Innovative Gadgets

The perfect Chromebook you should purchase in 2024


The Chromebook market has grown a lot over the previous few years that selecting the very best Chromebook for you could be laborious. The mixture of years price of software program updates and producers making laptops with extra energy, higher construct high quality and lengthy battery life means there are a ton of fine Chrome OS machines that work nicely as on a regular basis drivers. Whereas Google did make issues less complicated final fall by introducing the Chromebook Plus initiative (extra on that beneath), there are nonetheless a number of issues to remember when looking for a brand new Chromebook. I’ve been testing and reviewing Chromebooks for years and know what you ought to be on the lookout for, and what you possibly can count on out of those laptops in 2024.

Editor’s observe (3/22/24): We’re continually testing and evaluating new Chromebooks for this information, and there are two fashions on our radar for inclusion that we’re keen to check. Each Acer and ASUS provide 15-inch Chromebook Plus fashions for $399, and we predict one (or each) could possibly be good choices for somebody who needs an even bigger display for much less money.

What’s Chrome OS, and why would I exploit it over Home windows?

That is most likely the primary query about Chromebooks. There are many cheap Home windows laptops in the marketplace, so why hassle with Chrome’s working system? Glad you requested. For me, the straightforward and clear nature of Chrome OS is a giant promoting level. Chrome OS is predicated on Google’s Chrome browser, which implies a lot of the packages you possibly can run are net primarily based. There’s no bloatware or undesirable apps to uninstall such as you typically get on Home windows laptops, it boots up in seconds, and you’ll fully reset to manufacturing facility settings virtually as shortly.

In fact, simplicity can even be a significant downside for some customers. Not having the ability to set up native software program could be a dealbreaker in the event you’re a video editor or software program developer. However there are additionally loads of individuals who do the vast majority of their work in an internet browser.

Google and its software program companions are getting higher yearly at supporting extra superior options. For instance, Google added video modifying instruments to the Google Images app on Chromebooks – it received’t change Adobe Premiere, nevertheless it needs to be helpful for lots of people. Equally, Google and Adobe introduced Photoshop on the internet final 12 months, one thing that ought to convey a lot of the ability of Adobe’s desktop apps to Chromebooks.

Google has additionally added assist for Android apps on Chromebooks, which vastly expands the quantity of software program accessible. The standard varies broadly, nevertheless it means you are able to do extra with a Chromebook past simply web-based apps. For instance, you possibly can set up the Netflix app and save movies for offline watching. Different Android apps like Microsoft Workplace and Adobe Lightroom are surprisingly succesful as nicely. Between Android apps and a basic enchancment in net apps, Chromebooks are extra than simply portals to a browser.

What do Chromebooks do nicely?

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 ChromebookLenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook

Photograph by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Put merely, net looking and actually something net primarily based. On-line procuring, streaming music and video and utilizing numerous social media websites are among the many most typical every day duties individuals do on Chromebooks. As you would possibly count on, additionally they work nicely with Google companies like Images, Docs, Gmail, Drive, Hold and so forth. Sure, any laptop that may run Chrome can try this too, however the light-weight nature of Google Chrome OS makes it a responsive and steady platform.

As I discussed earlier than, Chrome OS can run Android apps, so in the event you’re an Android consumer you’ll discover some good ties between the platforms. You will get a lot of the similar apps which can be in your telephone on a Chromebook and hold information in sync between them. You can even use some Android telephones as a safety key on your Chromebook or immediately tether your laptop computer to make use of cellular information.

Google continues to tout safety as a significant differentiator for Chromebooks, and it’s positively an element price contemplating. Auto-updates are the primary strains of protection. Chrome OS updates obtain shortly within the background and a quick reboot is all it takes to put in the most recent model. Google says that every webpage and app on a Chromebook runs in its personal sandbox as nicely, so any safety threats are contained to that particular person app. Lastly, Chrome OS has a self-check known as Verified Boot that runs each time a tool begins up. Past all this, the straightforward reality that you just usually can’t set up conventional apps on a Chromebook means there are fewer methods for dangerous actors to entry the system.

As for when to keep away from Chromebooks, the reply is easy: In the event you rely closely on a selected native utility for Home windows or a Mac, chances are high you received’t discover the very same possibility on a ChromeOS gadget. That’s most true in fields like picture and video modifying, nevertheless it will also be the case in legislation or finance. Loads of companies run on Google’s G suite software program, however extra nonetheless have particular necessities {that a} Chromebook may not match. In the event you’re an iPhone consumer, you’ll additionally miss out on the way in which the iPhone simply integrates with an iPad or Mac. For me, the large draw back is just not having the ability to entry iMessage on a Chromebook.

Lastly, gaming Chromebooks should not ubiquitous, though they’re changing into a barely extra affordable possibility with the rise of cloud gaming. In late 2022, Google and a few {hardware} companions introduced a push to make Chromebooks with cloud gaming in thoughts. From a {hardware} perspective, which means laptops with larger screens which have greater refresh charges in addition to optimizing these laptops to work with companies like NVIDIA GeForce Now, Xbox Sport Go and Amazon Luna. You’ll clearly want an web connection to make use of these companies, however the excellent news is that taking part in fashionable video games on a Chromebook isn’t unimaginable. You may set up Android video games from the Google Play Retailer, however that’s not what most individuals are considering of after they need to recreation on a laptop computer.

There’s one other potential change on the horizon, as Valve and Google are working to convey the large Steam catalog to Chromebooks. Proper now, Steam is just accessible as an early alpha on a handful of gadgets with greater specs, nevertheless it works rather a lot higher than I anticipated. You’re nonetheless not going to run probably the most demanding video games on primary laptops, however the Steam catalog is so huge that there are many titles that labored on the Chromebook I examined it with. In the event you’re involved in giving it a shot, you will discover the complete record of supported Chromebooks and particulars on how one can attempt Steam right here.

What are an important specs for a Chromebook?

Chromebook PlusChromebook Plus

Photograph by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Chrome OS is light-weight and normally runs nicely on pretty modest {hardware}, so an important factor to search for may not be processor energy or cupboard space. However Google made it simpler to get constant specs and efficiency late final 12 months when it launched the Chromebook Plus initiative. Any gadget with a Chromebook Plus designation meets some minimal necessities, which occur to be similar to what I’d advocate most individuals get in the event that they’re on the lookout for a laptop computer they will use day-after-day.

Chromebook Plus fashions have no less than a Twelfth-gen Intel Core i3 processor, or an AMD Ryzen 3 7000 sequence processor, each of which needs to be greater than sufficient for most individuals. These laptops even have a minimal of 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which ought to do the trick until you’re actually pushing your Chromebook. All Chromebook Plus fashions must have a 1080p webcam, which is sweet in lately of fixed video calling, they usually additionally all must have no less than a 1080p IPS display.

In fact, you may get greater specs or higher screens in the event you want, however I’ve discovered that mainly all the pieces included within the Chromebook Plus goal specs makes for an excellent expertise.

Google has an Auto Replace coverage for Chromebooks, and whereas that’s not precisely a spec, it’s price checking before you purchase. Final 12 months, Google introduced that Chromebooks would get software program updates and assist for a formidable 10 years after their launch date. This assist web page lists the Auto Replace expiration date for just about each Chromebook ever, however rule of thumb is to purchase the most recent machine you possibly can to maximise your assist.

How a lot ought to I spend?

Chromebooks began out notoriously low cost, with record costs typically coming in underneath $300. However as they’ve gone extra mainstream, they’ve transitioned from being primarily fashionable netbooks to the type of laptop computer you’ll need to use all day. As such, costs have elevated: At this level, it is best to count on to spend no less than $400 if you would like a stable every day driver. There are nonetheless many finances choices on the market which may be appropriate as secondary gadgets, however Chromebooks that may be all-day, every-day laptops will price extra. However, notably, even the very best Chromebooks normally price lower than the very best Home windows or “common” laptops on the market.

There are many premium Chromebooks that method and even exceed $1,000, however I don’t advocate spending that a lot. Typically, that’ll get you a greater design with extra premium supplies, in addition to extra highly effective internals and further cupboard space. In fact, you additionally typically pay for the model title. However, the specs I outlined earlier are normally sufficient.

See Additionally:

Photograph by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Display dimension: 14 inches | Display decision: 1,920 x 1,200 | Put in reminiscence: 8GB | Weight: 3.52 lbs | Out there ports: 1 x USB-A 3.2, 2 x USB-C 3.2, MicroSD card slot (SD 3.0), Headphone jack, Kensington Naon safety slot | Drive capability: 128GB | Battery life: 6 hours as examined

Lenovo has been making a few of the greatest reasonably priced Chromebooks you should purchase for a number of years now, and its 2023 IdeaPad Flex 5i is an reasonably priced laptop computer that gives nearly all the pieces you may need in a primary Chromebook. The 14-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 touchscreen is each bigger and taller than final 12 months’s mannequin. This implies you get extra vertical display actual property, which is one thing I respect over a normal 1080p show. This Lenovo Chromebook hits the Chromebook Plus advisable specs with a Thirteenth-generation Intel Core i3 processor plus 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. That’s a bump up from the Eleventh-generation processor in final 12 months’s mannequin, and the RAM and storage needs to be a lot.

Sadly, the battery life is pretty mediocre — I bought about six hours of normal use out of it. My workflow features a ton of Chrome tabs, plus net apps for issues like Slack, Todoist, Trello, Google Hold and YouTube Music. I normally take a couple of video calls through the day, so in the event you’re not on digicam a lot you would possibly get a bit extra time from the laptop computer. I want it lasted longer, however I can’t knock it an excessive amount of contemplating the Flex 5i’s value.

The backlit keyboard and trackpad are excellent and really feel significantly better than I’d count on on a reasonably reasonably priced machine. The keys have good journey and the trackpad is giant and responsive. Even if it has a 1080p webcam, I can’t say that I regarded all that nice within the video calls I took. It does the job, however not rather more.

Different issues within the Flex 5i’s favor embrace each USB-C and USB-A ports, a microSD card slot and a safety lock. At 3.5 kilos and 0.78 inches thick, it’s positively not the lightest or slimmest possibility on the market. It’s a utilitarian slab of a laptop computer, however that’s OK. Lastly, the Flex 5i will obtain software program and safety updates till June of 2032, so you should purchase this laptop and have it lined for years to come back.

For me, the $500 Ideapad Flex 5i is the perfect Chromebook. It’ll hit the candy spot for lots of patrons on the market, offering a stage of high quality and efficiency that’s fairly uncommon to search out at this value level.

Execs

  • Nice total efficiency for the value
  • Good show
  • Stable keyboard and trackpad
Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • A bit heavy and chunky

$499 at Amazon

Photograph by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Display dimension: 14 inches | Display decision: 1,980 x 1,200 | Put in reminiscence: 8GB | Weight: 3.02 lbs | Out there ports: 1 x USB-A 3.2, 2 x USB-C / Thunderbolt, HDMI, Headphone jack | Drive capability: 256GB | Battery life: 7.5 hours as examined

Acer’s Chromebook Spin 714 has lengthy been top-of-the-line premium Chromebook choices on the market, and the present mannequin isn’t any exception.

The Spin 714 incorporates a 14-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 touchscreen. Just like the display on Lenovo’s mannequin, this works out to a taller 16:10 side ratio than you’ll get from the 1080p panels on most laptops. I’m a giant fan of taller laptop computer screens, and whereas this isn’t as luxurious because the few 3:2 ratio Chromebooks in the marketplace, it’s nonetheless a cushty and prime quality display. It’s additionally slightly bit brighter than the display on the Lenovo (340 nits vs. 300).

One noteworthy characteristic is the 2K webcam included within the Spin 714. In a world the place we’re all doing extra video calls than we’d like, having a digicam that doesn’t scale back you to a blurry spot is unquestionably appreciated. It’s a much better digicam than the one on our prime choose.

As for the remainder of the {hardware}, the Spin 714 bests the Lenovo in a couple of methods. It incorporates a Thirteenth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, together with 8GB and 256GB of storage. It additionally has higher battery life in my testing — I usually bought about 7 and a half hours when utilizing it. That’s not distinctive, nevertheless it’s according to what I’ve seen on different i5-powered Chromebooks.

Simply because the title suggests, the Spin 714 has a 360-degree hinge which helps you to use the laptop computer in pill mode. I’m not a fan of this convertible design – I don’t know who needs to make use of a 3-plus pound pill, nevertheless it’s there in the event you want it.

The most recent Spin 714 prices $700 – not an unreasonable value for a pc with these specs and constructed high quality. In the event you’re a severe multitasker, need a greater show and keyboard, or simply need a pc that’ll final so long as attainable, the Acer Spin 714 is simple to advocate.

Execs

  • Nice display
  • Very clear webcam
  • Loads of energy and cupboard space
  • Good keyboard and trackpad
  • Compact design
Cons

  • Just a little expensive
  • Battery life is fairly common

$575 at Amazon

Photograph by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Display dimension: 16 inches | Display decision: 2,560 x 1,600 | Put in reminiscence: 8GB | Weight: 3.75 lbs | Out there ports: 1 x USB-A 3.2, 2 x USB-C 3.2, HDMI, Headphone jack, Ethernet | Drive capability: 256GB | Battery life: 9 hours (producer estimate)

Acer launched the Chromebook 516 GE within the fall of 2022 as a part of Google’s push to make gadgets appropriate for cloud gaming, however you don’t must be a gamer to understand this laptop computer. For $650, you’ll get a 16-inch show with a 2,560 x 1,600 decision and a 120Hz refresh fee. NVIDIA’s GeForce Now gaming service helps as much as 4K visuals at 120Hz on its Final tier so that you’ll get to see these advantages. This laptop computer additionally helps Steam, but another excuse players could be involved in attempting it. However even non-gamers ought to benefit from the 516 GE’s crisp and clear display and refined {hardware}.

It additionally contains Intel’s Twelfth-gen Core i7 1240P processor, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Given the laptop computer’s dimension, it’s good that Acer didn’t skimp on ports right here: there’s an HDMI port, USB-C, USB-A, ethernet and a headphone jack. The keyboard has gamer-friendly LED lights which you could customise, however extra importantly, it’s only a stable and comfy keyboard for taking part in video games or simply typing up experiences. The trackpad is giant and responsive as nicely.

The 516 GE solely weighs 3.75 kilos too – fairly mild for a laptop computer with a 16-inch display. Between the highly effective {hardware}, stable design, good trackpad and keyboard and nice display, anybody who needs an even bigger Chromebook will possible be proud of this mannequin. As for assist, Google says the 516 GE will proceed receiving updates till June of 2032.

Execs

  • Giant, high-resolution display with a quick refresh fee
  • Loads of ports
  • Intel i7 processor presents loads of energy
  • Giant and spacious keyboard
  • Comparatively light-weight for a large-screen laptop computer
Cons

  • Not everybody will respect the gamer aesthetic

$530 at Amazon



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