Best Chromebooks 2021: Top Chromebook Reviews for Google, HP, Lenovo - Rolling Stone
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The Best Chromebooks for School and Working Alike

Chromebooks are a fast, powerful, easy-to-use alternative to pricey PCs and Macs

Google Pixelbook Go

Amazon

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Shopping for a laptop for work, school, or pleasure usually meant choosing between a Mac or PC.

That field has widened a bit recently with the introduction of Chromebooks, laptops that run ChromeOS instead of MacOS or Windows. These machines are lower powered than traditional laptops, and ChromeOS doesn’t support as wide an array of apps, but you shouldn’t discount them.

Running a lighter operating system means you can still get speedy performance, and stream media from services like Disney+ and TIDAL instead of keeping media files on your computer. ChromeOS is also significantly less susceptible to viruses because it’s based on a web browser, and doesn’t contain a traditional file system.

If you work with popular productivity software Microsoft Office or Google’s GSuite, stream your movies, TV shows, and music, and mostly use the web for shopping and posting on social media, Chromebooks are the right pick. If you do intense work, like photo, audio, or video editing, or need to use niche apps, a traditional computer is still the way to go.

What Are the Best Chromebooks?

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best Chromebook for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.

Screen Size: The Chromebooks in this guide have screens between 13.3 and 15.6 inches wide. Larger screens are better if you intend to watch a lot of media, but smaller ones are easier to carry around with you.

Screen Resolution: All of our Chromebook recommendations have an HD screen, which means photos, videos, and text will look very clear.

Processor: Every Chromebook below uses a different class of Intel processor. They’re not as powerful as the ones found in traditional PCs, but they’re fast enough to power the computers they’re in.

RAM: Our Chromebook recommendations have either 4GB (Gigabytes) or 8GB of RAM (Random Access Memory), which is enough to keep a lot of browser windows open, or run memory-hungry apps like Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel.

Storage: We’re recommending Chromebooks with between 32GB and 64GB of storage, which is enough to hold hundreds of documents and pictures. Using this type of computer means committing to keeping most of your digital data in the cloud.

Weight: The Chromebooks in our guide weigh between 2.33 and 4.4 pounds, which is in line with the weight of PCs and Macs.

Ports: A computer/s ports (known more commonly as inputs), are what allow you to connect accessories to your machine. Each of our picks has a different assortment of ports, which you should strongly consider depending on how you intend to use your machine. All of them support WiFi and Bluetooth, though, so you have a range of wireless connectivity options, too.

Webcam: Every Chromebook in this guide has a bulit-in webcam, so you don’t need to plug an external one in to use apps like Skype or Zoom.

Battery Life: The Chromebooks below all get between 10 and 12 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is more than enough to get you through a standard day of use.

1. HP Chromebook 14a-na006nr

HP Chromebook 14-inch FHD Laptop

Amazon

HP is known for their suite of Chromebooks, and they have models starting at just $199 on their site. Our pick though is this 14a-na0010nr. It’s the perfect entry-level Chromebook for students doing homework, or light work, or for someone who needs a simple all-in-one laptop at home.

It has a 14-inch display with a resolution of 1366 x 768. This means it has the lowest resolution screen out of the Chromebooks in this guide, but puts it in the middle of the pack in terms of screen size. At 3.24 pounds it’s also in the middle option in terms of weight.

HP’s Chromebook runs on a dual-core 1.1Ghz (Gigahertz) Intel Celeron processor, has 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. These specs are perfectly fine for common tasks like web browsing, posting on social media, and writing. HP partnered with Bang & Olufsen to build a pair of custom-tuned speakers into this Chromebook, which is a great feature if you’re an avid movie watcher or music listener.

HP’s 14a-na0010nr has a pair of USB-C ports, one USB-A port, a MicroSD card reader and a headphone/microphone combo input. This assortment of ports means the Chromebook is ready to handle everything from flash drives to memory cards. If you have a fast charger and USB-C to USB-A cable, you can take advantage of this Chromebook’s FastCharge feature, which will refill about 50% of its battery in roughly 45 minutes. HP says you can get up to 10 hours of use per charge, but your battery life will vary based on the apps you’re using and your screen’s brightness.

If you’ve been considering giving Chromebooks a try, but don’t want to lose many of the features you’re familiar with, this is a solid option.

Buy: HP Chromebook 14a-na0010nr at $229.95

2. Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Samsung

Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook 2 is the most premium Chromebook we’ve ever tested, and it offers the closest experience to using a PC or Mac.

In terms of specs, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 is very well equipped. It has a 1080P 13.3-inch OLED touch screen, 2.1GHz Intel Core i3 processor, 128GB of storage, 8GB of RAM, and a 720P webcam. The machine weighs just 2.7 pounds, and is just over half an inch thick. Overall, it’s an incredibly sleek machine.

In terms of ports, the Galaxy Chromebook 2 has a pair of USB-C ports, a headphone jack, and a MicroSD Card slot. While this selection is somewhat limited, it’s in service of the Galaxy Chromebook 2’s ultra-thin frame, which makes it easier to carry around. Samsung also bundles its Chromebook with the Galaxy S Pen, which allows you to take screenshots with a tap, or mark up photos and documents.

In terms of battery life, Samsung says its latest Chromebook gets up to 13 hours of use per charge, but that’ll depend on how aggressively you push the machine. If you’d like a Chromebook that looks, feels, and runs like a more “traditional” computer, Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook 2 is the obvious choice.

Buy: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 at $599

3. Google Pixelbook Go

 

Google Pixelbook Go

Amazon

Google’s Pixelbook Go is a premium Chromebook that’s best equipped to replace a traditional PC or Mac laptop.

The machine has a 13.3-inch touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It may have the smaller screen, but at 2.33 pounds, it’s also the lightest Chromebook we recommend. In terms of raw power, the Pixelbook Go is a step above most Chromebooks. It has an Intel M3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. If you want to run a few apps at the same time, or intend to keep large files (think PDFs and high-resolution images), you’ll appreciate the extra memory and space.

It can’t be folded over like Lenovo’s Chromebook, but the Pixelbook Go’s touch screen can replicate part of the experience of using a tablet. Google doesn’t say whether or not the Pixelbook Go supports fast charging, but says you can get up to two hours of usage if you charge it for 20 minutes with the included adapter. Google also says you can get up to 12 hours of usage with the Pixelbook Go on a single charge.

The only place where the Pixelbook Go suffers is its ports. The Chromebook has two USB-C ports, so you’ll need to plug a multi-port hub into it if you’d like to connect older accessories.

If you’d like a Chromebook that looks and feels premium, and doesn’t skimp out on power or battery life, Google’s Pixelbook Go is the right choice.

Buy: Google Pixelbook Go at $649.00

4. Acer Chromebook 315

Acer Chromebook 315

Acer

Acer’s Chromebook 315 epitomizes the greatest strength for this style of computer: Providing the most value for your money.

The machine features a 15.6 HD touch screen, Intel Celeron processor running at 2.6GHz, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a high definition webcam. These specs are make the machine capable for all the basic tasks students or office workers need to accomplish every day, from putting together presentations to video chatting and DMing teammates.

Acer loaded up the Chromebook 315 with two USB-A ports, two USB-C ports, a MicroSD Card slot, and a headphone jack. This array of ports means the Chromebook 315 is ready for any compatible accessory right out of the box, no adapters necessary. The only input this computer is missing is an HDMI port, but that’s not a huge detractor.

If you’re shopping for a Chromebook for a student, or your computing needs are fairly light, Acer’s Chromebook 315 is the machine we recommend

Buy: Acer Chromebook 315 at $279.99

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