Chromebooks use the open-source Chromium operating system
, a relative of Linux O/S. They don’t run Windows programs at all, yet Chromebook users can do just about anything a Windows user can do. Instead of using Microsoft Word, Excel, and the rest of the Office suite, Google offers comparable software in the cloud. For instance, Google Docs gives users a free word processor that rivals Word, but it’s not stored on the Chromebook’s hard drive. It lives in the cloud along with the documents you create. That means you can access your documents just as reliably from your tablet, PC, Chromebook, or smartphone as long as you have an internet connection.
Google released the first Chromebook in 2011 when it gave away some 10,000 units dubbed “CR-48” to test and get user reactions. Today, Acer, Asus, Google, HP, Lenovo, and many others each manufacture Chromebooks. They’ve become the most popular choice for students and those who need a laptop but don’t want to buy more costly Windows models. However, as the market has matured, some Chromebooks now rival the price points for traditional Windows laptops.
So, let’s dive in and look briefly at two models that have earned the title of “Best Chromebook.”
“The Best” Depends on Two Factors
The technical specifications for any computer tells you a lot about the performance you can expect. It’s essential to review those important details. The links below will take you to product pages that provide specs on the two Chromebooks we’re discussing. But equally important, how you plan to use your Chromebook also defines “the best.”
For instance, because Windows programs aren’t compatible with Chromebooks, almost everything you do with a Chromebook — word processing, spreadsheets, graphic design, playing music, watching a video, and more — happens within the Chrome browser. For people who don’t keep a dozen or more tabs open simultaneously in their browser, inexpensive Chromebooks are a smart choice. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find models that sport multi-core CPU chips and other high-end design features. In short, there’s a Chromebook for casual as well as power users.
A Great, Innovative Entry-Level Chromebook
If you’d like a laptop that converts to a tablet and comes with a stylus, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a great choice. It works well for casual users, students, and others who want a device that easily fits into a backpack. Big box retailers sell it for under $300, making it an affordable solution for anyone who relies on Google applications such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides. If you simply want to browse the web, send email, and watch Netflix, it’s great for that, too. Learn more at Lenovo’s site
Best for Business and Power Users
With some Chromebooks selling in the $1000 range, the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is a bargain at around $600. Among its many innovations, the Spin 713 offers a screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio, which gives you a lot more screen real estate
than 16:9 screens on other laptops. It’s designed for business and power users and comes with Wi-Fi 6, Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen and touchpad, a backlit keyboard, a built-in HDMI port, and dual USB ports. Learn more at Acer’s site
Is a Chromebook Worth the Money?
At first glance, one might wonder if a Chromebook that doesn’t run Windows programs is worth buying. Consider these factors:
- Schools and businesses have purchased and distributed tens of thousands of Chromebooks in recent years, which speaks well to their nearly universal popularity and effectiveness. Corporate America, high schools, colleges, and universities use and often prefer Chromebooks over Windows models. So, it’s a safe bet that you’ll be equally satisfied.
- Chromebooks are almost immune to viruses and other malware that can render Windows laptops unusable.
- If a Chromebook is lost or destroyed, you can still access your data from the cloud. No more disastrous “lost data” that has ruined many a day for Windows users who don’t back up their systems.
- Chromebooks boot up in a matter of seconds. They automatically update their operating system software in the background, in sharp contrast to Windows Update that can take your computer out of service for an hour or more.
You’ll find two additional resources that go into more depth on the many pros (and a few cons) on Chromebooks, at PC Magazine
What Is the Best Way to Protect My Chromebook?
Manufacturers provide warranties that promise to repair or replace your Chromebook if it stops working. Damage coverage, though, is usually limited. Dropping your Chromebook can break the screen and getting it wet can ruin the entire unit. That’s a good reason to consider an extended warranty
with accident protection against drops and spills.
With Upsie.com, your extended warranty is priced dramatically below what retailers charge for limited protection. Further, the deductibles you pay are affordable at just $25 per incident. Check out the entire Upsie plan
or, better yet, call them at 1-877-844-7745.
Learn More About Laptop Warranties: