A Chromebook is a laptop of a different breed. Instead of Windows 10 or macOS, Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and documents living in the cloud. Chromebooks have done quite well in the education market, but their appeal has broadened.
How Much Do Chromebooks Cost?
For the most part, there’s a pretty narrow price range for Best Chromebook, and it’s on the more affordable end of the spectrum. You can pick up the affordable and light Acer Chromebook R11 — which has an 11.6-inch HD display, an Intel Celeron N3150 CPU and 2GB of RAM — for $169. Rare models ask you go go higher, such as the $549 Samsung Chromebook Pro, a stylus-equipped 12.3-inch notebook with a 2400 x 1600-pixel display, an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB of RAM.
The story of apps on Chromebooks is getting better every day, but these machines were still originally optimized for Google’s apps, such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive. This deep integration can be either positive or negative, depending on how you use a PC. Chromebooks will be easy to set up if you already use those apps.
Android apps are now coming to Chromebooks, however, only a select few systems can access the Google Play store at this time. The idea is to give Chromebooks access to more games, productivity options and other apps to make these machines more versatile, though the apps are seemingly run via an emulator, with mixed results. Unfortunately, not all Android games run on Chrome OS.
Currently, Android-capable Chromebooks include the Samsung Chromebook Plus, Asus Chromebook Flip, HP Chromebook x2, Dell Chromebook 3189 and Google’s own Pixelbook. If you’re looking to take a Chromebook to school with you, make it one of those, or one of the models listed here.
Unfortunately, popular software applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and the Microsoft Office suite, aren’t available on all Chromebooks. However, the Android version of Office is rolling out to those Best Chromebooks with access to the Google Play Store. If you need Office, but your machine doesn’t have Android apps yet, you’re limited to Microsoft Office Online, the free cloud version of Office via the Chrome browser.
It may be best to stick with the Office Android apps or Office Online if you already have a lot of Office files that you’re bringing over to your Chromebook. There are often formatting issues when importing third-party documents into Drive. Fortunately, Google Drive allows you to save documents to Microsoft formats, so you’ll still be able to share files with non-Chromebook users.
On the other hand, there are a handful of photo editors available for Chrome OS, including Pixlr(free), which looks a lot like Photoshop. But those with existing files are out of luck — there is no Chromebook app that can edit Adobe’s .PSD files.
If you’re familiar with Linux’s applications, you’ve got more options coming soon. Early, pre-release builds of Chrome OS revealed that Chromebooks will support Linux programs, satisfying demand from some of the more tech-savvy Chromebook owners. The Pixelbook is the first that will get this option, and others will gain this feature later.