With the Chromebook Pixel heading off into the super high-resolution sunset — at least for now — something has to take its place as king of the Chromebook hill.
For a lot of people, the Chromebook Pixel didn't make any sense. Our company stance here at Android Central was that it was too expensive and didn't bring anything more to the table than a lot of other models, so you were better off passing. Personally, I think it's the best damn laptop I've ever had and worth the money. It's OK to have different opinions. In any case, none of that matters now that Google has stopped selling it and hasn't announced a replacement. It's Google Reader all over again. Not really.
I am pretty certain another Chromebook Pixel will be released, but this gives us an opportunity to look at other tier-one level models. These are the Chromebooks you would buy if you couldn't stomach the price tag but still wanted something a little more "premium" than the average cheap Chromebook.
Don't think we're bashing cheap Chromebooks, though. They are the important models because a $200 Chromebook is perfect for plenty of folks. A cheap gateway to the internet that's safe and easy. Plenty of people are using something like the Acer C720 and still completely satisfied because it still does the things they bought it to do. But if you're someone who wants to spend a little more money for nicer hardware or just want to go all in on the Chrome experience, here are the best available right now.
The best Chromebook you can buy: Dell Chromebook 13
The fully-specced Dell Chromebook 13 ticks most every box to be at the top of the heap now. The $650 model offers a beautiful 1080p touch screen display, aluminum chassis, glass trackpad and an Intel Core i3 processor. It doesn't stop there, either. You have USB 3.0 onboard, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 LE connectivity, a backlit keyboard and 32GB of storage. In the coming weeks, the Dell Chromebook 13 is also slated to get access to Google Play and Android apps.
Honestly, this is still a bit of overkill for many folks. The Intel Celeron model is also plenty capable and priced about $200 less. You'll have the same premium build, minus the touchscreen. It's still a very solid choice.
I love the battery life and how well the Chromebook 13 is put together, and everything you want to do is responsive and enjoyable — this thing is fast! It was always a true high-end laptop, but the Chromebook Pixel's exit makes it the best Chromebook you can buy in September 2016.
Something a little lighter: Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2015)
Checking in at 2.9 pounds, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 can still deliver a top-of-the line experience without the extra two pounds of the Dell hanging off of your shoulder. Anyone who has to carry their mobile office in a bag or satchel every day can appreciate the weight reduction.
The best part is the Toshiba is still more than able to do all things Chrome OS smoothly and quick. When compared to the Dell, the biggest drawbacks are lack of a touch screen and a maximum storage capacity of only 16GB. The Core i3 model checks in around $450 while an Intel Celeron mode will save you $150.
If the lighter weight is worth the trade-off of losing the touch screen and cutting the storage in half — and for a lot of us it will be — Toshiba has your high-end Chromebook needs covered.
A new player appears: Acer Chromebook 14
If you need something a little bigger but still want that high-end feel and specs that deliver, the Acer Chromebook 14 is for you.
The 1080p display has extra-wide viewing angles and uses a proper high-quality IPS panel. the Intel Celeron drives Chrome OS to its full potential and 32GB of space is a big plus when Android apps and Google Play appear this fall. You also get two USB 3.0 ports and 802.11ac MIMO Wi-Fi — all for around $300.
The aluminum build isn't quite as thick feeling as the Dell, which is why the larger display Acer weighs about the same as the 13-inch Dell. The trackpad isn't quite as smooth and the keyboard lacks the backlighting, but you're also saving about $350.
Some of us want a Chromebook with a larger screen and the Acer Chromebook 14 is my pick for the best in the 14-inch category.