DELL CHROMEBOOK 11 (£206)
The Chromebook 11 is Dell’s attempt at staying pure to Google’s original vision for Chrome OS: a durable laptop that at a fraction over £200, can only be described as crazy cheap.
What on Earth did Dell have to do to get the price down? Nothing bad, thankfully: the Chromebook 11 is surprisingly well featured.
It’s designed for education, which means it needs to shrug off the occasional knock or bump. US Military MIL-STD durability, pressure, temperature, shock and vibration testing ought to cover it.
The result is more functional than attractive, with a plain plastic case that only weighs 1.2KG, but feels tough and hardy. Forget the educational bias; this is a laptop you can carry everywhere and anywhere without worrying about damage.
The keyboard is surprisingly good, with responsive keys that have a lot of travel. They’re a little clicky, so typing can be rather loud. The touchpad is equally decent, responsive to swipes, multi-touch gestures and with a light action on the click.
Given the price, the 11.6in, 1366x768 screen is a fair trade-off. There’s enough pixels for basic work, but it’s not exactly sharp. A Full HD display would have been better, sure, but you just can’t get one at this price.
Viewing angles aren’t great, so you’ve got to sit square-on to the screen, but as it tilts back 180°, that’s not too hard. Colours are a little washed out, though, and brightness is a little on the dim side, even when cranked up to the max.
The dual-core Intel Intel Celeron N2840 CPU and 4GB of RAM are fine for simple tasks and most web browsing. Complicated sites take a while to render, though, and things starts to slow down if too many apps are open at once. Still, manage your tabs carefully, and the Chromebook 11 does well enough.
Managing over ten hours of video playback, there’s easily enough battery life here to get you through a whole day of work without having to plug into the mains.
There’s just 16GB of onboard storage, which is a little light, even if you keep most of your files in the cloud. The microSD card slot on the side can give a bit more breathing space.
It’s not the most exciting laptop, and doesn’t have the best features, but for a shade over £200 this is an excellent Chromebook for yourself or the kids. A better screen would make it perfect.
STUFF SAYS ★★★★☆
If you want something really cheap, but able to take a beating, the Dell Chromebook 11 is the model for you. At this price, we can forgive the slightly dim screen.
Chromebook R11 in figures Operating system: Chrome OS • Screen: 11.6in 1366x768 • Processor: Dual-core Intel Celeron N2840 • RAM: 4GB • Storage: 16GB plus microSD • Weight: 1.2kg