Don’t Leave Home Without the Best Chromebook for Travel in 2017

By March 14, 2017Reviews
best chromebooks for travel

With so much to squeeze into your suitcase and weight restrictions on your baggage, a Chromebook may be a good choice for staying productive and connected while traveling.

The best Chromebook for traveling should be lightweight, powerful, and have top notch security. After a thorough investigation of Chromebook options, we’ve narrowed our list to the top five best Chromebooks for travel.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one of these affiliate links and purchase an item, I may receive a commission. That allows me to continue to research and provide valuable information about Chromebooks.

How to Choose the Best Chromebook for Travel

Chromebooks have come a long way since their introduction in 2011.  Google has improved the offline mode and expanded the app selection to include Android apps.  Features like low price, data security, and battery life make Chromebooks extremely popular for students. These features also make Chromebooks attractive when you’re on the go. Let’s take a look at how to choose the best Chromebook for travel.

Battery Life

When you’re on the go, finding an outlet is probably the biggest challenge.  Nothing’s more discouraging than a dead battery when you only have a few minutes to send off an email.  The battery life of a Chromebook may be one of its most attractive features.  One of the things I like the most about a Chromebook is that it can stayed charged for over 12 hours.

Memory

You’re no doubt familiar with the term RAM and know that when it comes to processing, more is usually better.  But Chromebooks and traditional notebooks don’t manage RAM the same way, and this means Chromebooks can do more with less.  Chromebooks come with a choice of 2GB or 4GB of RAM.  It’s possible to get more, but these two options should be more than enough if you’re an average user.

If you just need quick access to the internet and only keep a few tabs open, 2 gigs of RAM should be plenty.  If you want to watch HD travel shows on YouTube, have multiple tabs open, and play games while waiting at the airport, you’ll probably want 4 gigs of RAM.  I always recommend 4GB of RAM because it’s a small price difference for the extra processing power.

Features

One of the top features of a Chromebook is their lightweight construction.  Since they’re about the size of a magazine, you can easily slip one into a backpack or carry-on.  Look for a rugged design and spill-resistant keyboard so a dropped bag or coffee spill won’t ruin your whole trip.

Some Chromebooks come with a touch screen. If all you do is search the internet with taps and swipes, you’ll feel right at home.  A keyboard could come in handy if you need to update your travel blog or prepare a presentation while in flight.  For less than the cost of an iPad, you’ll have a real keyboard and can use one of these apps to make your Chromebook feel more like an actual desktop.

Security

We’ve all been warned about the hazards of using public wifi, and it’s pretty likely you know the frustration of trying to remove a virus from your system.  With Chromebooks, these problems are a thing of the past.  Chromebooks keep all those .exe files off your machine, and the only thing you’ll download are apps.  This can be a bit frustrating if you want to download a particular program, but you may find the security trade-off well worth it.  If you want to edit an image with Photoshop or create a Word document while using a Chromebook, try one of these solutions.

You may also want to buy a Chromebook with a TPM chip installed.  A Trusted Platform Module microchip is like a bank vault where encryption keys, certificates, and passwords used for logging into online services are stored safely.  If your Chromebook gets lost, you don’t have to worry because sensitive data is stored on a microchip and not on your hard drive.

Price

The budget friendly price of Chromebooks makes them an excellent choice for anyone looking to buy a new notebook.  Before you take off on that trip of a lifetime or attend a major conference, check out the best Chromebooks for travel.  For just shy of $200 you can slip a Chromebook into your carry-on and leave that expensive laptop at home.

Check Out the Top 5 Best Chromebooks for Travel

ASUS C201 11.6 Inch

Weighing in at 2 pounds, the C201 comes with an 11.6” screen and HD resolution.  The 4GB RAM and 16GB hard drive make the C201 ideal for browsing the web or creating a Google doc.  You get WiFi, Bluetooth, two USB 2.0 ports, and one 3.0 port.  Use the micro HDMI to hook up to larger display screens.  The 128GB SD card reader makes data transfer a breeze.  This solid little Chromebook really shines when it comes to battery life with up to 13 hours of performance before a recharge.

Pros

  • You can buy a C201 for under $200.
  • The touchpad picks up taps and pokes while still being smooth and responsive.
  • It’s designed to be durable with rubberized molding around all four corners.
  • A TPM security microchip adds an extra layer of protection against data theft.

Cons

  • The charger port is unique to ASUS and may be difficult to replace.
  • The keyboard is not backlit and it may be hard to type in dim lighting.
  • The screen is not anti-glare so wide-angle viewing may be difficult.

ASUS Chromebook C202SA-YS02 11.6″

A solid entry to the ruggedized Chromebook category, the reinforced, rubber-wrapped edges and non-slip grips add extra protection to the C202.  Weighing in at 2.2 pounds the C202 is built to survive drops from almost 4 feet and physical stress and vibrations.  The battery lasts up to 10 hours, and there are WiFi and Bluetooth to keep you connected. The 1366x768HD display is bright and crisp, but what makes the C202 stand out is the screen that rotates 180 degrees.

Pros

  • The price is budget friendly, and you can find a C202 for just under $200.
  • Key parts like the keyboard, thermal module, and motherboard are easy to replace.
  • The Anti-glare screen is good for working outside or in a brightly lit space.
  • The spill-proof keyboard can withstand up to a quarter-cup of spilled liquid.

Cons

  • Lacks a touchscreen so surfing the web iPad style won’t be possible.
  • Browsing can be sluggish when you’re using multiple tabs.
  • Doesn’t have TPM security so your sensitive data may be vulnerable.

Acer Chromebook R11 Convertible

At 2.8 pounds and about $300, the R11 is available with either 2GB or 4GB of RAM. The R11 uses an Intel processor and, like all Chromebooks, gives you access to the web and everything Chrome offers.  The touch screen is handy, but what really impresses me about the R11 is how convertible it is.  The 360-degree hinge allows it to flip, swivel, and rotate into a computer, tablet, stand, or tent mode. The touch screen supports 10 finger touch which makes it very responsive and accurate.  The battery can last up to 10 hours.

Pros

  • IPS display allows a wide range of view without reduced image quality.
  • The connection options are excellent and included both a USB 2.0 and 3.0 port.
  • A full-size keyboard with comfortable spacing makes typing easy.

Cons

  • The high-gloss finish can be distracting if you’re in bright sunlight.
  • The built in hard drive can’t be replaced.

Acer Chromebook R13 Convertible

The full aluminum frame and the slightly textured finish gives the R13 a solid feel that’s associated in higher priced notebooks.  Weighing in at 3.3 pounds with a 13.3-inch LED-backlit screen, the R13 has a good display with excellent color.  The R13 has a 360-degree convertible hinge like the R11 but adds a USB-C port for charging and data transfer.

Pros

  • The battery can last almost 12 hours.
  • The trackpad is large and reacts quickly when you touch it.
  • 32GB of internal storage so you can download more apps.

Cons

  • The speakers may not be loud enough when you’re watching a movie.
  • The hinge is plastic, which can make it feel flimsy.
  • The R13 can feel bulky if you use it in tablet mode for a long time.

Lenovo Chromebook N22

Another entry in the ruggedized Chromebook category, the N22 has reinforcement on the screen, sides, corners, hinges, and I/O ports.  The keyboard is water-resistant, and the touchpad is sealed against spills.  Typing on the chiclet-style keyboard is comfortable, and the keys are anti-peel.  Weighing in at 2.7 pounds the N22 is less than $250 but still sturdy and dependable.

Pros

  • Bright screen resolution.
  • The N22 will boot-up quickly from a cold start.
  • The touchpad responds well when using two-finger scrolling and three-finger swiping.

Cons

  • The body is made of textured plastic and may feel cheap.
  • The speakers can sound distorted when the volume is high.
  • The camera can be difficult to rotate, and pictures may look grainy.
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With all the options available, these may be the best Chromebooks for travel.  They have the security features that provide excellent protection for surfing public WiFi and are still light and easy to carry.  When it comes to battery life, coverage can last most of the day, and you can choose a rugged design to protect your Chromebook from accidents while on the go.

If you already own a Chromebook and need to upgrade, or are buying one for the first time, this video will show you how to switch from Windows or Mac to Chromebook.  Once you’ve taken one of the best Chromebooks for travel on a trip, you just might find it makes the best traveling companion.

Kain Young

Author Kain Young

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