Posted on 19 July 2011.
While Samsung’s Google Chromebook is an interesting piece of tech, it’s not for everyone.
Its heavily-modified Linux-based operating system may run like Usain Bolt on with the wind behind him, but if you find yourself without an internet connection it’s a £350 lump of useless plastic.
And, unless Angry Birds is your cup of tea, you can forget about playing games on it.
So we’ve put on our technological Barbour jacket and used our cyberdog to herd 10 of the best Chromebook alternatives into the digital pen of TechRadar.
They all come in at a similar price, and, as we found, you can get a lot for your money. You can read our Samsung Chromebook review, too.
1. HP Pavilion DM1 – £349
One of our chief complaints with the Chromebook is its plasticky, Fisher Price-esque feel and finish. If you’re after a laptop that doesn’t look like it was free with a Happy Meal, look no further than HP’s latest Pavilion. This ultraportable sports a brushed-metal finish, as well as an astonishing five hour battery life and a vibrant screen. Trackpad issues aside, it’s a solid and sleek machine which offers exceptional value for money.
Read our HP Pavilion dm1-3100sa review
2. Packard Bell EasyNote TS13 – £480
Packard Bell’s laptop comes in at £30 more than the Chromebook, but we’ve included it for a good reason – it packs Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processor, which beats Chromebook’s Atom so far into the ground that it pops up in Australia. This means it’s a cheap-ish laptop that’s actually capable of HD movies, light video editing and even a little gaming. What’s more is that it’s astonishingly well-built, and features a five hour battery life.
Read our Packard Bell EasyNote TS13 review
3. HP Pavilion DV6 – £450
The 6GB of ram that lurks in HP’s Pavilion is what sets this apart from the crowd – that’s a whopping 4GB more than the Chromebook. This generous amount of memory coupled with a dedicated ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics chip means that the laptop is capable of far more than just emails and Angry Birds. In fact, we managed to get Portal 2 running on it. An amazing performer whose only bad point is the slightly tacky build quality.
Read our HP Pavilion DV6-3112sa review
4. Packard Bell EasyNote NS44 – £400
“Easy” being the operative word here. An isolation-style keyboard means that this laptop can be used for long periods of time, and a dedicated social network button ensures you can catch up with all the latest online goss on Facebook or view vids on YouTube. Add in HDMI, USB 3.0 and a 14-inch screen and you’ve got a machine that’s as easy to use – and more powerful – than Google’s ubiquitous new notebook.
Read our Packard Bell EasyNote NS44-HR-033UK review
5. Acer Aspire Timeline X 3820TZ – £380
The Chromebook’s epic battery life is a definite plus point for us, so much so that we’re more worried about losing that precious internet signal. As the name suggests, though, the Timeline X’s battery lasts just as long, clocking in a ludicrous nine hours of solid performance. It’s a solidly built machine, with a luxurious brushed-metal finish that puts it in league with lappies that cost twice the price. Our only minor niggle was the lack of an optical drive, but this sacrifice eans it weighs a meagre 1.9kg.
Read our Acer Aspire Timeline X 3820TZ review
6. Sony VAIO VPC-EB3J0E/WI – £449
A 15.5-inch screen and 2.72kg weight mean that Sony’s machine is more of a semi-portable desktop replacement than true portable PC, but it still costs as much as the Chromebook’s 3G offering. Performance isn’t amazing, but what put this Vaio firmly in the four-star category is its ease of use. The keyboard is extremely comfortable, the screen bright and glossy, and it’s finished with a clean and crisp look. Those extra few inches of screen real estate go a long way, too.
Read our Sony VAIO VPC-EB3J0E/WI review
7. Acer Aspire 5742G – £475
Again, we’ve gone slightly over budget with this laptop, but for £25 more than a 3G Chromebook you’re getting a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 520M graphics card with 1GB of video memory. Which means: GAMES! Proper modern 3D games with guns and explosions and everything. It’s also a great all-rounder, and able to handle photo and HD video editing without breaking a sweat. The keyboard could be a bit better, but that’s the least of your worries when you’ve got so many Nazi zombies to kill.
Read our Acer Aspire 5742G review
8. Toshiba Satellite C670D – £394
The C670D’s cinematic 17.3-inch screen bucks the trend of exceedingly tiny screens, and it dwarfs the Chromebook’s squint-inducing 11.6-inch panel. Of course, it’s never going to be the most portable of laptops, but games and films look absolutely terrific. Unsurprisingly, Toshiba has cut corners on the components to keep the price low, and it’s littered with a surprising number of junk programs. It’s still a competent, capable laptop, and just look at the size of that screen! It’s a whopper!
Read our Toshiba Satellite C670D review
9. Lenovo G560 – £370
This Lenovo laptop absolutely gets the basics right, with a Core i3 350M processor and an impressive display adding up to make it feel like a high-quality laptop. It’s capable of HD video playback and editing, and it even includes Lenovo’s VeriFace software, which scans your mug to allow access. The 201-minute battery life, lack of an HDMI port and meagre 250GB hard drive were a bit of a letdown, but overall it’s a fantastic computing experience.
Read our Lenovo G560 review
10. Asus Eee PC 1018P – £350
If it weren’t for Asus’ original Eee in 2007, the Chromebook probably wouldn’t exist. The netbook redefined portable computing, and the Chromebook cribs both its form factor and its original Linux operating system. Asus is still at it, and its latest Eee is a beautiful, powerful netbook packing USB 3.0 and ExpressGate for getting straight on the net. As a netbook should be, it’s light, with a substantial battery life, and proof that Asus’ four years of experience has paid off.
Read our Asus Eee PC 1018P review