The 1.4-millimetre key travel provides the crispest, cleanest feedback, making the typing experience not just efficient but also quite pleasant. The keyboard is backlit, so you can work late nights. The palm-rejection technology will reduce misclicks, whilst the multitouch gesture support will streamline productivity.
It takes a bit of time to find optimal touchpad sensitivity.
The ASUS C434 will fit creative professionals, including those who are often working on-the-go as well as students and people working from home. With the touchscreen display and the ErgoLift hinge enabling 360-degree rotation, you can switch between laptop and tablet modes.
14", Full HD (1920 x 1080), touchscreen
Processor: Intel® Core™ M3-8100Y (up to 3.4 GHz)
RAM: 4 GB DDR4
Memory: 128 GB SSD
Up to 10 hours
Precision-crafted aluminium-alloy finished with elegant diamond-cut anodised edges
32.1 x 20.2 x 1.57 cm
The case is a little clunky.
The HP Chromebook 14-db0003na is not the most handsome device but it is among the most productive laptops within this price window. Its battery life is above average, the accelerated processing unit (APU) enables lag-free multitasking, and the interfaces cover most users' connection needs.
14", HD (1366 x 768), SVA
Processor: AMD dual-core A4-9120 APU (2.2 GHz base, up to 2.5 GHz boost, 1 MB cache)
RAM: 4 GB DDR4-1866 SDRAM
Memory: 32 GB eMMC
Up to 10 hours and 30 minutes
33.7 x 22.69 x 1.83 cm
The aluminium-alloy chassis does not attract fingerprints as much as its plastic competition. The USB Type-C port enables lightning-fast data transferring at <5 gigabits per second. The anti-glare coating makes sure you can work even with sunlight hitting right at the screen.
The speakers are not very loud.
Despite its space-saving footprint, the ASUS C223NA has a full-size keyboard with an ergonomic layout. To go with this keyboard, the model employs a super-large touchpad that can recognise multitouch gestures. Between the two, you can get things done even without a mouse.
11.6", HD (1366 x 768)
Processor: Intel® Celeron® N3350 (up to 2.4 GHz)
RAM: 4 GB DDR4
Memory: 32 GB EMMC
Up to 10 hours
28.6 x 19.9 x 1.73 cm
The bezels are pretty fat.
The fantastic 16-hour battery life and the touchscreen display alone put the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 ahead of its direct competition. With two USB 3.1 Type-C ports and the Wi-Fi and BT modules, you can connect multiple devices and peripherals at the same time without restrictions.
11.6", HD (1366 x 768), touchscreen
Processor: Intel® Celeron® (up to 2 GHz)
RAM: 4 GB DDR4
Memory: 32 GB EMMC
Up to 16 hours
29.6 x 20.6 x 1.99 cm
There's a Micro SD slot that will let you expand the model's already substantial storage capacity. The integrated Chrome OS features automatic updates, keeping the system safe from viruses. The aluminium-alloy housing is scratch-resistant.
The battery life seldom offers more than 8 hours.
The Lenovo Chromebook S345 doubles the random-access memory (RAM) and the eMMC (storage) memory. Along with the capable 7th generation AMD® A6-9220 central processing unit (CPU), the system has no problems juggling the most gluttonous apps.
14", Full HD (1920 x 1080), IPS touchscreen
Processor: 7th generation AMD® A6-9220 (up to 1.8 GHz)
RAM: 8 GB DDR4
Memory: 64 GB EMMC
Up to 10 hours
32.8 x 22.5 x 1.77 cm
ASUS Chromebook (C434TA-AI0080)
The ASUS C434 makes the entire experience comfortable and efficient, from top to bottom. This model matches stylish contemporary aesthetics with compact portability as well as pretty decent specs, making sure that you can always get things done with no fuss. Where everything starts is with the precision-crafted aluminium-alloy finished body with elegant diamond-cut anodised edges. The refined footprint will be appreciated not just by those customers who appreciate sturdy and good-looking gadgets but also those who require on-the-go versatility that the model combines with its peerless design.
Aside from its polished appearance, the Chromebook is slim and light, measuring 15.7 millimetres thin and not even reaching 1.5 kilogrammes in the weight department. To add more, the improved NanoEdge design makes the model's bodywork even more petite, bringing you a 14-inch laptop that's more compact than most 13-inchers.
With practically nonexistent bezels, this 'book makes the on-screen visuals even more impressive, delivering a staggering 87% screen-to-body ratio. Furthermore, the ErgoLift hinge enables 360-degree rotation, so you can use this device both as a laptop and as a tablet. Its silky-smooth action can secure the screen at any angle, with the dual-action mechanism letting you lift and hold the keyboard. As you would expect, the touchscreen display facilitates that, with the Full HD (1920 x 1080p) resolution making the visuals look stunning.
Crisp and Clean Keyboard Feedback
Chromebooks are seldom packing decent hardware. But, this time around, things are a little different. With the Intel® Core™ M3-8100Y CPU that reaches 3.4 GHz, you can breeze through everyday tasks. Even juggling multiple system-intensive apps, the model seldom slows down.
Delivering on appearance, convenience, and performance fronts, you'd expect this device to drop the ball with the keyboard. Nevertheless, the opposite's the case. With the 1.4-millimetre key travel, the model offers crisp and clean feedback from the keys, while the backlighting lets you work at night without turning on the lights. Moreover, the palm-rejection tech and multitouch gesture support will minimise misclicks and streamline productivity.
All things considered, at this price bracket, there are no Chromebooks that can compete with the ASUS C434. Delivering across the board, this model will accommodate creative professionals, students, and frequent travellers alike.
|Last updated price||£499.00|
HP Chromebook (14-db0003na)
Putting Efficiency First
The HP Chromebook 14-db0003na does more with less. Some day, the company will start giving their laptops decent names but, for now, we'll have to contend with what we're offered. Apart from HP's staple terrible name, what plagues this product is a clunky base, a mistake that we seldom see the company make. More often than not, HP laptops are sleek and elegant, but these are not the words you can describe this model with. No, the word we would use is efficient.
Before anything else, this device is efficient. Its efficiency stems from the AMD dual-core A4-9120 APU (accelerated processing unit) that delivers a 2.2 GHz base, a <2.5 GHz boost, and 1 MB cache. This is not the craziest processing unit we've seen on a Chromebook but, considering that the model costs around 200 quid, this little fellow is one capable specimen. With its help, you'll have no problems running multiple Chrome tabs, answering emails, and watching YouTube at the same time. The APU enables seamless multitasking without lagging, which is not something that most laptops twice its price can give you.
Again, we're not crazy about the base but there's not much wrong with the model's overall profile. It is made from sturdy plastic. The 180-degree hinge aids collaboration projects, letting you share the screen with multiple people without moving the laptop around. The webcam is decent, not necessarily thriving in low-light environments but getting the job done where it counts. The bezels are a little fat, sure. On the plus side, the Bang & Olufsen dual speakers are no joke, delivering distortion-free highs and punchy mids.
Above-Average Battery Life
Looking at the ports, the model does not bring anything new to the table. You have two USB 3.1 Type-C interfaces, two USB 2.0 ports, the usual 3.5-millimetre jack, and a Micro SD slot that lets you expand the Chromebook's otherwise modest 32-gigabyte storage capacity.
At 33.7 x 22.69 x 1.83 centimetres, the model is not the most compact 'book nor is it the most lightweight device, reaching 1.54 kilogrammes. The good news is that the maximum battery life stretches 10 hours and 30 minutes and, even running demanding apps, the system usually gives you at least 8-9 hours, which is nothing to scoff at.
Bottom line, the HP Chromebook 14-db0003na is an affordable workhorse that compromises aesthetics but delivers pretty uncanny performance at this price bracket. Plus, you receive a free 1-year subscription to Google One with 100 gigabytes of available storage.
|Last updated price||£239.00|
ASUS Chromebook (C223NA-GJ0014)
The Lightweight Champion
You can seldom go wrong with ASUS Chromebooks and the ASUS C223NA is no exception to the rule. From where we're standing, there are no substantial problems with this device except that the speakers are middling. That said, budget laptop speakers are almost always mediocre at best, so this is nothing new. What is new, however, is the model's space-saving form factor. Measuring 28.6 x 19.9 x 1.73 centimetres, this device fits the smallest bags. Likewise, the model weighs no more than 1 kilogramme, which means that you can take this 'book with you and, at times, forget that it is there. Even people with nonexistent muscle definition will have no issues carrying this device with one hand.
But what's even more impressive is the fact that, despite weighing just 1 kilogramme, this device sports an aluminium-alloy chassis and not some cheap plastic frame that you would expect from its weight. Though we've seen less modest bezels before, removing them from the equation, the model looks pretty sleek, minimising visual distractions and letting you enjoy everything that's happening not just around the screen but also on the screen.
You can also enjoy what surrounds the screen. First (though not quite foremost), we're talking about the HD camera that enables video calling with respectable clarity. Second and a little more important, we're hinting at the same speakers that we've criticised before. Sure, they're not great at high volume levels. Nevertheless, the twin speakers come equipped with large resonant chambers, chambers that can reach 82 decibels. Whilst the highs are not necessarily distortion-free, the speakers are pretty good at emulating surround sound, making movies more immersive.
Considering the model's size, the 11.6-inch screen comes without saying, including its HD (1366 x 768p) native resolution. What does not come without saying, however, is its anti-glare treatment that makes sure the visuals look alright even under direct sunlight.
Borrowing the keyboard from its step-up stablemate that tops this list, the model enables a comfortable and efficient typing experience. Furthermore, the extra-large touchpad offers more space, recognising multitouch gestures so that you can work fine even without a mouse.
Long story short, laptops at this price point have no business being as good as the ASUS C223NA. But we're not complaining, so keep doing you, ASUS, whilst customers on a budget are reaping the reward.
|Last updated price||£199.00|
Acer Chromebook Spin 311 (CP311-3H)
Go Ahead, Touch the Screen
The Acer Chromebook Spin 311 makes an offer that very few will refuse. Needless to say, at less than 250 quid, there are very few laptops that can make even a semi-exciting proposition. Going against the grain, this model offers multiple interesting features. To start with, the hinge rotates 360 degrees, so you can collaborate with reasonable efficiency. What's even more interesting about this hinge is that the display that hinges on it is a touchscreen one, which registers as no small feat when you take the model's price tag into account first.
The 11.6-inch screen comes with an HD (1366 x 768p) native resolution, which is the most appropriate resolution at this size. Sweetening the deal, the screen employs an IPS panel, stretching the viewing angle 178 degrees, delivering accurate colours that do not look muted, subdued, or washed-out, and reproducing pretty great blacks.
What's not quite as great is the bezels that surround this screen. Whilst not the biggest offence, these bezels are pretty fat, which is a shame since everything else here works (and succeeds) towards making the content look as immersive as possible.
The good news is that there's no shame in the model's stature. At 29.6 x 20.6 x 1.99 centimetres, it sports the sexy slimness that we expect from Chromebooks and, stopping at 1.2 kilogrammes, the laptop is also pretty light, enabling hassle-free relocation.
16 Hours of Battery Life
The laptop's constructed from plastic. It is sturdy but, as always, not quite as polished-looking as aluminium models. But we're not upset about it because we know the battery that's inside this plastic chassis. Whereas most Chromebooks usually give up at 10 hours tops, this device pushes the battery life to a whopping 16 hours. We have no idea how and, of course, you'll seldom get the whole 16 hours but even full ~12 hours is somewhere around 4-5 hours more than most laptops are offering, let alone laptops that cost around as much as this one.
Looking back outside, the connection options on this device are sufficient. You have the USB-C port that transfers data at up to 5 gigabits per second and the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules that let you connect multiple gadgets wirelessly. There's also the integrated HD webcam that's not terrible at making sure your Google Hangouts remain crystal-clear.
In closing, with its outstanding battery life and touchscreen display, the Acer Chromebook Spin 311 trumps most Chromebooks that cost below 400 quid.
|Last updated price||£269.00|
Lenovo Chromebook (S345)
The Lenovo Chromebook S345 looks outdated, which's odd since Lenovo electronics usually present a much more enticing front. We're not suggesting that the laptop is ugly. We're not even calling it awkward. But we've seen more attractive devices from Lenovo before, to say the least. Whilst something went wrong on the appearance front, we cannot say the same about the overall package.
On the contrary, this is a well-balanced product that does not necessarily excel in a single area but also not trailing behind either. To get the ball rolling, the 180-degree hinged chassis will let you tilt the screen with relative ease, so you can work sitting upright, slouching, lying down, or even standing, there's no pose that this device will not facilitate.
Performance-wise, this is a pretty powerful system. Between the decent 7th generation AMD® A6-9220 CPU and the staggering 8-gigabyte RAM setup, this machine runs multiple gluttonous apps simultaneously without a hitch. What's more, besides doubling the Chromebook's random-access memory (RAM), this system also doubles its storage capacity, going from the usual 32-gigabyte eMMC to 64-gigabyte eMMC. Needless to say, with twice more storage, you can keep twice more apps, so you won't have to uninstall an old game or an app every time you'd like to install a new one.
Following the common Chromebook playbook (apologies), the model integrates Chrome OS, bringing you the latest Chromebook features, including countless apps from Google Play, custom Google Maps wallpapers, and more. The system's streamlined interface will make you more productive since you'll be wasting less time on basic tasks like sending emails or working with Google Docs. Apart from that, the automatic updates will keep the system safe and secure from virus attacks.
Mirroring its direct competition, the Lenovo S345 employs two ultrafast USB-C 3.1 and USB-A 3.1 ports and an audio jack. The wireless modules include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, an obligatory addition to the usual package.
The dual 2-watt stereo speakers that the model adopts are decent. They can get pretty loud and, even at the highest volume setting, there's very little distortion. However, the same cannot be said about the laptop's battery life. Seldom giving you more than 7 hours, the battery life here could use some improvement.
Still, with its sufficient port arrangement, above-average hardware, and expanded built-in storage, the Lenovo Chromebook S345 is a worthy contender.
|Last updated price||£269.99|
What Is a Chromebook?
Chromebook is a laptop operated by the special Chrome OS developed by Google. The programs are not installed on a hard drive, as it is on conventional laptops - instead, you access them via Google Chrome browser. All your information is securely stored on the Google servers. Chromebooks have the following peculiarities:
- Data safety - even if you lose your Chromebook, all your documents, photos, and music will remain in your private cloud and, therefore, will not be lost.
- Fast system boot and operation - a Chromebook recovers from the sleep mode within 1 second.
- Good battery life which means a Chromebook works autonomously for several hours and it makes it an important assistant, particularly during business trips.
- Chrome OS from Google is virus-proof.
You need to have access to the Internet in order to use Chrome laptops. If you realize that you will not be able to stay online but you will need a good battery life - make sure to check out our ultrabook comparison.
Also, you can get netbooks, which are also compact and have a good battery life, but these devices are more expensive than Chromebooks.
What Features to Compare
Since Chromebooks have a fairly narrow scope of application, the parameters to choose one also differ from those recommended when you choose a laptop. Chromebooks are always sturdy and reliable, more protected against things like accidental drops than an average laptop. This is because they are designed to be perfect travel and commute companions. Their battery life is a little shorter, though, more often than not—for the same purpose, to make the device lighter. Still, you can expect 8 to 10 hours of continuous use, sometimes more. And with the abovementioned narrow scope of application, this time is much more predictable than that of a laptop. These parameters are the same for the majority of models. The following are some that offer more diversity.
Size and Weight
Since the main selling point of Chromebooks is their convenience when it comes to working and studying, especially on-the-go or during trips, the size and weight are most usually on the lower side but there are still models that are heavier or lighter. Here's where your intended use comes to the forefront. If you are a business person with a lot of travelling abroad scheduled in your planner, you will most probably need to think about the size and weight limits of hand luggage in aeroplanes, for example. The lightest models will also be appreciated by those walking a lot whereas if it's about commuting from one place to another a couple of times a day, like, say, to and from the school library, a model that is a bit heavier yet cheaper is good enough.
Generally, for surfing the Internet or working with documentation, you won't need a large display nor a high resolution. When it comes to entertainment, though, the story gets different: to watch a movie or enjoy YouTube videos, you would probably prefer a better quality picture, hence, a higher resolution. Chromebooks offer models for all the types of use, from the more oldish 1280 x 800 and 1366 x 768 to the Full HD 1920 x 1080 ones.
Another nice thing to have in a Chromebook would be the touch support. Usually, it comes combined with either 180° or 360° hinges so that you can use the laptop as a tablet.
Chromebooks are geared towards Internet use, as we've already mentioned. This means they rarely offer a lot of storage space. Besides, large memory would make a device heavier and bulkier since it is a physical element. The same goes for RAM: 4GB is an industry-standard. Instead of larger internal storage, go for Cloud ones like Dropbox or Google Drive.
There are few bells and whistles found in Chromebooks but sometimes, you can find an HDMI port or an ability to run Android and Linux apps, powerful speakers, a backlit spill-proof keyboard, etc. Check out the specs for those handiest for your intended use.
If you have never used a Chromebook before, there are a few things that you should know about them before you purchase one. The primary thing to understand is that a Chromebook is not the same as a standard laptop that runs Windows or Mac OS X. Instead. Chromebooks use Google's Chrome OS, a simple, web-based operating system that is made specifically for Chromebooks. While the main interface in Chrome OS will appear somewhat similar to that of Windows or Mac OS X, there are some key differences. The key thing to remember is that Chrome OS is meant primarily for "light" tasks, such as web browsing, email, entertainment, and light productivity.
Chrome OS does not let you install any program that you wish like other operating systems do. Instead, it uses Google Chrome as its main interface, meaning that almost all tasks that are done on it are accomplished through the Internet. While you can't just install any program, including most popular applications and games, you can install apps through the Chrome Web Store, which is accessible through Chrome. Furthermore, Google also recently added support for Android apps through the Google Play Store, which gives you access to a large number of Android apps. There is plenty that you can do with Chrome OS, but it is best to be aware of the limitations of it before you purchase a Chromebook. Regardless, below are some of the most common uses for a Chromebook.
- Web Browsing - As Google Chrome is the most popular web browser in use, it should come as no surprise that it is included on Chrome OS. In fact, the web browser actually powers the operating system, meaning that anything that you interact with on the computer is done through some iteration of Chrome. As the operating system is designed around Chrome, you can expect a very pleasant web browsing experience, with almost seamless integration through all other functions of the Chromebook.
- Email - Just as Google Chrome is the world's most popular web browser, Google's Gmail is the most popular webmail service. Gmail is completely integrated into Chrome OS, giving you an easy way to send and receive email without the need to open and close a specific email application.
- Videos - One of the most popular functions of any computer is their ability to play all kinds of videos. The same is true for a Chromebook, which gives you easy access to Youtube as well as numerous other online video streaming services. If you use a paid streaming service such as Netflix, then fear not - you have access to it through Chrome OS just as you do through any other computer or media device. There is even support for watching movies offline that you have previously downloaded into your system. Needless to say, there is no shortage of ways of watching movies or streaming video on your new Chromebook.
- Productivity - Although Chromebooks do not come with Microsoft Office installed, you can actually use an online version of Microsoft Office through Chrome OS. If you don't need the full Microsoft Office experience, however, you can just as easily use Google Docs to write your term paper, or Google Sheets to work with your spreadsheet from the office.
- Games - Although Chrome OS is not known as a great system for hardcore gamers, there are plenty of games, both free and paid, available through both the Chrome Web Store and the Google Play Store.
If you are needing more information regarding the best uses for your Chromebook, this article can tell you all you need to know before purchasing your brand new Chromebook.
Q: What is the Chrome OS?
A: The Chrome OS (Operating System) uses web-based apps compared to a traditional stand-alone software. You don’t need to load programs or install updates. The Chrome OS automatically downloads the latest updates for current versions. Chrome offers a safe browsing experience thanks to its advanced security features. Besides, Chrome allows you to control the information you share online.
Q: Can a Chromebook work offline?
A: Yes, a Chromebook can work offline. Some popular apps such as Google Drive and Gmail have integrated offline modes. When you edit a Google Doc offline, it's saved locally to your laptop. And the next time you connect your Chromebook to the Internet, it will sync with your online account. However, you won’t have access to all the files stored on Google Drive while you are offline. If you need to edit a document, for instance, on a journey, make sure to open it in advance while you're on Wi-Fi. Other apps and games are available to use offline after enabling offline use in the settings.
Q: Can I edit photos on my Chromebook?
A: Yes, you can. There’s an integrated photo editor in Chrome OS. Also, you can use other web-based photo-editing programs like Pixlr to do everything from cloning parts of a picture to cropping images, adjusting the white balance, saturation, hue, luminance, and more.
Q: Can I save files to my Chromebook?
A: Mainly, you are expected to store your files in Google Drive cloud storage. Although Chromebooks have a relatively small amount of local storage, compared to Mac and Windows laptops, yet you can store hundreds of files or photos to the computer.
Q: Can I use Microsoft Office on my Chromebook?
A: Despite the fact that you can't install Microsoft Office on your Chromebook, you can convert Excel and Word files into Google Docs using, for example, Google Drive app, and then edit them. If you have a Microsoft account, you can create Office documents via Microsoft Office Online. The documents are securely stored in OneDrive, and you can log in from other devices to access them.
Q: Can I connect a Bluetooth device to my Chromebook?
A: Yes but not for file transferring (for that, please use Google Drive). Bluetooth devices compatible with Chromebooks are keyboards, mouses, and speakers, headphones, headsets (audio only).
Q: Do I need to install any virus protection software on my Chromebook?
A: No antivirus software is needed on your Chromebook.
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