The best of the best
We love Chromebooks here at AC. We use them for having some fun on the web as well as getting our work done, and know from experience that they are the best "walking around" laptops you could ever want in your backpack or messenger bag. In fact, if (when?) Google gets a few more utilities available for Chrome, like a non-linear video editor — we could use them for everything we do here on the site.
We expect big changes for Chromebooks later this year, but one question we see all the time is "What Chromebook is the best?" We're going to answer that right here and right now.
The Acer C720 is the best Chromebook you can buy.
Starting at $199, the Acer C720 series brings enough power, a great keyboard and trackpad, and a super-light package all together into something great. The base model is more than powerful enough to surf your heart out on the web, edit anything in Google Docs, and write blog posts right here on Android Central. Because all Chromebooks run a full-blown version of the Chrome browser — by all accounts the same as your laptop or desktop — everything you do on the web acts the same way you're used to.
Or maybe you need something a little more powerful. You want to open 40 tabs in the browser while editing a document and chatting in Google Hangouts with your friends or workmates. The C720 series has you covered here, too. The 4GB RAM version can do all this and more, and at a base price of $249 there is no other laptop that can perform this well for this small amount of cash. Or you can go one step further and grab one with an Intel i3 under the hood for $350. That's less than half the cost of a MacBook, and any Windows laptop in this price range is an exercise in frustration to use when doing the same simple tasks that your Chromebook will handle with ease.
It took me a while to get used to an 11-inch laptop. And I can't say the C720 has the best screen I've ever used. But both areas are places I'm willing to compromise when the rest fits my needs so well and is so inexpensive. This is Jerry the consumer talking. The guy who pinches his pennies and looks for the best value possible when spending more than a few dollars. The C720 is the Chromebook I would buy if I were shopping for one right now.
If you're looking for the most powerful and versatile Chromebook available right now, as well as one that provides a great value, you need to look no further than the Acer C720. This little 11-inch laptop doesn't have an amazing design or specs, but it checks all of the boxes when it comes to getting the best experience in a Chromebook.
You're getting a pretty basic 1366x768 display, but the C720 is built like a tank, is relatively thin and plenty light at 2.76 lbs. The Keyboard and trackpad are both as good as you'll get in this class of machine, and you also get all of the right ports, including a full-sized SD card reader.
The C720 is extremely powerful as well, with a choice of either Intel (Haswell) Celeron or Core i3 processors and up to 4GB of RAM. In either case you'll get upward of eight hours of battery life, which is plenty for this kind of machine.
There are actually 13 different models (crazy, I know) of the C720 according to Acer's website, but there are basically three different model groups to look at:
- Original C720 with Celeron processor: comes with various configurations of RAM and storage starting at $199
- Touchscreen C720P with Celeron processor: various configurations of RAM and storage as well as a white color option starting at $299
- Latest C720 model with Intel Core i3 processor: 32GB storage and either 2 or 4GB of RAM starting at $349
Which model is right for you basically depends on how much money you want to spend, and what features you want. You can choose the "original" model if you want to save a few dollars, and from there choose how much storage (which is easily upgradeable, by the way) and RAM you want.
You can choose the C720P models if you want to have a touchscreen, but if you want the highest possible performance (and future-proofing) you should get the latest high-end models with the new Core i3 processor inside.
The only real downside I can find with the Acer C720 is that it isn't available with a larger screen, but if you're alright with an 11-inch laptop this is the Chromebook to get.
Honorable mention - The 14-inch HP Pavillion Chromebook
There is one thing the Acer C720 can't offer — a bigger screen. And we know plenty of people out there just can't use an 11-inch laptop. That's where the HP 14-incher comes into the picture. The Pavillion runs the exact same operating system as every other Chromebook, has a more than capable Intel Celeron 2955U Processor and 2GB of RAM, and you can grab it in one of three colors for about $275 from HP or your local big-box store. The price bump from the C720 doesn't give you better internals, but it does give you that one thing the C720 is lacking — a big bright 14-inch display.
You can also take things one step further and get a 4GB RAM model with LTE for just $329 direct from HP. Built into that price is also 200MB of free data every month for the life of the computer from T-Mobile. While that's not enough for everything you'll want to do with your Chromebook, it can save your bacon if you need to send a quick email or just jump on the web for a few minutes every now and then.
If you need a bigger screen or LTE, go for the HP Pavillion 14.
We think any Chromebook is a great purchase. If you decided on a different model for one reason or another, you still have one heck of a piece of equipment for the price you paid. But when people ask us which Chromebook is the best, right now our answer is the C720.