8 best Chromebooks 2017: our pick of the best cheap Chrome OS laptops

The best Chromebooks available, reviewed and rated

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When the Chromebook arrived a few years back it wasn't so much with a bang but with some confusion. Why, people asked, would we want something that can only be used when connected to the internet? 

Initially this was a valid point as Google's browser-based apps weren't yet fully developed and didn't work that well when your internet connection went down (not too good for use on the move). 

Thankfully this is no longer the case and many apps work well when offline. Google's Chrome OS may be essentially the Chrome browser, but it too has been improved and is very usable. 

For many, its simplicity compared to Windows and Mac OS is a real boon and Chromebooks are great laptops for school, university and those who are quite happy just using the web and Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and more. 

If you don't want to read down further, you'd do worse than to check out the super Acer Chromebook R11 which is our favourite Chromebook at the moment.  

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 to use and convenient Chromebook compared to its rivals.

How to choose the best Chromebook for you

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.

While we're at it, here's why Google thinks you should buy a Chromebook. 

The best Chromebooks you can buy today

1. Acer Chromebook R11

This flipping useful Chromebook can run Android apps

Specifications
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)
Reasons to buy
+Battery life+Runs Android apps
Reasons to avoid
-Low-resolution display-Trackpad

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 to use 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). The Chromebook R11 only has a HD, rather than a Full HD display, but on the plus side this helps its battery life reach into the double figures.

2. HP Chromebook 14

Stylish, solidly built and packing an impressive display

Specifications
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)
Reasons to buy
+Fun design+Impressive screen
Reasons to avoid
-Average battery life-Not as powerful as rivals
Today's best deals

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)

3. Toshiba Chromebook 2

Full HD on a Chromebook just got better

Specifications
CPU: 5th generation Intel Celeron – Core i3
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics – HD Graphics 5500
RAM: 4GB
Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080)
Storage: 16GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Gorgeous 1080p screen+Up to Core i3 power
Reasons to avoid
-Screen glare-Can't purchase new
Today's best deals

For the price, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 might seem like a steep investment, but wrapped up in that slim, silvery package are the specs of a top-of-the-line Chromebook. Featuring a brilliantly vivid 1080p screen, a nifty backlit keyboard and the option of an i3 processor configuration, there's little to complain about here. Although, we could do with a matte display option – just food for thought.

4. Dell Chromebook 11

Dell's updated Chromebook is a star in almost every regard

Specifications
CPU: Intel Celeron N2840
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics
RAM: 2GB – 4GB
Screen: 11.6-inch HD, 1366 x 768 touchscreen
Storage: 16GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Rugged design+180-degree barrel hinge
Reasons to avoid
-Touchscreen not standard-Small keyboard
Today's best deals

On the Chromebook 11, you'll find a 180-degree reinforced hinge, rugged design, sealed keyboard and trackpad and a punchy typing experience accompanying a portable package. In addition to using the Chromebook for school work, bass-happy students will appreciate the loud stereo speakers for music and videos.

5. Asus Chromebook Flip

A flipping premium Chromebook for almost nothing

Specifications
CPU: Rockchip 3288-C
Graphics: ARM Mali T624
RAM: 2GB – 4GB
Screen: 10.1-inch, WXGA (1,280 x 800) IPS multi-touch
Storage: 16GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Fully metal construction+Excessive battery life
Reasons to avoid
-Occasional crashes-Large screen bezels
Today's best deals

Aside from the budget price tag, the Asus Chromebook Flip is one of the best-built Chromebooks to blaze the trail onward for more convertibles. Touchscreen functionality feels slightly more logical, with a screen that actually rotates for once. All the while, the Flip meets all the core tenants of an ideal Chrome OS device, including stellar battery life. If you've been ho hum on Chromebooks before, this is definitely one to ... flip out about. (Sorry.)

6. HP Chromebook 13

A flashy and functional Chromebook for business

Specifications
CPU: Intel Pentium – Core m7
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 515
RAM: 4GB – 16GB
Screen: 13.3-inch, FHD (1920 x 1080) – QHD (3,200 x 1,800)
Storage: 32GB eMMC
Reasons to buy
+Ultra-thin and sharp design+High-resolution display is a beauty
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks touchscreen-QHD+ display hikes price and lowers battery life
Today's best deals

For the price, the HP Chromebook 13 offers a handful of distinct from what you might find on a comparable Windows laptop. Even at the baseline, you're guaranteed a 1440p screen that's far above average for a Chromebook. Even more unusual is the inclusion of not one, but two USB Type-C ports, and if you're willing to shell out just a bit more cash you can also nab yourself a Core-M processor rather than a Pentium. All of this is complemented by the HP Chromebook's outward appearance, a metallic design that reeks of Pixel influence.

7. Acer Chromebook 13

With incredible battery life, the Chromebook 13 is a winner

Specifications
CPU: Nvidia Tegra K1
Graphics: Nvidia Keplar
RAM: 2GB – 4GB
Screen: 13.3-inch, HD (1.920 x 1.080)
Storage: 16GB – 32GB SSD
Reasons to buy
+Battery life+Great speakers
Reasons to avoid
-Strange port locations-Lackluster visuals
Today's best deals

Powered by Nvidia's powerful Tegra K1 chip, this Chromebook packs a lot into its tiny frame. You're bound to fall in love with its 13.3-inch, 1080p resolution screen, as well as its portability. At 3.31 pounds, the Acer Chromebook 13 is a feather on the outside, a powerhouse internally. For the price, you're likely to enjoy the simplicity and productivity as you learn to overcome its limitations.

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