Chromebooks are computers that run Chrome OS, software built by Google. It’s the company’s answer to Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s MacOS, but it’s very different.
Chrome OS was built with modern computer usage habits in mind. It works best when you’re connected to the internet, and is much more limited when you’re offline.
There are a lot of extremely cheap Chromebooks available right now, which are ideal for students and travellers, and as secondary laptops. Higher-end models are available too, and more than hold their own against equivalent Windows and MacOS machines.
HP Chromebook 13 G1: £590
The HP Chromebook 13 is thin, light, looks lovely thanks to that brushed aluminium shell, and has a phenomenal 13in, 3200x1800 display. In fact, the screen alone is reason enough to buy it. It’s far sharper than any other screen in this round-up – even the one on the Pixelbook (featured below), which is a much more expensive machine. In terms of connectivity, it offers Bluetooth, two USB C ports, one USB 3.0 port and an SD card slot. Offers 4GB RAM and 32GB storage.
Asus Chromebook C201: £189.99
For the price, the C201 is a very slick, stylish-looking machine. One of its best features is battery life – you can get up to 13 hours off a single charge. Performance (2GB RAM and 16GB storage) and build quality are solid too, so you don’t need to worry about it falling apart after a few light knocks. In terms of connectivity, it has two USB 2.0 ports, a Micro-HDMI port and Bluetooth. Its weakest feature is the 11.6in, 1366x768 display.
Acer Chromebook 11: £169.99
The Chromebook 11 is a very similar machine to the C201, with the exact same screen size and resolution, the same price and the same amount of RAM (2GB) and storage (16GB). The biggest difference is design. The two Chromebooks don’t look anything like each other, and will appeal to different consumers. Acer’s model also has the slight advantage of coming with Bluetooth, one USB 2.0 port, one HDMI port and one USB 3.0 port.
Toshiba Chromebook 2: £240
You can get the Toshiba Chromebook 2 with a 1366x768 display for less money, but the 1920x1080 model is a significant step up, and well worth the extra £40. It’s large, sharp and bright, making the machine ideal for watching videos on. At this price, that’s really impressive. It looks neat too, has plenty of power (Intel Celeron N2840 processor, 4GB RAM and 16GB storage) and will keep going for around nine hours off a single charge. In terms of connectivity, it has Bluetooth, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, an SD card slot and one HDMI port.
Dell Chromebook 3380 Touch: £309
The Dell Chromebook 3380 is the cheapest touchscreen Chromebook in this round-up. It’s not a necessary feature, but it can certainly be useful, as it lets you take advantage of touch-focused programs that can work much better than their regular non-touch counterparts, such as Google Keep and Adobe Lightroom. You can also lay the 3380 completely flat on a table, something that’s designed to encourage collaboration with other people around you. What’s disappointing, however, is that the screen only has a 1366x768 resolution, which doesn’t look great stretched over 13.3 inches. This is definitely designed more for work than play. On the plus side, build quality is excellent, and there are plenty of connectivity options, with Bluetooth one USB 3.0 port, one USB 3.1 port, a HDMI port and a card reader. Has 4GB RAM and 16GB storage, and around 10 hours of battery life.