Chromebooks have really come a long way since their debut in 2011.
Early Chromebooks looked more like toys, but the latest models are starting to look more premium while still maintaining that extremely low price as Google intended it. They’ve also been given a performance boost and features that were previously exclusive to high end laptops.
Several new Chromebooks can also run Android apps via the Google Play Store, so there’s now an even more compelling reason to own one.
One of the newest Chromebooks getting the Google Play support is the Acer Chromebook 14. Closely resembling a high-end ultrabook, Acer’s latest Chromebook is a stunning machine that shows us Chromebooks can be beautiful looking machines too.
Made almost entirely of brushed aluminium, coupled by a crisp full-HD LCD display that delivers great viewing angles and colour reproduction, this 14-inch Chromebook should appeal to the working professionals.
Another plus for Acer’s new Chromebook is the excellent keyboard and trackpad. Unlike the cramped keyboards from the Chromebooks of yesterday, this one’s well-spaced and the island-style keys have good travel path. Acer is also pretty generous with the trackpad’s size and it performs very smoothly.
This machine also comes with a pair of USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port.
The only thing missing here is touchscreen, which I think is essential once Android support arrives. As most of these native Android apps are primarily built for touch and gesture controls, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like running an Android app on a keyboard and trackpad environment.
I assume this omission is to help keep the price down. Perhaps we would see a touchscreen Chromebook from Acer in the near future.
Still, at just US$300, its not really much to complain about, considering you’re are getting more for so much less (premium build, fantastic screen, great keyboard and trackpad).
Another stylish new Chromebook that recently got Android support is the HP Chromebook 13.
Clad entirely in anodised, brushed aluminum, this all-metal Chromebook from HP is definitely one you would not be embarrassed to take with you to the meeting room.
HP’s new Chromebook also packs serious power and versatility. It’s powered by Intel’s Core m processors, has a stunning 13-inch full HD WLED display (there’s also a pricier Quad HD model), and a generous amount of ports; two USB-C with Thunderbolt, a single USB 3.1 and a microSD card reader.
As icing to the cake, this svelte machine features Bang & Olufsen speakers under the stylised grille between the keyboard deck and hinge.
This one costs slightly more at US$499, and it’s marketed as the true ‘premium’ Chromebook dedicated for those who are willing to spend more one a Chrome machine. Yet at US$499, that’s about the same price of a 64GB iPad Air 2, so it’s still cheaper than most ultrabooks and high end laptops.
At this price point however, you may have to ask yourself whether you should be spending this much for a Chromebook when you can get a decent Windows laptop or, for a few hundred dollars more, a Macbook Air.
It all boils down to your needs and what you’d mostly be doing on a laptop computer. Chances are, you’re in the market for a new laptop to replace your aging old notebook, but you’re not looking to spend a lot of money on bleeding edge tech.
And although there are affordable options in the Windows-powered laptops, Chromebooks offer a different kind of experience while still capable of fulfilling the general PC tasks like browsing or taking down notes.
In today’s connected world where most of us primarily use our smartphones, the need to own a high performance laptop computer is slowly diminishing.
One thing is for certain: a fair amount of what you do on a computer these days involves being connected to the internet. Doesn’t that make a budget-friendly browser-based computer much more sense?