OK, we’re sure that you came across this page because you joined the untold billions who use the word “best” in a Google or Bing search.   But “best” is no longer the “best” word to use in such searches because every retailer, blogger, marketer, web host and probably even grandparent on Earth has seized upon that word.    Unfortunately, the alternatives — finest, first-rate, leading, outstanding, perfect, terrific, ace, boss, capital, champion, chief ,cool, culminating, optimum, premium, prime, primo, principal, super,superlative, tops, choice, first-class, foremost, greatest, incomparable, inimitable, matchless, out-of-sight, paramount, peerless, preeminent, sans pareil, supreme, transcendent, unequaled, unparalleled, unrivaled and unsurpassed — aren’t a whole lot better.  Although we are partial to “inimitable”.   All you really want to know is how to “best” use your hard-earned dollars to invest in a decent laptop.    We are talking something less than $500.   And we may just have that answer for you.

Unfortunately, what everyone will tell you:  “so, what features/functions do you want?”  Argghhh!    Yet another question to answer.   Well, we are going to spare you that inconvenient, if not annoying, exercise.  We like Chromebooks — they offer the best value in the laptop market currently. Chromebooks are based on Google’s Chrome operating system. They’re designed for users willing to work on and store most of their files online. Chromebooks are quick to start up, partly because the operating system doesn’t place the demands on the computer that a heavy-duty OS like Windows does, and partly because they use solid-state drives instead of hard drives.  Plus, there are some really great Chromebook machines in the $200-$400 price range.

We went looking for a decent Chromebooks that gave a big bang and big screen (over 13″) for less than 500 bucks.  We went to Consumer Reports, CNET and PC Magazine.   They are all reputable evaluators of consumer products.   Then we went to Amazon and Newegg to get the current prices on many of the laptops that were highly ranked.   Here’s the most inimitable of the 2015 laptops:

CONSUMER REPORTS

  • ASUS VivoBook
  • Dell Chromebook 13
  • AcerR5-571T

PC MAGAZINE

  • Dell Chromebook 13
  • Acer Chromebook 14
  • Asus Chomebook Flip (C302A)

CNET

Overall Top Value Laptops

Perhaps the most compelling, cool, champion laptops currently on the market are the Asus models as well as the Toshiba CB35-A3120 Chromebook — 13.3-inch Chromebook with an LCD resolution of 1366 x 768 — and the Dell Chromebook 13.  Consumer Reports taps the Asus VivoBook as most worthy.   At only $250, and weighing in at 2.1 pounds, this offering from Asus can run for 15 hours between charges. Its Atom processor earned only a Fair performance rating, meaning  it’s not well-suited for video editing or heavy gaming, but it will handle browsing and Netflix-watching just fine.

We didn’t mean to leave out the Windows Surface Pro 3-based laptops, as they are finally starting to reach the $500 price cut-off. The Pro 3 computers come with a premium for the of over $500 compared to other laptops. Other than the touchscreen and the Windows OS, we are not seeing Microsoft’s justification for the premium. You may also have noticed that no Apple or Sony laptops are included in this list.  Well, there’s this matter of price. We’re not anti-Mac or anti-Japanese; we just couldn’t find any highly-rated laptops under $500 from these notable computer manufacturers.