Whether it’s because of their very affordable prices or their avoidance of Windows 8.1’s complexity, Chromebooks are becoming more and more popular with shoppers. There are some valid reasons for choosing a Chromebook over a Windows machine, including a very intuitive interface (it’s largely browser based), no upgrade headaches and less worrying about malware. And while Chromebooks have limited offline capability, there’s a growing number of apps that work without a Wi-Fi connection.
With practically every PC maker now selling a Chromebook, choosing the right model for you largely comes down to design, screen size and battery life. The little things also count for a lot, like keyboard comfort and speaker quality. We’ve tested a wide range of Chromebooks to arrive at this list of top picks.
Toshiba Chromebook 2 (13-inch)
The Toshiba Chromebook 2 is an upgrade from the original in every way, making it a lovely, powerful device running Google’s Chrome OS. For $329, you get a slimmer, sleeker design, a gorgeous 1080p, IPS screen and surprisingly powerful speakers tuned by Skullcandy. Weighing just 2.95 pounds and lasting nearly 8 hours on a single charge, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is easily one of the best and most beautiful Chromebooks you can buy.
The Dell Chromebook 11 was already one of our favorite Chromebooks, but now Dell offers more speed with a Core i3-powered version. We had no problem working with more than 15 open tabs at once. This machine also offers serious staying power, lasting more than 10 hours 0n the Laptop Mag Battery Test. Although it’s not cheap, those looking for a fast and portable Chromebook will really like this option.
Delivering a relatively large 14-inch screen for a small $299 price, the HP Chromebook 14 is one laptop that’s made for the masses. Take your pick from three attractive color options and enjoy up to 200MB of free 4G service per month. We also like the comfy keyboard and nearly 8 hours of battery life.
Want a touchscreen in your Chromebook? Check out Acer’s C720P, which delivers an 11-inch touch panel for easily scrolling webpages and playing games like Angry Birds. We also like the sleek white matte design and good port selection. This Chromebook lasted more than 6 hours on our harsh video streaming rundown test, so you can expect even more endurance during lighter activities.
Acer Chromebook C720 (Core i3)
The Core i3 version of the Acer C720 Chrombeook with 2GB of RAM is a faster, more powerful improvement on the original. On the benchmark tests it blazed past the competition. It’s lightweight and ready to travel anywhere. It’ll last just longer than 7.5 hours on a charge and sports a clear and crisp 1366 x 768-pixel display. The $350 price tag is appealing, but if you spring for $30 more you can get double the on-board storage space.
As with all the Yoga models of the Lenovo family, the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 11e features a sturdy, yet flexible design that can be flipped inside out. And, keeping with all the ThinkPad models of Lenovo’s, this Chromebook features a best-in-class keyboard, too. We appreciated the wide viewing angles, making this laptop perfect for sharing movies. Though Lenovo is targeting schools with the $455 ThinkPad Yoga 11e, you can pick one up directly from the manufacturer.
Boasting a design that’s part Galaxy Note, part Ultrabook, the Samsung Chromebook 2 is one of the more attractive of its ilk on the market. Unlike most other Chromebooks, it also sports a full HD 1920 x 1080 display, better for watching movies. And, it offers just under 8 hours of battery life. It’s 2.58-GHz Intel Celeron N2840 processor is more powerful than its competition, plus this laptop simply looks classy.
Acer Chromebook 15 (New & Notable)
The 15-inch display is still the most popular screen size for any laptop, and Chromebook shoppers will soon have an option that’s sized just right. The $249 Acer Chromebook 15 sports an Intel Celeron CPU under the hood and will come with either 2 or 4GB of RAM and a 16GB or 32GB SSD. That should offer plenty of processing power, now with the real estate people want. It even looks great, with your choice of a white or black fabric-like finish. We can’t wait to see how this machine holds up in our labs when it hits shelves in February.