Monday, November 29, 2021

The best Chromebook 2021

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The best Chromebooks aren’t just laptops that run a few Google apps anymore. Chromebooks can cover a wide variety of computing needs now, and a good Chrome OS laptop or two-in-one can be more useful than a mediocre Windows or MacOS laptop. That’s why our pick for the best Chromebook of 2021 is the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, which does just about everything right.

The best Chromebooks are known to deliver good value. The message that many people actually want good Chromebooks — rather than just cheap ones — has gotten through to manufacturers. Many are around $500 or $600, though there are good options in the higher and lower ranges as well. The extra money goes a long way toward getting something you’ll be happy with.

For the first time, the quality of the best Chromebooks in this range has been consistent. There are so many similarities between the offerings from Asus, Lenovo, Google, HP, Dell, and Samsung that a conspiracy-minded person might suggest they’re all sourcing their components from the same factory. That’s great news if you’re comparison shopping; the majority of this list would be good buys if you can find them at a discount. They can even rival some of the best laptops, best budget laptops, and best student laptops on the market.

Our pick for the best Chromebook is the Acer Chromebook Spin 713, and we’ve selected the Lenovo Chromebook Duet for shoppers on a budget. Other picks for the best Chromebooks of 2021 include the Google Pixelbook Go, the Google Pixelbook, the HP Chromebook x360, and the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2.

What most buyers want in the best Chromebook are likely the same things they want in any laptop: a good keyboard, solid build quality, long battery life, a nice screen, and enough power to do the things you want. More Chromebooks can meet those qualifications than ever before, but these are the ones that rise above the rest.


The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 is the best Chromebook of 2021.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Best Chromebook of 2021

Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713 is, hands-down, the best Chromebook you can buy. With a gorgeous 3:2 screen that rivals some more expensive competitors, you’ll have a ton of extra vertical space for your work and multitasking.

The keyboard is excellent with a comfortable, quiet feel, and nice backlighting. There’s even an HDMI port, which you don’t see on a thin Chromebook every day. And (most importantly) the 11th-Gen Intel processors can handle a heavy load of tabs with no problem. The Spin’s speakers aren’t great, and there’s no biometric login, but those are reasonable sacrifices to make for a laptop of this quality at this low of a price.

In a market where the main differences between Chromebooks in this price range boil down to their screens and maybe an included stylus, Acer sets itself apart by making an affordable laptop that’s excellent in almost every way.


Best Chromebook 2021: Lenovo Chromebook Duet

For students or anyone looking for a small secondary device, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a great affordable pick.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Best Chromebook on a budget

If you’re looking for an affordable device for on-the-go work, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet delivers excellent value for its low price. It’s an ultra-portable 10.1-inch 2-in-1 device with a detachable keyboard and kickstand cover.

The Duet contains a MediaTek Helio P60T processor, 4GB of RAM, and up to 128GB of storage, and it performs well if you’re just browsing and don’t plan on using a super heavy load. It also uses a version of Chrome OS that’s made for its convertible form factor, including the first version of Chrome that’s optimized for tablet use. When detached from its keyboard, the Duet supports an Android-esque gesture navigation system that makes switching between apps a breeze. But the most impressive feature is battery life; I got close to 11.5 hours of fairly heavy use.

Of course, there are drawbacks. The touchpad and keyboard are quite small, there’s no headphone jack (and only one USB-C port), and the 16:10 screen is a bit dim. But those are reasonable trade-offs to make for such an affordable price. It makes a great secondary device for schoolwork or on-the-go browsing.


Lenovo Chromebook Duet

The Chromebook Duet boasts long battery life and has a 16:10 aspect ratio display to fit more content on the screen at once. The Duet can be used as a tablet or a laptop. On the downside, it has just one USB-C port and no 3.5mm headphone jack.


Best Chromebook 2021: HP Chromebook x360 14

If you’re looking for a larger device with more power, one of the best Chromebooks you can buy is the HP Chromebook x360 14.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

3. HP Chromebook x360 14

Powerful Chromebook with a sleek design

If you’re looking to get more power and you don’t mind getting a slightly larger laptop, the HP Chromebook x360 14 is a great choice. HP has several configurations that fall under this name, but we suggest the model we tested with 8GB of RAM and 64GB of storage to go along with the i3 processor.

While we picked the Asus because of its elegant design, there isn’t much to complain about on the slightly larger HP. It has the same ports, RAM, and storage. The keyboard is great, and it also sounds slightly better because the speakers are up on the keyboard deck instead of on the bottom.


Best Chromebook 2021: Asus Chromebook Detachable CM3

If the Chomebook Duet isn’t enough, the Chromebook Detachable CM3 brings some new perks to the detachable form factor, for an extra cost.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Best detachable Chromebook

The Chromebook Detachable CM3 is Asus’s attempt to compete with Lenovo’s highly praised Chromebook Duet. Like the Duet, the CM3 is a 10.5-inch, 16:10 Chrome OS tablet with a fabric cover, a kickstand, and a keyboard that pops on and off. It’s a bit more expensive than the Duet, but also has a few extra features.

One unique perk is that the kickstand folds multiple ways: You can fold it the long way to stand the tablet up like a laptop, or fold it the short way and stand the tablet up horizontally. We’re not sure how practical this functionality actually is, but it’s there if you have a use case in mind.

The CM3 also comes with a built-in USI stylus, and roomy keys with a surprising amount of travel. But the thing we found most impressive was the battery life: We averaged close to 13 hours of continuous work on the device.

The CM3 won’t be the best Chromebook for everyone: It only has two ports (one USB-C and one audio jack) and its MediaTek processor was a bit sluggish compared to more expensive offerings. But if you’re looking for a convertible Chrome OS device and find that the Duet doesn’t quite suit your needs, you’re likely the CM3’s target audience.


The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 in tent mode, angled to the left on a black table. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

The Asus Chromebook CX5 is the best Chromebook with a 15-inch screen.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales

Best Chromebook with a 15-inch screen

Folks may understandably balk at the Chromebook Flip CX5’s price, but it really is that good. It’s sturdy enough to withstand all kinds of jolts and jostles in a backpack or briefcase, and has a unique velvety texture that’s very pleasant to hold. Add a wide port selection, a smooth and comfortable keyboard, and a vivid display, and you’ve got a chassis that can hold its own against plenty of midrange Windows laptops.

The CX5’s performance is equally impressive. We never once heard its fan in our testing, even when pushing a workload that slows most devices down. Battery life is quite satisfactory and easily lasted us all day. And the CX5 delivered some of the loudest audio we’ve ever heard from a Chromebook. While the CX5 isn’t a perfect device, it’s a solid performer all around.


Best Chromebook 2021: Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 one of the best Chromebooks of 2021.
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Best midrange Chromebook

Samsung’s first Galaxy Chromebook shot for the moon, with a $1,000 price tag, an OLED display, a packaged stylus, and a premium build. The Galaxy Chromebook 2 isn’t so much a sequel to that device as it is a pared-down, more affordable alternative. There’s no fingerprint sensor, no stylus, and no OLED — but it’s quite functional, and with a sub-$600 starting price it’s a much more reasonable purchase.

The Chromebook 2’s highlight feature is its finish: It comes in a bright “fiesta red” that will certainly stand out wherever you’re using it. (There’s a gray option as well, if you’d prefer something subtle.) It’s also the first Chromebook ever to feature one of Samsung’s QLED panels. QLED isn’t OLED — it’s just a fancier LED — but it still makes for one of the most gorgeous displays I’ve ever seen on a Chromebook.

Nice screens sometimes wreck battery life, but that’s not the case here. I averaged about seven hours and 21 minutes of continuous work on the Chromebook 2, which means you shouldn’t need to plug it in too too often. And while the Core i3 processor isn’t the most powerful chip you can get in a Chromebook, it’s just fine for everyday work use.


Best Chromebook 2021: Google Pixelbook Go

The Google Pixelbook Go has a stylish and portable design with a standout keyboard.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Best Google Chromebook

The Google Pixelbook Go is a handsome, no-nonsense 13.3-inch laptop that weighs just 2.3 pounds. It has a sturdy magnesium chassis, and a ridged grip on the bottom to keep itself from slipping on slanted surfaces.

Not only is the Pixelbook Go portable and stylish, but it delivers solid performance, and supports fast charging through either of its USB-C ports. Battery life is also impressive. The Go lasted over eight hours in our testing, and it should get you through a full workday with no problem. But its standout feature is the keyboard, which is quiet with good travel and a springy feel. Verge editor Dieter Bohn found it to be his “favorite thing to type on by a long shot.”

The Go is an expensive product, as Chromebooks go, and it doesn’t top our list because the Chromebook Flip C434 offers similar specs and features for a slightly lower price. But we think plenty of shoppers who value long battery life and lightweight build might prefer to spend a bit more on this device instead.


Google Pixelbook Go

Google Pixelbook Go is a handsome, no-nonsense 13.3-inch laptop with multiple USB-C ports, great travel, and enough battery life to get you through the workday.


Best Chromebook 2021: Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook

The ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook is a premium Chromebook for grown-ups.
Photo by Monica Chin / The Verge

Best premium Chromebook

Many modern Chromebooks are oriented towards kids and students, but not this one. The C13 Yoga Chromebook is a sturdy, pricey, convertible Chromebook for grown-ups. It’s part of Lenovo’s renowned ThinkPad business line, and has all kinds of ThinkPad perks including a red Trackpoint, discrete touchpad clickers, a fingerprint sensor, a webcam shutter, and an aluminum design. Put this Chromebook next to any number of Windows ThinkPads, and we might not be able to pick it out.

The C13 is also unique in that it’s the first Chromebook to include AMD’s Ryzen 3000 Mobile C-series processors, which are marketed specifically for Chromebooks. The chips run all kinds of programs — even mobile games — quite smoothly. We do wish the battery life was a bit better — we only averaged just over six hours on one charge. We averaged seven and a half hours from our top pick, the Chromebook Spin 713, and plenty of the devices here break eight hours with no problem

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