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Best Chromebooks of 2019

If your computing needs are modest, these models can replace a traditional laptop at a nice price

An HP Chromebook
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If you’re looking to purchase a low-cost laptop, a Chromebook might be the best way to go.

It’s not likely to come with a high-end processor, a roomy solid-state drive, or a gamer-friendly graphics card. But that won’t prevent you from browsing the web, streaming video, and producing office documents—and at a price that frequently falls between $200 and $600.

“Chromebooks will run word-processing and spreadsheet programs, and you can browse the web, and if they break, nobody’s going to cry too much because they don’t break the budget,” says Richard Fisco, who oversees electronics testing at Consumer Reports.

Instead of using Windows or macOS, Chromebooks use Google’s Chrome OS operating system, which is fairly easy to master, especially for someone familiar with the Chrome web browser. They rely heavily on web-based apps, reducing the need for onboard storage and processing power. In recent years, they’ve even gained the ability to run Android apps, opening the door to software such as Word, Excel, and Adobe Lightroom (for editing photos), all of which can be downloaded from the Google Play app store on a Chromebook.

As with traditional laptops, we put Chromebooks through a variety of tests, measuring things such as size, weight, and battery life to determine how easy they are to carry around. We also take into account quality-of-life aspects, such as the presence or absence of built-in USB ports (who wants to walk around with a dongle if they don’t have to?) and how comfortable the keyboard is to use.

There are currently 23 Chromebook models in our ratings from companies such as Acer, Asus, Dell, and HP. You’ll even find a $1,000 Google Chromebook Pixelbook, which is indeed expensive—especially for a model that’s almost two years old—but it performed well in our labs.

Before you buy that one, though, you should know that recent reports suggest Google may be unveiling a new model later this month. If they do, we’ll be sure to test it once it’s released.

The following roundup highlights some of our favorite models that are available now.

1

Asus Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T
Asus Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T

    Asus Chromebook Flip C434TA-DSM4T

    Acer and Asus tend to trade places at the top of our best Chromebooks list. This Chromebook Flip, a 14-inch two-in-one convertible, is the new champ. It combines powerful specs (for a Chromebook) with good battery life, a comfortable keyboard, and solid build quality.

    Here you’ll find an Intel Core m3 (a battery-friendly processor a notch below the i3), 4 gigabytes of memory, and 64GB of flash storage, which falls between solid-state storage and a traditional hard-disk drive in terms of speed. Many Chromebooks have similarly small storage specs, but the idea here is that you’ll use web-based apps (particularly Google apps, such as Gmail and Docs) to get work done, reducing the need for local storage in the first place.

    The rest of the package mostly impressed our testers, with the Flip’s display offering accurate colors and a wide enough viewing angle to let multiple people watch video or PowerPoint presentations at the same time, a battery that lasts more than 12 hours for web browsing (or 6.5 hours under the heavier load of 4K video playback), and a mix of USB A and C ports, so you don’t need to run out and buy a dongle or hub just to plug in a mouse.

    2

    Acer Chromebook CB713-1W-36XR
    Acer Chromebook CB713-1W-36XR

      Acer Chromebook CB713-1W-36XR

      Previously our top-rated model, the Acer Chromebook is a 13.5-inch notebook. (It does not have a touch screen or a 360-degree hinge, so it can’t be used as a two-in-one.)

      The model scores well across our tests, providing enough power to do typical Chromebook-y things, such as browse the web and use simple apps, without much fuss. Chalk that up to its use of an Intel Core i3 processor, 8 gigabytes of memory, and 32GB of flash storage. Again, that’s not a ton of storage, but because you’ll mostly be using web apps, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

      Our testers didn’t have any major problems with this model, noting its excellent display (somewhat rare for Chromebooks), which produces bright, accurate colors; its comfortable keyboard with sufficiently large keys; and a battery that should last 11.5 hours when you’re just browsing the web.

      3

      HP Chromebook 14-DA0011DX x360
      HP Chromebook 14-DA0011DX x360

        HP Chromebook 14-DA0011DX x360

        This Chromebook impressed our testers with its strong performance and almost-13-hour battery life.

        HP’s decision to use an Intel Core i3 processor, rather than, say, a slower Core m3 is one big reason the laptop scores so high. The Core i3 is flanked by 8 gigabytes of memory and 64GB of storage, specs that allow you to use multiple apps at once without bringing things to a crawl.

        If our testers have one problem with this model, it’s that the colors on the 14-inch display are on the muted side, potentially making the skin tones in those Netflix shows and YouTube videos you watch appear more pale than they should.

        4

        HP X2 12-F014DX
        HP X2 12-F014DX

          HP X2 12-F014DX

          First released in May 2018, the HP X2 is the first two-in-one detachable Chromebook we rated. You can use the device not only as a traditional notebook but also as a tablet, by removing the screen from the keyboard.

          At 12 inches, the touch-screen display isn’t going to replace your big-screen TV anytime soon, but it’s well-suited for YouTube clips, not to mention helping you complete everyday work.

          At nearly 13 hours, the battery life is plentiful enough to get you through a full workday and several episodes of “House Hunters.”

          The 32 gigabytes of onboard storage is one of the few low notes, but given that Chromebooks stow most of their data in the cloud, that shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

          5

          Dell Inspiron Chromebook C7486-3250GRY
          Dell Inspiron Chromebook...

            Dell Inspiron Chromebook...

            Dell’s latest Chromebook scores very well in our ratings, thanks to its fast performance (courtesy of an Intel Core i3 processor) and 12-hour battery life.

            It’s priced about where you’d expect for this class of Chromebook ($450), but it offers twice the storage (128 gigabytes) you’d usually see. A 14-inch display that accurately represents colors doesn’t hurt, either.

            The model has 4GB of memory, which is okay for a Chromebook, but there’s an argument to be made that memory is more important than storage for Chromebooks, given the emphasis on using web apps and stowing data in the cloud.

            23
            Chromebooks Rated
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