ASUS C300 Chromebook

The economics may not work out in a way that we'll get great high-end Chromebooks

As I've spent an increasing amount of time using Chromebooks over the course of the last year, reviewing several personally, I'm starting to get worried about the state of the Chromebook market. While there are plenty of very capable Chromebook options out there that represent a fantastic value to price-conscious consumers, I'm wondering if there will ever be a time when we see a selection of higher-end devices for those who want (or frankly need) more.

The "Chromebooks are just the new netbooks" argument has been thrown around quite liberally in the past two years, but I've always been optimistic that we would eventually see a range of Chromebooks that aren't just cheap machines meant to undercut the competition. But as we enter a new generation of Chromebooks hitting the market with low-cost and low-power Intel and ARM processors, the cheapest possible display components, limited memory and uninspired designs, I'm losing some of my confidence.

Chromebooks only have low-end components to hit a price point

Acer C720 Chromebook specs

Every manufacturer can make good hardware, but doesn't use it for Chromebooks.

The fact that all of these Chromebooks essentially have the same basic internal specs comes down to a single point — the price. With the standard industry price of Chromebooks ranging between $199 and $399 — with the bulk of sales coming on that lower end — there really isn't much wiggle room for pixel-dense IPS displays, ultra-thin form factors, metal chassis, Core i7 processors and the like. Chrome OS luckily doesn't need a whole lot of hardware to run properly, meaning they can keep making them cheap and efficient.

But then again that doesn't mean that we should all be stuck running subpar components.

Every Chromebook manufacturer out there, from Acer to Samsung, knows how to make really great high-end laptop hardware with bleeding edge specs — they just do so for their Windows computers only. The fact that all of these Chromebooks look like bargain bin afterthought offerings is purely due to a dearth of time and money spent to develop them, not for lack of ability or parts scarcity.

Can a $500+ Chromebook actually sell?

Samsung Chromebook 2

Which leads to the question: why don't any of these manufacturers make a high-end Chromebook, then? My initial thinking about why we don't have any solid $500+ "premium" Chromebooks (I'm going to ignore the Pixel, because a $1,300 Chromebook doesn't offer much value for anyone) was basically centered around the idea that manufacturers don't want to compete with their own Windows laptop offerings in the same price points.

Consumers don't see value in an expensive Chromebook, and most of that is a matter of perception.

But when you think about it, they probably don't care what machines they sell for what amount, so long as they're selling them. And considering that Chrome OS doesn't pack a licensing fee like Windows does, nor does it require as much power under the hood to offer the same performance, why wouldn't they simply offer the same models with your choice of OS? The answer is likely that consumers really don't see $500+ worth of value in a Chromebook.

There are five Chromebooks on the top 20 best-selling laptops list on Amazon (the highest of which is number 7), and they're all $279 or less. The Samsung Chromebook 2 13-inch that comes in at $379 is down at number 37 of the top 40, well behind many laptops that are two or more times as expensive.

There's a reason why the only Chromebooks that sell in reasonable numbers cost $299 or less, and that's the fact that once you start raising the price, consumers start expecting more from their machine. The $299 Acer C720P and $1299 Chromebook Pixel basically do the same things with about the same speed — and a $1000 price difference. But the common perception is that a $499 Windows laptop can do much more than any Chromebook. That perception has yet to change, and for that reason manufacturers are probably right in their assumption that nobody would actually buy a premium Chromebook.

But I still want to see them try it anyway

Chromebook Pixel and C720

I know at least a few people who would jump at the opportunity to buy a $699 (or thereabouts) Chromebook with all of the bells, whistles and top-end hardware available if a manufacturer would just make it — and we can't be completely alone in that mindset. For me, and many people l know, a Chromebook isn't a viable machine for getting work done throughout the day not because of the operating system or available applications, but because of the power, quality and variety limitations of the current crop of Chromebooks.

But until the perception that Chrome OS doesn't provide enough value in itself to warrant a higher-end machine begins to change amongst the general consumer base, computer manufacturers aren't likely to see enough of an available market to make these types of Chromebooks. It's a "chicken and the egg" situation to try and solve, but if enough people show interest in these types of machines, I sure hope they'll be made to fulfill that demand.

 

Reader comments

Chromebooks just don't get the hardware they deserve

147 Comments

Because it's a glorified web browser there that you can easily take advantage of most of the features already on your regular Chrome desktop

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I don't agree with Zig often, but he's right. Chrome doesn't need higher specs, it is meant to be essentially a glorified web browser. But it will never need to run high end software, because that's not what it's meant for, so it will never need high end hardware.

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Aside from all of them shipping with 4gb of RAM and better screens, we don't need much more. Those things need to happen though.

My "ultimate" Chromebook would be:

14" 1080P IPS touchscreen (or at least a 1600x900 screen)
Backlit keyboard
4GB RAM
$399 TOPS!

Otherwise, I'd get far more use out of a gently used Win 7 machine or going with a cheap 13.3" or 14" PC and replacing the HDD with an SSD.

HP Chromebook 14 build quality is almost as good as a MacBook. Sure, the resolution of the screen is not as good but the rest feels premium.

A web browser still needs a competent display. A Chromebook with a decent IPS display (>1000 rows of pixels) and bargain-basement internals is a very compelling device.

Chrome OS = Simplicity, Security, Speed and Peace of mind

The problem with a lot a geek is that you know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

these types of thinking are the reason why Apple can always come into the market and provide a better build, well design, very well balance and more beautiful computer for twice the price of a more capable windows on the market and take all the profit while leting the rest of the OEMs to fight for dirt

i Hope Google understand that the majority of consumer are not Geek and they're more likely to pay a premium for something that look beautiful than one that is more powerful hence 500$ nice looking and powerful Chromebook make sense if they are willing to market it for what it best for:

Chrome OS = Simplicity, Security, Speed and Peace of mind

Chrome also = crippled. There are too many thing that it can't do effectively to even bother with better hardware other than ram and screen. Take for example video editing. Another example is heavy gaming. Until chrome books can do those well, there isn't a pressing need for better specs.

I wouldn't say 'more', just 'different'. For 95% of what I do none professionally, the Chromebook is spectacular. It boots fast, runs fast and runs forever. For that other 5% though, I'm ready to throw it through a window because it can't run anything beefier than a web browser. Not to mention the outstanding issues with Google Earth. On a professional level, Chrome is nowhere close to Windows.

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So because it is "just a browser" we have to accept crappy screens, crappy keyboards, crappy trackpads and crappy bodies????? Which kind of logic is that? What is true is that they do not need huge cpu power, so current Chromebooks with i3 processors are OK in terms of CPU. But we still could have decent screens, keyboards, etc, and even good looking bodies.

Problem is all those things are pricey to implement (it's not just the component price either, the company has to factor in the testing and design costs involved), and despite Andrew's wishes few people are gonna pay $700 or even $500 for a premium build on a system that ultimately can't do much more than your phone or $200 tablet (sometimes less even).

People who buy $750+ laptops do so either because they have money to waste or because they actually need to run x86 software (Photoshop, Lightroom, code/development tools, music editing, etc etc)... Basically professional or semi pro tools that will probably never exist within Chrome OS.

I think you got it all wrong, no one wants to see a chromebook for more than $300. Tell me one thing you can do with a Chromebook that you can't do with Windows and the Chrome browser installed? Additionally, with the 500 plus windows machine you can run Adobe and Final Cut pro. Chromebooks need to stay in the price range they are in because they are internet consumption devices only. Who wants to spend $500 dollars on that?

1. Boot up in 6 to 8 seconds and ready to use.

I get what you're saying, but until you have one most people don't get it. They're super fast for the price.

Some people want better screens though. Give us a Chromebook with a 1080p IPS display and 4gb of RAM and that should cover most people.

Yep. Perfect. 4 gigs of ram is perfect for me and the awesome display is my main focus. That's all I really want

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Agreed. IPS displays at the same resolution look so much better than the shitty TN panels. Though I would prefer at least 1600x900 on a 13" or larger.

... I don't think you understand the difference that an ssd makes, you can be all set to go in 10s

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That's mainly because there is really nothing to load and it's on an ssd drive. The boot up quick thing really isn't that remarkable you can do it on a regular laptop (within reason) with a version of Linux such as mint or ubuntu

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Lol! Chromebooks all run under Linux. A Google made derivative of Ubuntu it is. So, yeah, Mint/Ubuntu on a solid state drive will run just as fast.

Full Circle Magazine, issue 87, has an article where the author, who had an old motherboard with the 3Gbps SATA (not the current SATA that's in Chromebooks) installed a new Crucial SSD, put Ubuntu 14.04 on it and was amazed at how quickly it boot up and how apps just show up as soon as you click on them. SSDs are just fast.

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Chrome OS is a custom built Linux derivative to make it super small. That said, Google does use a derivative of Ubuntu (the LTS versions) called Goobuntu, but they use that on things like servers and workstations, not Chrome OS.

have you ever actually tried to run Adobe software on a $500 Windows laptop? The experience is....bad. Really bad. And I can promise you that no one has ever run final cut pro on a windows machine ;)

I can attest to the fact that Adobe isn't buttery smooth, but still usable on a $500 windows machine from personal experience. That and throw in Avid in place of FinalCut Pro.

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I can't run Premiere Elements on my 800 dollar HP laptop at a workable speed. Tried it the first day I had it, and nope, slowed to a crawl and crashed.

A Chromebook will only need to do that when we get a quality cloud non-linear editor, but I don't care. I want a decent sized laptop with a good screen and none of Windows problems.

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I think another good question is tell me what the average Joe does on Windows that he can't do on a Chromebook. Looking at my non-tech-nerd family i.e. my wife and my parents, my siblings, the answer is... about nothing. We have a Chromebook and a Windows desktop, but I pretty much only use the desktop for gaming these days.

And like Andrew, I wish our Chromebook had a better display and sturdier build. Would I have paid an extra couple of hundred for them? Yeah I probably would have, given the inherent Chromebook advantages of quick boot/wake times, and protection from gradual decrease in performance for which cheaper Windows laptops are renowned.

I think besides the screen, nothing else is needed to be upgraded. It would be hard to sell a web browser for much more. It serves the purpose that most people don't need a full blown workhorse to browse the web and do basicword processing.

That said, the Windows slowdown is mainly due to people installing every app under the sun. I have seen people just install whatever they see or get sent and then complain about it being slow. Much like on cell phones where people complain their phone has gotten slow and they have 50 background tasks and their battery won't hold. I have Windows systems running at work for 8 years solid with no slowdowns.

Yeah I can vouch for that. I'm the more techy person in my family so everyone comes to me with phone and laptop problems. My brother came to me the other day with his laptop complaining of it "suddenly becoming super slow and laggy" he had the thing for two years and never deleted a single thing from the hard drive in that time. I checked the recycling bin and it was full of all the crap he thought he deleted. After about an hour of just clearing all the old crap he didn't need anymore it worked fine. People just need to regularly give windows a little wipe down every once in a while

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Chromebooks are little more than a glorified browser. Nobody needs another $1300+ Facebook machine. In fact, the only spec bump I think is needed for Chromebooks is that they should all come with 128 GB of RAM, because Chrome is a huge memory hog.

Yeah it does Facebook, Excel, Word, Google Drive Integration, any webpage offline-saving, can run Linux without reboot, works with Chromecast, to-do lists, writing pads, offline pocket reading lists, offline calenders, offline notes, file browsing, offline Gmail, IDEs, FTP, JPEG photo editing and, if running Linux, RAW photo editing. All this with a battery that lets me do a video hangout with someone in Germany for 3 hours and then browse for a while and then wake up in the morning and have more than 4 hours before I need to charge up again.
I literally need nor want anything else no matter the price. All this comes in a cheap laptop with a perfect keyboard and track-pad (with mac-esque short-cuts specifically for chrome) and a boot time so fast I literally cannot start another task before I have to type my password.

I bought my Chromebook out of necessity after my very expensive windows 8 laptop crashed. I assumed I would sell it after 'getting a real laptop later'. After a week of using it I decided I would keep it indefinitely and save myself the hassle of software updates and anti-virus software.

Seems like a chromebook is suited for the tasks you need it for. For me it would fall short. Very short.

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I agree 100%. I use my Chromebook for my small business when I am on the road and am surprised at how much work I am actually do on it. If I really need to get on my computer, I use remote desktop. But the fast boot time, long battery, easy updates and Google's services (online and offline) make the Chromebook really useful. That said, I would welcome a better display!

Agreed! Heck, I'd be happy with 32 or 16 or even 8... Anything higher than 4!

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I'd buy one NOW that I already had a Chromebook since December. But before I tried one I did not think they were worth more than a couple hundreds, because I like everyone who criticizes Chromebooks without trying one thought "They are just glorified web browsers".

I would even go higher and pay $600 or $700 for a Macbook Air lilke Chromebook. The Pixel however is too expensive.

We're likely a year out from anything like that. Chrome OS still has to grow a bit more mature before it can really make full use of such systems and demand. Hopefully, Google will have us there soon. Until then, my C720 will have to do the trick...

Yes! a $500 chromebook can sell, all you have to do is replace chrome os with windows 8 and everything will be alright. the software just can't cut it! Am not going to depend on a browser to handle all my important work, software's too tight...too tight is apple's thing..

AC app via the Note 3

I have been watching the Chromebook market closely, waiting for something with at least 4gb ram, i3 or better, and an hd touchscreen. I would gladly pay 400-500 for that.

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A couple of months ago I would have never thought of paying $500 for a "glorified web browser" but that changed once I purchased a Chromebook. After initially thinking it would be a paperweight without an Internet connection I was surprised how functional it was offline. As I said in my comment below, if the screen resolution was higher it would be my primary PC.

Well, the Acer C720-3605 has an i3 (1.7 GHz), 4 GB RAM, 32 GB SSD, and a 1366x768 HD display for $379.99 retail. The display size is exactly the same as my MacBook Air. So not too bad, I think. Of course, I've always preferred small displays on my laptop. My ex-girlfriend had this 17" laptop and, for me, it was a pain to use in my lap. That and it was much heavier and bulkier than my 11" one.

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I'd probably pay $400-$500 for a chromebook with a Core i3, 1080p display, 6-8 GB of ram, a 64GB SSD, and backlit keys. (the backlit keys may sound trivial but that was the hardest thing coming from my older retired machine)

Also, to the people who say "it's a glorified web browser"....yea, that's kind of the point. The Chromebook will never be my primary machine but for a $400 computer that will sit on my coffee table for 4 years I don't want something that I have to manage like a windows computer. And, when I travel, the chromebook is honestly all I need.

+1

This is honestly why I don't have a Chromebook yet - I want one that matches this description so that it will last and I could throw Linux on the side of it to do some extra stuff if I so desire. I know most people don't want Linux, if course, but I'd really like a Chromebook with a 13-14" display and a nice screen resolution. I can't be the only person that feels like 11" is just too small for a laptop, can I? Especially with a tiny resolution?

I'll never purchase a $800+ laptop again - for that money I'm making a gaming rig, and I'd rather have a desktop for the better components and easier upgradability. I don't game on the go, and pretty much everything else can be done on a Chromebook - especially as more applications move online. A $400-500 laptop running Chrome OS would be perfect for what I'd want from it.

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I completely understand wanting to run Linux. That's the main reason I got a Mac PowerBook back in the day... while it didn't run Linux, it runs on Darwin, a derivative of FreeBSD. Of course, about a month after I got it, Apple switches to Intel chips. Lol!

Chromebooks run under Linux. The drive is encrypted and end user execution of programs (even in your home directory) is not allowed. However, in developer mode, I think you can do just about anything.

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..does it need to be $400 when a $200 model could do the same thing?

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But it isn't the same thing. 1080p is really superrior to 720p, especially if you want more than one window open. 6GB is vastly superior to 2GB of ram if you want to have more than 5 or so tabs open. A core i3 wont' stutter at all with what Chrome OS needs which all ARM chromebooks and some intel ones do. And backlit keys...honeslty once you've had a computer with them you can't go back.

Saying a $200 chromebook does the same thing as a $400-$500 one is like saying a $500 windows computer does the same as a $1200 windows computer. Sure they both run windows, but the experience will be vastly different if you do anything more than look at one website in one tab at a time.

Throw backlit keys on the HP 14 Chromebook and call it a day.

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720 vs 1080 doesn't really matter at 11-13" for me. 1400x900 would be OK at 14-15".

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I agree, backlit keys are a nice feature. If what you specified existed, I'd buy one.

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For $400 I'd totally consider an upscale Chromebook, but $500+ (let alone Andrew's $700 pipe dream) is way too close to the price point of a real travel workhorse like a Surface Pro.

It's pretty hard to squeeze in an Intel Core i AND a high quality display at that price point tho, most Windows laptops certainly can't manage it unless they're previous year clearance models, and even then it's rare...

Also, SSD might be getting cheaper but RAM is probably going the opposite direction, specially once DDR4 starts looming (and DDR3 production is scaled back).

As much as I would like to see one with higher-end specs, I don't think a $699 Chromebook would (or should) sell, at least at this stage of the OS. At that price, you could actually get a very capable Windows machine, or even a MacBook Air for not much more money. I love my Chromebook, but realistically, I think the absolute price ceiling should match up to tablets, which for me is about $400 at this point.

Does a Chromebook require an Intel processor? If not, the new 64 bit Tegra chip and GPU might do the trick and be low cost. 4GB of memory should be more than enough.

I agree with you about the 4 GB of RAM, but for the processor. An Intel-based machine works way faster than a ARM-based machine, and even my old C710 "Ivy Bridge" is faster then a Samsung 2...
And don't forget, with an ARM processor, you can't run everything you want, or it can be very tricky (as installing Crouton and Linux along Chrome OS), but you can do it with an Intel machine !

I think Chromebooks are seen as companions to "regular" desktops/laptops right now.

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Just got the C720P today. Opted for the 4GB model. Yes I spent almost $350 for it. Thats as much as I would pay currently, as I am trying to future proof it as best as possible. Who knows how long that will be. Hoping for Android integration.

Keyboard is challenging, but not to difficult. If you wish to use a RDP, beware that the Function keys are not on the keyboard. In my short time with it today, it seems the F11 and F12 are missing. Still hunting.
Chromecasts perfect. Can still access everything but exchange for work. That's what the RDP is for. It is smooth. With the exception of work software, I do all in the chrome browser on my mac. Now I can do it all on the chromebook for better battery, boot up, and carry weight. It's an in betweener that acts more like a laptop. Imo....

I just wish the RAM on the C720 models was upgradable like the previous C710.

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Ctrl+Alt+? will show you all the shortcut keys. The function key locations will be visible when you press the search key on your keyboard. Love my chromeboxes and chromebooks. Nothing I can't do on any of them. If it wasn't for Plex and my Windows Media Center pc using a cablecard, I would have no need for a "full sized" OS.

I would have to actually disagree with both the commenter here and the Author of the post. I had a CR-48 and had to stop using it due to the sub-par hinges on the prototypes and migrated to a Nexus7 (2012). When it started dragging I figured i would try to migrate back to a Chromebook since I found i was needing a keyboard more often and was online most of the time. So I started looking around and was really disappointed with the specs as the author of the post had noticed, low end and some even lower specs than my old CR-48. I was contemplating if it was a good idea after all, but then continued my searching and noticed that there was a VERY new series of Chromebooks set to come out. I kept an eye out and Noticed Lenovo had their new models of the N20 series set to come out at very reasonable price points. When I started looking even more in depth, noticed the processor power was getting really good and some really nice features such as not only touch screen (n20p), but 300 degree bendable hinge (n20p), Wireless AC, USB 3, Micro HDMI, at least a good 6 hour use battery from it, plus the Android integration coming around the bend. So I decided to get the N20P model just a couple weeks ago and have been VERY happy with the decision. Noticed that it does very well in not only normal "laptop" mode, but also in the "stand" mode (backwards L), the "Tent" mode (flipped over) and a secret sideways L mode (think the stand mode, but then hold it with the screen in portrait mode and it becomes a very long, touchscreen based mode that smartly changes the resolution and works fantastic for Feedly or other such "news" like mode). I imagine the power would be even more efficient when I add an AC wireless router to my home, but even youtube videos works great in fullscreen, casting to my ChromeCast works nicely. You start getting used to using the touchscreen for more things and less trackpad.
For all those people that say "oh you have to be online", most things you do on a smartphone or tablet you have to be online anyway, but there are many offline options as well and just sync when you do have access to a connection again. (Such as Docs, etc).
Plus with Android apps coming to Chrome, more offline options such as games can be available as well.

And then there is the slightly higher priced ($455) Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook. It has 4gb ram, the celeron 2930, and an IPS touchscreen display (though only 1366x768, but a much better quality display than all other Chromebook, aside from Pixel). It also goes further than the n20p in that it can fold completely over into a tablet form factor. So far, this looks to be the one to get.

But this is what I hate about Chromebooks. The n20p is thin and light
with a haswell processor, the yoga is a tank with an ips screen but a bay trail chip. Ffs make one that's thin and light with haswell and an ips screen. Some of us will pay a little more.

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Cr-48 was a development device. It wasn't sold. You're probably thinking of the Samsung Series 5, which was indeed expensive. Difference being that machine was a POS.

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The Groupon chromebook I bought was delivered today. Wife seems happy with it. And it cost me $130 plus tax. I'm a gamer and have no need for a chromebook and wouldn't buy myself one even for $130. For $500 I'm sure Lenovo has something better to offer. And alternately can't you just buy a $500 laptop and install chrome os on it? Jolicloud was chrome OS before Google did it. Asus had their own version of it. And a few others. So if you really want better specs then just buy a $500 laptop and install chrome OS to it.

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I think this whole conversation is pure hogwash I chalk up to pure Google fanboy - ism. Most people I know looking for a new laptop (mostly corporate but also business minded personal use) just simply find chromeos useless and the only people interested in Linux anymore are hobbyists. Having said that I do enjoy android (but not the attempt to force unwanted Google crapware and bloat on me) on my note 2, and Galaxy s3. I also have a tab 2 tablet, but find the biggest use of all 3 is texting, phone and simple gaming. For any work related tasks I turn to my surface pro (which in truth I only have because of a near giveaway price) or for more intensive tasks my i7 laptop. Nowhere in that usage scenario does a Chrome os device have any value.

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There are a lot of creative 2 in 1 designs in the windows 8 realm. I'm just not hot on windows. Instead, I'd love to see some similar designs running android in tablet mode and chrome os in laptop mode. 11-12ish screen size, 1080p, 4gb. But I guess that's too much to ask for - I'm sure I'm in the minority here. I've come to the realization that Android (tablets) and Chrome OS folks don't like to spend a lot of money. They'll throw down good cash for an android smartphone, but high-end tablets just get spanked by Apple's offering. And the chromebook crowd, $300 seems to be the limit, and probably rightfully so.

They seem great and all, but what does chrome OS let you do that would require top end specs? I understand wanting one that runs smoothly and all, but I get the impression that most people would rather spend that money on a Windows computer which (in my somewhat limited knowledge) could do everything and more.

Sony Xperia Z2
Nvidia Shield

I bought an HP Chromebook and the only thing I dislike about it is the screen resolution. If it had a higher resolution I would replace my Windows laptop with it.

I'm really not so sure the resolution is the problem. 1366x768 is probably fine. I think the problem is that the screen just sucks.

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Who wants to buy a chrome book with specs if it is just a glorified Web browser! Microsoft bring on windows 9!

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As much as I love my Acer C720 Chromebook for what I need, I am under no illusion that it's just a glorified browser OS. That's also why it works well for me. That said, as much as it works well for me, I'm simply not willing to pay a premium for its limitations. Is it worth $200? Sure, for that amount it meets and even exceeds my expectations, but I don't value a browser OS at much more. Sure it could use more memory, faster processor, and better screen, but it works well with the bargain basement internals at its price point. Bottom line is as much as I love all the fancy extras in any system, they really just aren't needed for Chrome OS too run well. I love what Chrome OS does and how well it just "works", but it's not worth anything much over $250 in my opinion. I have a Windoze 7 laptop that cost double what my Acer 720 did, and it's ironic that the lower spec Acer runs circles around the windows machine. Try finding any $200 windows system and you'll get yourself a heaping pile of junk that is an exercise in utter frustration! That in of itself makes Chrome OS a winner!

The whole point of Chromebooks, and frankly most Google technology, is to bring tech to the masses at very affordable price points. I wholly applaud Google for making things work so well at low prices, in stark contrast to Apple who believes tech should only be bought by the affluent fashionable community. I'm no Google fanboi either, I just can really appreciate that I don't have to spend a fortune on their tech to get something nice and functional!

Posted via mostly ghost taps on OG N7, in the Android Central App, therefore posts may not be my own.

Awesome review. That's the point of a Chromebook. Affordable. Simple. Just works. That's the point everyone misses

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Chrome OS is so limited that high end hardware is a waste. When you get into real money with real horsepower you want to run real programs.

If the Chromebook 2 by Samsung had a little better HD display and even an i3 processor, this would be that top of the line CB. And I gladly would have paid an additional $100+ over what I paid for it to get that. The processor is by far the biggest downfall of this CB. I think the build quality is fantastic and light years ahead of Acer's offerings. It's just considerably slower.

By the way,

Once you add more horses and higher density screens, you lose battery longevity. You can't move all those pixels around without taking a hit on battery life.

Even if you got your $500 1080p IPS display, you'd be bitching that you have to carry the charging brick everywhere. Just like phones, the biggest consumer of juice is the screen.

These companies know this.

LOVE LOVE LOVE my HP Chromebook 14, but if it had a great screen and a backlit keyboard....I'd be in Heaven!

I think the argument is backwards... I wouldn't start with "I want a Chromebook. Now, how much am I willing to pay for different options?" This isn't a car.

Prior to buying a Chromebook, I considered, *first*, "What functionality do I need?" From there, "What can support that in a price range that fits my budget? What trade-offs would I be making based on the resulting contenders?"

I quickly figured out that the main software services I use were either web- or mobile-based, so the pairing of a Chromebook and my Moto X were perfect.

All I want is a 14-15 inch screen. Preferably one that doesn't look washed out. I'm pretty sure that isn't a huge ask from manufacturers

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This is exactly why I haven't bought one. While the best Chromebook might be great now it just isn't future proof. When I buy a laptop I buy it to last 5+ years. I feel a Chromebook with 2gb ram and a low res display will show it's age pretty quickly.

Acer has one coming up I'll look at but I'm concerned about the arm processor. It's using a tegra k1. I'd rather have an Intel processor so we'll have to wait for benchmarks. It hits the 4gb ram and 1080 screen which to me are mandatory. I'm not sure about the backlit keys. I really want them. Also, my phone is not going to have better specs than my laptop...

I think this is why they need to be several hundred dollars less. Once they hit windows laptop price it would be hard to justify to anyone other than people who just hate windows.

Tell that to Microsoft. Why did they start that whole "scroogled" thing? They clearly see them as a threat for a reason

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The thing I keep hearing is no office no buy. You can use office. It just takes a little searching to find it

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Yeah I know but I keep seeing it online. I read articles and people are saying "I need word. I can't function without Microsoft office". All I'm saying is if you so desperately need it it's there. You can find it online and use it through the browser. I havnt used it outside my collage and school in years

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If chromebooks marginalize windows laptops/ultrabooks market. then chromebook manufacturers will increase specs to differentiate themselves from other chromebook competitors. First destroy the competitiion (windows), then raise prices. They have to innovate to raise prices because cheap parts and specs are the norm. Raising prices without innovating opens the door for a new device to replace chromebooks. It just business practices.

Mikeysoft killing XP was the best thing that could have possibly happened to the Linux world.

Instead of hoping for a high-dollar, grossly overpriced Chrometoy that will most likely never be manufactured, you are always free to spend as much as you care to for a laptop or netbook you feel comfy with, possessing all those awesome specs you long for - certainly more worthy of running Chromium OS than Chromium OS is to be allowed to coexist on it. For half of those six bills, a Dell Win 8.1 touchscreen netbook ALREADY has that 8 hour battery life (or longer, with an SSD), a quadcore CPU, AND the 4 GB of RAM onboard you so crave for in a 'Super Chrometoy'.

Before ANYONE actually wastes their money on a new Chrometoy, test-drive Chromium OS on something you already HAVE *FIRST*. Download the free Linux LiveCD of your choice, open up some HD space by shrinking down the Windows partition a bit and download Chromium OS (also for free).

You will then struggle with getting Chromium OS installed and set up properly. After all THAT is over, (try to) use the new OS for a few days or so. Once you do, you will very quickly forget any silly notions you may have had that a Chrometoy could have been any kind of use to you whatsoever.

After your sanity has recovered from the experience, go out and buy yourself a REAL computer (or, better still, use the one you have now), delete Chromium OS and set its partition up with the Linux flavor of your choice, which will be MUCH easier than fooling with Chromium OS. You will now be ready start enjoying the best of both worlds - especially that wonderful world of open-source software that is Linux....

The only good thing about a chromebook is, that you can actually install something like Ubuntu on it, and make it a lot more functional.

Yeah I love Linux Mint.
I have their logo set as my avatar on the PC forums I frequent.

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Hahahah. That was actually really funny. The first funny criticism I have read about chromebooks. There is only one problem I have with your criticism is that you don't use the Chromebook to replace your laptop you use it to only browse the Web or bring it off on a trip or on holiday. That's why they have longer battery lives. They arnt designed to fully replace your laptop. I don't know about you but I would feel much more comfortable bringing a $280 Chromebook on holiday with me than that dell touchscreen one you mentioned

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i love my Acer C720 "glorified web browser"... it does everything, believe me: i've done the Windows thing and the Apple thing and realized (finally) that i was just a victim of "sign-value" and didn't need a little apple or win logo on my machine... i feel badly for one of my best friends who's a gamer: spending $70 for a mouse, $30 for a mouse pad, and over $3k for his machine that he can't take anywhere, which works for him as he has no job and lives with his mother, haha... see? get a Chromebook and get a life... goodbye.

I run two (2!) programs on my core i7 machine: Steam and Chrome. I don't need a $1200 computer for that but a $500 Windows build won't do either nearly as well or have anywhere near the same build quality. I already have something that runs "real" programs. Now I want something portable that can run my fake programs (I can do everything I need to in Chrome - I don't want to game on a laptop) without stuttering and without looking and feeling like a plastic turd. I'll definitely pay more for a Chromebook with an Intel processor, an acceptable amount of RAM (>4GB), a 13" HD IPS display, and better materials (I would love a Thinkpad Chromebook). It will be a better built machine than any Windows laptop at the same price point and (for me at least) do everything I need or want it to do.

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HP Chromebook 14, Windows laptop in the closet until 9 comes out. I also have a Tab Pro 12.2, Moto X and My desktop is a Mac. Like things just the way they are. 299.00 was perfect for the HP. It gets used almost all day everyday. I think for me it was the perfect solution. Actually thought about selling my mac, but I have a iPad Air so I kept it. Yes I am the tech nerd of the family. But ulitmately I would not sell my Chromebook. I use it for so many things that it's hard to put down.

Perfect example of what a Chromebook is designed to do. So many people talk about them without the proper idea of what they are supposed to do

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I would buy a $500-$700 Chromebook in a heartbeat. It's ridiculous for them not even to fill that niche. I want a beautiful screen and good memory options.

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I would have bought one months ago but I was waiting for a good screen to come out on one. Still the crappy cheap ones that make me refuse to buy one

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The problem is while an pricey Chrome book might sell, im not sure they would make a profit off selling 12 units in the entire manufacturing run.

The only people that would buy one are the people saying they would on here, literally no one else cares.

"Beauty is as beauty does," my (rather plain) aunt used to say. My last laptop was a 15" Macbook Pro, which was lovely but I never seemed to use it. Either on my desktop on tablet. I sold it and got an Acer C720P and have loved it more and more all the time. All the usual benefits of a Chromebook, with the added joy of, for 300 bucks, having the best of something for once, and for laying in bed with it lightly on my belly, as I screen scroll through news and blogs. Beauty can be usability and--in my case--easily replaced should something happen to it. It adds to my life, which is what I want, not for it to sit around and be an attention grabber.

i wish there was a $600 / $700 Chromebook comparable to a Macbook Air with some compromises to be able to sell for that price. But I do not think it is going to happen because most people will think "For that price I better buy a -real- notebook". People still do not get that Chromebooks are real notebooks as well, just different. At least we have now Chromebooks with i3 processors which cpu-wise it is more than enough at the moment for most things Chromebooks can do. Now we need decent screens, keyboards, trackpads and bodies.

I do want to have a Chromebook that doesn't lag or slow down when opened multiple pages like we always do, and I'm willing to pay up to $500 for a high performance, solid built and beautiful Chromebook. That same amount will only get you a laptop that wasn't pretty and powerful enough laptop.

I care only about the screen quality and RAM so the computer works stable. I hate how my Samsung Chromebook stutters on Youtube or opening few tabs at once. Unless they work smooth it's sadly my only Chromebook I gonna own and that's a pity because I really like to use it when it doesn't slow down

I haven't seen the stutter on the Acer. May be the processor. And I have a samsung tablet, note pro, stutters all the time.

What the heck is the point of a Chromebook??? Is it just about cost? Because my Asus laptop is thin, light, extremely portable, and starts up in 10 seconds. And runs actual programs.

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Chrome OS at 1080p on 11.6" display isn't feasible until Google figures out how to scale the UI properly. HiDPI like the Pixel is what you really want but cpu/battery solutions at low cost won't be available for another year.

They don't get the hardware they deserve, because they don't get the software they deserve, in the first place. (Photoshop and Traktor being just a few of the applications I can't miss, for example)

For $400-500 I could mayyybe see an upscale Chromebook; but it really hard to balance battery capacity vs build quality vs display res/quality etc etc at that price point, regardless of whether you're factoring in a Windows license or not.

That's probably why no OEM wants to bother, specially if one aspect or another is gonna suffer from that premium feature that pushes the price up... Better displays require larger batteries for instance, Chrome isn't magic dust for battery life...

RAM prices are only going up too... Anyway, $700 is a total pipe dream unless Chrome OS changes drastically, at that point you're well into ultrabook territory and damn close to the price point of real workhorses like the Air, Surface Pro 3, etc.

There might be a scant few people willing to pay that much for a Chromebook but they're surely the minority, and a subset of that minority could just install Chrome OS on existing systems anyway (yet very few do, funny that).

other than a higher quality screen, and speakers. I see no reason to improve any of the hardware on the common chromebooks.
They are good machines but they are light duty, it's just a web browser
and i7 in a chromebook would be a complete waste of money.

If you want the Chrome OS on a better machine, then why can't google let you install it on a laptop that you already have? Is there any reason why I could not have it running on a macbook?

Great article, Andrew.. I completely agree.

I haven't jumped the gun solely because of lack of great hardware (the Pixel doesn't count)

I feel like the "chicken and the egg" situation is pretty much the truth. But that being said, if there were better hardware options available, then software devs could take advantage of it. On device apps, games, and apps that use a lil of both would be to be written for the platform. Be more of a competitor to Windows. Hell even just merging Chrome and Android somehow would open the platform up to sooooo much more than what it's capable of now. I've heard rumors of just such a thing, and I think that is what would really put the nail in the coffin for Windows.

I bought a Samsung 11" Chromebook exactly for what it is: a small, lightweight computer with no moving parts (no fans, HDD) -- that works with Google Drive, Dropbox, One Drive, and their associated Cloud programs -- Google Docs, Windows Live, etc. No more umpteen upgrades (Win7!!), intrusive anti virus programs, no function keys, The display is great and has very smooth brightness controls. The battery (about 7 hours) easily outlasts a cross country plane trip. I've never really liked touchpads, but I like this one plus it has some simple two-fingered scroll moves that are very useful. For ports there is one USB2, one USB3, HDMI, SD card reader, one combo audio I/O, and another slot which I haven't yet figured what it does (I'll get around to it). I've had my CB for over 4 months and not once has it presented me with a error message, 'not responding' warning, Boot time -- I have no desire to time it as it is good enough. My 8 1/2 year old granddaughter immediately took a shine to it, so just this week I had the same model CB delivered to her home in Ohio.

When I need to do some 'heavy lifting' -- my wife and I both have 'footstool laptops' with our reading chairs, and for the real heavy lifting, we both have HP Compaq dc7800 off-lease units (cost $130 each) which were in like new shape. I immediately installed SSD SATA drives and dual monitors (one 19" and one 24" for each of these BigRigs). Both are dual core Intel, 64bit running Win7Pro. Why aren't more/all desktops and laptops supplied with SSDs??

Anyway that's my rant on Chromebooks. It's a fun machine and a fun way for me to get more into Cloud computing and to use an OS that isn't always annoying me.

David Carlson
Fresno CA
22Aug14

Chrome OS doesn't exist to provide its users a full featured general purpose computing OS. There are three more popular operating system platforms for that already.

So even *IF* an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16gb of RAM and an nVidia Quattro GPU found their way into a chromebook/box, I don't think any software vendor would target it. Windows, Mac OS, and even Linux have sorta solved the platform problem in that space more than effectively.

What is all that extrahardware needed for? Faster CPU for gaming, image, or video manipulation? those apps are lacking on the Chrome app store currently. More RAM is understandable and as some of the comments already suggest, the #1 need for most chromebooks. Larger storage, sure add an SDCARD or USB 3.0 drive (one that doesn't protrude).