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Chromebooks continue to be one of the best values in tech, offering great speed, performance, and reliability for often well under the price of a competing Windows laptop. Though Chrome OS started out as a simple browser, these devices have continued to grow in maturity over the last several years. From apps and games to file browsers and even some Adobe app support, Chrome OS has come a long way in terms of its usefulness, completely dominating the budget market for laptops and replacing the terrible, clunky Windows laptops of last decade. There’s a great Chromebook for nearly every price point imaginable, and if all you need in a computer is a way to write papers, watch Netflix, and browse Facebook or Instagram, a Chromebook is a surprisingly great option.
If you have a tax refund burning a hole in your pocket, it’s the perfect time to get yourself a brand new laptop that will make browsing the web a whole lot more enjoyable. Whether you’re shopping for yourself, a student, a parent, or anyone else, Google’s lineup of affordable devices can often be just enough functionality to be perfect devices. Touchscreen-equipped Chromebooks mean videos, note-taking, and even light gaming are all a cinch on the device, without having to pay for high-priced premium Windows ultrabooks that are mostly used for similar ideas. And hey, if you’re looking for a premium Chromebook device, we even have some options for you there.
There are so many different models to choose from that picking up a Chromebook today can be a daunting task. Which models should you pick up, and which should you avoid? Sit back and relax, because we have you covered. This is our guide to the best touchscreen Chromebooks on the market today.
First released last October, the Pixelbook Go was Google’s first traditional Chromebook in two years. Replacing the original Pixelbook—one of the best touchscreen Chromebooks ever made, in the eyes of many—the Pixelbook Go lowers the starting price by 35 percent, making it a much more affordable option for anyone looking to invest into a new Chromebook. At $650, it’s still priced relatively high compared to most other devices on the market, but despite that, the Pixelbook Go seems to have all the magic you could want from a Chromebook today.
If there’s one thing that’s a bit disappointing about the Pixelbook Go, it’s the design. There’s a lot to like about how the Pixelbook Go looks and feels, but in the transition to a cheaper market, the Go has lost one of our favorite things about the original Pixelbook: its tall display. Unlike on the 2017 Pixelbook, the Go uses a standard 16:9 aspect ratio with a 13.3″ screen. This makes it a solid offering for watching movies or YouTube, but with productivity work, a 3:2 display like the original device would’ve been much appreciated, especially considering this isn’t a 15″ device. Though, if we’re looking at the product as a whole, the smaller, wider display seems to be part of making the Go as portable as possible, and on that end, Google has nailed it.
The device weighs barely 2 pounds and measures 13mm thick—basically as thin as the device could be. The device uses a magnesium build, helping to keep the frame of the device study but light, while also offering a grippy ribbed texture along the bottom of the design (also made out of magnesium). This is a premium feeling device, and it’s really great to see Google helping to push the cost of this style of Chromebook down to something much more affordable than we’ve seen in the past. Also, despite having a touchscreen, it’s worth noting the Pixelbook Go doesn’t fold 360 degrees to become a tablet. This is a traditional laptop style through and through, something that might disappoint some potential buyers.
Let’s talk specs: The Pixelbook starts with an 8th Gen Intel Core m3, which should be fast enough for most basic browsing and video playback, though if you plan on doing any serious work on the Go, you’ll want to upgrade to an i5 or an i7 for additional cash. Available in four tiers, the Pixelbook Go includes either 8GB of 16GB, along with 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB of storage. There’s no option for expandable storage, so you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the storage you want upfront.
The real star of the show here, however, is when you open the clamshell device. The backlit keyboard uses Google’s new HushKeys, which have been designed to offer some serious travel while also keeping the keys quiet. Next to those keyboards are two front-firing speakers that should make the Go one of the best Chromebooks for watching movies. Chromebooks have become well-known for skimping a bit on the speakers, so if you plan on watching a lot of YouTube, the Pixelbook is basically perfect.
Ultimately, the Pixelbook Go is a great, well-rounded computer. It’s a bit expensive compared to some of the other devices on this list—especially since it tops out at a whopping $1400—but if you’re looking for a fantastic Chromebook experience, this is it. It’s fast and light, it has a great display along with best in-class speakers and a hushed keyboard. The build is top-notch, and it comes straight from Google, helping to make this an absolute no-brainer of a device.
If you aren’t sure which tier you should pick up, we recommend the Core i5/8GB of RAM model, which should have enough processing power and memory for everyday tasks, while keeping you comfortable with little to no slowdown.
This year has been surprisingly sparse on new Chrome OS hardware, but Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713 has been a welcome surprise. Available for $629 (though priced at $859 on Amazon—more on that below), the Spin 713 is a midrange Chromebook that includes everything most people could ever want in a laptop. From excellent battery life to the best displays you can find on a Chromebook today, the Spin makes good on virtually every strength a Chromebook can offer.
In fact, let’s start with the display, which truly is a highlight and something we keep hoping to see more and more on future Chrome OS devices. The 2256×1504 display is crisp, clear, and color-rich, but the true strength comes in the 3:2 aspect ratio. That means the screen is nearly as tall as it is wide, and that makes productivity easier than ever. Not everyone is going to want a 3:2 display—it’s noticeably worse for watching movies or gaming, for example—but when it comes to laptops made for actually getting things done, the taller display makes a huge difference in everything from browsing the web and word processing to managing spreadsheets or coding.
And although that display may be the biggest strength offered by the Spin 713, it’s far from the only reason to pick one up. The 10th-gen Intel Core i5 gets you some serious power, far more than what most people will need out of Chrome OS. It also helps grant up to 10 hours of battery life, and even if you’re mostly at home these days, it’s still good to futureproof your device for when we’ll finally be able to leave the house again to study at a coffee shop. 8GB of RAM is the perfect amount to manage a large number of tabs with a couple of Chrome apps open in the background, and for a Chromebook, the 128GB SSD offers more than enough storage.
As you might’ve guessed by the name, the big hardware feature with the Spin 713 is the 360-degree hinge. This type of form factor has been around for nearly a decade, and it still feels magical every time the display flips around to become a tablet. The size of the Flip 713 keeps it from being an iPad replacement—especially considering it’s about three times as heavy as the average weight of an iPad—but being able to transform into tablet or tent mode helps improve notetaking performance in class.
All in all, the Spin 713 is easily the best new Chromebook of last year, edging out Asus’ Chromebook Flip C434 as one of our two top picks. Unfortunately, availability for the Spin 713 is difficult to come by, especially on Amazon, often a one-stop shop for Chrome OS devices, Amazon sells the Spin at a $200 markup, making it tough to recommend for some buyers locked into purchasing from Amazon. Still, as long as you can find it in stock at the usual $629, Acer’s Spin 713 is a must-own Chromebook, especially if you’re tired of the classic 16:9 displays offered on Google’s Pixelbook Go.
Asus has constantly made some of our favorite Chromebooks, and that trend continues with the C434. This is a premium feeling device with an all-aluminum build, and it makes a major difference in day-to-day usage. The design and feel of the machine is similar to something you’d find on a MacBook Pro or a Surface Laptop, albeit not as thin as the latter product. The anodized finish is also similar to the MacBook line of products, avoiding the textured feel of some other metal Chromebooks on the market today. The entire device is fairly thin and light, too, weighing in at only 3.3 pounds and a little over half an inch thick. When it comes to displays, Asus included a 1080p LED panel, which looks good, crisp, and colorful. It’s not the best display you can get on a Chromebook today, but for the price, it’s a great screen.
Despite the 14″ display, the chassis of the device is closer to a standard 13″ laptop, thanks to the shrunken bezels along the side of the display. Thankfully, Asus managed to keep the webcam at the top of the display instead of moving it to the bottom, which means that, despite the thinner bezel, you lose none of the actual features of a normal display.
Along the sides of the laptop, you have two USB-C 3.1 ports that are used for data transfer, charging, and video out, along with a single USB-A port, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card slot for expandable storage on your device. While this may feel like fairly limited port selection, that USB-C port allows you to use adapters to access basically any accessory you might need, and even allows you to charge the device with a basic USB-C cable—the same one you probably have for your phone, tablet, Nintendo Switch, and plenty of other platforms.
The Flip is powered by an Intel Core m3-8100Y processor, which uses low-power consumption to ensure the C434 has solid battery life and doesn’t require the use of a fan. The cheaper version of the Flip features 4GB of RAM, which is enough for most multitasking on a Chromebook, and 64GB of internal storage, a solid amount compared to most budget Chromebooks. If you feel like upgrading, Asus also makes a model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which we would highly recommend for the RAM upgrade. That said, considering Chrome OS syncs closely with Google Drive and doesn’t rely on external storage outside of app installations, it’s not ridiculous to say that this is more than enough for most everyday usage.
Performance is solid, with the processor and RAM combination able to keep a good amount of tabs open at once without any noticeable slowdown. The touchpad is solid for navigating around the display, with a large size and decent responsiveness. The keyboard is similarly comfortable and well-spaced out, and the inclusion of backlighting means that it’s a great device for lugging to class and taking notes with. Battery life isn’t quite as long-lasting as the original Chromebook Flip from 2015, but you should expect about 8 hours of mixed usage on the device—more than enough to make it through the day, and with the use of a standard USB-C port, it’s easy to top off throughout the day.
As the name implies, the Flip is capable of turning around 360 degrees to become a makeshift tablet, complete with the ability to use the 14″ display’s touchscreen to its full potential. This means you can use the Flip as a way to take notes with a third-party stylus, and you can use the device in all sorts of different configurations, including as a pop-up using the keyboard as a base, or in tent mode for watching media.
We really only have two major complaints with the Flip. First, though three pounds is fairly light for a laptop, it’s far too heavy to use as a tablet for long periods of time. The 12.9″ iPad Pro is similarly sized, but weighs much less than the Chromebook Flip. Even worse, however, are the side-mounted speakers on this device. The speakers sound tinny, rattling and distorting at loud volumes in a way that’s uncomfortable to listen to for a long time. You’ll definitely want external speakers or headphones for this device.
All in all, if you can afford the C434’s sub-$500 price tag, you’re getting a much more premium device than what this price range used to offer. To beat what Asus is offering with the C434, you’d have to spend almost twice as much money, and frankly, it’s tough to recommend. Outside of the mediocre speakers, the Chromebook Flip C434 offers everything we would want in a Chrome OS device, and remains one of our favorites well into 2021.
Asus does offer a newer version of their Chromebook Flip, the C436. However, with a starting price of $799, we recommend most buyers pick up the C434 instead. While the C436 does offer improved speakers and an even better build quality, it uses a smaller battery than the C434, resulting in poor battery life. Considering the extreme difference in price and Asus’s decision to continue selling the C434, you’re far better off picking up the cheaper laptop.
If you’re on the market for a fantastic, budget-priced Chromebook in 2021, it’s tough to beat Lenovo’s new Duet. Designed like a Chrome OS version of Microsoft’s Surface Go, the Duet features a 10.1″ 1920×1200 display with an included keyboard attachment, making this one of the cheapest hybrid devices you can pick up today. In tablet mode, the Duet appears like a fairly standard 10″ tablet, and the 16:10 aspect ratio keeps the device from feeling too wide when holding it in your hand. Slap on the included kickstand cast and the keyboard dock, however, and you’ve got yourself a full-blown laptop, complete with a touchpad for mouse support.
Of course, at $300, you shouldn’t expect something on the level of the Surface Pro line of devices. The keyboard and touchpad are both fairly cramped, since the Chromebook itself is so small, and the MediaTek processor is pretty weak for anything other than basic browsing and productivity tools. Still, there’s a ton of positives to this device, including all-day battery life, great color reproduction on the IPS panel, and surprisingly solid duel speakers. Lenovo’s Duet won’t change how you use computers in your day to day life, but for $300, it’s hard to go wrong.
The Duet is far from the only Chrome OS tablet you can buy in 2021. Although it’s not on the market yet, Asus’ upcoming CM3000 Chrome OS hybrid has leaked extensively, featuring similar specs and a slightly larger display. It should be out sometime this summer.
For many buyers, 14″ displays are the sweet spot between portability and functionality, giving you just enough extra screen real estate to improve your productivity while keeping the device light and portable. If that’s you, you’ll want to take a long, hard look at HP’s Chromebook x360 14. At $629, it’s far from the cheapest laptop on this list, but it’s a solid offering for anyone looking for a Chromebook with a premium chassis. Equipped with a Core i3-10110U, 8GB of RAM,, and 64GB of eMMC storage, it’s not exactly the powerhouse one might expect for $700, but it’s more than enough for most Chrome OS tasks. Paired with up to 13 hours of battery life—though more realistically, expect 8 to 10—and the specs make a lot more sense.
Like most Chromebooks these days, the x360 is equipped with a 360-degree hinge, allowing you to flip the 14″ 1080p display around to use as a tablet. At this size, it’s tough to use as a tablet, but it’s great for taking notes, or for watching movies in tent mode. The premium price also includes some nice extras, like a backlit keyboard for taking notes in the dark. Likewise, the front-firing speakers help make the x360 a media powerhouse, and an included fingerprint sensor makes logging in a snap. At $629, it’s on the expensive side for Chromebooks, but HP has put in the work to make this a laptop well worth considering—especially for students.
More than ever, it’s necessary to focus on affordable laptops. Lenovo’s Duet is one of our favorite devices of the year, especially for under $300. If you have some extra cash to spend on your laptop—or if you want a more traditional laptop design than what the Duet offers—the Flex 5 is the device for you. At just $409, Lenovo’s latest laptop is a steal. Although it includes a disappointing 4GB of RAM, the Core i3-10110U is more than enough to power the Flex through most daily tasks, and 64GB of storage is plenty for Chrome apps. A 13″ 1080p display is a great compromise between screen size and portability, and with the 360-degree hinge, taking notes on the touchscreen is a cinch.
The Flex 5 actually features one of our favorite designs currently available on Chromebooks. It’s clean and minimal, with a pleasant matte finish that helps block fingerprints from getting picked up. Lenovo’s also added a few premium flourishes that help make it a steal at $400, including a backlit keyboard and front-facing speakers. It’s far from the most powerful laptop on this list, but at this price, it’s a steal.
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