Chrome OS announcements over the past month have had more to do with software than with anything on the hardware front. Alongside the launch of Chrome 72, hints have landed in the Chromium Gerrit pointing toward more detachable Chromebooks or tablets incoming as well as more convenient linking, and better multimedia control possibly arriving within the next few updates.
Version 72 of Chrome OS brought a major security fix for network management and added in a 'tablet mode' in the three-dot browser menu to make Chrome easier to use on a tablet or 2-in-1 in tablet mode.
The file system received some improvements too, with Android apps now able to access external storage mediums. Aside from the storage adjustment, Android app shortcuts -- accessed by alt or right-clicking an app icon -- can now be found via the launcher's search bar.
In terms of hardware, one or two new devices landed in February and both Lenovo and Acer have officially dropped their most powerful version of previously-launched devices to date, respectively. Google’s Pixelbook takes a hit this month as its age continues to catch up with it but its Pixel Slate tablet, thanks to improvements in Chrome OS, will move up the list.
10. ASUS Chromebook Flip C302
ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 was made available in early 2018 after being announced several months prior. That means it has plenty of life left in it for the time being thanks to the Chrome OS 5-year security support minimum but it is slowly being replaced by machines with newer hardware. In the meantime, the gadget has maintained an exceptionally loyal following and not without good reason.
Pricing for the ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 starts at $474, with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage to suit just about anybody's needs on the cloud-heavy OS its running. For a bit more money, buyers can get double the RAM and storage capacity and have their choice of an Intel Pentium 4405Y, Intel Core m3, or Intel Core m5 processor. Storage is expandable via an SD slot.
All of that is packed into an all-aluminum 2.5lb frame measuring 1.5-inches thin with a 12.5-inch 1920 x 1080 Goralla Glass display set on a 360-degree hinge for 2-in-1 capabilities. Battery life is rated at up to 10-hours so that users can keep using their device all day long whether they're using the Chromebook Flip C302 in tablet, tent, stand, or laptop mode for school, work, or entertainment.
Two USB Type-C ports are included for charging, data transfers, and display out functions.
9. Acer Chromebook 514
The Chromebook 514 is Acer’s most recent entry in the budget and mid-range portions of the Chrome OS market, bringing premium features to the masses in three base configurations ranging from $349 to $499. Launched at as January drew to a close, each gadget bucks the trend toward 2-in-1 devices to ship in an all-aluminum clamshell format.
The 14-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen is accented by 6mm bezels, a Gorilla Glass touchpad, and backlit keyboard regardless of which version is purchased.
Inside the 0.7-inches thin, 3.3lbs frame, a three-cell 3,920mAh battery is packed into each device for a claimed battery life of up to 12-hours. That drives Chrome OS and the above-mentioned components in all three configurations as well as two USB-C ports, two standard USB ports, a Noble lock slot for added security, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a card reader for storage expansion.
Two stereo speakers round out that package for an all-around top-level list of inclusions at any level.
The most powerful variant -- model number CB514-1HT-P2D1 -- offers an Intel Pentium N4200 chip backed up by 8GB LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB eMMC storage. Model numbers CB514-1H-C47X and CB514-1HT-C7AZ, conversely, utilize a dual-core Intel Celeron N3350 or quad-core Intel Celeron N3450 processor. Both feature 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM but the less powerful model includes just 32GB storage instead of the 64GB included in the other versions.
The Acer Chromebook 514 should be more than enough computer for the majority of users to accomplish daily tasks and is going to look and feel great while doing it.
8. Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro & Plus LTE
Samsung presently offers a more simplified lineup of devices than some others in the Chrome OS market with two machines in configurations that vary almost entirely in terms of features than in specs. Both the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Samsung Chromebook Pro ship in an all-aluminum design with a garaged S-Pen stylus and a 2-in-1 format. Each is about the same size too, with the former being a 12.2-inch device and the latter a 12.3-inch gadget.
The Chromebook Plus is the less powerful of the two Chromebooks and starts at $499 or $599 for an LTE enabled Chromebook Plus LTE. Both variants ship with a secondary camera that faces ‘outward’ when used in tablet mode and ship with an Intel Celeron 3965Y processor, 4GB RAM, and 32GB storage. Each variation has a 1920 x 1200 touchscreen resolution panel.
4G with the LTE variant only works with Verizon’s network for the time being and comes with a slightly higher cost. The newest configuration of the Samsung Chromebook Plus ships with double the storage and a bump to the processor up to an Intel Core m3 for a bit more money.
The Samsung Chromebook Pro utilizes an Intel Core m3 processor as well but with a higher base frequency of 2.2GHz and storage starting at 64GB. RAM stays at 4GB, which should be more than enough for the average user’s daily activity.
The imperceptibly larger screen is set at 2400 x 1600 resolution compared to the Chromebook Pro’s counterpart as well.
Although the Samsung Chromebook Pro starts at $499, buyers also have the option of spending an extra $100 if they absolutely must have a backlit keyboard.
7. Google Pixelbook
Google’s Pixelbook, first launched in October 2017, is still an astounding device with specifications that will outperform most. At just 10mm thick and 2.5lbs, it’s also among the thinnest and lightest Chromebooks available. Unfortunately, in combination with its pricing, added cost for features other gadgets ship with, and the rapid rise in premium offerings from the competitions, it's age is beginning to show.
None of that means the Google Pixelbook isn’t a worthy competitor and there are several configurations to choose from for those who don’t mind the added cost. Starting at $999, buyers can get the Pixelbook with a seventh-gen Intel i5 processor coupled with massive memory and storage allotments -- 8GB and 128GB, respectively. $200 more doubles the storage capacity.
For a measly $1,649, the processor can be bumped up to an Intel i7 from the same generation, coupled with 16GB RAM and 512GB of much faster NVMe storage -- compared to the eMMC storage found in cheaper variants.
Regardless of which configuration is purchased, it will cost an extra $100 for a pen-sized Pixel Pen stylus.
The commonality between the various builds begins with the use of a high-quality two-tone white-on-silver frame, two high-end speakers, and four noise cancellation mics for using Assistant or video chats. Each of the configurations includes a 2400 x 1600 touchscreen display set on a 360-degree hinge and two USB Type-C ports.
The Google Pixelbook is powerful enough that it should be able to tackle anything a user can throw at it wether that’s development tasks or media editing. It should be able to do that all day long too thanks to the inclusion of a 10-hour-rated battery.
6. Google Pixel Slate
Google’s Pixel slate landed in late 2018 to mixed reviews that came down mostly to Chrome OS’s lack of optimization for tablets and the extra cost associated with using the Pixel Slate as a laptop. Complaints about weight as well as performance in the more expensive variants also keep it low in ranking despite that its internal hardware make it one of the most powerful devices available.
Pixel Slate is also the most powerful Chrome OS tablet by a long stretch and will be more than suitable for those who absolutely must have that, especially at the higher-cost end.
Starting at $599 for a Google Pixel Slate with 4GB memory and 32GB storage, users get a fairly basic Intel Celeron processor. As with every other variant, that comes in a matte midnight blue coloration with a 12.3-inch molecular display panel set at 3000 x 2000 resolution. Two 8-megapixel cameras are included on both the front and back of this tablet. Two USB Type-C ports are embedded in the frame too, alongside a fingerprint scanner in the power, for those who need the extra security.
For $100 more, prospective buyers can keep the processor but get double the RAM and storage space and pricing goes up by around the same amount from there. $799 bumps the processor up to an eight-generation Intel Core m3 while $999 doubles the storage again and adds an Intel Core i5 processor. The final variation, priced at $1,599, ships with the latest generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB on the storage side.
A magnetically attached keyboard can be bought in the same color configuration for $199 -- or $159 for a similar offering from Brydge, operating on Bluetooth instead. A pressure sensitive pen in the same color can be had for $99 over the cost of the tablet itself.
5. HP Chromebook x2
Challenging Google’s Pixel Slate at its own game but without quite so many caveats is HP’s Chromebook x2, currently representing the only true detachable laptop in the Chrome OS space.
Starting at just $539 and slightly thinner than the Pixelbook at 0.3-inches, buyers get a highly-capable Intel Core m3 processor backed by either 4GB or 8GB RAM and 32GB of storage. That’s packed into a 12.3-inch ceramic white all-metal frame that rests neatly via-magnets on an Oxford blue keyboard in either tent, tablet, stand, or clamshell configuration -- or separate as a dedicated tablet.
Dual forward-facing Bang & Olufsen speakers are embedded along the narrow bezel edges for optimal sound and the underside of the keyboard is metal for a more consistent feel.
The display on the HP Chromebook x2 is set at 2400 x 1600, slightly lower than the Pixel Slate but more than enough to keep visual’s free of stray pixels. Battery life is rated at an exceptional 12.5 hours.
One of the greatest aspects of HP’s premium detachable Chrome OS laptop, however, is its weight. HP has kept that down at just 1.62lbs in tablet mode, making it substantially lighter than 2-in-1 laptops without losing the ability to act as one if needed. The device is also already more than powerful enough to accomplish most tasks almost any user could want to accomplish. Two USB-C ports are included as well as a slot to expand on storage via SD.
4. Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14
For those who need a larger display and don’t mind trading off on weight, a full-size stylus, and detachability for a backlit keyboard and Intel Core i3 processor, Dell’s Inspiron Chromebook 14 is a great device.
Designed to fall directly into the same top-tier category as the company’s top Windows laptops, the Inspiron Chromebook 14 marks Dell’s entry into the premium Chromebook market. It ships in the same all-aluminum frame as its counterparts with an urban gray coloration for just $599 to start. A relatively small EMR pen comes packed into that frame as well and the 14-inch 1080p touchscreen display can be put in tablet, tent, stand, or clamshell configurations.
In addition to USB-C ports, Dell includes a standard USB port to help users who haven’t upgraded their cables yet make the transition.
Backing up the 3.4GHz Intel Core i3 processor is a generous 4GB DDR4 RAM and 128GB standard and a battery that Dell says can attain 15-hours of use on a single charge. That all means that users can do more, for longer, and with a larger-than-average touchscreen set in whatever arrangement they need it in. In terms of battery life, that make's Dell's offering the Chromebook to beat.
3. Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
Lenovo has stepped up its game this month with an even better Yoga Chromebook C630 than the one Android Headlines recently reviewed, helping it to cement its spot on this list.
Now, the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 was already a brilliantly powerful and high-value machine, to begin with. Starting at $539.99 and bumping to $899.99 for the latest configuration, purchasers can choose between an Intel Core i3-8130U or i5-8250U processor. The latter of those is clocked at 1.6GHz up to 3.4GHz, backed by 8GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM and storage set at 128GB. The less expensive variant is backed by 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.
For the most powerful machine, and yet another variant in between the two, buyers also get a screen that’s been pushed to 4K resolution (3840 x 2160) from the standard 1920 x 1080 IPS anti-glare touchscreen. Every version comes in a 360-degree hinged convertible design.
Battery life is rated at right around ten hours on a single charge across the board.
The all-metal frame for the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 is a bit heavier than most at 4.2lbs, but the body itself is only around 0.7-inches thick. Bezels around the display are kept trimmed back in the design as well while every port users might expect from a top-end device -- whether USB or SD slot -- is part of the package too.
2. HP Chromebook x360 14
For those who want 8GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM and 64GB of storage matched with an eight-generation Intel Core i3-8130U processor that has a max clock of 4GHz, the HP Chromebook x360 14 fits the bill quite nicely.
That processor is rounded out with an Intel UHD Graphics 620 chip that can scale things up to 4K with an external display, when needed, although the 14-inch built in panel is only set at 1920 x 1080. Despite being such a powerhouse on the inside, HP’s Chromebook x360 14 is powered by a battery rated to last up to 13.5-hours.
All of that’s packed into an all-metal frame alongside two USB Type-C ports, two standard USB 3.1 ports, and a standard backlit keyboard. Two Bang & Olufsen speakers provide audio from the bottom of the 3.9lb convertible Chromebook.
The HP Chromebook x360 14 sets itself apart in styling too, featuring a ceramic white lid and dark mist blue for the keyboard side of things. Best of all, buyers can pick all of that up for just $599, making the Chromebook x360 14 one of the most high-value deals available for Chrome OS.
1. Acer Chromebook Spin 13
Like Lenovo’s Yoga Chromebook, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 13 has also now been made available in its most powerful form factor but Acer’s approach doesn’t simply pertain to screen specs. The previously available Chromebook Spin 13 was already more than robust enough with its eighth-generation Intel Core i5-8250U coupled with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage for $895. For just $70 more, the latest edition to become available bumps ram up to 16GB.
That’s set underneath a standard backlit keyboard and Gorilla Glass touchpad to match the hardening found on the 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504 display panel. The touchscreen is set on a 360-degree hinge for 2-in-1 operation but also features enhanced compatibility with the included garaged stylus cobuilt with Wacom.
Undergirding all of that hardware is a battery that has a claimed 10-hour battery life to power users through the most demanding tasks all day long without any lag or stuttering.
Two USB Type-C ports are included for outputs and each is rated for charging, data transfers, or display out capabilities.
Acer has set its device above the rest by offering top-of-the-line internals that can accomplish just about anything any user could want to do with a Chromebook. That includes things that Chromebooks are capable of but which most users won’t be doing, like programming apps or using professional level creativity software.
Additionally, it’s managed to do that in a premium build with top-tier materials, support for all of the latest Chrome OS features, and at a price that’s still well below comparable Pixel-branded equipment. In fact, despite that it uses components that are a generation newer than the Pixelbook’s, it also costs around half as much and doesn’t require buyers to purchase a pen for an extra fee.
That makes Acer's Chromebook Spin 13 the best option for those who want Pixelbook-like performance and quality in a newer package at a fraction of the cost.