Congratulations on taking the brave forward step from the pedestrian world of laptops and into the glimmering cloud-domain of Chromebooks. As a certain centuries-old knight once said to Indiana Jones: you have chosen wisely.
There are myriad benefits to switching across to a Chrome-based device, but discovering that a traditional laptop isn’t for you is only half the battle: Not all Chromebooks are born equal, and though they mostly occupy the ‘budget browser’ space within the world of portable computing, they also come in many shapes and sizes.
Chrome OS is the lightest of operating systems, but with the imminent addition of Android apps and a slew of manufacturers creating their own versions of the device, there’s an increasing variety of devices and ever expanding uses for Google’s platform.
Now more than ever the Chromebook is a viable alternative to a Windows laptop or Macbook. But if you’re wondering which one is for you, allow us to guide you.
Dell Chromebook 11 - the best 'book on a budget
Many Chromebooks are very affordable, but the Dell Chromebook 11 has to be the best value of them all. The 4GB non-touchscreen model is robustly built and is more than capable of keeping pace with its rivals. Multiple windows, YouTube videos, video calling - these are all made smooth by the Intel Celeron Bay Trail-M N2840 CPU and decent-sized RAM.
There are plenty of faster, bigger, and more seductively built chromebooks on the market, but if you’re looking for a light, compact device that can keep pace with all the usual Chromebook tasks, the Dell Chromebook 11 is just the ticket.
Extra features include a screen hinge that moves 180 degrees for sharing images and documents across the table, and a trackpad and keyboard that are completely waterproof, making spillage anxiety a thing of the past. It’s adaptable, it’s durable, and it won’t break the bank.
Acer Chromebook R11 - the complete Android experience
The Acer Chromebook R11 is more than just a beautifully designed device, it’s also part of an elite club. At the moment only a handful of Chromebooks are Android app enabled, but the R11 is one of the few chosen to lead the charge of integration.
Make no mistake - this functionality is a game changer. Access to the Play Store opens up thousands upon thousands of locally run apps, allowing Chromebooks to run far more tasks (including a legion of games) than they previously could.
The R11 is the perfect device for making the best of this functionality. Its screen is connected via a 360 degree hinge, allowing it to literally ‘bend over backwards’ for you, and transform into a touchscreen tablet. This gets past all the annoying UI issues associated with porting Android apps to a trackpad and keyboard, letting you elegantly transition between tasks.
Google Chromebook Pixel - the lap of luxury
When it comes to Chromebooks, there can be only one king of the castle, and it's the Google Chromebook Pixel. Simply put, it's a delightful contradiction that's almost impossible to resist. Sure, for the same price you could easily pick up a medium-spec Macbook that will be far more feature-laden, but the unarguable build quality of the Pixel’s aluminium exterior and the dazzling screen will have you seduced. This is a Chromebook that traditional laptops underestimate at their peril.
In terms of the nitty-gritty specs, the Pixel is an intimidating beast. Its 13in 2560 x 1700 display features a 178 degree viewing angle and supports 4K video output over an HDMI connection - whether presenting to colleagues or devouring high-def entertainment, it’s a winner. Google’s device keeps step with, and often surpasses its laptop brethren; its 2.4 GHz i7 Processor ensures that it's more than capable of heavy multitasking and keeping a legion of tabs active at once.
Pop all of this functionality in a sleek, minimalist design and you’ve got yourself the most impressive browser-based laptop available today. But it may not be available tomorrow - Google has announced that it’s discontinuing the Pixel, so you’d best move fast if you fancy one.
Dell Chromebook 13 - the healthiest compromise
Most people don’t have a thousand pounds to throw at Google for a shiny Pixel, but there is an alternative. The Dell Chromebook 13 brings quality construction together with horsepower that outclasses almost every other Chromebook on the market.
The price point is roughly double that of similar devices, but the Dell 13 offers a true ‘laptop experience’ for the extra cash. The solid metal frame doesn’t bow, like many of the cheap, plastic alternatives, and the backlit keyboard and glass touchpad bring a touch of quality that you won’t find in offerings from the likes of Acer or HP.
The frame houses 4GB of RAM and a Celeron 3205U processor keeps applications snappy, yet somehow the Dell 13 also gives you a pretty amazing 15 hours of life from each charge. The benefits of its light architecture are clear, but it still manages to mix laptop-like power with Chromebook-style longevity. A definite winner.