It's official: manufacturers are hot on Chromebooks. Recently, Toshiba came out swinging with it's first browser-powered machine, and now Dell has followed suit. While more laptops is always good news, Chromebooks have grown stagnant, with every model using the same hardware.
That's mostly because every unit runs Chrome OS, Google's cloud and browser-focused operating system. Other than some new Google Now implementation and an expanded app store, there has been little change to Chrome OS since it first debuted in May 2011.
Save for the Chromebook Pixel, options across the board largely look the same, with barely HD screens and an emphasis on power-saving components. These are budget machines, after all, so the bar of expectations is set low. So, can Dell break the string of monotony for Chromebooks, and bring something new and exciting to the table?
The Dell Chromebook 11 made a great first impression on me, with a simple yet elegant design. The bulk of the 11.6-inch notebook's outer shell is made up of a charcoal matte plastic, meanwhile, a rubbery black coating covers the outside edge of the screen bezel and keyboard deck as well as partially spilling over the sides of the device.
This surface felt similar to the rubber coating on some smartphones, like the Nexus 5, and it improved my grip on the keyboard's palm rests. The rubbery material also adds a softer, cushioned touch than plain old plastic, which made setting down my wrists on the laptop for long sessions more comfortable.
Together, these two materials meld perfectly together with angled edges on the bottom of the laptop, which makes the notebook appear thinner than it actually is. The sides aren't cut to a knife's edge, like the Samsung ATIV Book 9 2014 Edition, but add some sharp angles to save the laptop from a boringly rectangular design.
There's isn't anything that screams budget about this Chromebook. The Dell Chromebook 11 does not feel much different from some of the company's other Windows machines. Overall, the build quality is solid with minimal flex even in the middle of the keyboard.