10 Best Cheap + Small Chromebooks (Perfect for Travel – 2019)

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Person working on budget Chromebook on lap

Small, light, cheap and ultra-portable, Chromebooks are popular with students and those with kids – but they’re also perfect for travel. So what’s the best budget Chromebook you can get for your money?

As well as their mini size and weight, the budget Chromebook section also focuses on rugged and durable designs, ones that will survive a few thrills and spills (but also not cost the earth to replace, hence their popularity with families and students).

These are devices that don’t cost the earth and can easily be replaced if something happens to them. Increasingly they include touchscreen functionality; super-useful if you want something similarly lightweight but with a keyboard. They fill the gap between tablet/phone and laptop.

This post focuses on the smaller cheaper end of the Chromebooks scale. We’re looking at displays under 13 inches (for portability).

If you’re looking for a machine to use as your primary device or to replace another laptop then you’ll find better specs in the medium and large Chromebooks (14-inch displays and upwards).

I’m in the process of upgrading my gear and have decided to purchase a Chromebook as a secondary device to take travelling and keep around the house for easy browsing. 

So I’ve gone in search of the best cheap small Chromebook on the market.

WHAT IS A CHROMEBOOK ANYWAY?

A Chromebook, in case you’re not sure, is a laptop or netbook (some work as a convertible tablet too) that is designed mainly for using the internet. They’ve been around since May 2011 and run the Chrome OS, rather than Windows or Mac, which is a lightweight OS built on Linux. You’ll only be able to run software through the browser or Chromebook apps downloadable from the Play Store.

But for lightweight use (browsing, video calls, media streaming) they’re ideal.

PROS

  • built-in security and automatic updates
  • seamless integration with your Google accounts and apps
  • quick to boot
  • extra 2 year Google Drive storage often included with purchase

CONS

  • limited software, no support for Windows/Mac software
  • limited storage space for photos and music
  • designed to be used online

When I look at my own usage, nearly everything I do is web-based – except Adobe Lightroom for photo editing. Chromebooks aren’t designed for media editing, but for everything else, they’re rather nifty and good value. 

It used to be the case that you were limited to online use for apps like Google Docs, but these days support for working offline is provided so you don’t have to worry about your internet connection.

Packing flatlay with Acer Chromebook

MY WISHLIST – THE PERFECT BUDGET CHROMEBOOK

  • light (ideally around 1kg).
  • small – I’m a blogger and looking for a secondary machine I can slip into a small bag and which won’t take up too much room in my carryon.
  • at least 4GB RAM working memory, for handling multiple tabs, though some have cheaper models with 2GB.
  • at least 2 USB slots, so I can use it for transferring photos to a hard drive. Consider your other devices here – do you need USB-C? A card reader? HDMI?
  • ruggedization – tough is useful for travel, although will be more essential if you have kids
  • all of the Chromebooks on this list have a battery life of around 10 hours.
  • some are touchscreen, though you will pay a bit more for this. The ideal is a 360 hinge convertible tablet with Gorilla Glass, but if you’re looking for a super-cheap model then go for one without the touchscreen.
  • the newer Chromebooks are bringing next-gen Bluetooth and wi-fi connectivity, and better webcams; great for those who work on the road.
  • if you take a lot of photos, look for one of the deals which includes 100GB of Google Drive for two years.

WHAT IF I HAVE MULTIPLE CHROME PROFILES?

Chrome Profiles are one of my favourite productivity hacks. The idea of Chromebooks is that you sign in with your existing Google profile – and voila, you’re away. No need to set up anything else. Whilst they support multiple Chrome profiles at login, apps have to be installed separately for each account. Just bear this in mind whilst looking at hard drive size.

END-OF-LIFE DATABASE

I’ve included End of Life date for each product in this list, to give you an idea of lifespan (usually 5-6 years). This doesn’t mean it will automatically keel over and die but is the date that Google cannot guarantee automatic software updates. Which means possible security vulnerabilities and software glitches. You can check on this page to see when official support for each model will end. Bear this date in mind when looking at an amazing deal.

Google’s End of Life Database

So how does the current crop of Chromebooks compare? Let’s have a look . . .

Acer Chromebook going into handbag

BEST BUDGET CHROMEBOOKS

ASUS CHROMEBOOK FLIP C101PA

The Convertible One.

At the top of the list because it’s probably going to be the best option for most people reading this list. Super-thin, super-light-, super-small, the Flip C101 is designed to be ultra-portable. It sports a 360-degree hinge that converts it between a Chromebook and a tablet – ideal if you’re wavering between the two. Prop it up in tent mode or stand mode for watching films – and the screen is designed to be viewed from almost any angle without losing quality.

The low price point and low weight combo make it an appealing option for carryon-only travellers. If you love the flip design but want a bigger size and higher spec check out the 11.6 inch C213SA and 12.5 inch C302CA.

Release Date:Sept 2017
End of Life Date:Aug 2023
Hard Drive Storage:16 / 32GB eMMC
Dimensions:26.28 x 18.24 x 1.56 cm (10.35 x 7.18 x 0.61 in)
Ports:3.5mm Headset Jack
USB 3.0
USB 3.0 Type C x 2
Multiformat card reader
Connectivity:1MP Webcam
802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.0
Processor:Rockchip RK3399
ARM Cortex A72 dual core @ 2GHz
ARM Cortex A53 quad core @ 2GHz
RAM:
Display:10.1 inch 1280x800 (16:10)
Weight:0.9 kg (1.98 lb)
Touchscreen:Yes, 360° hinge
Colours:Gray

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

ASUS CHROMEBOOK C223

The Back-to-Basics One

The recently released (August 2018), the C223 is the cheapest of the Asus range.  It’s also known as the Chromebook 12 in the US. If your use is lightweight (browsing rather than heavy media consumption or gaming) then the C223 has everything you need at a low price point, including USB-C ports. It also comes in red. With its Macbook-esque design it’s sleeker and better looking than some of the other models on this list – display quality is the area where it suffers. Also available in larger 14-inch (C423) and 15.6-inch (C523) versions.

Release Date:Sep 2018
End of Life Date:Nov 2023
Hard Drive Storage:4GB RAM
Dimensions:28.6 x 19.9 x 1.73 cm (11.26 x 7.83 x 0.68 in)
Ports:3.5mm Headset Jack
USB 3.0
USB 3.0 Type C x 2
Multi-format card reader(SD/SDHC/SDXC)
Connectivity:1MP Webcam
Bluetooth 4.0
802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
ProcessorIntel Celeron N3350
Apollo Lake dual core @ 1.1GHz - 2.4GHz
Battery life:10 hours
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9)
Weight:1kg
Touchscreen:No
Colours:Gray / red

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

ASUS CHROMEBOOK C202SA

The Rugged One.

Marketed as the perfect Chromebook for students, the C202 has a reinforced rubber guard and a drop height of 3.9 feet, 180-degree hinge, anti-glare screen, and splash-resistant keyboard. Features which also happen to make it perfect for travel – its sturdy construction should survive backpacks and airports. If you’re clumsy then this is definitely one to consider! Asus have given the keyboard some thought too: a 2mm travel distance and large keyboard characters make it particularly comfortable for writing. It’s also designed to be easily fixed which can only be a plus on the road. 

Release Date:March 2016 - March 2018
End of Life Date:Jun 2021
Hard Drive Storage:16 / 32GB eMMC
Dimensions:29.46 x 20.07 x 2.29 cm (11.6 x 7.9 x 0.9 in)
Ports:3.5mm Headset Jack
HDMI
USB 3.0 x 2
Multi-format SD Card Reader
Connectivity:
1MP Webcam
802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
Processor:
Intel Celeron N3060
Braswell dual core @ 1.6GHz
Battery life:10 hours
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9), 180° hinge
Weight:1kg
Touchscreen:Yes
Colours:Gray with blue rubber

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

Check the latest prices and reviews on Amazon.

ACER CHROMEBOOK 11 (CB311)

The All-Rounder

The Chromebook 11 is Acer’s entry-level Chromebook. It has the basics covered at a bargain price. Acer Chromebooks come in similar specs to the Asus models so one of the main differentiators is the finish; the 11 comes in a couple of different colour options including indigo blue. Much as I love the colours, I don’t find the plastic finish quite as classy as the metal models on this list. 

The Chromebook 11 has been around a while though (since Nov 2014) so there are lots of different configurations and models on the market – look for the later CB311-8H which has has a 4GB/32GB setup and is available with/without touchscreen.

Release Date:May - June 2018
End of Life Date:Nov 2023
Hard Drive Storage:32GB eMMC
Dimensions:29.59 x 19.89 x 1.8 cm (11.65 x 7.83 x 0.71 in)
PortsUSB 3.1 x 2
USB 3.1 Type C x 2
MicroSD Card Reader
Connectivity:802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
Processor:
Intel Celeron N3060 2 core @ 1.6GHz
Intel Celeron N3350 2 core @ 1.1GHz
Apollo Lake dual core @ 1.1GHz - 2.4GHz
RAM:4GiB
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9)
Weight:1.1-1.35kg
Touchscreen:Available
Colours:Blue

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

ACER CHROMEBOOK SPIN 11

The One With The Stylus.

This Acer (model CP311) is aimed squarely at the education market, but – as we’ve seen – these models also make for great travel gadgets. It’s meant as a cheap laptop for school that has convertible tablet functionality and general sturdiness (display is Gorilla Glass). It won’t win any awards for performance, display, battery life or weight – although specs are adequate for the price.

But the Spin 11’s USP is that it comes with a stylus and case. So if you like to scribble it suddenly becomes better value. If not, you’re probably better off looking at the R11 which wins on performance. It also has two USB-C and two USB3 ports, in case that’s a deal breaker for you.

Release Date:May 2017 - March 2018
End of Life Date:Nov 2023
Hard Drive Storage:32GB eMMC
Dimensions:29.59 x 20.6 x 2.01 cm (11.65 x 8.11 x 0.79 in)
PortsUSB 3.0 x 2
USB 3.1 Type C x 2
Connectivity:802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
1 / 5 MP Webcam
Processor:Intel Celeron N3350
Apollo Lake dual core @ 1.1GHz - 2.4GHz
RAM:4GiB
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9
Weight:1.25 - 1.4kg
Touchscreen:Yes, 360° Hinge
Colours:Gray / black / white

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

 

 

ACER CHROMEBOOK R11

The Fast Flip.

Retailing around the same price point as the Spin 11, the snazzy little R11 with its 360-degree hinge trades the stylus for a 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Celeron N3150 processor which gives it a leg up over both the Spin and the similar Asus Chromebook Flip. 

The R11 is one of the smaller Chromebooks, but not quite the lightest. The downside of its size is that it only gets one USB and one USB-C port, which could well be a dealbreaker when comparing to other models. There’s a choice of 2GB or 4GB; I would always recommend going for the 4GB. For the combo of 360-degree convertible plus performance it’s a winner.

Release Date:Nov 2015 - June 2016
End of Life Date:Jun 2021
Hard Drive Storage:16 / 32GB eMMC
Dimensions:29.46 x 20.32 x 2.03 cm (11.6 x 8 x 0.8 in)
PortsUSB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0
USB 3.0
3.5mm Headset Jack
HDMI
Connectivity:802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
1 MP Webcam
Processor:Intel Celeron N3150
Intel Celeron N3060
Braswell dual / quad core @ 1.6GHz
RAM:2 / 4GiB
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9
Weight:1.25 kg (2.76 lb)
Touchscreen:Yes, 360° Hinge
Colours:Black, White / Blue

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

SAMSUNG CHROMEBOOK 3

The One with the Battery Life.

Samsung lead the way with their tablets and smartphones but are only just making a dent in the Chromebook market. Their Chromebook 3 comes in 16GB, 32 and 64GB eMMC versions with 4GB RAM on all. Often overlooked in favour of the more popular Asus and Acer models, the Samsung Chromebook 3 is no slouch.  It’s fast and lightweight, with good build quality and is among the best for battery life and display quality. The main drawbacks for the Chromebook 3 are the lack of USB-C slots and Play store support out of the box (it can be installed but this is an avoidable headache). 

Release Date:Feb 16 - July 18
End of Life Date:Jun 2021
Hard Drive Storage:16 / 32 / 64 GB eMMC
Dimensions:28.85 x 20.42 x 1.78 cm (11.36 x 8.04 x 0.7 in)
PortsUSB 2.0
USB 3.0
HDMI
MicroSD Card Reader
Connectivity:802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.0 / 4.1
Processor:Intel Celeron N3050
Intel Celeron N3060
Braswell dual core @ 1.6GHz
RAM:2 / 4GiB
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9)
Weight:1.15 kg (2.53 lb)
Touchscreen:No, 180° hinge available
Colours:Gray, Black
Webcam:1MP Webcam

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

Check the latest prices and reviews on Amazon.

HP CHROMEBOOK 11 x360 G1

The Rugged Convertible.

Coming in at the top end of the budget price range, the convertible X360 sports a Gorilla Glass touchscreen is another model with exceptional battery life of up to 11.5 hours. If you’re looking for a hardy 2-in-1 option it’s worthy of consideration; it has rugged features such as a spill-resistant keyboard and Gorilla Glass. Bluetooth is next-gen. Available colour options are grey, black, and white. That said, it won’t win any design awards with its thick bezels and plasticky finish. But there’s a lot to like here now that it’s been out a while and has come down in price. It’s an education model so there are a few different configurations available.

Release Date:April 2017 - Oct 2017
End of Life Date:Nov 2023
Hard Drive Storage:16 / 32 / 64 GB eMMC
Dimensions:30.58 x 20.78 x 1.93 cm (12.04 x 8.18 x 0.76 in)
PortsUSB 3.1 x 2
USB-C x 2
3.5mm Headset Jack
MicroSD Card Reader
Connectivity:802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
Processor:Intel Celeron N3050
Intel Celeron N3060
Braswell dual core @ 1.6GHz
RAM:2 / 4GiB
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9), Gorilla Glass
Weight:1.41 kg (3.1 lb)
Touchscreen:Yes, Stylus support available
Colours:Gray, Black, White
Webcam:1MP Webcam

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DELL CHROMEBOOK 11 3180/3189

The Bargain.

The Dell Chromebook 11 is another very affordable option aimed at the schools market. 180-degree hinge. The standard model has 4GB RAM, comes in basic back-to-school black, and is sealed and ruggedized for durability.  The Dell 11 is fast, slim and tough, if nothing special to look at. It’s been superceded by newer models with better specs but it’s still a solid well-made option at a bargain price. There are many configuration options available; avoid the older models which have a much shorter battery life. Specs below are for the 3180/3189 models from March 2017. Gorilla Glass is available on the touchscreen version but it does add a bit of weight. The non-touchscreen versions are an absolute steal.

Release Date:March 2017 - June 2017
End of Life Date:Feb 2022 - Nov 2023
Hard Drive Storage:16 / 32 / 64 GB eMMC
Dimensions:30.23 x 20.57 x 2.03 cm (11.9 x 8.1 x 0.8 in)
PortsHDMI
USB 3.1 x 2*
3.5mm Headset Jack
Connectivity:802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.0/4.2
Processor:Intel Celeron N3060
Braswell dual core @ 1.6GHz
RAM:2 / 4GiB
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9), 180 / 360° hinge, Gorilla Glass available
Weight:1.32 kg (2.9 lb) - 1.46 kg (3.22 lb)
Touchscreen:With (3180) and without (3180) available
Colours:Black
Webcam:1MP/2MP Webcam

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

 

LENOVO C330

The New Kid on the Block.

Last, but certainly not least, the Lenovo C330 is one of the newest models on this list and is being touted as one of the best budget Chromebooks around. If storage is what you’re after then the C330 delivers; with both 32GB and 64GB models available. Build quality is nice, it has good viewing angles, and you’ll either love or hate the white and gold colours (I love). There’s just one USB-C and one USB 3.0 port on here though. A larger 14-inch S330 version is available too.

Release Date:Nov 2018
End of Life Date:Jun 2022
Hard Drive Storage:32 / 64 GB eMMC
Dimensions:29.2 x 21.54 x 1.96 cm (11.5 x 8.48 x 0.77 in)
Ports3.5mm Headset Jack
HDMI
USB 3.0
USB 3.1 Type C
SD Card Reader
Connectivity:802.11ac dual band (2.4GHz, 5GHz)
Bluetooth 4.1
Processor:Intel Celeron N3060
Braswell dual core @ 1.6GHz
RAM:4GiB
Display:11.6" 1366x768 (16:9), 360° hinge
Weight:1.2 kg (2.65 lb)
Touchscreen:Yes
Colours:White
Webcam:1MP Webcam

Check prices and reviews on Amazon

 

THE VERDICT

Still struggling? Some final thoughts . . .

Smallest/ lightest Chromebook: ASUS FLIP C101PA

Toughest Chromebook:  ASUS C202SA, HP 11 x360 G1

Best Specs: Lenovo C330

Best Value: ASUS C223, Acer R11, Dell 11

Best Convertible: Lenovo C330, Acer R11

Best Display: Samsung 11

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mall Chromebook on lap with text overlay 'best cheap and light Chromebooks for travel

Image credits:  Andrew Neel via Unsplash, Anete Lūsiņa via Unsplash

 

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