Best Laptops Android Central 2020
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. Whether you use yours for work or play, chances are you overpaid for your last one. Let's make sure that it doesn't happen again by letting us help you find a high-quality laptop that earns its price tag, like my run-and-gun workhorse Lenovo Chromebook C340.
- Best Overall: Lenovo Chromebook C340
- Next-gen Durability: ASUS Chromebook Flip C214
- Powerful Yet Portable: ASUS Chromebook Flip C434
- Best Chrome Detachable: Lenovo Chromebook Duet
- Big-screen Access: Acer Chromebook 715
- Best of Microsoft: Surface Pro 7
- Compact Command Center: Surface Go 2
- Built for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen)
- Apple Excellence: MacBook Air
Best Overall: Lenovo Chromebook C340
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. The C340 builds upon the already-amazing C330, resulting in one of the best laptop experiences you can find in 2019.
The gorgeous pink color looks outstanding, and the combination of an aluminum lid and plastic body results in a device that can withstand all sorts of use and abuse. Open it up, and you'll be presented with a fantastic 11.6-inch IPS display that's perfect for work and play. When it comes time to watch a movie, you can flip the screen all the way around and transform the C340 from a laptop into a tablet.
Specs-wise, the C340 does not disappoint. It comes equipped with a capable Intel Celeron N4000 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and is rated for 10 hours of battery life on one charge. Add that together with software updates that are guaranteed through June 2026, and you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.
- Great, long-lasting performance
- Good keyboard
- 64 GB of storage
- Gorgeous pink color
- Years of updates
- Not rated for durability
- Large display bezels
It's amazing what you'll get done.
With all-day battery life and an adaptable touchscreen 2-in-1 format, the pink C340 is ready to show you what Chrome can do.
Next-gen Durability: ASUS Chromebook Flip C214
Another great Chromebook option is the ASUS Chromebook Flip C214. It has tons of 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 its 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. The slot perfectly sized for nail-biters like me to use a clothespin edge to insert and remove cards.
- Exemplary battery life
- Screen is readable in full sun
- Compact and rugged
- Spill-resistant keyboard
- Only 32GB storage models right now
- Stylus model is $50 extra
- 1366x768 display
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
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.
- 14-inch 2-in-1 in a 13-inch footprint
- Backlit keyboard
- Powerful configurations
- Laptop sits awkwardly at times
- i5/i7 models are hard to find
- microSD cards stick out
Powerful Yet Portable
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: Lenovo Chromebook Duet
A detachable 2-in-1 is supposed to be the best of both worlds, and that really matters whenever you attach or detach the keyboard, like you can with the Lenovo Chromebook Duet. This has more in common with the likes of the Surface Pro and Pixel Slate from a functional perspective but maintains its own character throughout. The keyboard works best on a table or flat surface, but you can make do on your lap with proper stability.
The 10.1-inch 1920x1200 IPS touchscreen can get super bright, so you won't need to crank that up much in most cases. However, the smaller form factor did force Lenovo to slim down some keys, making typing for long periods an adjustment at first. The kickstand is useful for propping it up, so you don't have to hold it all the time. And the battery life — well, let's just say you won't need to worry too much about getting your money's worth there.
- Detach keyboard for tablet experience
- Excellent battery life
- Great screen for content
- Keyboard isn't always sturdy
- Software bugs need squashing
- One USB-C port and no headphone jack
Best Chrome Detachable
A Chrome OS tablet that goes all the way.
The Chromebook Duet is true to its name in that you can attach the keyboard only when you need it to step in before you detach it and start streaming.
Big-screen Access: Acer Chromebook 715
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 Acer Chromebook 715 is worthy of your time if you want this size without breaking the bank or your patience. Its large size spreads out space for a full-sized keyboard that includes a number pad, 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. It's just better to keep it inside more than taking it outside to reduce the obvious glare and lack of brightness that comes with it. Resolution is okay, and with fewer pixels to push, it results in a longer-lasting battery, which is what I'll take any day of the week.
With one configuration to go with, there's no confusion on specs. What you see is what you get. The processor does hum along nicely with this device, leaving you plenty of room to be productive.
- Big touchscreen
- Full-size keyboard with number pad
- Good pricing
- Uninspired design
- Lower-res screen
- Poor webcam quality
Ready for getting the job done and content bingeing.
With a big screen, full keyboard with a number pad, and a battery to match, the Acer Chromebook 715 is made to get things done.
Best of Microsoft: Surface Pro 7
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 7 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.
This year's Surface Pro 7 is the best the lineup has ever seen, taking an already great 2-in-1 and making it that much better. Performance with the Core i5 model is outstanding, the battery lasts all day, and for the very first time in Surface Pro history, Microsoft has added a USB-C port. Huzzah!
With top-of-the-line internals and design comes a higher price tag — especially once you throw in extra cash for a Type Cover — but the Surface Pro 7 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 7.
- Phenomenal power
- Premium look
- Windows Hello facial recognition
- Configurations get expensive quickly
- Type Covers sold separately
Best of Microsoft
Microsoft's best 2-in-1 to date.
No matter how heavy your workload, the sleek and powerful Surface Pro 7 is up to any task you throw at it.
Compact Command Center: Surface Go 2
Microsoft's Surface line is also about slimming down and making things even more portable. Small computers are usually insanely overpriced or severely underpowered, but lucky for us all; the Surface Go 2 is a tiny computer worth buying. It borrows heavily from its predecessor, both inside and out, giving it the same premium design and build quality. It's what you would expect from a Surface, where there's a full-fledged tablet and full-time computer for light to regular users.
The Surface Go 2 runs on Windows 10 Home in S mode, though you can switch out of it with a single button and not have to reboot. There are two processor configurations to choose from: an Intel Pentium Gold 4425Y or Core m3-8100Y processor with up to 8GB of RAM and 128GB storage. You can expand it with a microSD card in case it's not enough. Angling the 10.5-inch display is easier with a fully-articulated kickstand hinge on the back that simplifies how you position yourself to get things done.
Unfortunately, Microsoft won't throw in the keyboard with the Surface Go 2, 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 it's a must for plugging any accessory in.
- Premium compact build
- Thinner bezels surround screen
- Bright 220ppi 10.5-inch screen
- Surface Pen support with Inking
- Core m3 processor the better choice
- Might be underpowered for some users
- No USB-A ports
- Type Cover sold separately
- Pentium processor made for casual use
Compact Command Center
The only 10-inch computer worth paying for.
The Surface Go might not be the most powerful laptop ever, but it's got capable performance in a compact premium package.
Built for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (8th Gen)
ThinkPad is one of the most iconic brands for laptops for the simple fact that it conjures up a view of quality that starts with that little red TrackPoint nipple in the middle of the keyboard. They've never been of the flashy variety, where you might think a ThinkPad is just a boxy business laptop. But they can also take on a personal element, too, since they're built to last and priced competitively.
The X1 Carbon (8th Gen) is a 14-inch model that comes with three different screen options — 1080p, 2K, and 4K. Whichever route you take will make a big impression on the price, though most configuration options will have 1080p screens, rather than the other two, unless you build your own. You can either go with a Core i5 or i7 processor and choose among three SSD options up to 1TB in size. That's ample storage for all your documents or games, adding to the hybrid usage the laptop is more than capable of.
Lenovo made sure this was up-to-date on all the ports and connectivity options you get with it. There are two USB-C (for DisplayPort video), two USB-A ports, HDMI, Ethernet, and your trusty headphone/microphone combo jack. You get the latest Wi-Fi and Bluetooth standards, plus the option to throw in some 4G LTE in there. Most ports will be on one side, potentially crowding things if you've got a lot going on, but bringing in two USB-C ports is a good move. Battery life will stand up based on which screen you go with, but in any case, this should go a full business day and then some.
- Lots of ports, including USB-C and HDMI
- Plenty of configurations
- Solid performance
- Fingerprint sensor
- Not the sexiest design
- Expensive at higher options
- Attracts a lot of fingerprints
Built for Business
Thin, lightweight, and wielding power.
Lenovo keeps the legacy of lasting ThinkPad quality rolling on in the X1 Carbon (8th Gen), with a best-in-class keyboard and a battery going beyond business hours.
Apple Excellence: MacBook Air (2020)
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 laptop. Of the MacBooks on the market today, the MacBook Air is arguably the best blend of style, size, and substance. This is the refreshed MacBook Air Apple debuted this year, and it is a beauty.
Sporting a stunning 13-inch Retina display with slim bezels, Apple chose not to shrink them any further with this 2020 update, so screen real estate stays the same. But the keyboard certainly doesn't, as Apple jettisoned the divisive Butterfly keyboard for the much more practical Magic one. Intel's 10th-gen Ice Lake processors get some representation with Core i3, i5, and i7 configurations available, giving this version of the Air a level of efficient power performance it hadn't had before. You get the same TouchID biometric security and just two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, all but ensuring you'll need a USB-C adapter or hub to plug in a memory card or HDMI cable. Good thing we've reached the point where USB-C accessories are moderately priced, unless you're buying them directly from Apple, of course.
MacBooks are popular for photo and video editors, but the Air isn't necessarily the best option for those things, though this one does it better than past ones ever did. If you plan on doing that, go extra on the RAM and processor, or just get a MacBook Pro. If that's only a small part of your workflow, you should manage fine, especially with how svelte and premium this thing is.
- Great Retina display
- Powerful and stable
- Better keyboard
- 12-hour battery life
- No touchscreen
- Ultra expensive
- Only USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports
Get the best of Apple without going overboard.
Apple's laptops have been pinnacles of design and performance for years, and this refreshed MacBook Air offers the best starting point in its lineup.
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 C340 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 wonders 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 Surface Pro 7. Buying a keyboard adds a bit to the price, but being able to pull them off for tablet-mode gaming or sketching effortlessly is all 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.
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.
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