Chromebooks are making a huge comeback in 2017
And they both look fabulous.
We’ve seen very high-end Chromebooks before. The HP Chromebook 13 G1 or the Dell Chromebook 13 could be configured with the best hardware available, and we can’t forget the Google Chromebook Pixel. They were really good laptops and using any of them let you know they were premium products. But what we’ve seen from CES 2017 (so far) is what happens when companies get serious and deliver specs that we need for the best experience.
Chrome is a little different that a traditional operating system. Windows and MacOS — both really good “desktop” operating systems that plenty of people are using — have different needs than Chrome. Extras like huge amounts of RAM or super-CPU configurations are wasted on Chrome, while features that make Chrome better and storage space have been mostly ignored. In 2017, ASUS and Samsung seem to get it, and their new offerings look pretty awesome.
Samsung is the undisputed king of adding features to almost everything they make. The things they do with Android phones put them in their own class and really shouldn’t be compared to anything else out there. Their new Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro bring one of Samsung’s best features to Chrome — the S Pen.
When you make a Chromebook that folds over on itself and becomes a tablet, you need to consider the different ways people can use it. Software and specific features become more important, and having a stylus that’s integrated into the OS is something people have found useful — just ask anyone who loves their Microsoft Surface. Chrome needed an injection of Samsung here, and that’s what we get.
You have the premium Chromebook hardware that you expect from a pricey model — the Pro comes with a 2.2GHz Intel Core M3 6Y30 and a 12.3-inch 2400×1600 LED touch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio — and software to make it great with the Pen. Notes, spreadsheets and other work “stuff” will benefit from having a better input device and app developers will find new ways to make good use of the hardware and fancy intelligent machine-learning software that drives the Pen. This will be very useful and very cool.
ASUS addresses the biggest issue with every other Chromebook available: they offer 128GB of storage on their new high-end Flip.
The rest of the specs are no slouch — a core M3 or core M7 CPU, 4GB or 8GB of RAM and a 12.5-inch FHD (1920×1080) 60Hz display — but all that means nothing when you run out of space because your expensive Chromebook only came with 16GB of storage. Add Android into the mix (the new Flip runs Android apps out of the box) and storage becomes even more important. In the near future we’ll be saying 128GB isn’t enough, but right now the Chromebook Flip 302 is the champ when you need room for all of your stuff.
One thing both of these products have in common is a price tag that is a good bit higher than most every other Chromebook out there. Neither Samsung or ASUS has offered complete details on pricing at the time this was written, but we know the base configurations start around $450 for Samsung’s lower-tier Chromebook Plus and $499 for the base model ASUS Chromebook Flip 302. When you’re used to seeing Chromebooks cost a few hundred dollars less this can be a bit of a shocker.
One thing both of these new Chromebooks have in common is a big price tag.
We can’t argue. Chrome runs well on a $250 Chromebook Flip and the Acer Chromebook 14 is able to offer that “premium” feel with a price tag under $300. Not everyone needs a $500 Chromebook and even fewer people will want to pay the price that will come with the Chromebook Pro or full-spec Asus Flip 302 (think close to a grand in both cases and you won’t be shocked when you see it). But this hardware is expensive.
The base model of either the ASUS Chromebook Flip 302 or the Samsung Chromebook Plus has a processor that costs $281 per unit when you buy in bulk. That’s about 20 bucks more than the smaller Chromebook Flip C100 costs. Big and beautiful touch-enabled displays aren’t cheap either. Add in the costs to build the aluminum body and special hinges and memory and storage and everything else and you’ll find that the price doesn’t come from an insane markup from the people making them. It’s mostly because the parts being used are just really expensive. People who want or need this kind of hardware won’t find it any cheaper no matter what operating system is running on it.
2017 has just begun and we’ll see more Chromebooks from more companies throughout the year. So far, we like what we see because it means that companies are more serious about selling Chromebooks for people who want to buy one as a luxury purchase or for a better machine to work from.
- The best Chromebooks
- Should you buy a Chromebook?
- Google Play is coming to Chromebooks
- Acer Chromebook 14 review
- Join our Chromebook forums