Chrome 73 arrived in March, bearing new under-the-hood optimizations, a split to security and privacy settings, and hints of better support for accessibility features. The upcoming software also suggested that system-wide dark mode is slowly but surely making its way across all of Google’s ecosystems and associated hardware. But that won’t necessarily arrive in the update for Chrome OS just yet and Google does seem to be slowing down its own hardware efforts.
In fact, Google reportedly made several cuts to its own hardware division, apparently cutting back on efforts amid growing competition in the premium end of that space. That competition, at least for March, didn’t include any major hardware announcements, leaving our top ten mostly unchanged for the time being.
That’s not to say there has been no new hardware at all. The education sector of the market continues to grow at a steady pace. AMD components seem to be leading a new charge on that front and that will seep into the consumer end of the market at some point. Qualcomm is still expected to bring the Snapdragon processor over to the OS at some point in the near future as well.
For now, these are the Android Headlines picks for the top ten Chromebooks available to buy.
10. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
The ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is on the verge of being supplanted by a brand new entry in the Flip series but that hasn’t happened just yet and that doesn’t mean 2018’s Chromebook Flip is any less a contender. Packing 4GB RAM and 64GB eMMC storage with an Intel Pentium 4405Y, Core m3, or Core m5 starting at $474, this gadget is still plenty powerful and easy to recommend.
All of that is packed into an all-metal 2-in-1 frame, as its name suggests, allowing for either a tablet, tent, stand, or clamshell configuration via the standard 12.5-inch 1920 x 1080 Gorilla Glass display. The body of the gadget itself weighs in at a respectable 2.5lbs with a thickness of just 1.5-inches.
Battery life is rated at up to 10-hours depending on usage with this gadget too. That’s charged up via either of two display out-capable USB Type-C ports.
Taken alongside constantly improving Chrome OS software with support for Linux or Android apps and PWAs, in addition to cloud-based web tools and coupled with expandable storage, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 is one of the most popular mid-range Chromebooks available. That’s bound to continue with the incoming predecessor as well and is not without good reason.
9. Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro & Plus LTE
Another 2-in-1 that’s well worth considering, particularly if access to an S-Pen for creating artwork or productivity sounds appealing, is the Samsung Chromebook Plus or Chromebook Pro. While these are technically two different series of devices, Samsung has taken a simplified approach to its Chrome OS offerings by releasing two very similar products under different branding.
The Chromebook Plus is the less powerful variant with either a $499 or $599 price point, depending on whether or not users need a 4G LTE connection. The latter of those is only currently capable of operating on Verizon’s network, so that would need to be factored in but otherwise both devices are identical.
Samsung’s ‘Plus’ variant ships with an Intel Celeron 3965Y processor backed up by 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. That’s backed behind a 12.2-inch 1920 x 1200 touchscreen on a 360-degree hinge in an all-aluminum body. The S-Pen stylus mentioned above is garaged just as it is for the Chromebook Pro. Just above the keyboard, Samsung also includes an outward facing camera — when in tablet configuration — that sets it apart from its ‘Pro’ counterpart.
The Samsung Chromebook Plus can also be bought with an Intel Core m3 instead and double the storage at a slightly higher cost. Conversely, that’s the same chip the Samsung Chromebook Pro starts with at $499, although another version with a backlit keyboard is available for just $100 more and that chip is clocked slightly higher.
The display of the larger 12.3-inch Samsung Chromebook Pro is notably better too, set at 2400 x 1600. RAM remains at 4GB but storage is boosted out-of-the-box to 64GB.
Both versions of the gadget serve different needs but thanks to the plethora of apps and web apps available on Chrome OS as well as the S-Pen, both Samsung Chromebooks are heavily weighted toward productivity.
8. Acer Chromebook 514
The newest gadget to grace the Android Headlines top ten Chromebooks list is Acer’s Chromebook 514. We recently had the opportunity to take this device for an extended test drive and although it is only a clamshell-style gadget rather than a 2-in-1, it is very impressive.
The best aspect, however, may be its best feature since even using the device for work tasks netted a battery life well over seven to eight hours. It’s not surprising that its claimed 12-hour battery life wasn’t met since that’s effectively the maximum, indicating life from a much more light user.
Battery life isn’t the only aspect that makes the Chromebook 514 shine either. All variations on the design, ranging in cost from $349 to $499 feature a 14-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen with bezels measuring in at just 6mm. The lay flat design is accented by smooth curves with a sleek modern aesthetic, a Gorilla Glass touchpad, and a backlit keyboard. That measures just 0.7-inches thin.
The whole package also includes a greater number of ports than most competitors for better diversity in use, spread equally across each edge. There are two USB standard ports, two USB Type-C ports, a Noble lock slot, 3.5mm jack, and a microSD card reader here. On the underside of the standard backlit keyboard, two stereo speakers round out the package with balanced sound.
Including the 3,920mAh battery, the entire package weighs just 3.3lbs despite its larger form factor.
Where the models differ is in the powerhouse driving Chrome OS, with all the latest features that entails intact. At the top end is an Intel Pentium N4200 backed by 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB eMMC storage. The more budget-friendly models kick that down to either a dual-core Intel Celeron N3350 or quad-core Celeron N3450 processor. The more powerful of those features 64GB storage compared to the somewhat lesser model’s 32GB but both feature 4GB LPDDR4 RAM.
Any of those models go a long way to living up too and surpassing Acer’s previous highly-lauded Chromebook 14.
7. Google Pixelbook
Google’s Pixelbook is a great device that isn’t necessarily well priced in terms of value. It fills the niche as the most expensive Chromebook available across several variations, with design and specs to match but the overwhelming majority of users will never need something quite as powerful as what’s on offer here.
Weighing in at just 2.5lbs and with a thickness of just under 0.4-inches, the Google Pixelbook is, in fact, the current pinnacle of design for Chrome OS. Those who are looking for an all-metal chassis that fits that description need look no further.
The internal specs are equally impressive but, as mentioned above, that comes at a cost. The bottom of the barrel for the Pixelbook starts out at $999 and nets users a last-generation Intel i5 chip with 8GB of memory and 128GB of storage. For $200 extra, buyers can double up on storage.
The offerings only go up from there, ending with a seventh-gen Intel i7 processor with 16GB RAM and 512GB of NVMe storage at $1,649. Each variant is rated at up to 10-hours of battery life from a single charge.
Regardless of which product is chosen, the build is set around a 12.3-inch display panel with a resolution of 2400 x 1600 pixels on a 2-in-1 hinge. That’s also EMR stylus enabled for maximum productivity — although it will cost an extra hundred dollars for the Pixel Pen stylus itself. Other inclusions in the frame include two high-end speakers, four noise-canceling microphones, and two USB Type-C ports.
With Chrome OS’s continuing growth toward a platform that can do pretty much anything except gaming — and that may be coming soon enough too — the Google Pixelbook does make some sense for those who will need the extra oomph. That’s going to mostly apply to those who are creating software or applications, for example. For everybody else, this may simply be too much machine for now.
6. Google Pixel Slate
Just ahead of the Google Pixel and released much more recently is Google’s latest hardware creation, the Google Pixel Slate.
As its name suggests, the Pixel Slate is a tablet format Chrome OS device and that’s going to bring caveats of its own. Not least of all is the fact that buyers will need to factor in an additional $199 for the magnetically attached keyboard that Google has released in a matching color configuration. As with the Pixelbook, an addition $99 will be required for the matching EMR stylus as well. For $159, for a similar keyboard offering from Brydge that operates on Bluetooth instead can be purchased.
Software optimization for tablets has improved significantly over the past few Chrome OS updates, so there’s no longer a problem there but the other caveat with the Google Pixel Slate is its starting price.
Things start out at $599 for a gadget including 4GB memory and 32GB storage, coupled with a fairly basic eighth-generation Intel Celeron processor. As with every other variant, that comes in a matte midnight blue coloration.
The display panel on each configuration of the device is a 12.3-inch molecular display panel set at a resolution of 3000 x 2000.
Two 8-megapixel cameras are included on both the front and back of this tablet while two USB Type-C ports with 4K output capabilities and a fingerprint scanner in the power button are included in the frame.
From that starting point, users can tack on an extra $100 and get 8GB RAM and double the storage. Bumping up to $799 takes the processor from the Celeron chip to an Intel Core m3 while adding on an additional $200 doubles up on storage and moves things to the eighth-gen Intel Core i5. Finally, at $1,599, buyers can pick up a Google Pixel Slate with an eight-generation Intel Core i7, 16GB of memory, and 256GB of storage onboard.
5. HP Chromebook x2
While Google’s Pixel Slate is still going to really feel like overkill and brings issues with extra costs for accessories, HP has perhaps surprisingly stepped up with a genuine challenger. What’s more, it did so in advance of the actual release of the Google Pixel Slate by several months with its HP Chromebook x2.
With a price-point set at just $539 to start and shipping with both a magnetically attached keyboard and full-size EMR stylus — stored in a premium keyboard loop –. So the HP Chromebook x2 really represents a perfect middle-ground for those who need performance and productivity without overspending. It’s also very good looking with a ceramic white lid and oxford blue keyboard, both of which are comprised almost entirely of metal.
The 1.62lb frame also only measures in at 0.3-inches, around 0.09-inches slimmer than the Pixelbook. Despite that, HP has packed in Intel Core m3 processor alongside 4GB RAM and 32GB storage behind a 12.3-inch 2400 x 1600 multi-touch panel. The bezels here are quite a bit larger than some others but those also accommodate two well-tuned Bang and Olufsen speakers. Attaching the keyboard allows for 2-in-1 usage or complete detachment is possible for a real ‘tablet’ feel.
Behind all of that, the company includes a 12.5-hour rated battery which won’t quite last that long but should get the overwhelming majority of users through a full day.
An SD storage slot, two USB-C ports, and a 3.5mm headphone jack complete the smooth-edged design.
4. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14
As with our number five entry, Dell’s Inspiron Chromebook 14 brings quite a lot to the table, including a full-size stylus and a backlit keyboard — all built into an all-aluminum frame to capture the essence of its namesake Windows counterparts. The most important spec here may actually be its 15-hour rated battery life, however, since that should keep up with just about any task this Intel Core i3-packing Chrome OS 2-in-1 is capable of.
Beside the larger-than-average 14-inch 1080p touch- and EMR stylus-enabled display panel, Dell also packs a punch in terms of its 4GB DDR4 RAM and 128GB storage — backing up the 3.4GHz chip. Its frame includes two standard USB ports on top of its USB Type-C plugs too.
All of that links up for a classically styled — in ‘urban grey’ — laptop that’s set to compete with both Inspiron-branded Windows machines and others on this list without missing a beat.
Dell’s warranties and service are hard to beat in the computing world as well and starting at just $599, this device really does represent great value on top of hardware. The Inspiron Chromebook 14 will serve the needs of just about any user looking to get the most out of their Chromebook. That’s without consideration for the above-mentioned standard backlit keyboard and stylus combination.
3. Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
Lenovo is yet another brand that has stayed mostly in the budget end of the pool with regard to Chrome OS gadgets but the Yoga Chromebook C630 breaks those molds handily and without looking back.
Built on the same great platform as other Yoga-branded laptops, the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 is a powerhouse of a gadget that starts out at just $539.99 for an Intel Core i3-8130U chip. That’s coupled with 4GB DDR4 RAM and 64GB on the storage side.
For a few hundred dollars more, that can all be bumped up in intensity with 8GB of DDR 2400MHz RAM and 128GB on the storage side backing up an Intel i5-8250U processor clocked at 1.6GHz for battery efficiency. Either of Lenovo’s latest premium Chromebooks can last up to ten-hours on a single charge but the chip in the more pricey variant can boost up to 3.4GHz for more intensive tasks.
A third variant does exist that fits neatly between those two but both of the more expensive versions come with an upgraded — from the usual 15.6-inch 1080p IPS touch panel — 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) display. That’s set on a 360-degree 2-in-1 hinge regardless of which version is chosen.
Weight could become an issue for some, especially if this device is used in tablet mode at 4.2lbs. Portability shouldn’t present too much of a problem though since, in spite of its weight, the body itself is only around 0.7-inches thick.
Thin bezels and the inclusion of just about every port one could ask for make this extremely well valued even at the more expensive end of the range. At the upper reaches, this Chromebook can accomplish just about any task Chrome OS can and will over its lifetime but at a price that’s well below gadgets such as Google’s Pixel-branded devices.
2. HP Chromebook x360 14
HP’s Chromebook x360 14 is, for all intents and purposes and minus the stylus, a revision of the Chromebook x2 found earlier in this list. Taking a 2-in-1 fully-attached format instead, it even features the same stylish ceramic white on a dark mist blue aesthetic with similar bezels surrounding a larger 14-inch display.
The multi-touch display isn’t quite as strong here, built around a 1920 x 1080 resolution but that doesn’t necessarily equate to a worse device. That does, in fact, help to fuel the 13.5-hour rating for battery life found in this gadget and display output via either included USB Type-C charging ports can be scaled up to 4K via the built-in Intel UHD Graphics 620 chip. Two further standard USB 3.1 ports are included in the mix as well, which are missing from that other HP gadget.
For $599, buyers are also gaining 8GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM and 64GB of storage coupled with an Intel Core i3-8130U processor from that company’s eighth-generation of chips. That’s got a max clock of 4GHz to get serious work done at a fraction of the cost of competing devices. The base clock is comparatively high too at 2.2GHz.
Underneath the standard backlit keyboard, HP has included two Bang & Olufsen speakers in the all-metal frame.
The entire package tips the scales at a weight that’s short of 4lbs and enables an experience that’s much closer to a Pixelbook than many contemporary devices. That’s for a price that — if one compares directly to Google’s device — effectively cuts things back enough that two HP Chromebook x360 14 devices could be bought instead of one Pixelbook.
1. Acer Chromebook Spin 13
Acer’s Chromebook Spin 13 is something that was very obviously meant to be a business-class device when it initially launched but somehow found its way into the general consumer market. Like Google’s Pixelbook, it isn’t the least expensive gadget on the market but it does make up for that in ways that place it well above that other gadget.
To begin with, the price doesn’t begin to approach the Pixelbook’s starting point, with the Chromebook Spin 13 starting out at just $895 — around $100 less. Despite that discrepancy, buyers can pick the laptop up with an eighth-gen Intel Core i5-8250U compared to Google’s seventh-gen inclusion. That’s backed by 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage, while a payment closer to that other device’s base level nets users double the RAM.
Moving away from that gadget, a standard backlit keyboard is coupled with a Gorilla Glass touchpad that neatly aligns with the glass found on the Chromebook Spin 13’s 13.5-inch display for better durability and a smooth premium feel. The display is rated at 2256 x 1504 in resolution and is placed on a 360-degree hinge as well. That means it can be used in tent, tablet, or stand modes as well as the standard clamshell configuration.
A garaged Wacom EMR stylus is included on both available models, tucked cleanly into the solidly-built all-metal frame, along with two USB Type-C charging ports. Each of those is rated for data transfers or display out capabilities. One further standard USB-A 3.0 port and a micro SD card slot are part of the build too.
Behind all of the software Chrome OS brings with it and all of the hardware Acer has pieced together in its top-tier offering, the company has also included a 10-hour rated battery that can get reasonably close to matching that claimed life. So regardless of how this gadget is used, buyers can expect a great experience that lasts all day long.
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