Chromebooks Get High-End Range

John Lister's picture

Google has added a new "Chromebook Plus" category for its higher-end machines. It's meant to make choices easier for buyers, though there's a risk it defeats one of the key points of getting a Chromebook.

Chromebooks are laptops that run Google's own Chrome Operating System. The devices mainly use web-based applications such as Gmail and Google Docs, meaning a large amount of the processing work is carried out on remote servers rather than the computer itself.

While this limits how useful the devices are without an Internet connection, it means they can work with lower specification hardware, reducing costs. In some cases the reduced workload also means longer battery life.

Full HD Display

It now seems Google wants to encourage manufacturers to produce higher-end Chromebooks with better specifications. It's launched a new "Chromebook Plus" label that can only be used to market devices which meet minimum specifications.

These include a 1080p (full HD) display and webcam, at least 8GB of RAM, 128 GB of online storage and an Intel Core i3 or AMD Ryzen 7000 processor or better. (Source:

To support the new label, Google is adding a series of software features that will only be available on Chromebook Plus machines. These include automatic noise cancellation and background blurring for video calls and offline syncing of files from Google Drive.

They'll also get the Magic Eraser feature that can remove unwanted material (such as people in the background) from Photos. That's currently restricted to Google's own high-end Pixel smartphones.

$399 Starting Point

The approach seems to be working as major manufacturers including Acer, ASUS, HP and Lenovo have all said they'll launch models specifically designed for the Chromebook Plus category. The cheapest of these will have a list price of $399, though some models will be considerably more expensive. (Source:

The big question is whether customers want high-end Chromebooks. Those who chose them as a cheap option (particularly as a second or occasional-use computer) may feel the higher specs aren't worth the extra cash given the way they use the machine.

However, they could appeal to people who'd previously been skeptical about using something other that a Windows laptop or Macbook, were pleasantly surprised, and might now consider a Chromebook as a primary computer.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you use a Chromebook? Would you find the Chromebook Plus label useful for distinguishing different models? Would you be prepared to pay extra for a higher-spec Chromebook or would you simply stick to a Windows or Apple device at these price points?

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Dennis Faas's picture

For that amount of money (and bit more), I'd rather have a machine that is more capable with minimum 16GB of RAM, sufficient NVMe storage (512gb) and comes pre-installed with Windows. At least that way you're not suck with low end machine designed specifically around centralized processing. As it stands now, a lot of the Chromebooks have only 32GB or 64GB of soldered eMMC storage which can't be upgraded and is slow, and about 4GB of RAM. Most phones these days are much more capable than that and run on a smaller form factor!

doulosg's picture

Of course, we are now retired and don't need the same computing power I had as a corporate software developer. But I don't have to deal with Microsoft update debacles or the outrageous Apple pricing. Offline storage is an automatic backup, and we already have synched files available. If they're calling that new, it ain't.
I did contract tech work during my second year of retirement, which made my investment in extra memory worthwhile, but next time around, a beefier phone may be sufficient. I do prefer a larger screen and keyboard though.

olds97_lss's picture

You could get a low end machine with the larger screen and put ubuntu (linux) on it. Not sure that makes it a lot more capable than a chromebook, but at least then you can control the hardware more and also not have to deal with windows updates.

repete_14444's picture

My Chromebook is the best device I've ever had for what I use it for most; email, reading news online, and comparison shopping. I do miss optical drives and having to resort to my ancient Windows XP machine to burn one of those is a pain. One of these days I may give it up, but I'll probably be dead first. ;)