Meet the ASUS C434

Best Laptops Android Central 2019

Our phones are smarter than ever, but they still can't do everything, and let's be real: who wants to write a ten-page essay on a phone? Or file taxes? Or play solitaire for hours on end? For so, so many things, a laptop is the best tool for the job, and whether you use yours for work or play, chances are you overpaid for your last one. Let's make sure that doesn't happen again by letting us help you find a high-quality laptop that actually earns its price tag, like my run-and-gun workhorse Lenovo Chromebook C330.

Our pick: Lenovo Chromebook C330

Homework and magic

This is our favorite Chromebook on the market right now, and what makes it the Best Chromebook also makes it the best laptop: it's sturdy, hard-working, and reliable without breaking the bank. I've used and abused one for months as my primary Chromebook and while it has a few scratches around the bottom, the C330 just keeps chugging along.

Its shiny, shimmery white shell doesn't show nearly the wear, tear, and dirt you'd expect it to, and the charcoal keyboard has good contrast for typing in dim offices and cafes. I can usually get 10-12 hours out of the battery, even with a few hours near max brightness, and while using this laptop in direct sun can get difficult, it's bright enough for most of my diverse makeshift workplaces around the parks.

Since the C330 has been a popular model, there are tons of cases, skins, and keyboard covers available for it at low prices, which is great if you want to make this shiny white Chromebook your own. The only real downside of this Chromebook is it's got a little under three years left before it stops receiving Chrome OS updates, but for $250, it's an excellent price to try out if Chromebooks are for you.

Pros:

  • Great, long-lasting performance
  • Good keyboard
  • 64 GB of storage
  • Shimmery white shell stands out

Cons:

  • Not rated for durability
  • Only 1 USB-C and USB-A port
  • Stops getting updates June 2022

Our pick

Lenovo Chromebook C330

It's amazing what you'll get done with this little laptop.

With all-day battery life and an adaptable touchscreen 2-in-1 format, the shiny, white C330 is ready to show you what Chrome can do.

Next-gen durability: ASUS Chromebook Flip C214

The C214 is the best for the long haul

The C330's only flaw is that it's going to stop getting updates in three years, so if you like that size but want something that will last you years longer, get ASUS's newest home run. The ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 has double the USB-C ports, mil-spec durability, a spill-proof keyboard, and it will be updated until June 2025.

This upgraded model is slightly slimmer and lighter than is predecessor, the C213, while adding a slightly bigger battery. The 11.6-inch screen is still easy to see in a wide array of angles — and even in direct 3 PM Florida sunshine — and the durable zinc hinge allows you to set this Chromebook into tablet, tent, or stand mode to get your work done.

With a USB-C port on both sides and a USB-A port for the odd thumb drive or mouse, the C214 has just about the perfect port configuration for a compact Chromebook: you can charge from either side of the computer, there's a legacy port if you need it, and the microSD slot is recessed to avoid accidentally ejecting your card, with the slot perfectly sized for nail-biters like me to use a clothespin edge to insert and eject cards.

Pros:

  • Exemplary battery life
  • Screen is readable in full sun
  • Compact and rugged
  • Spill-resistant keyboard

Cons:

  • Only 32GB storage models right now
  • Stylus model is $50 extra
  • 1366x768 display

Next-gen durability

ASUS Chromebook Flip C214

Rugged, reliable, and ready to pull an all-nighter.

More compact, more powerful, and receiving updates for the next six years, a multitude of minor tweaks add up to a thoughtful Chromebook you can rely on.

Powerful yet portable: ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

ASUS C434

If you think Chromebooks are only cheap little browsers that don't have power where it counts, meet the ASUS C434. This shining "Spangle Silver" Chromebook can come with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB of storage with either an Intel m3, i5 or even an i7 processor. Throw whatever you want at it — 40-tab research sessions, Linux applications — and it will keep on keeping on.

The battery life is excellent on this compact powerhouse, and the screen is adequately bright so long as you're not in full Florida sun. Split-screening on this laptop is perfect for multi-tasking — or ignoring your 10 tabs of research for a Twitch livestream.

Due to the hinge construction, the bottom edge of the lid supports the back half of the C434 at most regular angles, which could lead to a bit of teetering on perforated surfaces. MicroSD cards also stick out from the edge rather than laying flush, but with 64-128GB of storage, you should need one most of the time.

Pros:

  • 14-inch 2-in-1 in a 13-inch footprint
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Powerful configurations

Cons:

  • Laptop sits awkwardly at times
  • i5/i7 models are hard to find
  • microSD cards stick out

Powerful yet portable

ASUS Chromebook Flip C434

A powerful Chromebook that's still light enough to carry every day.

Get your work done in style with a 14-inch touchscreen and backlit keyboard. Enduring battery life ensures that the C434 won't quit before you do.

Best Chrome detachable: HP Chromebook X2

Detachable

Being able to flip a 2-in-1 flat for a tablet experience is nice, but you still have the extra weight there, unless you spring for a detachable like the HP Chromebook X2. Unlike more tablet-like models like the Surface Pro line and the Pixel Slate, the X2 docks into the keyboard base securely, allowing it to function like a laptop and be stable in your lap when typing on the couch or a random park bench.

The X2 has the same stunning 12.3-inch 2400x1600 IPS touchscreen as the $1000 Pixelbook, with a productivity-friendly 3:2 aspect ratio that is especially helpful when doing things like sketching designs or taking notes with the active pen stylus that comes with the X2. While 3:2 leaves a lot more black space around videos, that can leave extra space for captions if you need those.

Pros:

  • Detach keyboard for lightweight tablet experience
  • Still a solid lap-friendly laptop
  • Great screen quality

Cons:

  • Only 32GB of storage
  • Keyboard isn't backlit
  • Only USB-C ports

Best Chrome detachable

HP Chromebook X2

Works great as a laptop and a tablet

The X2 is made for your work-play balance, with a solid keyboard to bang out reports before you detach the screen and crawl into bed for hours of Hulu.

Big-screen beauty: HP Chromebook 15

Chromebook 15

15-inch Chromebooks aren't terribly common — and most that are available today are too heavy to really consider for more than desk duty — but the HP Chromebook 15 is the go-to if you want a 15-inch laptop that won't break the bank or your patience. Thanks to its large size, this Chromebook has room for a numpad on its keyboard, which is so handy when doing budgets or grading.

The 15-inch touchscreen here is big and bright enough for watching YouTube or Netflix during long flights and more extended layovers. 1080p looks fine here, and with fewer pixels to push, it results in a longer-lasting battery, which is what I'll take any day of the week.

There are a few configurations of this Chromebook available for purchase, but this configuration at Walmart is your best option. The Pentium model with 64GB of storage is $449 at HP or Best Buy, so for only $20 more, this one has an i3 processor and 128GB of storage. That means even if you load it up with movies for offline viewing, you should have plenty of room for documents and downloads.

Pros:

  • Thin bezels and frame
  • Backlit keyboard with numpad
  • 128GB storage

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Screen only 1080p
  • White/blue shell shows wear easily

Big-screen beauty

HP Chromebook 15

Ready for number-crunching or Netflix-bingeing.

With a big screen, full keyboard with a number pad, and a battery to match, the HP Chromebook 15 is made for getting things done.

Best of Microsoft: Surface Pro 6

Surface Pro 6

Microsoft's Surface line of laptops and detachable 2-in-1s just keeps getting better and better. If you prefer Windows to Chrome OS, the Surface Pro 6 is not only one of the best Windows machines on the market. It's also one of the most flexible, thanks to the ability to use it as a ridiculously powerful tablet or a powerful laptop computer.

Last year's Surface Pro 6 wasn't a huge overhaul, but rather a refinement of the quality and performance we'd seen from the previous Pro models: a distinct and darling design with more rounded edges, more subtle thermal management. There's also a new color option: a ceramic oxide Black that is "grown" rather than anodized to the magnesium housing.

With top-of-the-line internals and design comes a higher price tag — especially once you throw in an extra $130 for a Type Cover — but the Surface Pro 6 is like the Swiss Army Knife of computers. No matter the location or the task, there's a way to get it done with the Surface Pro 6.

Pros:

  • Phenomenal power
  • Premium look
  • Windows Hello facial recognition

Cons:

  • Configurations get expensive quickly
  • Type Covers sold separately

Best of Microsoft

Surface Pro 6

Microsoft's best 2-in-1 to date.

No matter how heavy your workload, with i5 or i7 processors, up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage, the Surface Pro 6 is up to the challenge.

Compact command center: Surface Go

Tiny yet mighty

Want Windows but prefer to keep things small enough to easily carry in a purse or a large pocket like our own Russell Holly does? Small computers are usually insanely overpriced or severely underpowered, but lucky for us all; the Surface Go is a tiny computer worth buying. In a compact frame with the same kind of premium design and build quality we expect from a Surface, we get a tablet that can be a full-fledged, full-time computer for light to regular users.

The Surface Go runs Windows 10 Home in S mode, which should help keep it from slowing down over time the way Windows normally tends to. This is all on an Intel Pentium Gold 4415Y processor with up to 8GB of RAM and up to 128GB storage. If 128GB isn't enough, you can expand it with a microSD card. The kickstand hinge on the back can sit at just about every angle conceivable for you to get your work done wherever you are.

I wish the Type Cover was included with the Surface Go, but at least you'll be able to pick whichever color you want when you buy it separately. While the Surface Connect port isn't terribly useful, the USB-C port certainly is, and I'm exceedingly grateful for its inclusion.

Pros:

  • Premium compact build
  • Bright 216ppi 10-inch screen
  • Surface Pen support with Inking

Cons:

  • Might be underpowered for some users
  • No USB-A ports
  • Type Cover sold separately

Compact command center

Surface Go

The only 10-inch computer worth paying for.

The Surface Go might not be the most powerful laptop ever, but it's got more than capable performance in a compact premium package.

Built for business: Lenovo ThinkPad E490

How tough? ThinkPad tough

ThinkPad is one of the most iconic brands in electronics, a name synonymous with long-lasting performance, ridiculous durability, and of course that little red TrackPoint nipple in the middle of the keyboard. You might think of ThinkPads as just being boxy business laptops, but ThinkPads can make great personal laptops, too, since they're built to last and priced competitively.

The E490 is a 14-inch model with both touchscreen and non-touch models — the touchscreen is worth the extra $40 — that you can buy with either an i3 or i5 processor and your choice of one or two internal hard drives, including SSD options up to 512GB in size. You can absolutely deck this machine out with ample storage for all your documents or games. There are two colors available for the E490, so if you're not into the classic Black, you can get one with a Silver cover instead.

Lenovo threw just about every port it could into the E490, with three USB-A ports, HDMI, Ethernet, microSD and your trusty headphone/microphone combo jack, and there is a USB-C port for power, data, and DisplayPort video. While I do wish that there were USB-C ports on both sides of the machine — because really, who needs three USB-A ports on a laptop in this day and age? — I'm grateful for its ability to charge the E490's battery from dead to nearly full in an hour.

Pros:

  • Lots of ports, including Ethernet and HDMI
  • ThinkPad tough
  • Fingerprint sensor

Cons:

  • Skip the non-touch models
  • Only one USB-C port
  • Heavy for its size

Built for business

Lenovo ThinkPad E490

Tough as nails and powerful, too.

Lenovo keeps the legacy of lasting ThinkPad quality rolling on in the E490, with plenty of ports and a battery that can go well beyond business hours.

Apple excellence: MacBook Air (Retina)

Got Mac?

For some things, there are no substitutes, and if you use programs like Final Cut — or if you're already in the Apple ecosystem for phones and tablets — then you'll want to get yourself an Apple. Of the MacBooks on the market today, the MacBook Air is by far the best blend of style, size, and substance. This is the refreshed MacBook Air that Apple debuted last year, and it is a beauty.

Sporting a stunning 13-inch Retina display with slim bezels, an Intel i5 processor and 8GB of RAM, this is a laptop that is as powerful as it is luxurious, with TouchID biometric security and two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports. While you're going to need to stock up on USB-C adapters and hubs — the only other port here is a headphone jack — we've reached the point where USB-C accessories are moderately priced, unless you're buying them directly from Apple, of course.

Since many of the people who buy MacBooks are video editors who are constantly pulling footage off SD cards, the lack of an SD (or even microSD) card slot on the new MacBook Air is a slight bummer, the performance bump the new MacBook Air receives while still keeping its petite size and premium look is enough to overlook it.

https://www.imore.com/best-macbook

Pros:

  • Great Retina display
  • Powerful and stable
  • 12-hour battery life

Cons:

  • No touchscreen
  • Ultra expensive
  • Only USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports

Apple excellence

MacBook Air

Get the best of Apple without going overboard.

Apple's laptops have been pinnacles of design and performance for years, and the MacBook Air offers the best blend of style and power in its lineup today.

Bottom line

When selecting a laptop, there are several factors to consider beyond the basics of price, screen size, and processors. Take a look at what you intend to get done with your laptop, and what form factor might best fit your needs. If you tend to put your laptop into a stand or docking station at home, you might consider a 2-in-1 that can fold into Stand mode, bringing the screen closer to your face while you're using a wired keyboard/mouse combo. If you tend to use your laptop for a lot of browsing and casual games like Mahjong or Solitaire, a touchscreen could make interacting with your computer easier.

The Lenovo C330 isn't the most powerful computer on the planet, but I'm willing to bet that for a large number of you reading this, a Chromebook is more than powerful enough for your needs while saving you hundreds of dollars. A touchscreen 2-in-1 Chromebook with 64GB of storage and 10-hour battery life for under $300 is an absolute steal, and Chromebooks are capable of doing more than ever with Android apps from Google Play and Linux apps coming to more and more models. And if a Chromebook sounds like a winner but you want something a little bigger and shinier, the ASUS Chromebook C434 has done wonderfully for me the last couple of months.

If you have specific needs that can only be met by Windows, the Surface line is pretty hard to beat, especially with the unreal performance available on the latest Surface Pro 6. Type Covers being separate adds a bit to the price, but being able to effortlessly pull them off for tablet-mode gaming or sketching is ten kinds of awesome.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Ara Wagoner themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing help and how-to's, she's running around Walt Disney World with a Chromebook. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco. If you see her without headphones, RUN.

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