Saturday, 30 December 2017

Best budget Chromebooks of 2017

In the previous post on the best budget tech of 2017, I forgot to include Chromebook recommendations. Recently I have moved on from Chromebooks, as I find writing in a browser using Google Docs frustrating and often slow when rendering large documents. There is the option to use Microsoft Word's Android app but the version does not compare to the full desktop version. Further, Google Play is still in Beta on most Chromebooks and Microsoft Word can be unstable and cumbersome to work with a non-touch screen. Despite my problems with Chromebooks recently, I still think the platform meets the needs of many users and is genuinely useful in education.

The budget Chromebooks that stood out in 2017, in my opinion, would be Acer's CB3-431 14" Full HD Chromebook and the Asus C301 13.3. Both devices come with a full HD screen, quad core N3160 processor, 4GB RAM and 32 GB storage (Asus offer the C301 with different processors but the N3160 seems to be the only option that is readily available). I have used the Acer Chromebook 14 and liked the full HD IPS screen. One issue with the laptop is the below average battery life, in comparison to other Chromebooks. I haven't tested the Asus C301 but based on specifications and this review by Chrome Unboxed, it is an affordable Chromebook that gets it right.

Finally, the 32GB storage on both devices means installing Gallium OS is workable (Gallium OS is a Linux distribution that is based on Xubuntu. The distribution is optimised to work with Chromebook hardware). With Gallium OS you get a full fledged desktop environment and can use desktop applications e.g. Libre Office, Firefox, Calibre etc.

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