Chromebooks are evolving faster than ever
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If you consider yourself a power user, you may be quick to write off Chromebooks. While they're not as powerful as gaming laptops, they're plenty fast for basic tasks like checking email or browsing the web. If you're not married to macOS or Windows 10, these web-based laptops are both reliable and inexpensive. Plus, some of them look more expensive than they actually are. So, whether you're on a tight budget or looking to get some light work done, Chromebooks may be a good option for you.
For the most part, Chromebooks are designed for classroom environments, so most of them have spill-resistant keyboards and extra tight hinges (for when kids ultimately pick them up by the screen). Though we don't recommend chucking one off of a cliff, they can survive minor drops and other unplanned disasters. My 14-inch HP Chromebook, which I use at home and swear up and down by, has fallen off my coffee table more times than I care to count and, hey, it still works.
If you're unable to shell out $1,399 for a 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro, Chromebooks, which cost about $200-$500, are a budget-friendly alternative. For example, the 11.6-inch Dell Chromebook, armed with 4GB of RAM and a Celeron N3060 processor, is $200 for the base configuration. For $150 more, you can upgrade to a touchscreen and 32GB of storage. If it's just a barebones Chromebook you're after, though, you can't get much better than the entry-level version.
Some Chromebooks are really bland-looking, meant to be more practical than beautiful, while others are downright gorgeous. The Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA, with its silver shell and thin body, is the latter. Between the killer looks, the 1080p display, and the convertible design, this Chromebook has a lot to offer. This $469 machine is more expensive than your typical Chromebook, but it's well worth the extra money.
While the Flip is stunning, the Acer Chromebook 11 (CB331), with its electric blue exterior, really stands out from the rest. It may even be one of the most attractive Chromebooks I've ever seen. Not only is the color really unique and eye-catching, there's a grid-like pattern on the lid as well. In addition to the premium design, it's a couple hundred dollars less than the Flip, costing $249. The Chromebook 11 will hit the shelves sometime in March.
When it comes to Chromebooks, you can expect to get six hours or more on a single charge, as they use less power than Windows laptops. If you want to get another couple of hours out of it, we'd recommend dimming the screen and disabling Bluetooth. The Acer Chromebook R11 not only runs Android apps, it seems to have good battery life too. Though we haven't gotten around to testing this one yet, it's pretty well-reviewed on Amazon.
The cool thing about Chromebooks is that you don't have to download third-party virus software. That's because they run ChromeOS, which automatically downloads new security patches every six weeks. That means you're pretty safe from new-found threats, as they have built-in virus protection. With that being said, I wouldn't say Chromebooks are entirely immune from malware attacks. Oh and since they're webpage-based, they support something called sandboxing, which isolates threats to specific browser tabs.