There’s no getting around it. You know. I know that. 2020 has been a difficult year. And while there’s no reason to keep talking about all the mess that was part of the past 12 months (we’ve all talked about it a lot), just at the start of a new year, we figured it Would be interesting to find out how mid-range Chromebooks took center stage amid a year full of potential manufacturing delays, bottlenecks, and shipping difficulties. Somehow, in all the madness, Chromebooks have had a great year, and sales have been – far – better than they’ve ever been. And at the center of it all, mid-range Chromebooks have parted ways with the pack in some ways.
Fast return to 2020
This whole conversation has to start with CES 2020. We went to Las Vegas with high expectations around two new premium Chromebooks: the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436. At $ 800 to $ 1,000, these were the new flagship Chromebooks of 2020 and, frankly, the types of devices I used to drool over.
After all, for years I was a premium Chromebook guy. I like devices with less compromise and caveats. I like solid building materials, good displays, backlit keyboards, and fast internals. My favorites in the past have included devices like the Chromebook Pixel, Pixelbook, and Pixelbook Go, mostly for their great attention to detail, great feel, and solid overall user experience.
Before 2020, there was simply a huge gap between mid-range and high-priced Chromebooks. Put a Pixelbook Go and an ASUS C425 next to each other and tell me you don’t immediately notice a huge disparity. Before 2020, the gap was big and if you wanted a Chromebook with very little compromise and caveats, you knew you had to spend money to get it.
With that in mind, I was very excited about the top new Chromebooks, and honestly, I was pretty excited about them while we were at CES. The showroom floor does a good job of hiding flaws, and we left the ASUS and Samsung booths in awe of those expensive Chromebooks. They were kind, attractive, and felt good to the touch. What not to like?
The Lenovo surprise
Then we went to the Lenovo booth, and things wouldn’t be quite the same after this visit. You see, the now popular Chromebook Duet tablet was unveiled there along with the Flex 5, two devices that have brought a lot more to the table than their listed asking prices. We honestly expected the Duo to be flimsy, cheap, and slow. And we expected even less in the Flex 5. Both devices, however, showed that they were ready to start a new trend in Chromebook gaming, and as we expected after handling them, they helped to set things up. change the entire sector in 2020.
You see, devices like the Flex 5 have flown in the face of what we always expected. It has a good IPS display, convertible form factor, backlit keyboard, solid trackpad, up-triggered speakers, USI stylus compatibility, fast internals, and enough RAM and storage for most. users. Oh, and it debuted at $ 409 as an MSRP and stuck with that all year.
It became very clear, very quickly, that it was going to be extremely difficult to recommend $ 800 Chromebooks to most people after that. When all the things you’re looking for in a high-end Chromebook start showing up on $ 400 devices, what’s the point of high-end devices? And all of this was exacerbated when the excellent Acer Chromebook Spin 713 and the HP x360 14c both hit the market. HP’s build, keyboard, trackpad and fingerprint scanner are almost everything you want in a high-end Chromebook, and Acer’s brilliant 3: 2 QHD display, aluminum build, keyboard backlit and the glass trackpad are the types of things that have kept this device in my backpack for most of the year.
Premium Chromebook crashes
As we moved into the later parts of 2020, it became clear that mid-range Chromebooks have simply gotten a lot better over the past year. Suddenly the things we were looking for in our Chromebooks were within reach without having to spend almost that much money, and at the same time, the top of the line was failing. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook never fixed its excruciating battery life and overheating issues and the ASUS Flip C436 simply never made it into the competition; at least not with our staff. With the two shining examples of high-end Chromebooks not really showing why they should be seen as mid-range competitors, it has become a one-sided fight.
Even as the year progressed and higher priced Chromebooks like the Dell Latitude 7400 and HP Elite c1030 Chromebooks arrived, it made little difference. These types of devices are top notch and are fantastic machines, but there is little about them that really sets them apart from a device like the Acer Spin 713. The gap has just become so small that the Excellence offered in the $ 400 to $ 600 Chromebook lineup is absolutely choking off high-end devices as we move into the early stages of 2021.
The future of the Premium Chromebook
Does all of this mean dark and doomed for high-end Chromebooks? Nope. Not at all, honestly. With additional features like GPUs, Windows apps through Parallels, and Steam games through Borealis all on the roadmap this year, I actually think the high-end Chromebook could see a complete resurgence. I just don’t think that’s going to happen outside of the continued dominance of mid-range devices. Let’s face it, for most users who aren’t trying to use Windows apps or trying to run games on their Chromebooks, we can all get by with a lot less computing power. . For my part, I am deeply interested in the arrival of devices like “Coachz” which will give me all kinds of operational flexibility even if the processing power may not be top notch.
And that’s how the mid-range Chromebook took over in 2020. Enough high-end features have descended into the mid-range that most of us don’t covet these expensive devices so much. Can I appreciate the build of a Pixelbook or HP Elite c1030 as better than my Acer Spin 713? Of course, these devices just feel better put together with tighter tolerances. Is that enough to spend hundreds of dollars more on an assistive device that I use to do my job? Not anymore. And that’s why mid-range Chromebooks are the ultimate Chromebook experience heading into 2021. We’ll see what happens as the avalanche of new Chromebooks arrives this year, but for now, mid-range rules.