The calendar has flipped to 2023 and that means it’s time to share my pick for 2022 Chromebook of the Year. This is something I’ve done annually every January since starting the site. If you missed the prior editions, they’re available below:
As I do every year, I want to be clear about my Chromebook of the Year thoughts.
What my Chromebook of the Year pick is and isn’t
This is not meant to tell you what Chromebook to buy. Everyone has a different budget in combination with their own unique use cases and personal requirements. Nor am I saying which is the “best” Chromebook to have launched in 2022. I’m not one to provide a universal best choice for the reasons I just mentioned.
Instead, I select a ChromeOS device that I feel moved the entire category forward in one or more ways.
A perfect example of this is my choice for 2020. The Lenovo Duet Chromebook was affordable, had an excellent display and enough performance for every day basic web usage.
Here’s what I said when choosing that device:
“For a low cost-of-entry, this audience can take the chance of Chrome OS on a Lenovo Chromebook Duet. And they don’t have to worry about spending $400, $800 or even more to take that chance. Simply put, I think the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a great bridge between alternative computing choices and Chrome OS. Not to mention, many current Chromebook users picked one up for a secondary device.”
That’s why even though the Duet wasn’t the right device for me and my higher computational tasks, I chose it as a Chromebook of the Year. It provided that a Google hardware partner could make an appealing, capable device that the masses could afford. This year’s pick is also an appealing, capable device — very capable, in fact — but not an inexpensive one.
Contenders for 2022 Chromebook of the Year
Before sharing my pick, here are the devices that were the biggest contenders in my mind.
The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook wowed me with its capabilities and it’s a great device for the right user. The first, and still only, haptic trackpad on a Chromebook is innovative and improves the user experience. And the rechargeable USI stylus that magnetically attaches to the chassis is a nice touch too. But that’s not enough to justify the high price compared to other devices. Nor is it enough to move the needle for Chromebooks at large, however.
Following on the heels of the 2020 Duet Chromebook and the 2021 Duet 5 Chromebook, the updated version of the former device was in the mix this year. The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 3 improved over its predecessor in many ways. With a new chipset, it brought more performance. The slightly tweaked display provided a higher resolution and larger surface. The addition of a second USB Type-C port was welcome, as was the better keyboard. However, the price did rise a little and for not much more money, you can buy the larger Duet 5. So I don’t think this successor device offered that “pick of the year” magic as its predecessor.
One the largest efforts towards a more eco-conscious device arrived this year in the Acer Chromebook Vero 514. I sincerely appreciate what Acer put together here. The chassis uses 30% post-consumer recycled plastic while the keycaps use 50% of the same materials. The trackpad is made from recycled ocean-bound plastic. And it’s all put together in a very well built package, combined with excellent performance. Personally, I think either the $499 or $599 upgraded models are an amazing value. While Acer’s approach here stood out to me from a responsible supply and materials standpoint, another device did something similar with additional benefits.
My pick for 2022: Framework Chromebook
Yes, regular readers are getting a double dose this device right now. I finished and published my review of the Framework Chromebook just a few days ago. And even though this $999 laptop doesn’t have a few hardware features of most other Chromebooks, it really is a game-changer.
How so? Name another Chromebook that is easy to open up to repair, replace or upgrade several key internal components. Find me one that doesn’t require being locked in to having only certain input/output ports. And is there another Chromebook device maker that sells nearly every part directly to consumers? There isn’t.
Yes, the Framework Chromebook is expensive at $999. No, it’s not likely the best choice for most Chromebook buyers.
What it is though is a statement. A setting of the bar for what Chromebooks could be like in the future, regardless of price point.
Modularity and re-usability through upgraded internal components can offer longer life of such Chromebooks. I hope other device makers took notice of what Framework has done here. I’d love to see more Chromebook choices that bring the freedom and repairability of this laptop.
By the way, if Framework ever does offer a motherboard upgrade like it does for the Windows edition, that old component will work as a Chromebox. There are 3D-printer files to make a case for the internals and to hold the expansion modules. You’ll have two ChromeOS devices in that situation!
For the reasons above, my pick for 2022 Chromebook of the Year is the Framework Chromebook. That’s certainly arguable, of course, and I’d love to hear what you might have chosen instead.