If you were trying to pick out a new Chromebook two or three years ago, your choices would be much easier and more limited. But now, every major PC manufacturer has started making their own Chromebooks in different sizes and configurations, making the buying decision a lot more difficult.
A Chromebook is a relatively new type of computer. It doesn’t run on Windows or OS X, but rather Google’s Chrome operating system. Google’s software is very basic, and it’s meant to be used while connected to the Internet.
So if you’re the type of person that really only uses a laptop for checking email, doing work in Google Drive, and browsing the web, a Chromebook is probably right for you. There are some things you can do offline, but a Chromebook can’t be used to its fullest unless you have a solid internet connection.
So which Chromebook should you buy? The best all-around general purpose Chromebook at the moment seems to be the Toshiba Chromebook 2 (starts at $US250). We gave it a great review back in November, and other reviews from the tech media seem to be generally positive as well. Here’s what we liked the most:
- It’s super light, which makes it easy to toss in your bag and carry around.
- The screen is gorgeous. I’d suggest spending the extra $US80 on the full HD version ($US330), because it really does look great.
- It feels sturdy, too. Even though it’s pretty cheap, it doesn’t feel delicate or breakable. It’s well designed, and borrows the teardrop profile of the MacBook Air, but thicker.
- The battery life is pretty great, which is one of the most important factors when shopping for a laptop. I was able to get a few days out of it on a single charge when I used it sparingly as my main personal computer. If you use it for long work sessions, you’ll probably get about seven hours out of it.
It’s not perfect — the keyboard and speakers could be better — but it’s still an excellent device for the price. It’s hard to find high-quality keyboards on cheap computers, and most of the Chromebooks I’ve tested have been about the same as Toshiba’s in terms of keyboard quality.
It comes with a 13.3-inch screen, so if you want something in the 11-inch range I’d suggest the Dell Chromebook 11. Reviews of the Dell Chromebook 11 from Engadget, The Verge, and ZDNet have all been positive, all praising the Chromebook’s attractive design and long battery life.
Acer’s line of C720 Chromebooks are also affordable and compact, and are probably worth looking at if you’re looking for something cheap and small. But, we still have yet to see a Chromebook that’s impressed us as much as the Toshiba Chromebook 2.
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