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Google's Chrome operating system excels at the basics. As a browser-based OS, it's naturally suited for the cloud-based services prevalent in modern work life. But it's also great for watching movies, listening to music and, of course, browsing the internet. All of this is doubly true if you're already immersed in Google's ecosystem, which extends from apps such as Gmail and Google Docs to the Pixel phone or one of the company's smart home devices.

The advantages of Chrome extend beyond its pan-Google integration. It's also free, insofar as anything online is free, and it's dead simple. Apple laptops, featuring the terrific MacOS operating system, are significantly more expensive than the average Chromebook. And though an entry-level Dell or HP laptop may cost only a few hundred bucks, you're stuck with Windows 10 -- an OS that's far less elegant (and that's being polite about it). 

Read more: Laptop vs. Chromebook: Which portable computer is best in 2019

Chromebooks have their limits, however. You can't install Photoshop, Steam or any other Windows- or Mac-dependent application. If you rely on a technical application for work, you may need a Mac or Windows machine. Likewise, if you're a college student who runs specialized programs or non-web-based software for exams, a Chromebook may not be a good fit. 

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On the other hand, Chromebooks are effectively malware-free -- there's not much of an OS to even infect -- making them perfect for environments where multiple users share the same laptop. Just sign in with your Gmail address, and you're good to go.

The list below represents the best Chromebooks we've reviewed. These products are independently chosen by our editors. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.  

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If you're looking for a big display, the Acer Chromebook 15 delivers with a 15.6-inch IPS touchscreen. In addition to the supersize screen, it also has great battery life, loud speakers, a backlit keyboard and enough power to get you through the basics. That noted, Asus, HP and Lenovo now also sell 15-inch Chromebook laptops in the same approximate price range that are worth a look. Note that this is a 2017 model, but it's still a worthy budget pick in Acer's line. Read Acer Chromebook 15 (2017) review

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The Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 further expands the boundaries of what you can expect from a Chromebook in 2019. The standout feature is a terrific convertible, 15.6-inch, 4K display -- but it also has a complement of solid components and a sturdy, tasteful aluminum chassis. And like most Chromebooks, it costs hundreds less than a similarly configured Windows counterpart. Read Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 review

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HP's x2 is a terrific laptop with a great detachable display, a keyboard that's comfortable to type on and surprisingly peppy performance. And it doubles as a fabulous standalone tablet -- thin and lightweight, responsive to touch and stylus, and perceptive to orientation. Plus -- and this is a big one -- it comes with stylus and keyboard included at a time when many premium hybrids insist you buy them separately. Read HP Chromebook x2 review

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In January, Asus announced the Flip C434. It replaced the company's Chromebook C302 -- a breakout hit that was long the top-ranked bestseller in Amazon's two-in-one category (it's since slipped to no. 2). Starting around $500, the C434 has a brushed-aluminum design, 14-inch full HD display and twice as much RAM and storage as its predecessor, in addition to more powerful Intel processor options. See more about the Asus Chromebook C434

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Google makes its own Chromebook, of course. The Pixelbook is a sleek convertible that works as both laptop and a tablet. Among its standout features are the sharp, bright touchscreen and blazing fast, lag-free performance, courtesy a selection of higher-end Intel processors that are about as powerful as you'll find in a Chromebook. But the Pixelbook is also quite expensive, starting around $1,000, and that doesn't include the Pixelbook Pen stylus that costs an additional $99. 

Introduced in 2017, the Pixelbook is a little long in the tooth now, and we expect Google to deliver a revamped version at some point in the near term, now that it's axed tablets from its line and gone all-in on laptops. For now, however, the company is running a promotion for students that slashes 10% off of all Pixelbook models. Bottom line: You're better off waiting for a likely sequel (which could come as soon as Oct. 15), but if you do take the plunge on this one, don't pay much more than $999. We've linked to the 256GB model below, which somehow only costs $10 more than the 128GB version. See the Pixelbook review

Originally published earlier this year. Updated to reflect new prices and availability.