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6 things that still really annoy us about Chromebooks in 2020

Pretty C340 detailing
Pretty C340 detailing (Image credit: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

I have used many of the best Chromebook options for six years and been working full-time on them for the last four. I do that because laptops are perfect for working from home and they're even better as grab-and-go laptops that I can use when I escape the monotony of the home office for the vibrance and sunshine of an afternoon writing outside the house.

Chromebooks have significantly improved in the last couple of years: Chrome OS support life has almost doubled, durability is better across the board, and we finally have Chromebook tablets like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet that work well without costing a fortune. That said, there are still a few bad habits I'd love to see manufacturers break themselves out of when they design their next generation of Chromebooks.

1. 64GB needs to become the standard for Chromebook storage

ASUS C214 Storage Breakdown

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Once upon a time, a 32GB Chromebook seemed perfectly fine, but nowadays when system files alone takes up 13GB on a 32GB Chromebook, it's time to accept that 32GB just doesn't cut it. 64GB should be the standard storage size for Chromebooks with 128GB as the upgrade option.

Yes, a microSD card can be used for some extra space for downloaded files, but things get wonky with apps. More importantly, a customer shouldn't have to rely on external storage to make up for a stingy manufacturer that cut corners in its quest for a cheaper Chromebook.

In the age of Chromebooks running Android apps and Linux apps, internal storage space is more important than ever, and it's time for Chromebook makers to acknowledge that not just in their feature lists but also in their storage specs.

2. Big-bezel 11.6-inch screens need to be replaced by 12-inch screens

Big bezels

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

I'm a longtime fan of compact Chromebooks. Before I fell completely in love with the Lenovo Chromebook C330 and then its successor the C340, I used a ThinkPad Yoga Chromebook for the better part of four years. Small Chromebooks are great because they're lightweight, easy to carry, tend to have 10-12 hour battery lives, and usually are built to take a beating in stride.

About the only thing I've tired of on compact Chromebooks are the screens.

An 11.6-inch screen by itself isn't too small to get work done on — sure, split screening is a wee bit cramped — but there's a criminal waste of space by sticking these 1-inch borders around that 11.6-inch screen. While compact Chromebooks are often catered to the budget market, that doesn't mean that after seven years we have to put up with the same 11.6-inch, 250nit 1366 x 768px screens.

Manufacturers could easily swap to a 12 or 12.5-inch screen in the same size Chromebook and still have enough of a bezel to hold onto when you flip things over to tablet mode. And while they're at it, they can upgrade the resolution.

3. Sub-1080p screens need to die, especially on larger Chromebooks

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630

Source: Android Central We need more 4K Chromebooks like this Lenovo Yoga C630. (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

If Chromebooks want to throw off the "cheap" label once and for all, for the love of logcat can we ditch 1366 x 768px screens? 1080p should be the standard, especially for anything 13 inches or larger. The fact that brand-new Enterprise Chromebooks (opens in new tab) are offered at sub-1080p resolution is a goshdarn embarrassment.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet is made for comics

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

We know Chrome OS can look great on small 1080p screens like the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, and do so without costing a fortune. Yes, it would increase the cost of Chromebooks by a few dollars, but it's a worthwhile investment, especially now when Chromebooks are being built to last the better part of a decade.

This is especially important for larger-screen Chromebooks, where you need more pixels to start with in order for Chrome OS's "Display size" scaling to actually look good at anything other than native size. A 1080p or UHD screen looks great when scaled to other resolutions, but a 1366 x 768px screen just doesn't scale well at all, which makes them less useful to anyone needing larger text.

4. Stop trying to make the search key happen

Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Search Key Caps Lock

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

The Chrome OS keyboard has a few small but mostly useful changes compared to other laptops: the left Ctrl and Alt keys are larger thanks to the lack of Windows/Function key, and the F-12 keys are ditched in favor of Chrome OS's function bar with page, windows, volume, and brightness controls. The letter keys on a Chromebook are also lowercase, to make them easier for young children to recognize, but there's another Chrome OS change that makes things harder, especially for users with smaller hands.

You may notice that Chromebooks have a "search key" instead of Caps Lock. You can remap this key to be caps lock easily, but that's not something the user should have to go hunt down while in the midst of learning a new operating system. Especially for an operating system that's prided for its "ease of use", having to go dig through settings to get back a basic function is not great, and the physical key being a Caps Lock key would be better for the vast majority of users.

It's a small feature, but it's helpful in helping us avoid HAVING TO HOLD DOWN THE SHIFT KEY THE WHOLE TIME WE'RE YELLING ON TWITTER because WOW THIS IS ANNOYING AND MY PINKY IS STARTING TO CRAMP!

5. 8GB RAM should be an option on every Chromebook

Lenovo Chromebook C340-15

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

Years ago, Chromebooks shipped with 2GB of RAM, but for the last 3-4 4GB of RAM has been the standard. While I'm happy that budget Chromebooks come with enough RAM to get by, I really, really think it's time to move the goalposts again. There are two reasons for this: longevity, and video conferencing.

Distance learning is something that will be here for a while, and even if it wasn't, the number of people who will be working from home even after the pandemic ends numbers in the tens of millions, and as someone who is intimately familiar with what it feels like to bounce between 15 tabs on a Google Meet call with coworkers and bosses, I can tell you unequivocally that you want as much RAM as you can get.

Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

There's nothing worse when clicking back to a tab with notes to reference five points you want changed, and then the tab reloading because it was dropped from your RAM. You don't want that. And while we can normally keep our tabs under control, things always tend to spiral when video calls for work or school get involved.

The Chromebooks build today are also meant to last most of the next decade, which means they need the RAM to put up with the digital workload not just today but years from now. Chromebooks keep getting new features and we rely on our laptops to do more and more with each passing year, so we need the RAM so we have the room to do it all at once.

6. microSD slots need to be flush or recessed

Lenovo Flex 5 Chromebook ports

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central This is bad. (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

This last trick is one that a few Chromebooks have actually learned, specifically the ASUS Chromebook Flip C214 and Dell Chromebook 3100 2-in-1. These Chromebooks have slightly recessed microSD card slots so that the card isn't sticking out like a nub and exposed to bumps, breaks, or getting accidentally ripped out while moving a Chromebook to your backpack or the TSA scanning bins or just walking from the kitchen to the bedroom.

USB-C is the future of charging

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central This is how it should be. (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

I never understood full-size SD card slots that made the card stick out, but doing it for a microSD card is doubly stupid. Even if you could argue that it's done due to lack of space — and no, that argument can't really be made for a Chromebook, whether it's 11.6-inches or 15-inches — microSD cards are vitally important to most Chromebooks because of how little storage most Chromebooks come with.

For many, a microSD card lives in a Chromebook the same way it does in an Android phone, and having it stick out just far enough to where a small jostle will eject it and potentially corrupt whatever file you're working on is like playing Russian Roulette with your work. Who wants that?

What annoys you on your Chromebook?

Acer Chromebook Spin 713

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central)

I'm only scratching the surface here — there are a myriad of small things Chromebooks could improve — but I know I'm now alone. What do you come across on your Chromebook that raises your blood pressure every time you realize it? Wishing Chrome OS didn't blind you every time you turned it on? Pissed off that microSD cards can't be used for storing and running apps the same way they are on Android tablets? Share your pain with us in the comments; trust me, it's better to let it out and let it be known!

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

46 Comments
  • The inconsistency of Android apps. Some work great. Some are wonky. Most do not take advantage of screen size.
  • Especially with note taking apps since ChromeOS hasn't any real pen-based note taking apps like Android does. I don't understand how intel can't emulate simple ARM apps. Even when you buy the top tier intel chips. I bought the Galaxy Chromebook (returned it within 2 weeks) and still after 4 years of trying to give ChromeOS a shot, there is disgusting amounts of lag when using note taking apps. Squid was the only one that works but if you use AES pens Squid tends to really digitize the ink and make it look jagged. No issue with EMR pens and haven't tried a ChromeOS device that uses N Trig tech. The only chromeOS device that had amazing Android performance was the first Samsung Chromebook with an arm processor. Wished I still had that device. So it must have to do with Intel chips being TERRIBLE at emulating ARM coded apps.
  • This isn't a Chrome problem. Chrome is awesome at running Android apps. The problem is twofold. 1) Google / Android Dev communications: A company with the resources of Google should be able to communicate effectively to the Android development community and the cross-development tool vendors how to configure Android apps for Chrome OS and also the why. 2) There is a large segment of the Android developer community that is lazy. They don't learn how to optimize for Android. This should be on par with the Apple Dev community. Please note: My Chromebook is an Acer Spin 13: Intel i5 cpu, 8 GB ram and 128 gb nve storage. I'm sure this has more of an impact on my opinion as well.
  • Not disagreeing, but I think it is more than 'being lazy' - apps on my Android phone are pretty awesome, not always up to iOS level but pretty solid in general. However - Android as a tablet OS is just plain crap, Android tablets don't sell as anything but cheap consumption devices (yes, I love my Galaxy Tab S6 but it is SO frustrating at times!) ... and pretty much no one is buying a Chromebook *because* of Android App support (it might be 'nice to have' but ...). Doing all of this porting and optimizing and reconfiguring is *expensive* and time consuming ... and for essentially zero ROI? So in the end it ultimately IS a Chrome OS / Android tablet problem ... but only if they want to have solid apps available. If they are happy with the current mediocre to awful state of things, fine.
  • Good point about the i5 cpu. If you use robust hardware, you're less likely to even be aware of any issues with the way Android apps run. I've heard that Android apps work better on an ARM cpu. So if someone is considering buying a Chromebook that uses a Celeron cpu, perhaps they should instead look for a Chromebook that uses an ARM cpu and sells at a comparable price.
  • Totally agree. Google really needs to put more pressure on the Devs about properly optimizing their apps. There is no reason why apps on Chrome/Android not run as smooth as iOS apps.
  • What would be the pay-off for the developers?
  • If you have to force, coerce, encourage or even pay developers to come to your platform maybe the problem isn't the developers. VHS and Betamax was a war of two devices that did similar things. In that race, momentum was the key. Eventually, VHS won out. Alternatively, VHS and DVD was a war of old and obsolete vs new and better.
    Why did movie makers start pushing DVD's without DVD manufacturers needing to push "lazy" movie producers to do so? Because DVD made their movies better. Gave them more options that couldn't be duplicated on VHS, as well as gave them bigger profit margins. In short, doing DVD's was better for the movie producers so they put themselves on the DVD train. Another example: Smartphones had advantages over laptops that laptops couldn't fix and compete. That is why developers got so quickly on the Smartphone train. Chromebooks vs Windows/Apple Laptops is more the VHS/Betamax comparison. Chromebooks don't move the needle for developers. As long as chromebooks are just a different kind of laptop, (and for some users an inferior product) it won't gain momentum. Developers are going to be where the people already are. Chromebooks basically do everything a windows/apple laptop can do. Windows/apple devices can also do far more than chromebooks.
    It's like trying to sell camcorder tapes years after VHS became the standard to movie producers to compete with VHS home videos. They may be smaller, but they don't do better enough vs what people already had.
  • Front facing speakers should be the norm. The standard 16x9 ratio 1920x1080 res screens should be replaced with 16x10 ratio 1920x1280 screens with slim bezels, with more options in the 15" size. While 1920x1080 is great for pure media consumption, it's lacking for productivity. I could go on, but those two are my highest priorities.
  • I have my annoyances but I don't think they should apply to everyone. I wouldn't buy a Chromebook with less than 64Gb or RAM but when I got my 10-year-old niece a Chromebook for her on-line school work 32Gb it was fine. My daughter hates computers so I sent her a surprise Chromebook with 32Gb , 11.6" screen, and she loves it. But, I sure won't send the author of this silly article one. Annoyances? Not being able to arrange apps in some logical order. A file system I'm never figured out. I still haven't found a file with my photos from 2020. Not being able to back up documents or photos to a local location rather than the cloud. Okay, I don't trust them. But the annoyances in the article are just silly. How about. "No plastic in cases."
  • Since day one my main annoyance is the lack of a dedicated caps lock key. I figured I would get used to the Chrome OS keyboard and this wouldn't be a problem but to this day it still is. I've been using Chrome OS as my daily driver since last summer and this is the one thing that I've just not been able to master. I guess I don't really need a dedicated caps lock key???
  • You can easily remap the Search key to be Caps Lock, one of the first things I've done with every CB I've owned. I agree with Ara, though, it should be Caps Lock by default, with the option to remap as a Search key if desired, not the other way around.
  • I hope that someone writes a tell-all book someday and calls out the person by name and gives them credit for the idea of making Caps Lock a keyboard combination. On second thought, maybe not. That person's home would surely be burned to the ground the day after publication. Google should just fix this. Remapping isn't currently a fix because you always end up with a mapping that loses key combinations and/or leaves you with key combinations that are just as awkward as Al+🔍. Probably the best way to fix it at this point is to allow one or more additional keys to be remapped, with the stipulation that the additional keys are ones that most of us almost never use, like ➡ and/or ⬅.
  • Chrome OS sucks. Get a good Android tablet, and a decent laptop or desktop for serious work.
    I tried a Pixel Slate. Ditched it and got a Tab S4. I can do more on the Tab S4 than I could on the Slate. Chromebooks are basically a machine that just runs Chrome browser, IMO. Why bother?
  • You just really showed your ignorance. A Slate it's not a Chromebook.
  • Pixel slate runs Chrome OS. Chromebook runs Chrome OS. Enlighten me on the drastic difference here.
  • The pixel slate is nothing but an overpriced android tablet that you have to buy the case and keyboard to do any kind of real work scenarios. I can get 3 nice chromebooks for the price of that chrome tablet pixel. Android tablets also suck. The only tablet worth getting is the ipad.
  • I guess it comes down to personal choice. I actually don't like my iPad at all.
  • Number 1: Doesn't negate the fact that it runs Chrome OS. And it's not really an Android tablet, otherwise I would have kept it.
    Number 2: I have had a few different Android Tablets. I can literally do anything on it that I need for work, with the exception of modeling software, which an iPad isn't going to do either.
    Number 3: I don't own anything Apple, dislike everything I try from them.
  • Spoken like a true person who's never really used a Chromebook. Thanks for playing
  • Read much? Had it. Hated it. Never seen a reason it's better, or even as good as, an Android tablet with a keyboard.
  • Some people like Chromebooks. Deal with it. The people who think Chromebooks are just a Web browser are the same people who've never used one.
  • Read much? Had it. Hated it. Never seen a reason it's better, or even as good as, an Android tablet with a keyboard.
  • What annoys me THE MOST is that the article list always goes back to the very top after finishing reading an article. FIX THIS, AC !
  • More big screen options. I wouldn't buy anything under 15" unless it's a detachable
  • I would agree about the search key if weren't an option,. It just needs reversed. Caps be the default, but they don't need to kill,. I like it.
  • Probably the only thing that I could add to the list is that Chromebooks are inconsistent in dragging app windows between screens. As long as you use the Overview key before dragging windows, everything works smoothly. But when you try to drag an Android app window directly from the built-in display to an attached display, it either doesn't work at all or requires a lot of mouse gymnastics to get it to go.
  • Fixed period of updates from first manufacture, not from purchase. My 10 year old pc works with the latest Windows 10.
    As expensive as Windows laptops for similar specifications.
    SD cards are not a real alternative to main storage..
    Storage increases cost disproportionately more.
  • Well this article hit all my gripes.
    1. 1080p should be standard
    2. No default Caps Locks
    3. Small storage
    4. Thick bezels
  • The App Screen still doesn't auto sort alphabetically. Agreed on the storage front. 4GB RAM is alright for the base model. Chromebooks should need less than Windows.
  • 1080p may happen. After years on Windows 768p has been placed with 1080p on all models.
  • I've used Chromebook almost exclusively since 2014 and I love it. I will only buy one with at least 8GB RAM and 64GB storage, so I guess I agree with the author on those points. I've learned to do everything I need to do, including running a business solely on a Chromebook.
  • (How did the Search button get on this list? That's how I open apps or go to any webpage!)
    1 - Autobrightness should be re-enabled with a click, not with a restart of the entire machine
    2 - Android apps should scale separately or at least match scaling of the rest of the UI
    3 - Skip track button on the keyboard
    4 - Central marketplace for Linux apps built in
    5 - Assistant should do all the things it can do on my phone (messaging, reading screen context, continued conversation between apps like on the Pixel 4 so I don't even have to touch the thing)
    6 - Notifications synced between phone and laptop. If I deal with a notification in one place, I want it done in all places. I don't want two systems; the big screen and the little screen should be windows to the same digital world.
  • 1. they didn't tried to make a "workstation" chromebooks for developers/professionals based on Linux + ChromeOS overlay with actual current gen hardware.
    2. Overall poor Android apps experience on a laptop type device
    3. Bit lack of criticism or sane approach on some third party sites/reviews when it comes to ChromeOS based products and features ;)
    4. Poor reception/popularity on country markets that don't use them at mass in schools.
  • That they run Chrome "OS."
  • Which function of an operating system do you think Chrome does not provide or fails to provide?
  • The micro-SD card sticking out on the Asus Flip 434 is the single worst thing about it. As the article states, it's a recipe for disaster.
  • Totally agree! I had the Asus Flip C434 and I can't tell you the number of times the sd card became dislodged inadvertently. When I broke my C434 and had to replace it, I went with the C302 with 8gb ram and 64gb storage AND a Flush sd card slot. Why Asus decided to change the slot so that the card protrudes I will Never Understand! I've had my C302 since February and not once has the sd card slot been ejected unless I wanted to eject it. I don't miss the C434 Flip at all.
  • I have an original Pixelbook...just press Alt+Search for caps lock, then shift to deactivate it. I'm really surprised you didn't find that shortcut in your research!
  • I'm more than happy with my first Chromebook. But as much as I love having 2-3 desks up and running, they are far from perfect at the moment. It's mostly Chrome that supports it, which is fine, but they aren't really living in separate spaces. An accidental alt+TAB could switch to a window on a separate desk and woosh - you have been moved. Apps like the file explorer doesn't support more then 1 active instance, so if you happened to leave it open on desk 3; woosh - a click will move to there in an instant.
  • The author asked for annoyances, so that is what I will address.. But just for the record, I love my chromebook. It is my daily driver and it is a joy to use Chrome OS, especially compared to WIndows. However, here's one of my pet peeves regarding my chromebook that I've never seen addressed - the failure of Google to timely update the Android operating system interface for Android apps. The underlying Android OS has been Android Pie (9) for Years, while Pixel and Samsung phones are in the process of going to Android 11. This has become even more annoying because of the way Zoom and Android interact (or don't interact). The Zoom interface on Android has been hobbled since inception. Recently, however, Zoom announced an upgrade so that virtual backgrounds could FInally be used with Android - but it only applies to systems that have been upgraded to Android 11. I would much rather use my chromebook for Zoom meetings. But I really want to use virtual backgrounds with Zoom, too. First world issue, I know, but Google used to say that chromebooks would enjoy Android OS updates consistently, since they would come directly from Google. That was true for awhile, but now, not only have there not been any updates, Google has gone radio silent about what their intentions are regarding Android OS updates for chromebooks.. Bottom line - in addition to stingy ram memory and internal storage, a main annoyance with me regarding my chromebook is Google's infuriating inability to communicate clearly about what its intentions are regarding Chrome OS and chromebooks. It always seems to be a roller coaster - and not in a good way.
  • 'The letter keys on a Chromebook are also lowercase, to make them easier for young children to recognize' Kids learn upper case letters first, and find them easier to identify for a looong time...
  • You know what annoys me most about my Chromebook? When stupid articles like this fill up my screen. Look at the headings for #1 and #5, and try to tell me that the writer is sober.
  • Two of these I disagree with. First, in 2020 there is no place for a Capslock key. The only people who write in ALL CAPS shouldn't be allowed to use computers anyway. The lack of a capslock also prevents all those calls to IT by idiot users who can't log in because caps lock is on when they are typing their password. Yes it happens. Often.
    Second, lower case is correct for keys because that is the default. Nothing to do with children. Early Greek and Roman writing was capitals because they are easier to write on stone or wax tablets, but when pen and ink was invented, lower case was introduced, which is much easier to write with a pen. We do not really need upper case at all.
  • A quick clarification for you. Not that this applies to chromebooks because if someone is using Autocad, they aren't using a Chromebook. But I digress, engineering plans are required to have all writing in all caps for archival reasons. There are some industries that still require all caps. It's not just for angry people on social media.
  • My biggest issue is media streaming services that can't play HD video even if you have a screen that can