Buying new laptops or Chromebooks can be a stressful process, especially when it's a gift purchase. Not only are there dozens of manufacturers. There are also always new versions of operating software and hardware to consider and plenty of diversity in terms of capabilities and usability. There are just a lot of options to choose from.
Do you buy a laptop or a tablet? Chrome OS or Windows?
Matters are only complicated when that decision is being made for somebody else. That holds especially true when that somebody is a child who’s been particularly good this year but who won't necessarily take the best care of the device.
That doesn’t have to be the case. Whether you prefer Windows, Chrome OS, or just aren’t sure, Android Headlines is ready to assist with our take on the best devices currently available.
We’ve separated devices on our laptops and Chromebooks gift guide into three categories. Those are Windows laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets running either of the two operating systems. Within those, we've included our picks for the top device, the one offering the best value, the top budget-friendly laptop or tablet, and one that's going to be best suited for children.
If you already know what you want, the links below will take you to the appropriate section.
Table of Contents
Chrome OS is Google's take on a full operating system based on Chrome. It's built on a Linux Kernal, brings Android, Linux, and Web apps, and is optimized to take full advantage of lesser hardware than competing operating systems.
Summarily, that means that there's quite a lot of bang for your buck when it comes to buying a Chromebook. In addition to automatic updates, quick startup times, ease-of-use, intuitive interactions, and some of the best security around, Chromebooks are typically more portable and have a great battery life.
Generally, they bring the best of the latest technology too. That includes USB Type-C ports for everything from charging to display output and many devices include an active stylus and touchscreen to make the experience even better.
Without further ado, here are our top picks for devices falling into the Chromebook category.
|Google Pixelbook Go||From $649||Amazon|
|Asus Chromebook Flip C434||From $539||Amazon|
|Samsung Chromebook 4+||From $299||Amazon|
|Lenovo Chromebook C340||From $299||Amazon|
Best Chromebook: Google Pixelbook Go
Google Pixelbook Go is a brand new device in Google's run of Chromebooks, following the company's decision to stop making new tablets. It's also going to be the most powerful Chromebook laptop to buy, if not the most versatile. In fact, Google has abandoned both the 2-in-1 folding design format and the Pixelbook Pen for this iteration of the Pixelbook.
Instead, Google puts its focus on covering a wider gamut for users who need the extra power to do real work on a Chromebook. So, starting at $649, this device packs in a minimum of 8GB RAM, 64GB storage, and an Intel Core m3 processor. At that end of the spectrum, a 13.3-inch 16:9 ratio display is set at a Full HD resolution. But the cost and features don't end there at all.
Pricing travels all the way up to $1,399 for a 4K Ultra HD Molecular Display. At the top end, Pixelbook Go comes with an Intel Core i7 processor. Each of the processors is built on the eight-gen architecture. At the most expensive side, 16GB RAM and 256GB storage are provided. A Titan C security chip keeps things more secure than normal.
Also setting the Pixelbook Go apart, the search giant includes a backlit keyboard standard, set above an oversized touchpad. That's just as quiet and premium as the keyboard found in previous Google high-end laptops.
From there, 45W fast charging via either USB-C port, a 3.5mm audio combo jack, and a magnesium frame in either Just Black or Not Pink are just icing on the cake. That's coupled with a new ridged design that makes drops less likely, to begin with. This is easily the best Chromebook on the market for those who want top tier performance and design.
Best Chromebook for value: Asus Chromebook Flip C434
For those who still want versatility and power without breaking the bank, the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 is going to be a great device. Starting at $539.99 on Amazon, it incorporates an Intel Core m3, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage, and both USB-C and standard USB-A ports. It also comes with a backlit keyboard standard that has a key travel of just 1.4mm.
ASUS went further than that still to pair all of those specs in an all-aluminum frame with ultra-thin bezels surrounding a Full HD touch display panel. That's a 14-inch display but the body remains at around the same size as a 13-inch laptop. The frame features diamond-cut edgework for a truly premium look and feel.
That screen, conversely, is set on a 360-degree folding hinge for a 2-in-1 design with the ability to be used in tent, stand, clamshell, or tablet mode. That hinge is precision-engineered to life the back of the keyboard for more ergonomic typing but that also helps to improve audio from the stereo speakers.
For just a bit more money, users who need more performance can get the same device with double the RAM. Taken in combination, this is going to be one of the most high-value Chromebooks for the money if not the highest value.
Best Chromebook for kids: Samsung Chromebook 4+
So where’s the Chromebook that will survive all of the abuse a child might bestow? That’s not necessarily going to be the cheapest device around but it isn’t expensive by any means either at just $299. Samsung’s got durability covered with this 3.75-pound Chromebook passing MIL-STD-810G standard tests. So military-grade durability is a part of this package, as is spill-resistance.
With 32GB of MicroSD card expandable storage, there’s going to be plenty of room for Android apps, homework files, or just about any other media too. That’s backing up a reasonably powerful Intel chipset coupled with a reasonable amount of RAM — for a Chromebook. So latency and hiccups should be all but nonexistent.
With a 10.5-hour-rated battery life on average, the Chromebook 4+ should last all day too. And there’s plenty of screen real-estate at 15.6-inches and a resolution of 1920 x 1080.
Samsung’s Chromebook 4+ is a Chrome OS laptop that will power through almost anything an adolescent — or adult — can dish out. That’s right around $300 well-spent. If that's still just a bit too much money, the Samsung Chromebook 4 offers nearly identical features and functionality in a smaller package for just $229 via Amazon.
Best affordable Chromebook: Lenovo Chromebook C340
The Lenovo Chromebook C340 series is not just the best affordable laptop because of its price. This laptop stems across a price starting at $299 at Best Buy to $429 at Lenovo's official online store. It also happens to stretch across a wider range in terms of size and features, each trading off different things for a cheaper price.
Lenovo's Chromebook C34o-11 is an 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 Chromebook that packs in an Intel Celeron processor. Behind that, Lenovo includes 4GB RAM to start and 32GB expandable storage. The Lenovo Chromebook C340-15 keeps the memory and storage in place. But it bumps the screen to a 15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) panel and the chipset to an Intel Pentium unit.
Both devices come with all the expected amenities such as Bluetooth, a headphone jack, and both Type-A and Type-C USB ports. Each comes with stereo speakers, HD webcam, a slim 2-in-1 frame built from aluminum, and touch-enabled display panels.
There are middle-options too that pack in a bit more RAM for a bump in price in either device, though those are less commonly available. But the pricing here is set relatively low for quite a range of features and just about everything a Chromebook can offer at a base level.
Best Windows Laptops
Windows is, of course, Microsoft's take on a computer operating system and requires a little-to-no introduction. It's among the longest-standing OSs around, with a lot of support in the form of software.
The latest iteration of Windows, Windows 10, offers a range of prominent features from smartphone integration to touchscreens, apps, and a new Edge browser that's based in Chrome's Blink Engine. Like Chromebooks, Windows laptops come in a variety of form factors with plenty to set them apart as a go-to for day-to-day users and gamers alike.
However, the breadth of Windows machines, because Microsoft doesn't keep quite the same level of lock-down on the OS and what comes with a Windows computer, is also much wider. That means there are more to choose from and not all computers, even when they have the same internal specs, are going to perform the same.
That's where Android Headlines comes in, ready to showcase some of the most reliable, best-designed Windows laptops around
|Dell XPS 13||From $949.99||Dell|
|Acer Aspire E 15||From $549.99||Amazon|
|Lenovo 300e (2nd Gen)||From $310.09||Amazon|
|Asus VivoBook 15||From $399.99||Amazon|
Best Windows laptop: Dell XPS 13
From the start, it's important to recognize that specs don't equate to a great experience in any computer ecosystem. That doesn't mean that the latest iteration of Dell's XPS 13 is lacking in that department either.
With up to a 10th Generation Intel Core i7-10710U processor, UHD Intel graphics to match, up to a 2TB PCIe solid-state drive and up to 16GB of 2133MHz RAM, the new Dell XPS 13 is a powerhouse. As its branding implies, it's also equipped with up to a 4K Ultra HD 13.3-inch touch-enabled display panel.
This device has it all when it comes to the modern bells and whistles available on a laptop too. Dell packs 2 Thunderbolt 3 with power delivery and DisplayPort ports, a single USB-C 3.1 port with the same capabilities, a microSD card reader, and an audio jack.
Also built into the frame are no fewer than four microphones for far-field interaction with Microsoft's Cortana alongside a 720p webcam. Dell uses Intel's Wi-Fi 6 with MIMO 2 x 2 and Bluetooth 5.0 combo chips as well. Two single-watt professionally tuned speakers round out the audio package.
A backlit chiclet-style keyboard with 1.3mm key travel is included standard. So is Dell Cinema 2.0, bringing 100% sRGB color and a 1500:1 contrast ratio with a screen-to-body ratio of 80.7-percent.
Those are all great but where Dell stands out as much as anything else with its XPS 13 — starting at $949.99 but ranging to $2,149.99 — is in its customer care. The company has always stood behind its products and the same is true here as well. So buyers get some of the best hardware around at a reasonable premium price. All the while Dell backs that up with some of the best customer service and warranties in the business.
Best Windows laptop for value: Acer Aspire E 15
The best value currently found in the realm of Windows laptops can be found in the Acer Aspire E 15. Although it's metallic black frame is a bit bulkier than other entries, Acer delivers a ton of value here for just $549.99. And that's not just in the specs.
For starters, yes, the Acer Aspire E 15 comes with an Intel Core i5-7200U processor backed by 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. It's 15.6-inch Full HD display pumps out stellar graphics thanks to a dedicated up to 2GB NVIDIA graphics card. Battery life can go for up to 15-hours.
But this laptop also ships with a full disc drive, Acer TrueHarmony tuning for its stereo speakers, 4 USB ports — including a USB-C port — and a networking port for direct line-in. Acer additionally includes an HDMI port, making it easy to share what's on-screen with a larger display when needed.
For clarity, this isn't the newest Acer laptop or the most expensive. What it does offer is a lot of features at a relatively low cost, with some variants shipping for as low as $300 depending on the processor and RAM.
Best Windows laptop for kids: Lenovo 300e (2nd Gen)
Through the Lenovo 300e, the tech giant offers buyers an 11.6-inch HD multi-touch anti-glare panel. That's set into a 2-in-1 design so it can be used in a laptop, tablet, tent, or stand mode. But what makes the screen particularly brilliant is that it features what Lenovo calls Pencil Touch technology. Summarily, it's designed so that a no.2 pencil can be used as a stylus and to withstand that abuse. Alternatively, a user can pair the laptop with an AES pen stylus from Lenovo.
There's not a lot special going on under the hood but the specs are more than serviceable too. Lenovo includes an Intel Celeron N4100 Processor, 4GB LPDDR4 RAM, and a 64GB eMMC drive for storage.
The biggest headlining feature, looking past that hardware, is its somewhat bulkier-than-average frame. That's not necessarily an eyesore but has been reinforced with strengthened ports & hinges as well as drop-resistance up to 29.5-inches. The keyboard is mechanically anchored and designed to withstand spills up to 1.39 cups of fluid.
That makes this device not only capable of most browsing, word processing, and light app tasks a younger user might throw at it. It also withstands the rigors of day-to-day use better than others, making it a near-perfect choice as a gift for kids.
Best affordable Windows laptop: ASUS VivoBook 15
For those looking to save a bit of money and still get super powerful specs with a couple of options to match preferences, the ASUS VivoBook 15 could be the ultimate Windows Laptop. Starting at just $399.99, buyers effectively have two options and both are going to be great.
Each variant of the ASUS VivoBook 15 starts from the same basic build. That's a Slate Gray frame with chiseled edges and a ton of extras. For instance, the VivoBook 15 includes a fingerprint scanner built into the touchpad. Like several other ASUS laptops, it also incorporates an "ErgoLift" design for the keyboard. So, not only is the keyboard backlit standard, that's not flat on the desktop but raised at the back for more comfortable use.
Both Type-A and Type-C USB ports are included too, as well as an HDMI port. For wireless connectivity, buyers get gigabit-ready Wi-Fi 5.
For the display, ASUS includes a 15.6 inch Full HD panel with a NanoEdge bezel. But that's where similarities end, as ASUS also offers two varieties of the VivoBook 15 meant for very different audiences. The first and cheaper model is packed with an Intel Core i3 backed by 8GB RAM and 128GB M.2 SSD storage. That means it's going to be more than capable of powering through the overwhelming majority of tasks from work to entertainment.
But enthusiasts will likely want to spend the extra — $549.00 total — and pick up the more powerful quad-core Ryzen r5-3500u variant. That version also comes with 8GB DDR4 RAM but ASUS bumps the SSD storage up to 256GB.
Regardless of which model is purchased, this is an ASUS that brings a solid performance in a premium frame without the extra cost.
Best Chrome OS and Windows Tablets
Clamshell laptops and 2-in-1's aren't for everybody. Sometimes, portability takes precedent in combination with functionality. That's led to a less broad but still somewhat difficult to navigate run of devices that take a tablet format in the Windows and Chrome OS arenas.
For those who prefer Chrome OS, the options are somewhat more limited and devices tend to reside at either the top end of or at the extreme budget end of the spectrum. That's hardly surprising since Chromebooks are much newer on the scene. But it does ease up the decision-making process.
On the Windows side of things, things are a bit more complicated but there are two clear standout devices commissioned by Microsoft itself. Read on to discover our picks for best Windows and Chrome OS laptops available for purchase.
|Google Pixel Slate||From $799|
|HP Chromebook x2||From $479||Amazon|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 7||From $749||Amazon|
|Microsoft Surface Go||From $399||Amazon|
Best Chrome OS Tablet: Google Pixel Slate
Google Pixel Slate was Google's first attempt to build tablet hardware for the Chrome OS ecosystem. In many ways, that signaled its doom for many consumers from the very beginning because the operating system wasn't quite ready to handle tablets when this launched. Things have improved tremendously since then, making it an easy pick for the top Chrome OS tablet.
What sets Pixel Slate apart isn't necessarily its eight-generation Intel Core m3, i5 or i7 processors or that the chip is backed by either 8GB or 16GB of memory. The 48Wh battery allowing up to 12-hours of use from a single 2.25-hour charge via USB-C 45W fast charging isn't too standout either. There are other equally powerful Chromebooks.
Google Pixel slate stands apart because that touchpanel is a "molecular" screen at 3000 x 2000 resolution and USB-C extendability up to 4K on external displays. Along one edge of that, a fingerprint scanner is included for added security while dual-front firing stereo speakers accent the Midnight Blue aluminum frame. With prices ranging from $799 to $1,599, Google offers from 64GB storage to 256GB — overkill for a Chromebook of any stripe.
A keyboard base and Pixel-branded EMR pen stylus can be purchased separately too, making this the ultimate portable workstation running Chrome OS in a tablet form factor.
Best Affordable Chrome OS Tablet: HP Chromebook x2
Now, options tend to be limited when it comes to Chrome OS tablets. There are plenty of budget entries but, since those are intended for student use in the lower grades, those aren't necessarily powerful enough to get a lot of things done.
The best option in terms of value then remains HP's Chromebook x2. As its name indicates, this is a laptop and 2-in-1 as much as its a tablet. But it shouldn't be written off as just another Chromebook. Just because the keyboard and pen are included at purchase and attached on arrival doesn't mean it isn't a tablet.
HP Chromebook x2 can be entirely separated from its base, connected via magnetic pins to a sturdy hinge, and used as a standalone tablet. Under the hood, for just $479.99 via Amazon, users get access to the same size panel as the Pixel Slate at 12.3 inches. That's dropped to a still laudable 2K resolution and driven by an Intel Core m3 processor alongside a more than usable — for Chrome OS — 4GB of RAM.
Two USB type C ports and an all-metal frame also make it comparable to the Slate, as does its 5-megapixel webcam. While the Slate uses an 8-megapixel snapper the majority of Chromebooks are at around 2-megapixels on the webcam.
HP takes things further along the tablet route by including another 13-megapixel camera on the back. So this device is really more tablet than a laptop and thanks to those specs, a solid keyboard, Bang & Olufsen speakers, and more, it's an extremely good value.
Best Windows Tablet: Microsoft Surface Pro 7
Microsoft's newest tablet device series, Surface Pro 7, represents what is arguably the best range of gadgets in the category. Starting out at $749 in either Platinum Silver or Black and running as much as $2,299 at the upper end of the range, Microsoft engineered the Surface Pro 7 for users who need to get real work done. Specifically, it built the tablet to ensure that's possible without the worry that it won't be up to the task, no matter the task.
To that end, the devices start out with an Intel Core i3 with 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. Through a half-dozen or so configurations, everything maxes out at an Intel Core i7, 16GB memory, and a full 1TB storage. A Microsoft Surface Pen is bundled with each configuration, although not a Microsoft Surface Go Signature Type Cover.
The integrated graphics chip is either an Intel UHD Graphics or Intel Iris Plus Graphics, depending on the chipset chosen. But all configurations offer a 12.3-inch PixelSense touch-enabled display with a 2736 x 1824 resolution. Up to 10.5-hours of battery life and face authentication via the 5-megapixel front-facing camera are part of the package too. As is an 8-megapixel autofocus rear camera, just above the kickstand — made of the same magnesium as the rest of the frame.
Dual far-field studio mics accompany the cameras while audio is provided via 1.6W stereo speakers enhanced via Dolby Audio Premium. With weight falling in at 1.74 lb for the Intel Core i7 variant and 1.70 lbs for the Intel Core i3 and Core i5 variants, the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is the ultimate in portable workstations.
Best Affordable Windows Tablet: Microsoft Surface Go
Priced at between $399 and $599, Microsoft's Surface Go is a worthy competitor in the portable computing space. It's also the proverbial younger brother of the other Windows tablet here. At the base level, this is a tablet that delivers an Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor with TPM 2.0 enterprise-grade security to match the Pixel Slate's Google-built equivalent.
64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM are included but there's no keyboard-enhanced Microsoft Surface Go Signature Type Cover or Surface Pen included. Those are sold separately. The more expensive variant includes a type-cover for the time being and bumps RAM up to 8GB. Storage is taken from eMMC to an SSD and doubled to 128GB.
A microSD card slot allows storage expansion and Microsoft also built in a 3.5mm audio jack and a single USB Type-C port.
Running Windows 10 Home in S mode, this 10-inch tablet is ready to handle just about any program or app that can run on Windows. That display is set at 1800 x 1200 resolution and packed into a silver magnesium frame. Of course, this is a dedicated tablet. So Wi-Fi, LTE connectivity, a plethora of sensors, Bluetooth 4.1, and GPS are part of the bundle.
An 8-megapixel camera sits at the back too, while the front-facing 5-megapixel camera allows shooting in up to 1080p too but also incorporates facial recognition. A single mic accompanies that for video chats or recording. 2-watt stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium round out the audio bundle.