Chromebooks have come a long way in the past couple of years, both in terms of hardware and software. In 2015, you have a lot of different options in terms of price point, size, build quality and configurations. In terms of software, Chrome OS and the Chrome Web Store have filled in a lot of the holes that used to exist in the experience of working entirely in a browser.
In case you didn’t know, these aren’t laptops that you should be looking at if you do any kind of production or editing. However, if your computing is mostly email, word processing, and web browsing, you should really consider looking into a Chromebook for your next computer.
A word of caveat: some of the Chromebooks on this list, especially those that were released in 2014, can be found online for cheaper than the price listed.
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9. Samsung Chromebook 2 (2014) - $249: Samsung's attempt to copy the design of a MacBook Air fares decent, but unfortunately lags behind other Chromebooks in a number of key areas. For starters, the 11-inch Chromebook has a fairly disappointing 720p display with pretty bad viewing angles. Similar to the HP Chromebook 14, it also only has 2GB of RAM, which can't be expanded. Unfortunately, the huge bezels and mediocre build quality just do not inspire, making it hard for this one to stand out on the store shelves. It's not at all a bad product, but just can't compete with some of the Chromebooks higher in the ranking.
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10. HP Chromebook 14 (2015) - $249: This is the only 14-inch Chromebook on the list and it’s probably the best-looking big Chromebook out there (as in, over 13 inches). It’s got three different bright color variations for the back and though it’s still all plastic, it plays up the playfulness of it rather than faking the premium look. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the 1080p display, excellent battery life, or additional RAM (it only has 2GB) that some other Chromebooks further down in this ranking have.
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8. Lenovo IdeaPad N20p (2015) - $249: For whatever reason, Lenovo no longer sells this one on its website, but it’s a pretty decent Chromebook. It’s the company’s first Chrome OS product oriented toward normal consumers, rather than education-focused, and it hits a lot of the right marks for that with its long battery life and high-quality build. The real problem is that there is a Chromebook higher on this list with a 360 degree hinge that does many of things in a nicer package that you’ll want to check out first.
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7. Acer Chromebook 15 (2015) - $299: If you’re looking for a bigger Chromebook, the Acer Chromebook 15 is easily your best option. The better points about this machine are the specifications (on the $299 configuration, which we recommend): a beautiful 1080p display, great battery life, loud speakers, and impressive performance. The downside is that it’s not exactly a looker. It’s got a huge footprint on the table and is pretty unwieldy all around.
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4. Dell Chromebook 11 (2014) - $299: You might be confused why the 2014 version of the Dell Chromebook 11 is ranked higher than the 2015 one. As I stated in that description, the 2014 Chromebook 11 is oriented toward being more of a productivity device. With that comes a slimmer design, an Intel Haswell Core i3 processor, good battery life, and 4GB of RAM. The reflective and glarey 720p display is the machine’s only downfall, so keep that in mind when you consider this one.
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6. Dell Chromebook 11 (2015) - $259: With its 2015 version, it’s clear that Dell decided to change up its strategy on Chromebooks. That’s a real shame for those of us who loved the 2014 Dell Chromebook 11, which featured a sleeker design and the high-performing Intel Core i3 processor inside. With this new iteration, Dell has aimed squarely at the education market—and for those purposes, it’s done a pretty good job. Though it’s chunky and has a pretty large footprint for how small the screen is, the Dell Chromebook 11 will be handle being used in a classroom and tossed in bags. It even has a fully waterproof keyboard and trackpad for use in science labs and kitchen.
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5. Acer Chromebook C720 (2014) - $229: When it comes to a budget Chromebook, the C720 is the uncontested winner. It hasn’t gotten the flashiest design or best build quality, but when it comes to bang for your buck, the C720 has got it where it counts. With a Haswell Intel processor, the C720 has excellent performance and can pretty much handle anything Chrome OS can throw at it. On top of that, it’s got a solid 8-hour battery life, has a decent 720p 11-inch display, and is portable enough to take with you pretty much anywhere.
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3. Asus Chromebook Flip (2015) - $249 : The idea of a Chromebook with a 360 degree hinge feels tacky, but once you feel the build quality of this tiny Chromebook, it’ll change your mind. The chassis is all metal, giving the the Asus Chromebook Flip a premium feel, which is pretty great considering the price point. Performance isn’t stellar and the keyboard is a bit small, but if you’re looking for something that is mobile and well-constructed, you can’t go wrong with the Asus Chromebook Flip.
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2. Toshiba Chromebook 2 (2014) - $279: When it comes to Chromebooks, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is still the one I find myself constantly recommending to people. Even though it was released late last year, it's still the most well-rounded Chromebook you can get. With its 1080p HD display, clicky keyboard, decent performance, and great battery life, the 13-inch Toshiba Chromebook 2 is the best Chromebook you can buy at this price point—that is, until Toshiba updates it later this year.
Although the Dell Chromebook 11 (2014) wins out on performance, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 takes the cake because of its thin design and 1080p display. The best part? It's actually a pretty nice looking laptop that isn't totally embarrassing to use in public.
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1. Google Chromebook Pixel (2015) - $999: In some ways that's not really fair, but yes, the Chromebook Pixel is the best Chromebook you can buy right now. When there's a $700 difference between this machine and the others on this list, it's hard to really put them in the same category. However, Google is doing something very specific with the Pixel this year that paves the way for the future of the platform. If you still don't think there's a market for a high-end laptop with limited functionality, just look at what Apple is doing with its new MacBook. Did we mention that this thing has an awe-inspiring design and one of the best displays we've ever seen? Now that $999 isn't feeling nearly so undeserved.
So while for most people we'd recommend the Toshiba Chromebook 2, the Pixel simply can't be ignored when it looks, feels, and performs like this.