Best Chromebooks for Artists and Creatives

Unlike traditional laptops that run on Microsoft Windows or Mac, Chromebooks come with Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS which uses the Chrome web browser as its main interface. The first Chromebook was introduced in the year 2011 with most applications and data residing in the cloud and not on the machine itself. They quickly received a lot of attention among artists due to affordability and their ability to run a variety of programs for illustration and graphic design. As an artist or a creative individual, it is nice to work on varied mediums that ease your way and help unleash your inner creativity.

You can write, sketch, and edit your files with ease, and download a plethora of creative applications from the Google Play Store. Even if there is no Wi-Fi or internet connection available, the Chromebook allows offline access to files, images, and presentations saved on the Google Drive. You also have access to other common applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Chromebooks come with limited storage space, but you do not have to worry since you get to store up to 100 GB of your data on Google Drive for free. Even though Chromebooks are made for light weight applications, a version Adobe Photoshop is available for education licenses via the Adobe Creative Cloud on Chrome OS. Furthermore, access to other programs such as the Adobe Illustrator and Adobe After Effects is possible through a virtual computer on a V2 Cloud. You can also access other software through your web browser. However, if you want to run these programs on your computer itself, then you should check out the best laptops for film students.

For sound artists, Chromebooks come equipped with great speakers allowing you to play your music without needing an external device. As a visual artist, you can enjoy working with Chromebook’s powerful graphic card which helps reproduce accurate colors.

I went through different Chromebooks on the market and shortlisted three of them which are now reviewed in detail below. I highlight their best features and limitations so you can get a good idea of what to expect if you choose to get one.

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Acer Chromebook Spin 2-in-1 13 Review

The Acer Chromebook Spin 13 is probably one of the best choices you can make if you are an artist looking for a Chromebook equipped with every desirable feature in the marketWith an impressive design and exceptional build quality, the Acer Spin is made up of an all-steel grey aluminum chassis, giving it the looks and durability you need.

Along with bright hinges and smooth edges, the Acer Spin 13 also comes with a 2 in 1 convertible feature. Thanks to its 360-degree flexibility, you can transform it into a tablet, laptop and even a stand. It also has a tent mode, which expands its usability while doing creative work, watching movies, playing games, or making documentaries and presentations. The display is one of the best features of this Chromebook, giving it 18 % more height. The 3:2 tall aspect ratio is great if you like to work on a more vertical screen, making it easier for reading PDF files, viewing websites or reviewing documents with limited scrolling required.

The 13.5-inch multi touch screen display and (2256 x 1504) resolution help you get clear visuals with perfect color accuracy and saturation. This Chromebook is a great machine to work on if you have to keep going for long hours. The Corning Gorilla Glass screen adds strength, smoothness and beauty accompanied by glossiness, giving you protection against scratches. It also has an improved touchpad which is smooth to the touch giving you a better experience compared to the regular ones. The Integrated Wacom Compact Pen provides a natural writing experience, great for all drawing and designing activities.

The 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U processor paired with 8GB LPDDR3 RAM, 128GB eMMC and integrated Intel UHD 620 Graphics are perfect for multitasking and running a bunch of different apps. The processor works at 2.2GHz with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.4GHz (4MB L3 cache), along with a memory combination that allows you to run your apps smoothly, providing faster speed perfect for open apps, performing heavy load tasks, video transcoding, and a lot more.

Visual representation is a big deal for most artists and the graphic card on this machine is well suited for design work. The backlit keyboard makes typing comfortable and easy. You may find some variations as compared to the Windows keyboard, such as a missing delete key on the keyboard, but you can use the shortcut Alt + backspace instead. There is also a lock key for quickly locking the system, a search key in place of caps lock, browser keys in place of function keys, etc. It may take a little getting used to, but the keyboard is actually quite nice and accommodating.

Other features include a 720p Webcam, Microphone, downward-facing stereo speakers, Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi- 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2×2 Mimo, Micro SD card slot,  2xUSB-C 3.1 Gen1 (Power, 5gb Data, Display port), 1xUSB-A 3,0, Stereo Headphone/Mic jack and On/Off and Volume buttons. Speakers are decent and give incredible output, but due to their descending position, the audio may sometimes get distorted or muffled. The Wi-Fi signal reach is good but definitely not the best in the market, however it is totally fine as long as you aren’t too far away from the router. The USB-C 3.1 Gen1 port allows quick data transferring and video streaming. Other than an HDMI port and a fingerprint sensor, the device is equipped with every desired feature for basic computing needs.

The dimensions for the Acer Spin are 12.19 x 9.68 x 0.67 inches and it weighs 3.5 pounds, which puts it a bit on the heavier side, especially with a 13.5-inch display, but I do not find this to be a deal breaker since this Chromebook offers a lot more than its rivals. The battery life is fantastic, up to 10 hours, however if you are a heavy user and have the screen on full brightness then it will most likely last for about 7 hours. Even then, it is pretty good, you can actually go on for an entire day with a single charge if you use it at medium or low brightness.

If you are used to Windows, then it will take some time to get a hang of the Chrome OS but overall, this operating system is nice and gives you a lot of options. You can use millions of android apps with easy access to Google services. The built-in security feature and automatic updates protect the system from malware. You do not need to worry about the setup and working on this machine is not complicated at all.

The Google play store offers tons of features and most apps can also be synced to your phone. If you are worried about using Microsoft Office programs, Google Docs is free and works exactly the same way! Now if you are trying to load heavy apps, or you are playing a lot of games, then you may experience a bit of a lag and the fan may get a bit noisy but that is pretty common with most Chromebooks and laptops. Overall, this is a great machine perfect for most artists!

PROSCONS
Convertible and stylish designNot the best Wi-Fi
Fast processing and excellent graphicsA little on the heavier side
Great battery life 7 – 10 hours 
Backlit Keyboard 

 

Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 2-in-1 Review

Samsung is a big player in the cellphone and tablets market, and as an artist you can expect the same superior quality if you go for one of their Chromebooks. If you are looking for a Chromebook that supports most specs desired for an artist, then the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 is a great option, giving you a nice combination of the desirable features at a reasonable price.

It has good build quality and a stylish and classy design with round corners composed of hard plastic. The lid of the Chromebook is solid light titan aluminum, which makes it look elegant. This portable 2 in 1 convertible device is perfect for basic browsing and tablet oriented tasks. You can run artistic apps, do word processing, web-browsing, watch Netflix and play games with ease.

This convertible device can rotate up to 360 degrees, and you can easily put it into the tablet/stand/tent mode according to your preference. The tablet mode allows you to sketch, draw, watch movies, play games, and browse comfortably. With dimensions of 11.34 x 0.67 x 8.20 inches, this device only weighs 2.98 lbs, making it incredibly lightweight and portable.

An ideal choice for an artist would be a Chromebook that creates fantastic digital portraits on a good display screen. Samsung’s cutting-edge Chromebook Plus V2 features a 12.2″ FHD (1920 x 1200) touchscreen with a 16:10 aspect ratio which serves your purpose well by effectively utilizing its Intel HD Graphics 615. The screen size is good enough for sketching and other artistic works. You may also watch movies in the tablet mode. The touchscreen is responsive, and the pressure-sensitive, battery-free stylus pen that comes along with the Chromebook accurately writes and edits your work on the screen. You can also use it to take screenshots, draw, edit, or even zoom in when you want.

The built-in 13 MP dual camera with autofocus is perfect for taking pictures in the tablet mode and also works out great for video conferencing with clients. You can also zoom in for a closer look while drawing or reviewing your work as well. The keyboard is not backlit but feels great to the touch. Similarly, the touchpad is smooth, spacious, and responsive however it may take a bit of getting used to if you are working on something delicate since it does not offer the best precision.

The Samsung V2 has an Intel Celeron Processor with a speed of 1.5 GHz, along with 4GB RAM and 32GB eMMC. The processor is suitable for basic tasks, but it is not as powerful as the Acer Spin, so you may experience lag while opening heavy apps or running multiple tabs at the same time. The 4 GB memory is enough for performing everyday browsing, checking emails, and running basic apps.

The Chrome OS works great and other than basic computing, it also offers a variety of android apps. You can also download games, movies, artistic apps, and many other tools that are compatible with the V2’s specifications. However, you won’t be able to perform certain Windows or IOS based tasks such as video editing or running photoshop since the Chromebook itself is not designed for those purposes. You can also download an antivirus program from the Google Play Store for further protection of your device.

The connectivity feature of this Chromebook, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, works well but is not suited for high-level browsing or downloading like most windows based machines, however you have the option to share via Bluetooth 4.0 and the Google Drive. The 2 USB ports including (USB 2.0 & USB 3.0) with a headphone and a mic jack, allow for fast charging, data transfer and connectivity to external monitors. The battery life is amazing and lasts up to 7 hours with full brightness while using Wi-Fi. Overall, the Samsung Chromebook V2 is a decent device with good specs, excellent for an artist’s everyday use.

PROSCONS
Reasonably pricedNo built-in protection against malware
LightweightNo backlit keyboard
Responsive touch screen and stylusLow processing speed
Dual camera 
Long lasting battery life 

 

Lenovo Chromebook 2-in-1 Convertible Review

The 2 in 1 convertible Lenovo Chromebook C330 offers exceptional quality at an unbeatable price! At this low price, you will be pressed hard to find a Chromebook that fulfills all the major requirements of an artist and also give more for performing everyday tasks. Just like the Acer Spin and Samsung V2, the 360-degree flexibility feature on this device allows you to convert it from a laptop to a tablet or place it in tent mode. It is all plastic, in a Blizzard white color, and the black glossy bezels make it look stylish and stable.

The keyboard is not detachable in the tablet mode, so it may seem as if the device would be heavy, however, it only weighs 2.65 lbs. with 11.50 x 8.48 x 0.77 inches dimensions. It is a lightweight and portable device, easy to carry anywhere anytime! The 11.6 inch HD Energy-Efficient LED-backlight Touch screen display is bright and sharp even with a lower resolution of (1366 X 768). The resolution may not be the best, but it goes well with the 11.6 inch screen.

The touch screen is responsive and works great with the stylus and you may also use your fingers for precision. The keyboard is smooth and responsive and offers various features, it is not backlit, but the brightness of the display is good enough to see the keyboard when you’re working in the dark.

The Lenovo Chromebook also offers a variety of ports and other connectivity features including,1 x USB 3. 1 Gen 1, 1 x USB-C 3. 1 Gen 2, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DisplayPort 1. 2, Stereo speakers, 1 x Microphone-in/Headphone-out combo jack802. 11 AC, Bluetooth4. 1, HD Webcam with Microphone and 4 in 1 card reader. This enables you to connect the Chromebook with different devices for transferring data and connecting external monitors for better video conferencing.. The Wi-Fi is not the best, but it is perfect for basic browsing, sending and receiving emails, etc.

This Chromebook features a mid-range MediaTek MT8173c 2. 1 GHz Quad-Core processor along with 4GB LPDDR3 Memory, and a 32GB EMMC. As is the case with most Chromebooks, you won’t be able to perform high-level computing tasks except for basic everyday work such as browsing or using applications for sketching and drawing, playing low-level games, and streaming videos. The integrated graphic card makes playing games and watching videos a lot of fun. The 4 GB RAM is not a big issue if you are working on something that has low memory requirements, however you may experience some lag when making edits or using apps that demand more memory.

All in all, the Lenovo Chromebook is easy to use and like the Acer Spin and Samsung V2, it has the Chrome OS which provides easy access to several apps via the Google Play Store. There is built-in virus protection, which saves you the trouble of getting an antivirus software and helps you protect your data. Finally, the battery life of this Lenovo Chromebook is quite impressive! It can last up to 8-10 hours depending on the usage. With all these features at this price, the Lenovo Chromebook is absolutely an incredible buy!

PROS
CONS
AffordableLow resolution
lightweightNo backlit keyboard
Variety of portsLow memory
Long lasting battery life 

Final Words

You must always consider the features of a device before you go ahead and make a purchase. This also applies to a Chromebook! In addition to the features, price also plays a crucial role in making the final decision. I have done my best in providing detailed reviews for all of the Chromebooks above. You can see how they differ in terms of their features and other hardware and software aspects.

Obviously, the more expensive Chromebook will definitely have some extra features, but if you are a budget-conscious buyer, then focus on an affordable Chromebook that contains enough features to meet your working requirements. An artist must search by design, display, RAM, battery life and of course price! While all of them can meet an artist’s requirements, you must consider the best one that meets your needs.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 2-in-1 13 falls in the high-end category of Chromebooks and it is well worth its price! With a high resolution touchscreen and a decently sized bright display, this machine is perfect for sketching and drawing while taking full advantage of the powerful responsive stylus. The fast processor and high speed memory are great for any multi-tasker! The stunning graphics are far better than a cheaper Chromebook, because of which you will get much better visuals! This portable device also offers you a bunch of connectivity features. However, it does cost a pretty penny! If you’re in the market for something that will deliver much more than the average Chromebook, then this is definitely a great choice. It has all the bells and whistles that you can possibly look for in a Chromebook! I would strongly recommend this only for someone who is looking for something more versatile and powerful, otherwise it is a bit of an overkill.

The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 2-in-1 Chromebook is an affordable 2 in 1 convertible Chromebook that lacks some features in comparison with the Acer Spin, however, it is good enough for you as an artist. It has a large responsive touchscreen display for easy artwork and it is extremely lightweigh, making it a great fit for people who are always on the move. It also has excellent Graphics and enough RAM to run most apps that artists require. However, it is mid range in price and if you are willing to spend as much then the Acer Spin Chromebook would definitely be a better choice!

Finally, moving over to our final option, the Lenovo Chromebook 2-in-1 Convertible. It is really similar to the Samsung V2 in specs but comes with a much attractive price tag! The Lenovo Chromebook has the same responsive touch screen display with a variety of connectivity ports that allow more connections as compared to the Samsung Chromebook. The device functions with a similar speed to the V2 and is also extremely lightweight. It is a really good option that caters to the budget friendly buyer and has all of the basic features that an artist requires. I would consider this option as secondary to the Acer Spin since it lacks the features provided in a high end Chromebook. However, at this price point, it will be really hard to find something so functional and durable. If you are short on cash or are wanting something more basic, then the Lenovo Chromebook will do just fine! It is highly recommended!