Buying a Cyber Monday Chromebook? Read this first

Buying a Cyber Monday Chromebook? Read this first

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Samsung’s Chromebook Plus V2 is a favorite especially with $150 off. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Good news, everyone! If you slept on a Black Friday Chromebook deal, there are new Cyber Monday Chromebook deals ripe for the picking. Google’s web-based Chrome OS laptops and two-in-ones are typically cheap to start with, starting around $200. But this time of year you can find some amazing prices. 

Chrome doesn’t require a lot of processing power for basic tasks, so you shouldn’t compare their specs against a Windows 10 PC. But that doesn’t mean you should let a low price alone rope you into a Black Friday buy. If you keep just a few Chromebook shopping basics in mind when you’re shopping, you can make sure you what you get does what you want. 

Need Windows or Mac apps? Stop here

Before you go any further, know that Chromebooks are not compatible with Windows or Mac software. They primarily use web apps that are available through Google’s Chrome Web Store. Newer models can also be used with Android apps, which can definitely fill in some blanks, like if you need Microsoft Office access. And, if you don’t mind poking around a bit in the OS, you can load Linux apps onto some models, too. But again, you’d be dealing with substitutions, so if you need or want a specific Windows or Mac app — and there’s no suitable web, Android or Linux app substitute — don’t get a Chromebook. 

Here are the specs you want

I’ve been reviewing Chromebooks from the start. As I said up top, compared to a Windows or Mac laptop you can get by with lower-end hardware in a Chromebook. However, here’s what I recommend people look for when they ask what specs to get. 

  • Intel Celeron or Pentium, Core m- or Core i-series processor 
  • 4GB of memory or more
  • 32GB of storage 
  • Full HD (1,920×1,080 pixels) display

There is flexibility with these recommendations. You can get a 1,366×768-resolution display, for example, but the cheap ones used in low-end Chromebooks look particularly soft next to full-HD models. And you can get by with 16GB of onboard storage as long as there’s a microSD card slot to supplement it. 

However, the one spec I wouldn’t skimp on is memory. Chrome can quickly get bogged down if you leave lots of tabs open and/or web apps running in the background. Stick with 4GB of RAM or more just so you don’t end up frustrated using it. 

Consider paying extra for these

If you’re planning to use Android apps a lot, you may want to get a touchscreen model. Look for either one with a touch display on 180-degree hinges so the display can lay flat, or go with a two-in-one model so you can use it as a tablet or a laptop. Bear in mind that not all apps will work.

The processors I called out in the last section are basically your “good, better, best” options. If you’re a heavy multitasker or simply can’t tolerate performance slowdowns, it’s worth looking for a Chromebook deal with a Core m- or Core i-series processor. 

Also, since many Chromebooks are made for the education and business markets, you can frequently find models with spill-resistant keyboards and reinforced hinges. If you’re shopping for someone who might be a little less careful with their tech, it might be best to search one out. 

  • Deals and prices have been verified and updated as of Monday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. ET. Added new deals from Best Buy, Dell and Amazon. 
  • CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

James Martin/CNET

One of the nicest — and priciest — Chromebooks available gets a price chop for the holidays. At $700, it’s still expensive, but its high-quality build, two-in-one design with a pen-enabled touch display and speedy performance are worth it. 

Read the CNET review.

If you don’t mind the bigger size, this 14-inch model would be perfect for a first-time Chromebook user. The touchscreen is 1,366×768-pixel resolution, but everything else is spot on.  

Sarah Tew/CNET

For Chromebook converts looking to upgrade from a basic model, Acer’s 13.5-inch two-in-one competes with Google’s own Pixelbook. It includes an active pen for writing and drawing on the display. 

A safe bet for a younger student, this 11.6-inch Chromebook two-in-one has a drop-resistant body and a spill-resistant keyboard.  It’s available direct from Dell right now. 

Costco members can get this 14-inch full-HD Chromebook at a more than reasonable price for its specs. You’ll even get a mouse and a storage sleeve. Today is the last day to get this price. 

If you missed out on Office Depot’s Black Friday deal on this one, it’s still available for $30 more. It’s still a good deal for what you get: an 11.6-inch display, a dual-core Intel Celeron CPU, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. 

Read the CNET review.

This premium Chromebook two-in-one is a great choice if you want to take full advantage of Chrome’s Android app integration. Use it as a laptop or a tablet, and Samsung even includes one of its S Pens for writing and drawing on the screen. 

Read the CNET review.

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