Chromebooks sound great on paper, but while you can buy cheap Chromebooks and you can buy some great Chromebooks, there’s not really very much in between. Even with the price cut earlier this year, the Chromebook Pixel is several times more expensive than most others, and the cheap ones tend to sacrifice quality or performance to reduce prices.
Dell Chromebook 13 hits the sweet spot
However, Dell’s new Chromebook 13 looks like it’s finally nailed it. Made from carbon fibre and aluminium, it has a 13.3-inch 1080p IPS display, one available with touch support and one without.
It also comes with Intel’s Broadwell-U CPUs, weighs 3.2 pounds and promises up to 12 hours of battery life. All that and it’s set to go on sale in early September.
The base model costs $399 and has a Celeron CPU, 16 GB of storage and 2 GB of RAM – which is a little low, but it’s a good mixture of quality and performance for such a low price. There are Core i5, Core i7 models too with 32 GB of storage, and 4 GB or 8 GB of RAM respectively, both with touchscreens as an option (a top-end models costs $899).
As standard all models of the Chromebook 13 comes with 802.11 ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a backlit keyboard. They don’t include the new USB Type-C ports however, but do come with a USB 3 port, a USB 2 port, and a regular HDMI port, plus an SD card slot.
The new laptop was announced during a Google presentation on its Chromebooks For Work initiative, which includes tools for users and IT admins to help schools and businesses manage Chromebooks.
Google is also enhancing Chrome OS support for VPNs and printers, which should make it easier for administrators to manage network connections for groups of people and also to use virtualisation to run Windows apps for ChromeOS users.
Those features are available on all modern Chromebooks and Google says the features have already rolled out in ChromeOS.