When the Chromebook arrived a few years back it wasn't so much with a bang but with some consumer confusion. Why, people asked, would we want something that can only be used when connected to the internet?
These days most of what we do at a computer happens when we're connected to the internet. Most apps can be replicated online, through a browser, in some form or other too. So in fact, cloud-based Chromebooks make a lot more sense than it might originally seem.
Modern Chromebooks have learned a few tricks from Windows laptops. Some can fold over to double as tablets, sport all-day battery life and have enough internal muscle to power through regular computing tasks. Google is even in the process of bringing its huge library of Android apps to Chromebooks, something that no other type of computer can brag about.
Ultimately the reason to buy a Chromebook is that it offers a largely virus-free system that's kept up to date with new updates and features at an impressive rate. If you have your Chromebook stolen one day, the machine you replace it with the next will be up and running in seconds with access to all your cloud files and settings.
Chromebooks have also become hugely important for education. Long battery life, low costs and a decent suite of office apps mean that for cash-strapped students in need of a work computer, they're absolutely ideal.
Acer Chromebook R11
This flipping useful Chromebook can run Android apps
CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Braswell Quad-Core Celeron N3150 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB DDR3L | Screen: 11.6” 16:9 HD (1,366 x 768) | Storage: 32GB | Connectivity: Dual-band 802.ac; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD Web Camera | Weight: 2.76 lbs | Dimensions: 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (WxDxH)
It took a while for Chromebooks to become as flexible as their Windows counterparts, but it’s been worth the wait. The Acer Chromebook R11 is the first Chromebook that flips 360-degrees to convert into a tablet. Whether you’re watching a movie, reading websites or catching up with online TV, the added flexibility makes it a more comfortable and convenient Chromebook compared to its rivals.
Acer’s model also has the big advantage of being one of just three Chromebooks that currently support Android apps (though you’ll have to switch over to developer mode to give them a spin). On the flip side (pun very intended), the Chromebook R11 only has a HD, rather than a Full HD display, which on the plus side this helps its battery life reach into the double figures.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook R11
Dell Chromebook 13
Stylish, solidly built and packing an tasty display
CPU: 1.7GHz Intel Celeron 3215U (dual-core, 2MB cache) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics GT71 | RAM: 4GB DDR3L| Screen: 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 Matte FHD LCD | Storage: 16GB M2.NGFF SSD, MicroSD slot | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 802.11AC | Camera: Built-in 720p HD video camera | Weight: 3.23 lbs | Dimensions: 12.93 x 9.03 x 0.84 inches (W x D x H)
Chromebooks have developed a reputation for being cheap, in terms of both build quality and value. Google’s own Pixel Chromebook looked to buck the trend with its premium design, and Dell is now treading a similar path with the classy Chromebook 13. Forget bendy plastic, this all-metal affair rocks a black carbon fiber cover and magnesium-alloy chassis that’s capable of taking a knock or two.
It’s a smart design, and one that resembles Dell’s XPS laptops when you flip it over to check out the tapered sides, lengthy rubber feet and stylish speaker grilles. This Chromebook also stands out due to its 1080p display, which is a step up from what you’ll get on most other models. Thanks to its HDMI port, you can even hook up the Chromebook 13 to an external monitor when you’re not on the go.
Read the full review: Dell Chromebook 13
Asus Chromebook Flip
A great value convertible primed for Android apps
CPU: 1.8GHz Rockchip 3288-C | Graphics: Mali T624 | RAM: 2GB | Screen: 10.1-inch 1,280 x 800 | Storage: 16GB mmc | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 889g | Dimensions: 10.6 x 7.2 x 0.60 inches
Here's another little firecracker: like the Acer Chromebook R11, you can bend this Chromebook into a little tent shape. The idea is that you can use this layout to watch video and interact with the device through the touchscreen. Its usefulness might be debatable, but the beautiful construction of this machine speaks for itself. Another common trait with the Acer machine is that this little beauty can run Android apps, giving you access to more smartphone apps than you can shake a (Gingerbread) stick at.
The battery on this thing is a tank as well, offering eight or so hours of normal, mixed use. This is also a tiny little machine with a 10.1-inch screen, so don't expect to love using it as a laptop for lots of typing, but there's still loads of potential here for work if you factor in adding a keyboard and mouse via USB.
Read the full review: Asus Chromebook Flip
HP CHromebook 14
Stylish, solidly built Chromebook that rocks a spacious screen
CPU: 1.83GHz Intel Celeron N2940 processor (quad-core 2MB cache, up to 2.25GHz) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB DDR3 | Screen: 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display | Storage: 16GB eMMC | Connectivity: Intel 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HP TrueVision HD webcam | Weight: 3.74 pounds (1696g) | Dimensions: 13.54 x 9.45 x 0.7 inches (344mm x 240mm x 18mm) (W x D x H)
You might not want to spend a bomb on your Chromebook, but that doesn’t mean that it has to look drab. HP has done a great job of capturing that get-up-and-go vibe of Google’s machines with its funky two-tone Chromebook 14, which we can picture balanced in our laps while on the beach, Piña Colada in hand.
Fast enough for most tasks, this Chromebook offers a great balance of having a larger screen than most other laptops (Acer’s Chromebook 15 aside) without being so heavy that it’ll weigh you down. Its larger body has allowed HP to squeeze in a healthy number of ports, but you might not want to hook up any peripherals thanks to its tactile keyboard and smooth, large trackpad.
Read the full review: This funky Chromebook is a well-balanced machine
Acer Chromebook 15
A Chromebook that sees the bigger picture
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 dual-core processor | Graphics: Intel HD 5500 Graphics with shared memory | RAM: 4GB DDR3L SDRAM | Screen: 15.6-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p HD webcam | Weight: 4.85 pounds | Dimensions: 1 x 15.1 x 10.1 inches (H x W x D)
The idea of using a Chromebook as your main computer isn't such a radical one in 2016. So long as its ChromeOS operating system can do everything you need, there's a compelling argument to make the switch. Acer's Chromebook 15 is the first 15-inch Chromebook, and it's a convincing desktop replacement (albeit one that's a little more difficult to lug around compared to its rivals).
Acer has stuck a capable processor inside that runs ChromeOS like butter, and watching movies on the Chromebook 15's large 15-inch display is a satisfying experience. It's not the best pick if you're a frequent traveler, but if you're mainly based in one spot and need a little more computing muscle in your Chromebook, it's the one to beat.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 15
Packs powerful innards, a great design and works with Android apps too
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.8-inch 2,560 x 1,700 | Storage: 32GB | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: 720p | Weight: 1.50kg | Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches
This is by far the most absurdly expensive Chromebook on the market. To some extent it's sort of pointless because it costs as much as an Ultrabook, has loads of power but doesn't really have that much to do with the amazing power.
Perhaps Chromebooks will do more work locally in the future rather than in the cloud, but for now the Pixel is just a really nice laptop, beautifully designed to the highest standards. It's hard to recommend anyone buys it, because the cheap Chromebooks do such a stand-up job, but this is still a great machine.
Read the full review: Chromebook Pixel
Acer Chromebook 14
Brings its full metal jacket to the party
CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Celeron N3160 processor (quad-core, 2MB cache, up to 2.24GHz) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 400 | RAM: 4GB DDR3L | Screen: 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display | Storage: 32GB SSD | Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, headphone jack | Weight: 3.42 pounds | Dimensions: 13.4 x 9.3 x 0.67 inches (340mm x 236 x 17mm) W x D x H
Increasing the size one notch on the Acer Chromebook 13, the company’s 14-inch Chromebook is something that we could stare at all day. Its IPS display brings wide viewing angles to the party and really gets the best out of whatever it is you’re doing – from streaming video to bashing out documents – and its shiny metal body feels great to touch.
There must be a tiny hamster on a wheel inside, as this pacey offering go for around 12 hours before its battery finally gives up the ghost. Its keyboard isn’t the best we’ve ever felt, but if you’re simply after browsing the web on a classy and sturdy Chromebook that looks the business, you could do far worse than the Chromebook 14.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 14
Dell Chromebook 11
Dell packed some of the best features from its more expensive business notebooks into a compact design
CPU: 2.6GHz dual-core Intel Celeron | Graphics: Intel HD for Intel Celeron processors | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 11.6-inch HD, 1366 x 768 | Storage: 16GB SDD | Connectivity: 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 1.32kg | Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches
Dell isn't the company you'd think of when it comes to Chromebooks. After all, it probably wants to sell more high-value Windows Ultrabooks. However, Dell has been one of the consistent stars of the Chromebook world, offering nicely designed machines with a sensible price.
The Chromebook 11 is designed to survive an attack by a strike of highly-trained children, which means it's the ideal candidate for helping younger kids work on computers in early years schooling. It's also possible to get the Chromebook 11 with a touchscreen, although the base model doesn't include it. Honestly though, when it comes to Chromebooks the value of touchscreens is yet to be really proven.
Read the full review: Dell Chromebook 11
Toshiba Chromebook 2
A gorgeous 1080p screen on portable machine
CPU: 2.16GHz Intel Celeron | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 1920x1080 | Storage: 16GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 72608, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 1.33kg | Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.4 x 0.76 inches
Toshiba has a long history with laptops, so it's no surprise that it's produced some winning Chromebooks. What's also very cool is that the Chromebook 2 has the option of a 1080p screen to go along with its Google OS.
It's worth looking out for that, but be aware that there is also an option for a lower resolution screen too - the 1080p model is about £50 more. As is often the case, there's one USB 3 port and one USB 2, along with HDMI for connecting to your TV.
Read the full review: Toshiba Chromebook 2
Acer Chromebook 13
This 13-incher offers booming speakers, an excellent keyboard and a battery that just won't quit
CPU: 2.1GHz Nvidia Tegra K1 | Graphics: Nvidia Keplar | RAM: 2GB | Screen: 13.30inch 1920x1080 | Storage: 16GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 1.5kg | Dimensions: 12.9 x 9 x 0.71 inches
Featuring nVidia's powerful Tegra K1, the Acer has the potential to be quite a powerful little machine, but most significantly the battery life on this laptop is class-leading. You also get some nice built-in speakers too, which is handy if you're using this for YouTube clips and listening to streaming music services.
The keyboard is also something of a joy, which on a laptop is an important factor. This is also another Chromebook that has a 1080p screen, like the Toshiba, which is a real asset.
Read the full review: Acer Chromebook 13
- Now check out our Apple MacBook Air review