Electronics, especially laptops, are at the top of many people’s wish list this holiday season. The choices can be overwhelming but if you’re looking for affordability coupled with great features look no further than a Chromebook. They come with a minimum of 2GB RAM, and usually 4GB, so they are a powerful replacement or starter computer. They are also easy to set-up so you won’t spend all day on the phone with tech support. Best of all, they won’t break the bank.
Here are the top three Chromebook models to consider for your gift giving this year. Read on for the full details. Disclaimer: some of the links in this page are affiliate links.
What to look for in a Chromebook
Chromebooks should have a good balance of price against features. That might be ultra-portable size, super-long battery life, or a touch screen. Here are the main things to consider.
The cheapest Chromebooks on the market start as low as $149; on the upper end, you can spend well over $500. Obviously, each price point comes with its own set of technical parameters; you can get a fully featured, high quality Chromebook for under $300.
Ruggedness and Spill Protection
Just because you can easily replace a Chromebook doesn’t mean you necessarily want to. This is a good thing to consider for messy kids or careless teenagers. Rugged casings, keyboards, and touchpads will cost you a bit more. I recommend the Dell 11” Chromebook, which is the one I use right now.
App Store Compatibility
Google announced earlier this year that it would bring the Android App Store to devices running Chrome OS. A few Chromebooks have already gotten the update to run Android apps, and more will follow in early 2017. This exponentially increases the number of apps available for each device, making Chromebook devotees even happier. However, not all Chromebook models will be compatible. You have to check the model against the list to be sure.
Some devices weigh as little as two pounds or less; the largest we reviewed was the Acer 14”, which came in at 3.4 pounds. A heavier laptop may be a concern for younger children, since it’s more likely to get dropped.
It doesn’t matter how portable the device is if you’re constantly hunting an open plug to charge it. Chromebooks generally run off a single Li-ion battery, and have excellent battery life, but there’s still a wide range from 8 hours at the bottom to more than 14 hours for top-shelf devices.
Chromebooks released in the past two years have screen sizes ranging from 11.6 inches to 15.6 inches. The smaller devices are perfect for quick internet access and tossing in a bag. For serious movie watching, a larger screen is going to be more satisfying.
Most Giftable Chromebook models for the 2016 Holiday season
The best overall Chromebook option right now is the Acer R11. It’s pretty light (2.76 pounds) with a battery life up to 10 hours. It comes standard with 4GB RAM and a touch screen. Best of all, it already has access to the Android apps in the Play Store. That’s especially good news for the Android smartphone user in your life, because they can use the same apps on both devices.
If you’re buying for someone who mostly wants a laptop for watching movies, the Acer 14 is your best bet. It has a 14-inch Full HD screen and up to 12 hour battery life. This one is perfect for watching movies away from a power source, like during travel. It also comes with 4GB RAM standard, so this could also double as a work laptop.
The top two options are well-priced but still over $200. Your best bet if your budget is under $200 is the ASUS C201. It has an amazing 13-hour battery life and 4GB in a tiny, 2-pound package. What you’re missing with this model is a high-resolution screen. It’s the perfect Chromebook option for kids.
How to pick a good Chromebook to gift this year
These options all have 4GB RAM, are on the list to get Android apps, and are available in both the US and UK. Anyone would be happy to find the Acer R11 under the tree this year.
It’s tempting to pick the Chromebook you see on sale at Costco or BestBuy, but do a little research and make sure you’re getting a good option. Make sure it has these features:
- Android app compatibility
- 4GB RAM, especially if this Chromebook is intended for a power user who keeps lots of tabs open.
- At least10 hours of battery life if it will be used to keep certain family members busy during travel.
- Kid-proofing features like a good hinge, rubberized corners and a spill-proof keyboard.
If you have any questions shoot me a comment and I’ll do what I can to help you find the right Chromebook gift.