Chrome OS is steadily ramping up to become an all-around operating system that’s capable of any task from standard browsing to heavy workloads and video editing. The latter of those will take some time to be taken advantage of since support is only just now being added as of the most recent update. Before that happens, Linux users will finally be able to take full advantage of just about any USB pluggable accessory in Chrome 75.
Recent developments have also pointed the OS in a better direction for users who have been waiting for Google to finally enable some sort of PC gaming on the platform — via last month’s big announcement, Google Stadia.
None of that news has managed to overshadow the launch of the newest entry to our top ten picks for Chrome OS gadgets in April though. Namely, that’s the ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 landing at retail and the announcement of a new Acer premium device family dubbed the Chromebook 714 and Chromebook 715 starting at under $600 despite their comparatively powerful internals.
Chrome OS seems to be full-steam ahead this month and that’s only going to get better with plenty of news expected at Google’s I/O Developers Conference in May. For now, here are Android Headlines’ April 2019 top picks for best currently available Chromebooks.
Samsung Chromebook Plus/Pro & Plus LTE
With a starting price between $499 and $599 depending on the options needed and a diversity that depends as much on features as it does components, Samsung’s top-tier Chromebooks represent a reasonable value in a form that has gone mostly unchanged over the years. Aptly dubbed the Samsung Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro, the gadgets each have their own selling points depending on the needs of the buyer.
There’s actually very little that separates these all-aluminum gadgets from their counterparts in terms of software. Chrome OS is, after all a closed ecosystem that might be closer to iOS than Android in that regard. What sets these apart is their slim, minimal design in a 2-in-1 format that ships with a garaged S-Pen for creating artwork or productivity.
Each basically has the same exterior design with the exception of the fact that the Samsung Chromebook Plus can be purchased in a 4G LTE variant — a Verizon exclusive — and the dark coloration of the Chromebook Pro. Display resolutions are another differentiator with the former at 12.2-inches 1920 x 1200 and the latter at 12.3-inches with a 2400 x 1600 resolution.
Either can be bought with a backlit keyboard and up to an Intel Core m3 processor on board backed by up to 64GB storage and 4GB RAM.
Acer Chromebook 514
Acer is the most prolific Chrome OS manufacturer by far and not without good reason. Priced between $349 to $499, the company’s Chromebook 514 is a high-value clamshell device with a lay-flat hinge, backlit keyboard, gorilla glass touchpad, and bezels at just 6mm. Its battery life is not the best at 12-hours max but is a distinguishing feature with consideration for its internals.
Its higher-than-average screen real estate at 14 inches and a 1920 x 1080 resolution is set in an aluminum chassis measuring just 0.7-inches thick with two USB ports each of both the USB and USB-C variety allowing more diverse use. Unlike many competitors in the space, a microSD card slot is part of the build as well as a Noble lock slot to lock the gadget down against theft.
Power isn’t necessarily the best but most users will find that the Acer Chromebook 514, with up to an Intel Pentium N4200 backed by 8GB of LPDDR4 RAM and 64GB eMMC storage, is plenty for just about every task. At its price, this is going to be one of the best devices available from a company known globally for its solid, reliable computer builds.
Google’s Pixelbook is the original high-priced, maximum-spec masterwork that set Chrome OS on its premium-end journey. That means it isn’t necessarily the most high-value gadget there are plenty of reasons it remains a staple on any top Chromebook list regardless of its 2017 launch date.
Setting aside that the search giant has yet to replace it with a new variant, the Google Pixelbook — priced from $999 to a whopping $1,649 — this convertible Chromebook is just 0.4-inches thin and tips the scales at just 2.5lbs with its glass-accented metal build. At the lower end of the spectrum, users are getting an Intel i5 chip with 8GB memory and eMMC storage. On the other side, users get a much more performance-ready 512GB of NVMe storage with 16GB RAM and a seventh-gen i7 chip.
Google has, unfortunately, opted to make the associated EMR Pixel Pen an add-on item for use with the 2400 x 1600 resolution 12.3-inch display at $100. The Pixelbook’s up to 10-hour battery isn’t spectacular but is great for the processor. Four noise-canceling mics and two high-dollar speakers join to set this device apart.
ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
After what likely seems an eternity to loyal fans, ASUS has finally launched a true successor within the confines of its 14-inch Chromebook Flip series. The ASUS Chromebook Flip C434 starts at $569.99, placing it firmly in the premium category and its specifications do too. Up to an Intel Core i7-8500Y processor with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage are available.
A now-standard all-metal chassis and dual stereo speakers are coupled with a microSD card slot supporting up to 2TB cards and the IPS 1920 x 1080 screen are all straightforward additions to premium Chrome OS laptops.
When all is said and done, it’s the keyboard that truly sets this device away from its competitors. Not only is that tied to an intelligent backlighting system with comfortable key travel of 1.4mm. The design of the 2-in-1 ASUS Chromebook C434 ensures that the rear of the keyboard lifts in a laptop configuration. That means it’s among the most ergonomically-friendly devices available.
Google Pixel Slate
One of just a small handful of gadgets specially made for those who want a Chrome OS tablet instead of a laptop Google’s Pixel Slate is another ‘Chromebook’ meant to change the landscape of the ecosystem. When joined with a $200 keyboard and $100 stylus, it’s also a powerful detachable.
The only drawback, as of this writing is that only the more pricey variants are available since the $600 starter version and the closely related device set just above that price have yet to materialize over the past several months. That may not be too surprising since the OS has improved but still isn’t perfectly suited for a tablet just yet.
At the upper end of the spectrum, the gadget costs $1,600 and customers can select up to 16GB RAM and 256GB storage — all with eight-gen Intel processors leading up to the Intel Core i7. Features that make the Google Pixel Slate different include its matte midnight blue coloration in an ultra-thin form factor with two 8-megapixel cameras and a “molecular” 3000 x 2000 resolution display.
HP Chromebook x2
The HP Chromebook x2 represent the sole true detachable in the consumer Chrome OS space, for now, and that alone might be enough to include this 12.3-inch, 3.07lb — 1.62lbs without the keyboard — tablet among the best due to its versatility alone. That, of course, is not the only reason at all. It also ships with full-size pen active EMR stylus that fits snugly into a flexible loop on the keyboard and an all-metal design.
The design is another area where HP’s multi-purpose magnetic pogo-pin-connected tablet shines. It features smooth, slightly chamfered metal edges, rounded at the corners and in a brilliant ceramic white accented by the nearly-black oxford blue metal-backed keyboard. The top of the keyboard is a leathery material for comfort and Bang & Olufsen speakers are included to either side of the display.
It’s no slouch either thanks to Intel’s Core m3, 4GB RAM, and 32GB storage. Buyers are basically getting the best of the budget end Pixel-branded gadgets without added cost for accessories and at just below $500 to around $600 depending on where it’s purchased.
Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14
Dell’s first attempt to enter the Chrome OS premium segment is comprised under the model designation Dell Inspiron Chromebook 14. As its name implies, this is a 14-inch top performer with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of DDR4 RAM and double the storage of the average Chromebook at 128GB. That comes in a classic Dell build composed completely of metal, with a garaged EMR stylus and a 2-in-1 360-degree hinge.
All of the ports that would be expected from the company are present too, including a lock slot, but that’s not at all what sets this device apart from the competition. Dell’s widely-lauded customer service and warrant start things out on that front for this $599 convertible Chrome OS laptop.
Where this device really shines though is in the powerhouse under the hood. The Dell Inspiron Chromebook is rated at 15-hours of use between charges. That is going to be the longest it can last but the number is still hours ahead of the vast majority of other Chromebooks. This is going to be one of the best devices a user can buy for extended use.
Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630
Lenovo’s Yoga Chromebook C630 falls into the same category of device and with a similar backstory to Dell’s Inspiron Chromebook 14 but follows its own path with several key differences that set it apart. Not least among those is Lenovo’s classic top-tier design language, which features similarity in its use of materials and overall feel but focuses more on specifications than design.
There’s no stylus included for the 15.6-inch 1080p IPS touch panel — which can be updated to a 4K (3840 x 2160) display instead for a bit more money. It’s storage isn’t quite so high either at 64GB coupled with 4GB DDR4 RAM to start at $539.99 for an up to 3.4GHz boostable Intel Core i3 chip.
Buyers can also choose to grab an 8GB RAM, 164GB storage variant with an Intel i5. Joined with its heftier build at 4.2lbs and 0.7-inches thick, Lenovo’s offering with a 10-hour battery caters to those who need a full-sized laptop that works. The inclusion of a 360-degree hinge means it can be used for play too, if needed, but that’s obviously not the primary focus here.
HP Chromebook x360 14
The HP Chromebook x360 14 is a 14-inch spin off of the early-mentioned Chromebook x2 in a more traditional 2-in-1 package. The Bang & Olufsen speakers make a return too but are no longer positioned on either side of the display panel.
That shift in direction means there’s no detaching this gadget’s display from the keyboard and that HP has abandoned the stylus. That also means it could focus more on internal power and trimmed back bezels. In effect, the focus here is still on style as much as performance and the same ceramic white is used for the lid as that other device but coupled with a mist-blue keyboard base.
Priced similarly at just $599, buyers are also gaining 8GB DDR4 2400MHz RAM and 64GB of storage coupled with an Intel Core i3-8130U processor from that company’s eighth-generation of chips. That’s got a higher base clock than normally used in Chromebooks and boosts to as much as 4GHz of serious power with up to 13.5-hours of battery life on the less intensive end.
This laptop is a true competitor in every sense of the word.
Acer Chromebook Spin 13
For users who really mean business, any device found here is going to offer enough to accomplish effectively any task. But the Acer Chromebook Spin 13 offers more portability in a laptop that was actually originally only available to enterprise buyers. That’s an area where this device finds its strengths in spite of its higher-than-average $899 starting price tag.
The Chromebook Spin 13 cuts back on the required desk or lap real estate with a 13.5-inch display that packs more pixels at 2256 x 1504 on a 360-degree hinge. Simultaneously it’s rated at 10-hours of use per charge despite its bump up to an Intel Core i5 chip coupled with 8GB RAM and 128GB.
Its all aluminum design, backlit keyboard, and Gorilla Glass touchpad practically scream out the seriousness of its intent to be a long-lasting business-class gadget. The inclusion of an EMR stylus co-designed with Wacom means that creative or productivity-focused users across the board don’t need to pay an add-on cost for that luxury.
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