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Chromebooks show they're ready for prime time at CES 2019

The big news: AMD's jump into the market. Plus, new Google-powered laptops and convertibles from Acer, Asus and HP.

Acer Chromebook Spin 13

Acer's new 315 is one of the first Chromebooks to run an AMD processor.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Google was as visible as any company at CES in 2019, with loads of promotion, integrations with other companies and product announcements of its own. Its Chrome operating system got some love, too, featured in a handful of new laptops and convertibles from Acer, Asus and HP.

Marking one of the most significant milestones for the operating system in years, AMD announced that it has retooled two of its A-series processors to run Chrome OS. This will give Intel some real competition in the low-price Chromebook market for the first time -- and offer consumers more choices, and perhaps lower prices, for Chromebooks in 2019.

Now playing: Watch this: All the big Google news from CES 2019
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As a whole, the Chromebook category has made serious strides over the past two years. While once a lackluster option for classrooms and the extremely budget-sensitive, improving hardware and access to Android apps via the Google Play store have now made Chromebooks a valid option for work and entertainment. There remain exceptions, of course: If you're into serious gaming, video editing or other hardware-intensive tasks, you'll still need a machine running Microsoft Windows or Apple's MacOS.

But for the vast majority of people, Chromebooks are a totally viable option. They're more than sufficient for basics like email, getting on the internet, creating documents or working with spreadsheets -- especially if you're already using Google apps. And whether you're looking for an ultraportable, convertible or traditional laptop, there are lots of solid Chromebook options in the $300 price range and some exceptional ones in the $500 to $600 range.

Here are the Chromebook highlights from CES 2019:

You can now get AMD-powered Chromebooks

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AMD President and CEO Lisa Su.

James Martin/CNET

Though it wasn't the main focus of AMD's first ever keynote at CES, the company's President and CEO Lisa Su did spend some time discussing the company's partnerships with Acer and HP for the first crop of AMD-powered Chromebooks. To start, two retooled A series processors will match up against Intel's competing Celeron and Pentium models.

Read: AMD gets serious about Chromebooks at CES 2019

With AMD chip on board, the HP Chromebook 14 starts at $269

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Sarah Tew/CNET

One of the world's first AMD-powered Chromebooks, the HP Chromebook 14 comes equipped with an A4 or A6 CPU with integrated Radeon R4 or R5 graphics. Otherwise, the specs are pretty pedestrian -- 14-inch display, 4GB of memory and 32GB of storage (plus a built-in microSD card slot). But, whew, that starting price of $269 shows how AMD will be turning up the heat on Intel in 2019. 

Read: HP's first AMD Chromebook lands at CES 2019, coming in January for $269

Now playing: Watch this: HP brings AMD to Chromebooks
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Acer's $280 Chromebook 315 also runs on an AMD chip

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Acer

The Chromebook 315 is based closely on what used to be the least expensive 15.6-incher in Acer's Chromebook lineup, the Chromebook 15. That particular model features an Intel Pentium processor and starts at $400. The Chromebook 315, equipped with a seventh-gen AMD A-series processor and Radeon graphics, shaves $120 off of that -- for a starting price of $280. (Converted, about £220 or AU$395.) It's coming in February.

Read: Acer unveils its first AMD-powered Chromebook

Now playing: Watch this: Acer's Swift 7, Chromebook 315 break new ground at both...
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Asus overhauls its best-selling convertible Chromebook

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Big shoes to fill: the Chromebook Flip C434.

Sarah Tew/CNET

On the higher-end of the market, the Flip C434, starting at $569, replaces Asus's Chromebook C302 -- a breakout hit that's currently the top-ranked bestseller in Amazon's two-in-one category. With a new brushed aluminum design, the Flip now has a 14-inch FHD display, twice as much RAM and storage as its predecessor -- and more powerful Intel processor options.

Now playing: Watch this: Asus refreshes its bestselling Chromebook convertible...
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The company also announced four other Chromebooks designed expressly for the classroom:

  • Chromebook Tablet CT100, which features a 9.7-inch QXGA touchscreen
  • Chromebook C204, an 11.6-inch clamshell model, and the Chromebook Flip C214, its rugged convertible counterpart
  • Chromebook C403, a 14-inch clamshell

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