Chromebooks have been flying high since their launch a few years ago. A cheap alternative to traditional laptops, they offer a safer environment for surfing the web, as well as smooth performance. They have become a popular choice for those after a simple option.
The devices run on Google’s Chrome operating system, which means they can run slickly with pretty simple hardware and little more power than most tablets. Chromebooks operate largely like laptops, but due to their operating system cannot download programs or apps except through Google’s store.
But this means they don’t slow down, unlike some Windows laptops, meaning they don’t need to be updated as regularly to be kept safe and secure. Plus, since you can pick up a decent Chromebook for under $200 there has never been a better time to think about buying one instead of a notebook.
How to choose a Chromebook
If you want a Chromebook you will probably be looking at a device best suited for use online and something portable that is not made to sit on a desk all day. Most Chromebooks come cheaper than laptops and are designed for online tasks such as web browsing, email or streaming videos with using Chrome OS.
What operating system do they use?
Chrome OS is the operating system developed by Google for Chromebooks. It is built to use the Google Chrome browser and apps from the Google Play store. It is optimised for online use but most apps can be used without a Wi-Fi connection.
The beauty of Chrome OS is its safety and smooth running. Unlike traditional Windows laptops, there is no need to install extra anti-virus software as it has been designed to work in isolation, meaning viruses can’t spread.
Storage capacity ranges from 16GB to 64GB on most Chromebooks. This will be enough for storing a few files, but most of your storage will be done in the cloud. This compares to the 500GB to 1TB of storage you will get on many laptops.
Screen size and resolution
Screen size will largely come down to personal preference. 11.6 inches can feel a little small, but will make your Chromebook extremely portable and light.
A screen of around 14 inches is about right for most people. Any larger and you will begin to sacrifice portability, although plenty of good Chromebooks come with a 14 or 15.6 inch screen.
What are the best brands?
Right now, most Chromebooks available in the UK come from Acer, Asus and HP, as well as Google’s premium Pixelbook model. New releases like the Samsung Chromebook Pro have not been made available in the UK yet and there are no models available right now from Lenovo. This does limit the selection you can buy.
How much should I pay for Chromebook?
Budget Chromebooks typically cost between $150 and $600. In the lower price range, you will expect a smaller screen, a slightly cheaper build and a weaker processor.
At the higher price range, you will be getting a sleeker, high-end machine with an Intel M3 processor. With the added smoothness of Chrome OS this should be lightning fast. However, when spending this much money you should consider if you want to be doing more than the simple web-based tasks available with a Chromebook.
If you’re looking for something different, see our guides to the best gaming laptops and the best laptops for 2018 to get a feel for the competition.