7 Features Your Next Chromebook Must Have
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Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular. They’re well recognized as being the best operating system for non-tech savvy elderly users 5 Reasons Chromebooks are the Perfect Computer For an Elderly Person 5 Reasons Chromebooks are the Perfect Computer For an Elderly Person It's your granddad's birthday — but what should you buy him? You could get him socks (again), some gardening equipment, or perhaps a large bottle of whisky… Or you could buy him a Chromebook. Read More , students love them, and according to the latest figures, they boast a massive 58 percent market share in the education sector Four Awesome Ways to Use a Chromebook in the Classroom Four Awesome Ways to Use a Chromebook in the Classroom Chromebooks now account for twenty percent of all United States school purchases of mobile computers. What role can Chromebooks play in the education sector? Read More .

Because of their popularity, the pace of development is rapid and the choice is vast What's the Best Chromebook for Performance in 2017? What's the Best Chromebook for Performance in 2017? What's the best Chromebook for performance in 2017? We've rounded up some of the fastest Chromebooks around for professionals, ranging in price from $395-840. Read More . As such, it can be confusing if you want to upgrade your old machine or dive into the operating system for the first time. How do you know what to look out for? What are the key specs and features?

If you’re about to hit the shops, read this article first. I’m going to introduce you to seven features your next Chromebook must have.

1. Android Apps Compatibility

Google had been talking about bringing Android apps to Chromebooks for a long time, and in early 2017, we finally saw the dream become a reality All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps All New Chromebooks Will Run Android Apps Any new Chromebooks launched in 2017 and beyond will ship with access to the Google Play Store included as standard without the need for an update. Read More .

The first Chromebook that supported Android apps fresh “out of the box” was the Samsung Chromebook Plus, but an increasing number of pre-existing models are now being brought onboard.

They include popular machines such as the Dell Chromebook 13 (7310), the HP Chromebook 14 G4, and the Lenovo N23 Chromebook. On its website, Google lists more than 80 devices that’ll eventually be able to install the Google Play Store.

Android apps on Chromebooks bring a lot of benefits. You can access more productivity tools, more offline content, and more games. At the moment, a lot of the developers still haven’t optimized their apps for the platform, but it’s clear the momentum is building.

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2. 32 GB of Storage

I’ll confess, my Chromebook is three and a half years old. And guess how much storage it has? That’s right, 16 GB.

It confuses me, therefore, why some expensive models are still shipping with only 16 GB all this time later. I appreciate Chromebooks are “online” devices Chromebooks Don't Work Offline? Debunking the Myths Chromebooks Don't Work Offline? Debunking the Myths One of the biggest criticisms aimed at Google's Chromebooks is that they are online-only machines – ergo, no Internet, no point. How true is this statement? Read More and integrate seamlessly with Google Drive, but saving files in the cloud isn’t always practical or desirable.

hp chromebook 13

In 2017, you shouldn’t settle for less than 32 GB of storage capacity. The HP Chromebook 13 G1 comes with 32 GB, as does the Acer Chromebook 14. The ASUS Chromebook Flip comes with a mammoth 64 GB.

At the other end of the scale, the Lenovo N22 only comes with 16 GB. Avoid it.

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3. Tablet Mode

Tablets are another category of device that have been losing market share to Chromebooks in the last 18 months. It seems consumers prefer a lightweight fully-fledged browser rather than locked-down ecosystem and range of apps.

However, their shape has always put them at a slight disadvantage. It’s simply not as comfortable to sit with a laptop on your knee as it is to hold a 10-inch display.

tablet woman
Image Credit: 1stockphotopro via Shutterstock

But all that’s about to change. The latest class of Chromebooks now offer 180-degree barrel hinges. They allow the screen to fold back on itself, giving you a tablet-esque user experience.

The Samsung Chromebook Pro (and its little brother, the Plus) both offer tablet screens. If the $450 price tag is too steep for you, check out the Dell Chromebook 11 for $225.

4. 4 GB of RAM

I’m going to refer back to my three-and-a-half-year-old HP Chromebook. It has 2 GB of RAM, and while it still performs most tasks with aplomb, it definitely struggles when several browser tabs are open The 10 Best Extensions for Chrome Tab Management The 10 Best Extensions for Chrome Tab Management If you’re a multi-tasker, you love tabs. Maybe a little too much. Here are 10 extensions that will help you deal with the tab overload. Read More at the same time. It even lags when I’m using TweetDeck and have a few live searches running at once.

Therefore, it raises the question: Why are we still seeing some manufacturers release 2 GB models in 2017?

Avoid them like the plague. You need a machine with 4 GB of RAM, especially now using your Chromebook is about to get even more resource intensive with the arrival of Android apps.

Once again, the current best-in-class Samsung Chromebook Pro has 4 GB, as do the Acer Chromebook R11, the HP Chromebook 14, and the Toshiba Chromebook 2. Depending how much you’re willing to spend, you can even bump the HP Chromebook 13 as high as 16 GB.

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5. Lightweight

Chromebooks are durable and portable. Ideally, therefore, they should also be lightweight. You want to be able to throw it in your bag and forget it’s there, not feel like you’ve done a gym workout How To Workout Without Going To The Gym How To Workout Without Going To The Gym It's hard enough setting aside time for actual exercise, but throw in your commute and it can add up to a lot of wasted time. Try these effective workouts without ever leaving your home. Read More by the time you get home.

The weights of the different models vary wildly. For example, the Acer Chromebook 15 tips the scales at a porky 4.85 pounds (2.2 kg). Sure, it boasts a larger-than-most 15.6-inch HD screen, but such high-end specs almost defeat the purpose of a Chromebook.

acer chromebook 15

Several models weigh less than 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg). They include the ASUS Chromebook Flip, HP Chromebook 11, and ASUS Chromebook 11.

6. Ports

Not all Chromebooks are created equal — some have a wider selection of ports. Sure, you’ll always have a couple of USBs ports and an HDMI point, but what else is available?

When you’re looking for your next device, you need to make sure it has either USB Type-C connections What Can You Shove In a USB C Port? What Can You Shove In a USB C Port? Look closely at the ports on your laptop. If you bought one in the past year, you'll notice a tiny, rectangular port you've probably never used. That's the USB C port. Read More or an SD card slot. SD card compatibility is the more common of the two.

The ASUS Chromebook Flip has two USB-C ports and an SD card slot, while the HP Chromebook 13 G1 only has one USB-C port to accompany its SD card slot. The Acer Chromebook 15 and Dell 7310 Chromebook only have SD card compatibility.

Don’t worry about the headphone jack. All Chromebooks have one!

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7. Battery Life

Google touts Chromebooks as being perfect for students and people on-the-go. Therefore, a long battery life is an essential feature.

To be fair to ChromeOS, it’s always been quite light on battery consumption. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some laptops that are better than others.

samsung chromebook plus

The aforementioned Samsung Chromebook Pro and Plus both come with a 5,140 mAh battery that the company claims will last up to seven hours of continuous usage. ASUS goes one better with its Flip model, boasting nine hours.

On the other hand, the HP Chromebook 13‘s QHD+ display eats through power. You’ll be lucky to see more than four hours.

Which Features Are Important to You?

I’ve shown you seven essential features and specs you need to pay attention to if you’re about to hit the shops for a new Chromebook. However, these might not be the most important things you consider.

I want to know what you’re going to be looking in your next Chromebook. What features are must-have and which features don’t matter to you?

Image Credit: pathdoc via Shutterstock.com

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  1. Gareth
    May 22, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I have bought the Asus Chromebook Flip C302A. It has replaced a 15 inch MacBook Pro, and I have to admit I was a little worried. However, having the Android and Chrome OS has made it an easy transfer. I would agree with all the points in this article, this combo is the way forward and if you're not requiring full professional use design, photo/video suites you're going to be fine.

    I plumped for the 8gb RAM just to be safe and have a 128gb stick that has USB-C and typical type A, and I have everything I could need. I love it and am a total convert.

  2. Jerry Suppan
    May 22, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Even 32GB storage is insufficient IMHO. Since we now deal with the era of Android apps compatibility on a Chromebook, that means Android apps are also downloadable and usable locally. That converts to storage space requirement. 32GB storage will just fill up too quickly for my comfort. (I have both a 64GB and 256GB storage capacity smartphone, so, I know the space will be appreciated). There should be minimally 64GB of storage, preferably 128GB with this in mind. And for related reasons, RAM should also be at least 4GB and perhaps 8GB or 16GB is not so far-fetched either. I am thinking in terms of using the Chromebook as a convertible, tablet-type Android device and not just only a Chromebook function.

  3. Frank John
    May 22, 2017 at 1:04 pm

    Screen size. Miracast. DDR4.