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Chromebook sales are on the rise, and for good reasons. They're compact, portable, stylish and many of them even double as a tablet.

First introduced in 2011, Chromebooks are designed to be an affordable option for people who don't need all of the features of a standard PC or Macbook.

Their affordability has made them especially popular at schools. According to CNBC, they made up 60% of computers purchased for schools in 2018. Those numbers are only increasing for 2020 thanks to the number of schools purchasing additional Chromebooks to support distance learning. 

So what exactly is a Chromebook, and should you buy one?

In this article, we will walk through the pros and cons of using a Chromebook before outlining the 7 best Chromebooks on the market right now.

What is a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are computers (mostly laptops and portable devices) that use Google’s Chrome OS operating system. In general, the operating system is just like using the Chrome browser, meaning that the device relies heavily on web-based applications.

The operating system is designed by Google, but the hardware is provided by other manufacturers, including HP, Dell and Samsung, to name a few.

They all come preloaded with Google’s web-based apps such as Google Docs and Google Play and automatically connect to your Google Drive. They are also compatible with many Android apps you may already be familiar with.

Because the computer works in the cloud through your Google Drive account, they do not come with much hard drive space (usually around 64 GB). But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you always have to be connected to Wi-Fi to use it. They can work offline as long as you do a little prep work first.

What Are the Advantages of Working in a Chromebook?

Man working on his Chromebook in a lounge

Chromebooks are simple to use and are very mobile. Generally, they are lighter and thinner than most laptops.

Unlike most computers, Chromebooks are designed to operate in the cloud - meaning that it is not meant to store all of your files and information locally. With Chromebooks, everything is done through the Chrome browser online. And all your files are saved to your Google Drive. It’s familiar and straightforward to use.

Thanks to the slimmed-down operating system, the startup is much faster than other laptops. And because your files are saved to the cloud, you can access them anywhere and not worry about having to transfer data from one device to another.

All Chromebooks have about 10-12 hours of battery life and are designed for life on the go.

Chromebooks are significantly lower in price than traditional laptops. You can find them for $150-$600, while most low-end laptops start at around $500.

Chromebook Advantages:

  • Lightweight
  • Quick startup
  • Cloud-based (could be seen as a disadvantage)
  • Affordable
  • Long battery life

What are the Disadvantages?

Because Chromebooks are meant to work in the cloud, they don’t have much storage space to save files. You will have to stream most of your music instead of downloading it, and you won’t be able to save large files on the computer. 

But, because you can save them in Google Drive, you can access them anywhere, including on your phone.

Chromebooks also do not have many ports for connecting external devices, like external hard drives. But let's face it, most laptop manufacturers (including companies like Apple) are opting for cloud storage anyway.

As we mentioned earlier, Chromebooks rely heavily on web-based applications (like Google Docs) to replace old-school native apps (like Microsoft Word). This isn't a problem if you spend most of your time in your browser, but if you need full-featured applications like Photoshop, a Chromebook probably won't work for you.

But that doesn't mean there are zero native apps. Check out Google’s Chromebook website to get a feel for what types of apps are available to help with photo and video editing, image creation, and design.

If you like the get-up-and-go aspect of the Chromebook but really need a different OS, you can download an alternate Linux-based OS called Ubunto. However, that may be a little too technical for most users.

For the most part, Chromebooks have slower processor speeds, so if you tend to keep a lot of tabs open at once, it may have difficulty keeping up. Laptops are far better at multitasking.

And of course, they are not the easiest to use offline for extended periods. So if you are on a long plane flight or vacation in a cabin in the wilderness, you may not be able to be as efficient on your Chromebook as you had hoped. But, it won’t weigh down your suitcase

Chromebook Disadvantages

  • Limited local storage
  • Limited app support
  • Limited offline capabilities
  • Low technical specs
  • Not for power users

Related: Ways Technology Has Changed Our Lives Since the ‘90’s [For Better or Worse]

Should You Buy a Chromebook?

Close up of woman's hand on laptop

Chromebooks are great devices for people who spend the majority of their time in the browser. So if you only use your computer to browse Facebook, check your email and shop online, then you should seriously consider a Chromebook.

You should not buy a Chromebook if you do a lot of photo or video editing. Or if you are looking to play the latest and greatest video games.

But overall, the number (and power) of web-based apps is growing every day. So we think Chromebooks are great for most people.

These 7 Chromebooks are great options to consider:

The 7 Most Popular Chromebooks

Without further ado, here is more information about the seven most popular Chromebooks on the market right now. 

Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go

The Pixelbook Go is the brand-new flagship device from Chromebook. It's one of the most well-designed Chromebooks available, but it also comes with a steeper price tag. Thankfully, that steeper price tag comes with technical specs that rival many high-end laptops, and a stripped base model is available for about half the cost. 

Features:

  • Price - $1330
  • 13.3" 4K Ultra touchscreen display
  • 12-hour battery life
  • Intel Core i7 Processor
  • Backlit keyboard with hush keys
  • Front 1080p Duo Cam
  • 2 pounds and 13mm (MacBook Air is 3lbs for reference)
  • 256GB of storage
  • 16GB of RAM

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook

This Chromebook is the perfect merriment of Galaxy and Chrome with a superior build quality. With an ultra-thin and lightweight design and access to apps from the Google Play Store, the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is designed to keep you connected and worker smarter. 

Use your fingerprint or your Android phone as a key to unlock your Chromebook for added security. 

And forget your tired old stylus, this Chromebook used a built-in pen for sketching and notetaking like you've never experienced. 

Features:

  • Price - $999
  • 13.3” 4K AMOLED touchscreen display
  • 8-hour battery life
  • Intel Core i5-10210U Processor
  • 360° hinge design
  • Fingerprint unlock
  • HD webcam
  • Next-generation Intel Wireless 6 connectivity
  • 2.2 pounds and 9.9mm
  • 256GB storage
  • 8GB of RAM
              


HP Chromebook x 360

HP Chromebook x 360

With a 4.4 star rating on Amazon, The HP Chromebook x360 is a well-loved Chromebook option. It has a cool flip and fold design so you can tent it and stand it up on a table, which is great for watching movies. The screen is touch-sensitive, so it can also be used as a tablet. 

Features:

  • Price - $700
  • 14” HD touchscreen display
  • 14-hour battery life 
  •  Intel Core i3 processor
  • 360° Flip and fold design 
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Built-in Webcam
  • Next-generation Intel Wireless-AC 
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • 2.09 pounds and 15.2 mm
  • 64GB storage
  • 8GB of RAM

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

This Chromebook features the NanoEdge display with an ultra-narrow 5mm bezel that allows for a 14" screen to fit in the footprint of a 13". Combine that with the 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution in full HD, eMMC storage, Type-C and Type-A USB ports, and you've got a moderately priced Chromebook that can handle work and play. 

Features:

  • Price - $599
  • 14" HD touchscreen display
  • 8-hour battery life
  • Intel Core m3 Processor
  • 360° hinge that can tent, tablet and stand
  • Backlit keyboard
  • All-metal body
  • 3 pounds and 15.2 mm
  • 64GB storage
  • 8GB of RAM

Related: 8 AirPod Alternatives [The Wireless Earbud Revolution] 

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo Chromebook Duet


This small and super portable option is great for travel or as a second device. The keyboard quickly and easily detaches for use in tablet mode and works seamlessly with any USI compliant pen or stylus. This Chromebook does require a firm work surface and use of the fabric stand to lean open. 

Features:

  • Price - $349
  • 10.1” touchscreen display
  • 10-hour battery life
  • MediaTek Helio P60T processor
  • 2-in-1 tablet configuration
  • Detachable 5-pin magnetic keyboard
  • Built-in webcam
  • 1 pound and 7.4 mm
  • 128 GB storage
  • 4GB of RAM
              


Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Built for use by professionals, this Chromebook features include an ultra-responsive touchpad, 2-in-a form factor, built-in HDMI port and USB-C ports for useability in the modern working world. The VertiView display provides you with more working vertical space, specifically for the spreadsheet and word processing users.

Features:

  • Price - $699
  • 13.5" Gorilla Glass Touch display
  • 10-hour battery life 
  •  Intel Core i7 processor (i3 and i5 processor models are also available)
  • 360° convertible design
  • Next-generation Intel Wireless 6 connectivity
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • 4 pounds and 17.8 mm
  • 128GB storage
  • 8GB of RAM

Samsung XE500C13 Chromebook 3

Samsung XE500C13 Chromebook 3

Coming in at a mere $336 on Amazon, with a respectable 4.1 star review, Samsung’s XE500C13 Chromebook is full of surprising features. This little device is spill-resistant, so you don’t have to be paranoid about putting your coffee mug near it or whatever that new mystery goo from your kid is. It also has built-in security features to protect against viruses and Malware and an anti-glare screen for primo media viewing. 

It’s a good, reliable option and one of the best budget Chromebooks you can get.

Features:

  • Price - $336
  • 11.6" HD anti-reflective display
  • 11-hour battery life
  • Intel Celeron Processor N3060 
  • Spill-resistant keyboard
  •  2.54 pounds and 17.8 mm
  • 16GB storage
  • 2GB of RAM

Chromebooks have almost as many features as the best laptops available at a much lower price, thanks in part to the cloud and internet-based operating systems. For some, they may not provide the CPU features a traditional Windows laptop or Mac OS Apple product can. 

But, don't be fooled by their small, ultra-portable packages. If you're looking for a perfect second computer for travel or need something convenient for school, these devices are a necessity.

If you're looking to save an extra buck on your new Chromebook, try aligning your purchase with Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday Sales. Also, try comparing the pricing available on Amazon against electronic superstores like Best Buy. You may be able to cash-in on a killer sale. 

You might also be interested in: The 7 Best Laptops to Buy Right Now

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Posted 
Oct 26, 2020
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