save paperwork to Microsoft codecs, so you can nonetheless be capable to proportion information with non-Chromebook customers.

On the opposite hand, there are a handful of photograph editors to be had for Chrome OS, together with Pixlr (loose), which appears so much like Photoshop. But the ones with present information are out of success — there is not any Chromebook app that may edit Adobe’s .PSD information.

Offline Use

Chromebooks are designed to depend closely at the Internet, this means that that many apps merely would possibly not paintings if you are out of Wi-Fi vary. There are greater than 200 offline Chrome apps that may paintings with out Internet connectivity, together with Gmail, Pocket and Google Drive, and heaps of the Android apps coming quickly may also paintings offline.

Games

You’ll nonetheless be capable to play video games at the Chromebook, however your choices are sparse. The Chrome Web Store gives informal titles corresponding to Bejeweled and Cut the Rope, however you will not have the similar variety as you possibly can on a Windows gadget or a Mac. Of route, Chromebooks with Android toughen get extra fashionable titles corresponding to Fallout Shelter, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Minecraft.

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Chromebooks typically have restricted graphics processing energy, so it would be best to persist with much less hard titles.

Special Features

Google Assistant landed at the Chrome OS platform within the Pixelbook. While you’ll turn on it with the Pixelbook Pen, that $99 accent is not essential in case you have the devoted Assistant key in that pc’s keyboard. While the launcher is lately built-in with Google Now, providing you with data playing cards for the present climate and native information tales, lets see it switching to Google Feed.

Google redesigned the on-screen keyboard for touch-screen use, making it more uncomplicated to make use of on 2-in-1s just like the Asus Chromebook Flip. With a minimalist design, the on-screen keyboard acknowledges your scribbles and offers you alternatives of textual content to enter. When we examined that characteristic, it was once nearly at all times correct in spotting our writing. Also, quickly, Android smartphone customers will be capable to get textual content and call-pop-up notifications on their desktop.

Battery Life

Chromebooks most often be offering outstanding battery lifestyles, however no longer up to they used to. Of the 10 Chromebooks now we have reviewed prior to now yr, now we have noticed a median of 9 hours and 15 mins of staying power at the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which comes to steady Web browsing over Wi-Fi.

On the highest finish, you can understand standouts just like the Acer Chromebook R 13‘s runtime of 11:00, despite the fact that the typical is down from the 9:59 time we in the past discovered. Google’s personal Pixelbook, disappointingly, gives a moderately quick 7 hours and 43 mins of juice.

acer chromebook r 13 nw g02We suggest capturing for a minimum of 9 hours of juice, which part of the Chromebooks now we have reviewed be offering. While some inexpensive Windows 10 notebooks, just like the Lenovo Miix 310 (12:24) and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 (13:39), be offering superb battery lifestyles, the ultraportable pocket book reasonable is a shorter 8 hours and 21 mins.

Durability

Similar to industry notebooks made to continue to exist drops and different minor screw ups, Chromebooks for Work are constructed to resist falls, scrapes and equivalent punishment. In our checking out, the Acer Chromebook 14 for Work proved sturdy, surviving unscratched and entirely practical after our Dropbot 5000 take a look at bench dropped it from a peak of 48 inches onto a plywood plank. 

Both the Acer Chromebook 14 for Work and the ThinkPad 13 Chromebook (any other For Work type) are MIL-STD-810G qualified, which means they are able to passing sturdiness checking out that U.S. Military apparatus should go. The Acer Chromebook 14 For Work can continue to exist excessive temperatures (minus 20.2 levels to 140 levels Fahrenheit), humidity, vibration, rain, sand and dirt.

Durable Chromebooks are not only for adults. The kid-friendly Acer Chromebook 11 N7 C731T survived a complete glass of water getting spilled onto its keyboard, in addition to the 48-inch prime drops from our Dropbot 5000. It could have gotten scuffed alongside the best way, however it is a excellent choice for clumsier customers.

Manageability and Security

Chromebook for Work fashions additionally be offering equipment that IT directors wish to set up laptops out and in of the workplace. The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook and Google’s Pixelbook come with the Trusted Platform Module, a safety chip that is helping stay malicious attackers away out of your passwords.

What Size Screen Do I Need?

Most Chromebooks fall between 11 and 13 inches. That way you will not have hassle opting for a smaller type, such because the 11-inch Acer Chromebook 11 N7 , the 12.5-inch Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA and the 13-inch ThinkPad 13 Chromebook.

These fashions incessantly weigh not up to 3 kilos, making them probably the most moveable, and nice choices for youngsters. However, the display screen dimension and keyboards might appear cramped for adults.

acer chromebook 15 g01The Acer Chromebook 15 is the one 15-inch Chrome OS pocket book to be had.

Those on the lookout for extra actual property for Web browsing, getting paintings accomplished, looking at motion pictures and enjoying video games can select up the 14-inch Acer Chromebook 14 for Work, or the 15-inch Acer Chromebook 15, the one Chrome OS notebooks above 13 inches. Unfortunately, each are at the older finish of the spectrum, as there hasn’t been a lot call for for massive Chromebooks. Don’t even search for a 17-inch Chromebook; they are no longer in the market.

What Specs Do I Need?

Because Chromebooks are intended essentially for on-line use, the specifications are not as necessary as they’re for Windows laptops, however you can nonetheless need to understand how a lot energy and garage you might be getting on your cash. Here’s a handy guide a rough information.

RAM

When it involves RAM, Chromebooks include both 2GB or 4GB. While fashions with 4GB are dearer, now we have discovered that distinction to be price it for multi-tasking.

MORE: How Much RAM Do You Really Need?

Both the HP Chromebook 14 (4GB RAM) and the Lenovo 100S Chromebook (2GB RAM) featured the similar Celeron N2840 processors, however the HP pocket book treated greater than a dozen open tabs and not using a downside whilst the Lenovo stuttered with 10 open Chrome tabs and Spotify enjoying. Our assessments of the Windows model of the Lenovo Ideapad 100S ($180) display that in a similar fashion spec’d PCs can care for a bigger stack of tabs.

CPU

The processor for your Chrome OS gadget is helping decide how easily your Chromebook plays, particularly in case you have a couple of tabs open and you might be streaming video or enjoying video games.

We in finding Intel Celeron chips in lots of Chromebooks, they usually incessantly supply appropriate pace. The $229 Acer Chromebook 11 N7 C731T (Celeron N3060, 4GB RAM) for instance, may just run 8 concurrent Chrome tabs, however stuttered once we opened any other.

You can get a Windows 10 pc with equivalent specifications and value, such because the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 ($229), but it surely may not be as succesful. That gadget has the similar processor and reminiscence, however whilst it lasts greater than 13 hours, its efficiency was once not up to that of the 11 N7.

If that does not sound like sufficient for you, sure Chromebooks pack Intel Core CPUs for much more pace. The largest drawback to those Core M Chromebooks, such because the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA ($499) and Samsung Chromebook Pro ($549) is their heftier worth. Don’t concern about that tough CPU affecting the battery lifestyles, because the Samsung Chromebook Pro (Core M3) equipped extra energy and longer longevity (8:05) than its weaker Chromebook Plus (ARM MediaTek; 7:46) sibling.

If you wish to have a Chromebook with sufficient pace to run your favourite Android apps, imagine laptops with the Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, such because the Pixelbook. 

If you wish to have a Chromebook with out an Intel Chip, there may be at all times 2014’s Acer Chromebook 13, the one Chrome OS gadget with an Nvidia chip (the Tegra K1). While it gives superb graphics efficiency, it does not be offering a marginally display screen.

Storage Size

Since Chrome OS is so light-weight, Chromebooks incessantly are not looking for a lot garage. Most pack simply 16GB of onboard garage, and that’s the reason most likely all you can want at this level. Once Android toughen lands at the platform, customers will in finding tactics to use the SD card reader in notebooks such because the Acer Chromebook 14, the place you’ll enlarge the garage as much as 64GB.

Spring for a 32GB type now if you are purchasing with Android apps in thoughts. Similarly-priced Windows laptops incessantly come with 32GB via default, however that running gadget takes up such a lot house that you are left with a equivalent quantity of loose garage as a 16GB Chromebook.

Google offers you 100GB of loose Google Drive garage with each Chromebook acquire, despite the fact that that handiest lasts for 2 years, and then you can handiest have the usual 15GB of loose house.

Screen

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The dimension of the display screen is not the one factor that issues. While we admire the intense, color-accurate panel within the$179 Samsung Chromebook 3, its 1366 x 768-pixel dimensions imply it is best for writing and studying. But if you wish to have sharper photographs, video and graphics, spring for one with a full-HD show (1920 x 1080 pixels), such because the $359 Acer Chromebook R 13.


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Windows 10 has been constructed for contact monitors, however you’ll get the similar capability in Chrome OS. You simply have to grasp which one to get — and be expecting to pay a few $100 top rate. The $280 Acer Chromebook R 11 can bend right into a pill, applying its IPS touch-screen show.

asus chromebook c302c nw g01The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA is our general favourite Chromebook. Image: Jeremy Lips/LaptopMag.

The $449 Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA additionally has a marginally display screen, and it is probably the most few to lately toughen Android apps, despite the fact that others will acquire that toughen later this yr. If the chance of the use of What’s App, Super Mario Run and different apps on a Chromebook seems like an choice for you, ensure your subsequent Chromebook features a contact display screen.

The Pixelbook gives probably the most highest shows now we have noticed in a Chromebook, with a QHD 2400×1600-pixel answer and 421 nits of brightness. 

Who Are You Buying It For?

Overall, one of the simplest ways to inform if anyone will revel in proudly owning a Chromebook is that if you recognize they already spend maximum in their time within the Chrome browser. Those customers will take to the pocket book naturally.

If you might be purchasing this Chromebook for anyone else, you must take a couple of moments to imagine how they are going to use the tool. Chromebooks are particularly excellent for more youthful scholars, as they’re ease to make use of and are somewhat safe.

Children who’re nonetheless studying use computer systems could also be extra receptive to studying how a brand new running gadget works, and whilst there is no legit Minecraft name for Chrome OS, the Android-based Minecraft: Pocket Edition will change into to be had on sure Chromebooks later this yr.

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Some elder relations could have by no means actually understood Windows sufficient to make use of their PC often, however others who’ve discovered simply sufficient to make do might change into pissed off that they wish to relearn the place downloads pass, or that their favourite app isn’t to be had for Chrome.

But if your workplace will toughen Chrome OS, chances are you’ll need to glance into getting your corporate to spring for the Pixelbook. Its aluminum unibody design is insanely skinny, and contours chic Gorilla Glass and Silicon accents.

Bottom Line

Chromebooks are inexpensive and be offering first rate efficiency, and the advent of Android apps is expanding their features. Microsoft is preventing again with cheap Windows 10 S laptops, however if you are on the lookout for a easy technique to get on-line and you favor Google’s services and products, you can be pleased with a Chromebook.

Henry T. Casey

Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey labored in publishing and product construction at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom’s Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his loose time between going to reside live shows, paying attention to too many podcasts, and mastering his chilly brew espresso procedure. Content laws the entirety round him.
Henry T. Casey, on