December 13, 2013, 12:21 PM — If you're looking for the most productivity bang for the buck, the latest generation of Chromebooks may be the way to go. The best of the bunch are the Samsung Chromebook, Acer 720 and HP Chromebook 14 --- which is best for you?
If screen size is the most important factor for you, the decision is a simple one: Go with the HP Chromebook 14. It's got a 14-inch screen, compared to the 11.6-inch screens on the Samsung Chromebook and the Acer 720. Both the Samsung Chromebook and the Acer 720 have 1366 by 768 resolution displays, so it's a wash between the two of them.
As a general rule, power isn't overwhelmingly important in a Chromebook, but still, if you've got CPU-intensive tasks, or those that require a lot of RAM, it could well be important to you. The HP Chromebook 14 and Acer 720 are the best choices, because both have Intel's newest, the Haswell chip, which means they'll handle anything you can throw at it. The Samsung Chomebook is slower than the two of them. As for RAM, they all come with a standard 2 GB of RAM, although you can also buy models of the HP Chromebook 14 and Acer 720 with 4GB as well.
That big screen of the HP Chromebook 14 makes it a much heftier machine than either the Samsung Chromebook or Acer 720. The Chromebook 14 weighs in at a sizable 4.1 pounds, versus 2.4 pounds for the Samsung Chromebook and 2.8 pounds for the Acer 720. If portability is important, the Samsung Chromebook is a slightly better choice than the Acer 720, followed by the HP Chromebook 14.
The HP Chromebook 14 and the Acer C720 Chromebook are essentially tied here, with the HP Chromebook 14's battery rated at up to 9 hours, and the Acer C720 at up to 8.5 hours. The Samsung Chromebook lags behind at 6.5 hours.
There's not much of a difference here: The Samsung Chromebook and Acer 720 both are priced at $249, and the HP Chromebook 14 $50 more at $299.
The bottom line
So which is best for you? If screen size is at the top of your list, you'll want the HP Chromebook 14. But that big screen comes at a price -- $50, plus plenty of extra weight. If screen size isn't important, the Acer C720 is the clear winner, with the best combination of power, battery life, and price.