Chromebooks are a powerful, affordable alternative to Windows laptops and MacBooks. Although they can fulfill almost any need, choosing the right one is crucial. This is how you choose the Chromebook that works for you.
What is a Chromebook?
Imagine a netbook that really works. That is the basic idea of a Chromebook. They are affordable laptops with Chrome OS, a simple, lightweight operating system focused on web browsing.
Chromebooks are great for people who don't want a complicated laptop experience. Tools in the browser, such as Google Docs or Microsoft Office, work flawlessly. Facebook and Netflix are easily accessible without tripping over strange menus & a non-intuitive design.
Chromebooks are also not only limited to informal use. If you are more technical, you can push the operating system to the limit and download Android or Linux apps (such as GIMP or LibreOffice), or even load Ubuntu alongside Chrome OS. You can even use a Chromebook with a touchscreen to create digital art or operate smarthome products, such as the Chromecast or Google Home Mini.
There are only two areas where Chromebooks fall short. First, they cannot run professional desktop software (such as Photoshop or CAD). They also do not have the horsepower for most games, although games work well in the browser. If you are a gamer or use professional software, you may prefer a Windows laptop or MacBook.
Otherwise you are at the right place! First we look at Chromebook form factors and specifications and we look at the details, such as screens and ports.
The shape and size of your Chromebook influence the functions, specifications and price tag. So before you go shopping, you need to figure out how you want your Chromebook to look.
Let's start with a disclaimer: all Chromebooks are thin and portable, but some are thinner and more beautiful than others. If you don't care about 2-in-1 things and just want the best value for your money, forget about looks and focus on specifications. Some of the cheapest, ugliest Chromebooks have great internals and should last for years to come.
2-in-1 Chromebooks are, however, tempting. They are super popular and you have probably heard everything about their great portability and versatility. Everything you've heard is true. Some of the best 2-in-1 & # 39; s on the market are Chromebooks (the Pixelbook and ASUS Flip are notable examples), and they are truly a pleasure to use.
The thing is, cheap 2-in-1 Chromebooks tend to have too little power. We do not recommend spending less than $ 300 on a 2-in-1 Chromebook unless you are just going to use it to view Netflix and browse on Facebook.
The same applies to Chromebook tablets. They're great for use on the go, but you probably have to stick to $ 400 + options, such as the HP X2 and the Pixel Slate. Cheap Chromebook tablets, such as the Acer Chromebook Tab and the ASUS CT100, are designed to be as cheap as possible, so that public schools can pay for them. They are much weaker than garden-variety Chromebooks of the same price.
Get the specifications you need
We keep talking about power, but how powerful should a Chromebook be? Well, not as powerful as Windows laptops or MacBooks. Chrome OS is not very resource intensive and manufacturers often build Chromebooks with specifications that are easy to understand (thank goodness).
Forget what you know about laptop specifications. Here's how to find the right specifications for a Chromebook:
- CPU / processor : responsible for most of the speed of your Chromebook, these are the brains of your system. This allows your Chromebook to run software. An ARM processor is all you need for casual browsing and school work. If you are planning to push your Chromebook to the limit or want a lot of speed, buy one with an Intel processor.
- R AM : Allows your Chromebook to perform various tasks. A Chromebook with 4 GB RAM works great in most situations. But if you expect to push things to the limit, find one with 8 GB or more, such as the Pixelbook.
- eMMC or SSD : Chromebooks work on solid-state drives, not hard drives, and some solid-state drives are slower than others. If you're looking for speed, skip Chromebooks with an eMMC drive and find one with an mSATA SSD.
- Storage : Chromebooks are designed to work with tools such as Google Drive, so they don't need much storage. But if you want to download Android or Linux apps on your Chromebook, you might want to go for at least 64 GB of storage.
- Battery life : Manufacturers usually give an estimate of the best battery life, so it's good to browse Google for some real results. Don't bother with anything with a battery life of less than four hours.
Okay, most of the hard work has been done! You have an idea of what your Chromebook should look like, and you have your specifications all the way through. Now it's time to think about screens and ports.
Display quality and touch screens
Nobody wants to spend the whole day staring at a weak, ugly screen. If you are looking for a Chromebook, try to find one with a decent screen. The most important things to consider are clarity and resolution. Muted screens are ugly or illegible in clear settings. A low-resolution screen may appear outdated, especially if you are drawing or watching videos.
You should look at this to choose a Chromebook with a good screen:
- Brightness : the brightness of a screen is expressed in nits. In most cases, 250 to 300-nit displays look clear and will not wash out in sunlight. If a manufacturer does not specify nits, you may want to search the name of the Chromebook with the word & # 39; brightness & # 39; included to get some information.
- Resolution : this term refers to the number of pixels in a screen. A higher resolution usually leads to a higher visual quality. Most mid-range and high-end Chromebooks have high-res, 1080p or 2K screens. Cheaper, smaller Chromebooks can have 1280 x 800p or 720p screens. These can look ugly or outdated if you are used to HD screens. The Lenovo Yoga C630 is currently the only 4K Chromebook.
- Touch Screens : Chromebooks work really well with touch controls. Unless you want to save as much money as possible or hate touch screens, we recommend that you buy a Chromebook that has one – especially if you want to use Android apps or use your Chromebook as a tablet.
Now that you know what to look for on a screen, it's time to get to the small details: gates!
Which ports do you need?
Ports and disks add a lot of unnecessary bulk to a laptop, so we recommend the "less is more" approach. A USB-C port meets the functions of most ports (even HDMI). They can charge laptops quickly and work great with cheap USB-C hubs.
If you don't want to make that leap (cables are confusing), we recommend that you search for a Chromebook with at least one USB-A port, and perhaps even an SD card slot.
Where should you buy your Chromebook?
Online shopping for a laptop can be a confusing task, but it is a lot cheaper than buying at an electronics store. So let's try to make online shopping as easy as possible.
Most major websites that sell laptops have filters that you can use to find the Chromebook that's right for you. With filters you can search for Chromebooks by size, shape factor or specification. We recommend that you keep your searches as broad as possible and refer you to other websites to find the best deal.
Here are some websites that sell Chromebooks:
- Best Buy : The website is easy to navigate, and you can even plan to pick up your laptop today at a Best Buy in the neighborhood. In addition, Best Buy sells remanufactured Chromebooks and a showroom at a discount, which is pretty cool.
- Newegg : Another easy-to-navigate website that regularly sells Chromebooks at a discount.
- Amazon : Its search filters are not the best, but there are of course many great Chromebook deals. We recommend that you use Amazon as a price check.
- Google : you can also purchase a Pixelbook or Pixel Slate directly from Google. It is not always the best place to find deals and discounts, but the two-year financing plan is pretty fun.
You are now completely ready to buy your new Chromebook! We recommend you go to a Best Buy or Walmart to try them out. This way you can view the keyboards, trackpads and screens and find the one that feels just right.