Plenty of people are buying Chromebooks for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being price and simplicity. Chrome enables you to have a simple yet powerful computer that can be handed to anyone and used right away, without all of the headaches of maintenance or management. The toughest part of using one is picking the right one to use!
Like everything else electronic, what you should buy depends on what you need to do with it. We can help.
Chrome isn't like Android on a phone — it's the exact same on every Chromebook (or Chromebox). That makes things a lot easier when buying a new Chromebook because you won't have to make any decisions about the software. The most inexpensive model can do everything its hardware supports in the very same way the most expensive model can. Hardware support can make a difference, though, because things like a 180-degree flippable screen or a specialized pen bring options along with them and if your Chromebook can't flip over to be a tablet or doesn't include a pen (bundled or as an optional purchase) you won't see any special software to use one.
One other place that this software "sameness" matters is when you are buying a Chromebook. Chrome automatically updates and the new software comes directly through Google regardless of who made your Chromebook. With support lasting five years, you won't have to buy the newest model to have the latest software. That can mean big savings, and we all love big savings.
Thankfully, Chromebooks come in a wide range of hardware configurations that support every budget. What you need to do before you buy is decide why you need a Chromebook and how you're going to use it.
For the youngsters
There's a good chance a young student will be issued a Chromebook from their school. Most companies make specially ruggedized Chromebooks for the education market, and that's exactly what you want for a youngster's first computer. Luckily, you can buy a similar model through normal retail channels and it won't break the bank.
The Lenovo 100e is a great choice for a young child. It's built like a tank and designed to survive bumps and bruises as well as being dropped for the height a child can reach. It even has a "waterproof" keyboard tray so a spilled drink won't automatically equal a disaster.
It's not pretty, but neither is a thin and light Chromebook that's been destroyed by a fall off the desk or a glass of water. You can buy the 100e directly from Lenovo for around $200.
For older students
Many teens and older students use their phone to do everything. That's awesome, but if you're shopping for a student that's out of that "will break everything" stage, you want a Chromebook that foregoes the rough and rugged build and focuses on being portable and speedy. ASUS has you covered.
Their Chromebook Flip line brings the all the portability a student needs along with a great display and speedy internals. And it's called a Flip for a reason — it's a great tablet replacement, too.
Android apps have changed the way we use Chromebooks and with the display flipped back a Chromebook really shines. Models in the Flip line come with a great touch screen for games or casual use, can stand as an easel for watching a video, and at the end of the day folds back into the ultra-portable laptop that a student can carry anywhere.
The Chromebook Flip 101 comes in under $300
The Chromebook Flip 302 brings a bigger 12.5-inch display and uber-fast Intel core processor to the table, and costs around $450
For all-around use at home or on the go
If you want a Chromebook to use for a little bit of everything, it's hard not to recommend the Samsung Chromebook Plus.
It's our recommendation as the best Chromebook you can buy based on the price and feature list, and it deserves its place at the top of that list. Built around an absolutely amazing 12.3-inch 2400x1600 pixel Samsung HD display, the Chromebook Plus does everything you want or need from a Chromebook and does it well. Android app support and a bundled stylus bring a lot to the table, and you'll be able to surf the web or watch a movie or even balance your monthly budget while enjoying the simplicity and security Chromebooks have to offer.
The Chromebook Plus retails between $450 and $500 and is built with the same components as all Samsung's high-end laptops use. This is the Chromebook for everyone!
The perfect tablet
Many find a tablet to be the best way to do they things they want to do when relaxing at home or out on the go. 2018 brings the debut of Chrome tablets, and right out of the gate Acer's Chromebook Tab 10 looks to be a winner.
It has the internal specs you would see on any Chromebook and a 9.7-inch QXGA touch display. There's also a Wacom EMR stylus in its own on board slot if you want to draw or write on the screen instead of touch it. On the software front, it has the same Chrome operating system we see on every other Chrome device, including support for Android apps through Google Play. This really is a Chromebook without the keyboard, which is what a lot of people have been waiting for.
For the professional
Google's Pixelbook is perfect for the professional who lives and breathes through their laptop. It comes with a high price tag (starting at $999) but the hardware, fit and finish, and slim portable design are worth it for anyone who spends a good part of every day at the keyboard keeping the wheels greased and gears turning.
The Pixelbook was the first Chromebook to come with Google Assistant and even includes a dedicated keyboard key and functionality through the Pixelbook Pen. Assistant can be a godsend for anyone with a full and busy calendar and is a great tool for asking the web just about anything. The Pen and Google Assistant work while the Pixelbook is in the traditional laptop mode or when it's folded over to become an ultra-slim 12-inch tablet.
As mentioned, the Pixelbook isn't cheap. But if you're going to spend all day every day behind the keyboard, there is no such thing as excessive when it comes to the right product for the job. The Pixelbook is that right product for the working pro.
For the road warrior
If your job has you on the go and you don't know what plane you'll be on or which hotel you'll be sleeping in next week, you want a great laptop with a mid-sized display. Bbut you won't want to spend a thousand dollars on something that will be banging around in an overhead compartment while you catch a few hours sleep. The Acer Chromebook R13 is perfect.
This 13-inch convertible has a roomy 1080p display, a full 1080p HDR webcam, a million + apps at Google Play, and a price tag around $350. If you want or need to be able to do it all and need a light and inexpensive tool that helps you, the Acer Chromebook R13 is our top pick and a crowd favorite.
A Chromebox makes a great desktop computer
Chrome isn't just for laptops, and if you're in the market for a secure and inexpensive desktop computer you should have a look at a Chromebox.
These small computers do everything a Chromebook can do — connect you to friends and family, entertain you with videos or games, and of course surf the web like a rock star. Their also the most secure desktop computer you can buy thanks to the way Chrome sandboxes every app, every web page, and every process then verifies the operating system files for integrity every time you turn it on. Chrome is more than just a web browser, and as an operating system, it was built from the ground up with security as one of its main features.
Chromeboxes use the same peripherals as any other desktop computer. That means you can use any monitor or keyboard to tailor the experience just as you would with a more expensive computer that runs Windows. The best part about a Chromebox might be the price, as they come in a wide range of hardware to meet almost any budget.
For a family PC or a Home Theater PC, Chromeboxes are inexpensive, filled with features and priced right for just about anyone.
Updated April 2018: Switched the best Chromebook for kids to the Lenovo 100e and added the Chromebook Tab 10.
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