Whether it’s because of their very affordable prices or an aversion to Windows 8.1’s complexity, more and more shoppers are buying Chromebooks. 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 prices that start at $199, a Chromebook also makes a pretty compelling gift idea. But, if you’re planning to give one of these clamshells for this year’s holidays, you’ll need to act soon. Amazon is guaranteeing delivery before Christmas if you order by Dec. 19 via the company’s free-shipping option on orders of $35 and more. For real procrastinators, you can hope for a same-day delivery option as late as Dec. 24, but you’ll need to make sure you’re in one of the 13 eligible cities.
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.
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.
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.
Geared towards students, Dell’s Chromebook 11 offers snappy Haswell performance and more than 7 hours of battery life in a very solid design. This is a chassis that feels like it could take some abuse from kids. We like the comfortable keyboard, as well as the two USB 3.0 ports and HDMI port. While it’s a little pricey ($279 to start), overall the Chromebook 11 is an excellent choice.
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.
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.