May is here and Google's self-made operating system, Chrome OS 74, has landed bringing a healthy dose of updates including audio support in Linux, PDF annotation via Chrome PDF reader, and wider support for USB camera hardware. More importantly, users can now manage their own offline files, chipping away at some of the smaller features that set the OS apart from its competitors.
There haven't been any major announcements that will be changing things up on our top ten list of Chromebooks just yet but there have been some fairly big developments aside from the long-expected features in version 74 too. Among the biggest of those was announced via Google's I/O Developers conference near the beginning of the month, with the company indicating that every Chromebook going forward will have support for Linux applications.
Conversely, the company also released its first beta for users to easily install and use Android Studio for mobile development directly on their Chromebook or other Chrome OS hardware via Linux.
So although there aren't any big changes to the best Chrome OS gadgets for May, there's definitely a lot to look forward to. More importantly, the improvements and updates mean there is plenty of incentive for manufacturers on the platform to start picking up steam in preparation of new device launches later on in the year.
Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro & Plus LTE
Samsung’s Chromebook Plus and Pro remain largely unchanged since their introduction and so does the pricing. The gadgets run between $499 and $599, placing them in the mid-range of the Chromebook spectrum with very little to set them apart from one another.
There is one exception to that, a Chromebook Plus sold under model designation XE520QAB-K02US, that abandons the smoothly rounded corners and metal keyboard found on its siblings for a cheaper cost. The lower portion is comprised of plastics instead, accounting for around a $150 drop in pricing.
The key selling point for Samsung’s top-end Chromebooks is that they ship with solid hardware set on a 2-in-1 convertible platform, matched with decent specs and the company’s well-regarded S-Pen.
The slightly larger “Pro” variant is a 12.3-inch laptop with a 2400 x 1600 resolution and a dark color. That can also be purchased with a backlit keyboard. The Chromebook Plus, conversely, ships in a silver or grey configuration with a 12.2-inch 1920 x 1200 display and the option to access 4G LTE via Verizon’s network on one configuration. That marks it as the most powerful Chromebook to date that connects to a mobile network.
Either Chromebook can be bought with up to an Intel Core m3 processor and 64GB storage backed by 4GB RAM.
Acer Chromebook 514
Acer’s Chromebook 514 leaves the 2-in-1 form factor behind as something to be pursued by other OEMs, putting more focus on offering high-value performance with premium features to stand apart for between $349 and $499.
That all starts with a larger-than-usual 14-inch 1920 x 1080 display panel set into an aluminum chassis on a lay-flat hinge. The bezels surrounding that are kept to a bare minimum at just 6mm with a standard backlit keyboard below. The touchpad and display are each coated in Gorilla Glass for added durability.
Its processor is certainly not the best on the block, delivering up to an Intel Pentium N4200 but that’s backed by RAM that’s well suited to the demands of Chrome OS at 8GB of LPDDR4 memory. Storage follows that trend at up to 64GB and the 12-hour rated battery takes things from there, ensuring an all-day experience that’s smooth and anxiety-free.
Other things that set this device apart are its inclusion of not just a microSD card slot but also standard USB and USB-C ports, in addition to a Noble lock slot that will keep the device where it’s intended to be.
The 0.7-inch thin Chromebook 514 represents a remarkable value at the mid-range of the platform, with Acer proving yet again why it’s one of the most recognized and sought after names in the Chrome OS space.
The Google Pixelbook is a 12.3-inch $999 to $1649 -- or $100 more to get a pen-sized EMR stylus -- convertible machine and its specs highlight precisely why that is. It’s one of very few Chrome OS laptops available that can be purchased with 512GB of NVMe storage and a seventh-gen Intel Core i7 chip at the extreme end. That includes 16GB RAM.
Regardless, The Pixelbook is going to be one of the best options for buyers who really need to get work done since even at the opposite end of the range, consumers get an i5 chip and 8GB RAM.
Style and form set Google’s Chromebook apart too, at less than one-half-inch thick and under 2.5lbs. A ten-hour battery -- despite the processors -- sits just under the hood of a metal frame accented at the lid’s leading edge with glass. There are no fewer than four noise-canceling mics to make using the Assistant AI tools more accurate than ever and two high-end speakers in that frame as well.
The display is one of the best in the business at 2,400 x 1,600 pixels.
Now, that’s going to be overkill for just about any use case even with Linux apps and developer tools now readily available -- and even more advancements in software on the way. Most consumers simply aren’t going to need what Google’s offering but it’s a good option for those that do, at least for now.
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
The ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 probably needs little to no introduction since the 14-inch 2-in-1 is already set to be one of the most popular series on the market.
Following up on a line of successful “Flip” laptops, the new one doesn’t change a whole lot in its all-metal build -- though it does still have one of the best keyboards around. Not only does that have a respectable 1.4mm key travel, but the back half of the keyboard also lifts into a tilt as the lid is opened. That gives it an ergonomic feel very few other devices have.
When that’s coupled with up to a Core i7-8500Y chip from Intel and up to 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, this device is a veritable powerhouse and a true high-value offering starting at just under $570.
Dual stereo speakers, a microSD card slot and a 1,920 x 1,080 screen and strikingly slim bezels accenting that touch-enabled panel takes things further despite being fairly standard across the board now.
Google Pixel Slate
Google admittedly made some mistakes with the launch of its first Chrome OS tablet. For starters, the device was initially kicked down to consumers in a now apparently non-existent budget-friendly Celeron-powered variant.
The reasons for that not materializing are still unknown but it also arrived while Chrome OS still had serious optimization problems specifically for tablets. Those are almost entirely gone now.
Although there are still some issues with the search giant's decision not to include its $100 stylus or $200 keyboard out-of-the-box, this gadget is very nearly on the same level as its Pixelbook. In many ways, it goes well beyond that older gadget.
Where Google’s Pixel Slate shines is in its position as the sole 12.3-inch Chrome OS tablet in the premium end of the market. The price tag falls in line with its older counterpart, maxing out at $1600, but that puts an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 in users hands, backed by 16GB RAM and 256GB of storage.
Other options lead up to that, each packed with a different Intel chip from the same generation and different amounts of RAM and storage. All of the configurations ship with a “molecular” 3,000 x 2,000 resolution touchscreen. That’s coupled with 8-megapixel cameras on both front and back, while the top-mounted power button also houses a fingerprint scanner.
For those who need the power and capability of a Google Pixelbook in a dedicated tablet, this is the best that’s currently available.
HP Chromebook x2
When it comes to Chrome OS devices that aren’t dedicated tablets but offer a similar screen size, weight, features, and effectively the best of both worlds, the HP Chromebook x2 still stands as a testament to value-driven performance.
Setting this gadget apart is the fact that it remains one of the sole true detachable 2-in-1 Chromebooks but it’s also extremely stylish without seeming garish thanks to its two-tone ceramic white on oxford blue aluminum chamfered design. The Chromebook x2 includes a full-size EMR pen stylus out-of-the-box at no extra cost and Bang & Olufsen speakers that are nested to either side of the 12.3-inch display.
Under that panel, HP packed in an Intel Core m3 processor, 4GB of relatively fast RAM, and a healthy 32GB storage that allows this more cloud-focused Chromebook to accomplish just about any task the OS currently allows for.
That versatility and feature-rich build aren’t going to cost an arm and a leg either. At right around $500 to $600, this gadget sits firmly in its position as one of the best available and at a reasonable price.
Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14
Dell entered into the premium segment of the Chrome OS market late last year, bringing years of experience in computer-building as well as both its world-class warranties and customer service to the platform. Those aren’t the only aspects of its first entry into that battlefield to set its device apart either, especially with consideration for the 15-hour-rated battery that’s included.
The company’s attention to detail shines in the all-metal Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14. Dell packs in two ports each for both USB standard and USB-C, in addition to a lock slot for security and a garaged EMR stylus. That’s set on one of the most stable and solidly-built 2-in-1 hinges available, countering the 14-inch gadget’s heft with a quality that remains mostly unanswered by the overwhelming majority of competitors.
Pricing for the Chromebook kicks of at just $599, netting buyers up to an eighth-generation Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of DDR4 RAM and 128GB of storage. Better still, Dell's classic design language means that’s all found a gray shell that will fit in just about anywhere. Effectively, the Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14 is able to compete all day long for both home or business use with power to spare and plenty of space to go offline at a sensible price backed by Dell’s well-earned reputation.
Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
Lenovo’s Yoga series is among the top brands available in terms of PCs and the same holds true for the company’s Chromebooks too thanks to its Yoga Chromebook C630. Lenovo’s business-ready 15.6-inch premium Chromebook can be bought with up to a 4K (3,840 x 2160) display panel or a standard 1080p IPS touchscreen and that’s just the beginning of what sets this laptop apart.
With its $539.99 starting point, Lenovo has poured a lot of its efforts into ensuring great specs for the price rather than bothering to trim away at its 4.2lbs weight or its 0.7-inch thickness.
The result is a convertible Chromebook in one of the largest available formats with up to 128GB of storage for files and apps as well as up to 8GB of DDR4 2400MHz RAM to drive those along. Battery life isn’t stellar at around 10-hours maximum per charge but that’s in large part due to the powerful processor in use here.
Keeping everything moving smoothly within the device’s solidly-designed aluminum frame, Lenovo has opted to equip the Yoga Chromebook C630 with an Intel Core i3 chip or an Intel Core i5-8250U processor that’s boosts up to a frequency of 3.4GHz as needed. Clean optimizations and Chrome OS's lightweight nature ensure there's effectively no task this Chromebook can't handle.
HP Chromebook x360 14
In terms of outward appearance, at first glance, it would be easy to mix up HP’s 14-inch Chromebook x360 14 with the company’s HP Chromebook x2 but that would be a mistake. While the OEM maintained that device’s color scheme and its Bang & Olufsen speakers (now placed on the underside of the keyboard), its focus with the HP Chromebook x360 14 was definitely on something entirely different.
Externally there are changes on closer inspection too. No keyboard attached by pogo-pins or magnets can be found on this laptop, to begin with, but HP has also slimmed down the 1920 x 1080 resolution touchscreen’s bezels for a more modern overall look and feel. That allows for extra screen real-estate in a similarly sized package centered around a 360-degree hinge.
The biggest differences, and the device’s highlight, is how it’s been priced relative to the power hidden just beneath the surface.
At $599 and with a battery life of up to 13.5-hours on a single charge, HP’s 14-inch Chromebook x360 14 is powered by an Intel Core i3-8130U chip. That has a better base clock than competing devices right out of the gate at 2.2GHz and Intel’s boosting technology can take that to a staggering 4GHz when the system is put under load.
That component is tied in with 8GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM and 64GB of storage, leaving plenty of space and memory for a Chrome OS device to make use of all that processing power.
Acer Chromebook Spin 13
The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is a 2-in-1 Chrome OS laptop with a somewhat flashy but business-ready aesthetic that’s matched by its enterprise-grade internals. That shouldn’t be too surprising since this gadget was originally launched with an $899 starting price for that market only.
Built almost entirely from aluminum with the exception of its Gorilla Glass touchpad, display, and the LEDs set behind its standard backlit keyboard, the Chromebook Spin 13 comes packed with a garaged EMR stylus to make hitting peak productivity easy. There’s no extra cost for that stylus, adding significantly to the value of the device.
For those who need to interact with others via video chat or VoIP calls, the speakers and mics in this package are tuned perfectly for that purpose. They’re not going to be the best for music and media but this is a Chromebook that’s made to get things done.
Staying productive isn’t going to face any challenge from slow-downs in the hardware either, regardless of what kind of work needs to be done. That’s thanks to the company’s decision to include up to 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 10-hour-rated battery, and up to an Intel Core i5 processor.
For the display, Acer paired those internal components with a 13.5-inch display panel at a resolution of 2,256 x 1504.