Our favorite Chromebooks on the market right now

As the laptop market has grown over the last few years, Chromebooks have too often been shoved into a niche as a cheaper device that isn’t quite a full featured laptop but gives you a little more juice than a tablet. Well, guess what? Chromebooks have outgrown that label and it’s time to give them some real consideration as a primary laptop.Here’s what is still true about Chromebooks. In general, they run smaller and lighter than your standard laptop. They run on Chrome OS, as opposed to MacOS or Windows. And they rely on connectivity a bit more than your average machine, with smaller hard drives that get supplemented with cloud storage. But if you think that these machines can’t keep up with the competition, well, it’s time you catch up. Chromebooks are increasingly capable machines. So let’s dispel some misconceptions about these laptops and help you pick the one that is best for you.Can I run all my favorite apps on a Chromebook?Unless you’re a creative and need very specific apps like Adobe After Effects, odds are there is a way to run just about anything that you need on a Chromebook — or at least find a viable alternative. Because Chromebooks are a popular option for students, there are plenty of ways to run apps like Microsoft Word and other parts of the Microsoft Office suite on a Chromebook. If there isn’t an app option available, there is typically a web-based alternative that will let you create and edit documents and store them in the cloud so you can access them anywhere. Even an app like Zoom has the ability to run on Chromebooks so you’ll be able to stay connected to your class or your office while operating remotely.Isn’t Chrome OS pretty limited compared to Windows or macOS?There are definitely limitations to Chrome OS, don’t get us wrong. It’s an operating system designed specifically to operate on Chromebooks, and it’s relatively young compared to its competitors in macOS and Windows. But it’s more than capable of handling most tasks. Chrome OS is based on Linux and in recent years has become capable of running Linux apps, which gives it a whole new arsenal of capabilities. Linux has many alternatives to popular apps — GIMP for Photoshop and LibreOffice…

As the laptop market has grown over the last few years, Chromebooks have too often been shoved into a niche as a cheaper device that isn’t quite a full featured laptop but gives you a little more juice than a tablet. Well, guess what? Chromebooks have outgrown that label and it’s time to give them some real consideration as a primary laptop.

Here’s what is still true about Chromebooks. In general, they run smaller and lighter than your standard laptop. They run on Chrome OS, as opposed to MacOS or Windows. And they rely on connectivity a bit more than your average machine, with smaller hard drives that get supplemented with cloud storage.

But if you think that these machines can’t keep up with the competition, well, it’s time you catch up. Chromebooks are increasingly capable machines. So let’s dispel some misconceptions about these laptops and help you pick the one that is best for you.

Can I run all my favorite apps on a Chromebook?

Unless you’re a creative and need very specific apps like Adobe After Effects, odds are there is a way to run just about anything that you need on a Chromebook — or at least find a viable alternative. Because Chromebooks are a popular option for students, there are plenty of ways to run apps like Microsoft Word and other parts of the Microsoft Office suite on a Chromebook.

If there isn’t an app option available, there is typically a web-based alternative that will let you create and edit documents and store them in the cloud so you can access them anywhere. Even an app like Zoom has the ability to run on Chromebooks so you’ll be able to stay connected to your class or your office while operating remotely.

Isn’t Chrome OS pretty limited compared to Windows or macOS?

There are definitely limitations to Chrome OS, don’t get us wrong. It’s an operating system designed specifically to operate on Chromebooks, and it’s relatively young compared to its competitors in macOS and Windows. But it’s more than capable of handling most tasks.

Chrome OS is based on Linux and in recent years has become capable of running Linux apps, which gives it a whole new arsenal of capabilities. Linux has many alternatives to popular apps — GIMP for Photoshop and LibreOffice for Microsoft Word, for instance — and being able to tap into this well of existing apps makes Chromebooks more fully featured than you might have imagined.

Additionally, some Chromebooks have the capability of running Android apps. While this is limited to Chromebooks that have access to the Google Play Store, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. If you’re already using an Android phone or tablet, being able to seamlessly hop into that same ecosystem on a laptop makes it easy to pick up your work anywhere.

So what can’t a Chromebook do?

While Chromebooks are more than enough to help you keep up with your school work or make the commute to the office, they aren’t fully featured machines. If you want to do some high-level creative tasks like photo or film editing, you’re going to find the Chromebook a bit lacking. Same goes for gaming.

That said, these machines are more powerful than you might think. Many come equipped with Intel processors that you might find in mid- to high-tier Windows machines, and have 8GB to 16GB of RAM available, as well.

What you’re more likely to find lacking is physical memory. You aren’t going to be able to load up a Chromebook with lots of photos and videos, nor are you going to be able to download your favorite series from Netflix to watch offline. Chromebooks ditch big hard drives, which can often add a significant amount of weight, in favor of cloud storage. This keeps the machines portable, but also makes you more reliant on having an internet connection available.

What Chromebook should I get?

Now that you have a better idea of what a Chromebook is capable of (and what it can’t quite handle), you can finally start considering which Chromebook is best for you. The one problem? There are a lot of them. So we’ve put together a list of some of the best available to get you started.

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