Best Chromebooks for drawing: Lenovo, HP, Google, and more

Best Chromebooks for drawing: Lenovo, HP, Google, and more

Chromebooks are great for a number of tasks. They’re affordable, have a lightweight OS, and generally amazing battery life. Indeed, there’s also a large number of convertible Chromebooks and Chrome OS tablets out there. These form factors work incredibly well for digital drawing. If you’re looking for the best Chromebooks for drawing, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article we’ll take a look at the best options for drawing with a Chromebook, taking into account form factor, pen support, battery life and more.

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HP Chromebook X2 11

HP Chromebook x2 11 on light blue background

The newly announced HP Chromebook x2 11 tops the charts as the best Chrome OS tablet for drawing. Light enough to take everywhere you go, the flexible design of the HP Chromebook x2 lets you easily detach the keyboard and kickstand and makes for a great travel companion. With long battery life you can stay connected from anywhere. The included USI pen and fingerprint scanner bring a professional flare to this new Chrome OS tablet from HP.

Get it all done with the power of a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and the 3:2 aspect ratio touchscreen. With a full-size detachable keyboard, oversized touchpad, and dual cameras, you’ll stay productive wherever the day takes you. Bring the excitement with you. Experience entertainment on the go with a cinematic screen and dual speakers with Audio by Bang & Olufsen. Plus, you get all of the Google Play Store apps you love on a larger screen. HP also built in optional LTE support so the HP Chromebook x2 11 can be the ultimate work Chromebook for the road and truly one of the best Chromebooks with a touchscreen.

When all the accessories are attached and the x2 11 is totally closed up, the seams are good and the additional pieces don’t feel unnecessary or half-baked.  It all comes together into a smooth overall package.  The only complaints so far seem to be about the hinge on the back.  It works great, but some people have complained that there is a wobble when using it with the included HP USI pen.  Obviously if you want to use it for drawing this is something to consider, but the HP Chromebook x2 11 seems to work just fine when laid flat for drawing on a table or other surface.

The kickstand is perhaps one of the best build-quality elements of this Chrome OS tablets. When attached, it’s nearly impossible to move the tablet accidentally. This means you can easily use the USI pen even when the tablet is propped up with the kickstand. You can also use the pen quite easily with the keyboard attached and using the HP Chromebook x2 11 in clamshell mode. This gives you quite a few more options for drawing in different orientations.

Tablets are a great choice for drawing and if you need portability, it’s definitely the way to go. Also, you get a very nice 3:2 display on the HP Chromebook x2 11, providing an ideal writing experience even on a smaller screen. The keyboard and kickstand are surprisingly stable for this device, so you shouldn’t have any trouble hammering out thousands of words per day. It would be nice to have a larger screen sure, but with LTE and the built-in stylus, this is a machine you can use anywhere for all types of drawing.

    HP Chromebook x2 11
    The HP Chromebook x2 11 combines the power of Chrome OS with the portability of a traditional tablet. You can work anywhere thanks to the optional 4G LTE capability. This is the new top of the line Chrome OS tablet experience.

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Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5

Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 on white table next to plant

One of the most improved aspects of the new Chromebook Duet 5 is the larger, more detailed display. The OLED panel has deeper blacks and still gets a bit brighter than the original Duet. To be sure, the original Duet has an excellent screen at its price point, the 400 nits of brightness is plenty for working outside. This large display is excellent for taking advantage of drawing with Google’s new cursive app, or enjoying Android games and streaming content.

It’s a fairly large tablet, so it might be awkward to use this tablet for reading or for extensive handheld use. I often use my tablets while lecturing at the university and I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable doing that with a 13.3″ display. On the other hand, if you need to get some work done on your tablet, the screen will have plenty of real estate for using the detachable keyboard with a touchpad. You should be able to fit in a couple windows for multitasking easily. With the incredibly bright panel, working outside will also be enjoyable on the Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5.

The Duet 5 also has an amazing quad-speaker array that’s excellent for streaming Netflix or listening to Spotify. You might not even need to pair up headphones with this tablet in order to enjoy your shows or music. Having a nice soundtrack for your drawing can be relaxing, so this is definitely a beneficial feature if using this tablet for its drawing capability.

Lenovo also packed in the all new Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c generation 2 processor. The original Snapdragon 7c was a bit of a letdown, with below average performance particularly when running Android apps. Qualcomm has had plenty of time to make some key improvements, so hopefully this will be a better experience from the perspective of performance. This is the first Chrome OS tablet or Chromebook to run the 7c generation 2, so time will tell how impressive the performance actually is.

Another significant downside with this tablet is the lack of USI pen in the retail box. For the price, it would have been nice if Lenovo included the pen. Of course, you can buy the Lenovo USI pen from their website or a third-party USI pen from Amazon, but they’re fairly expensive at around $40-60. Still, if you want a larger canvas for drawing, it’s worth buying the USI pen to pair with the new Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5.

    Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5
    The Lenovo Chromebook Duet 5 is a larger, more premium version of the Chromebook Duet from 2020. You get a bright OLED display, detachable keyboard, and USI pen support. All of these features for $429 makes this a solid value in the Chrome tablet space.

Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo Chromebook Duet on orange background

Dubbed the “IdeaPad Duet Chromebook” outside the U.S., the Chromebook Duet is really a trio of sorts, if you count its main components. The one pound aluminum alloy tablet is the first (and most important) piece. The second is a gray fabric “stand cover”, a magnetically attached back panel that has a kickstand you can fold out to prop up the tablet on a desk. The third bit is a magnetically attached keyboard with touchpad, which can flip up to cover the screen. With all three pieces combined, the Duet trio forms a 2.03 pound package altogether.

The tablet alone measures 0.29 by 9.4 by 6.3 inches and combines a glossy front panel with a two-tone back that has an eight megapixel rear-facing camera lens in one corner. There’s a two megapixel front-facing webcam in the medium-thick screen border or bezel. Two speakers and two pinhole microphones decorate its top edge (as you hold it in landscape mode). Along its right edge are a volume rocker, the power button, and the USB port, which serves for data transfer, charging—the supplied power plug’s cord is rather short—and DisplayPort video output. Pogo pins on the tablet’s bottom edge fit the keyboard.

Detachable laptops differ from 2-in-1’s, wherein you can entirely remove them from their keyboard and use them as a tablet. They tend to be a lot less bulky, although they may compromise on specifications as a result.

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is one of the best budget detachable Chromebooks on the market, though it features a MediaTek Helio P60T, 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and 64GB of eMMC storage. It has a full HD screen too, so it’s a perfect media streaming machine when it’s engaged in tablet mode.

Do you want to use it for work? Then reconnect the keyboard and it turns back into a laptop. It’s not going to be the fastest or the best, but it’ll get the job done. It’ll do it without breaking the bank too, as it starts at $230 from Lenovo’s website. The great value on offer makes this one of the best Chromebooks under $300 for drawing.

    Lenovo Chromebook Duet
    The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is one of the best detachable Chromebooks you can buy today, and what's more, you're not going to need to break the bank to pick one up.

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Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

Galaxy Chromebook 2

The first Chromebook with a QLED display, this is the best option for users looking to make Chrome OS their go-to platform for drawing. The Galaxy Chromebook 2 continues the overall design of the original Galaxy Chromebook, but reduces some of the premium features to attain a more reasonable price. The most impressive feature here is definitely the display. Get awestruck by every image with the world’s first jaw-dropping QLED display on a Chromebook, which produces over 100% volume.

The processor options are not quite as high-end as the original Galaxy Chromebook, but the Intel Core i3 should do the job for most users. Storage on this device tops out at 128GB, but this is still ultra-fast SSD storage we’re talking about. You also retain 8GB of RAM, and get improved battery life. While the S-pen is still supported, it’s not bundled with the laptop so you’ll need to buy it separately. This also means there’s no slot for storing the S-pen in the body of the Chromebook.

Design is another strong point for the Galaxy Chromebook 2, particularly in the Fiesta Red color. If you’re looking for a Chromebook that matches your personal style, then this is an excellent option to consider. Friends and family will definitely be impressed with how this Chromebook stands out in the crowd. The chassis is also durable and doesn’t have too much give when pressing on the screen with a USI pen while drawing.

Beyond the look, the device is functionally designed as well. Samsung kept the profile slim and rigid, opting for only two USB-C ports (one on each side) and a micro SD slot. As I said before, this is a bit concerning if you use older peripherals, but USB-C is pretty much the standard these days. Overheating was a big issue on the original Galaxy Chromebook. That issue is now resolved, thanks to the vents you find hiding around the back of the Galaxy Chromebook 2. The only source of ventilation on the original Galaxy Chromebook was at the bottom, which led to an incredibly hot device to keep on your lap. In my time with the Chromebook 2, I didn’t notice any overheating even under heavy use.

Overall, this is the best Samsung Chromebook for you if you can live with the removal of the 4K display and fingerprint sensor. The highly attractive price will sway most users to choose this 2nd-generation device. If you need a high quality laptop for watching media, this is one of the best Chromebooks for drawing. It’s definitely a bummer the S-pen is not supported, but Samsung has a robust note-taking app that syncs nicely among all of your Samsung ecosystem devices.

    Galaxy Chromebook 2
    With the Galaxy Chromebook 2, Samsung removed a few premium features but also drastically reduced the price. As the first Chromebook with a QLED display, this machine still packs plenty of power and style for most users.

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ASUS Flip C436

ASUS Flip C436

As well as sleek looks, comfort and ergonomics are a priority with the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436. The precision-crafted chassis has a dual-tapered design, with the body and lid meeting to form a V-shaped edge that makes it easier to open the laptop. This model is fully configurable with up to a 10th gen Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage. This Chromebook also features Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) pens, allowing you to take notes and draw with ease.

It’s incredibly thin and lightweight as well. It’s not quite as thin and light as the Pixelbook and Galaxy Chromebook, but only barely. What’s more, it’s less than 0.22 pounds and 0.10 inches thicker than the famously thin MacBook Air, so you can stuff this in a mid-sized backpack or a tote bag without any hassle. This is a great option to consider if weight and size is a massive factor. The ASUS Flip C436 was one of the first Chromebooks to feature a fingerprint reader in the chassis design. The reader, positioned in the upper right corner, works flawlessly. The oversized, glass trackpad is slightly inconsistent. Like many Chromebook convertibles, the C436 tends to suffer from some palm rejection issues when laid flat on a tablet for drawing.

Two full-function reversible USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C ports make it easy to charge your ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 or connect it to peripherals. Or if you’re looking for more onscreen space, hook it up to an external display with a compatible dock. For maximum convenience and compatibility, there’s also a microSD slot to makes it easy to add extra storage.

The four-sided NanoEdge display design gives the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 an even smaller footprint than you’d expect, bringing you all the benefits of a 14 inch FHD display in a 13 inch chassis. Featuring a precision-engineered mechanism, the versatile 360° ErgoLift hinge on the ASUS Chromebook Flip C436 has a silky-smooth action that holds the display securely at any angle.

This innovative hinge has a dual action that lifts and tilts the keyboard into the perfect typing position when the display is rotated into laptop mode. It also helps enhance the powerful audio by creating extra space underneath the laptop. Despite the compact design for a 14″ laptop, the Flip C436 still features a full-sized keyboard and spacious trackpad. All in all, this is clearly one of the best Chromebooks for drawing.

One of the only concerns with the C436 is touch sensitivity with a general USI pen. It tends to work very well with the $60 ASUS USI pen, which is sold separately, but users complain about touch sensitivity when using third-party options from vendors on Amazon.

    ASUS Flip C436
    For those that enjoy the 14 inch form-factor, this is the best convertible Chromebook from ASUS. You get an impressively built chassis, all the specs you need and some nice extras like Harman Kardon speakers.

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Acer Spin 713

Acer Spin 713 on pink background

The Chromebook Spin 713 is the current hero Chromebook from Acer. Inside you’ll find the impressive Intel Core i7-10510U processor Quad-core at 1.80 GH. Along with this powerful processor, the Spin 713 also packs up to 16GB, DDR4 SDRAM and a 128 GB SSD for storage.

In terms of display, you get a 13.5″ 2K (2256 x 1504) 3:2 IPS Touchscreen panel with excellent maximum brightness and clean viewing angles. The display is also protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass, as is the trackpad. With its 360 degree convertible modes, you can work in space-limited environments such as in-flight or on the train, while also easily making presentations or sharing your screen in convenient and collaborative ways.

If you need to stay connected on the go, this Chromebook comes with an insane number of functional features including Wi-Fi 6, a backlit keyboard, a built-in HDMI port, as well as dual USB Type-C ports to deal with productivity needs. Battery life is excellent for a high-performance Chromebook — over 10 hours of usage on average. On top of all of this, you can also run Chrome Enterprise seamlessly out of the box, making this an appealing option for business customers. All of these features are packed in a beautifully designed metal chassis that makes this the best overall Acer Chromebook.

In terms of drawing, this is a great Chromebook if you want a large screen convertible that you can also use for productivity tasks as well. Having a 3:2 display on your Chromebook makes writing a lot easier, with lots of vertical space for composing documents, blogs, etc. In addition, you can get a full day’s use out of the Spin 713, meaning you won’t need to worry about carrying a charger along to move your office around on the daily.

Perhaps the only downside here is the device is a bit expensive, but it’s still well worth the money if you want to play games, watch Netflix, and get some work done in addition to drawing.

    Acer Chromebook Spin 713
    Acer's Spin 713 is an ultra-premium Chromebook from top to bottom. With good looks and verified MIL-STD-810G military-grade durability, this is an impressive machine. Top of the line specs and a convenient 2-in-1 design give you the power and portability to work anywhere.

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Google Pixel Slate

pixel slate celeron

If you want a Chrome OS tablet made by Google, the Pixel Slate is still your only option in 2021. The device still has a number of positives, including a durable magnesium alloy build, beautiful display, and thin and light design. Overall, the Pixel Slate is the lightest large screen Chrome OS tablet out there, so it’s perfect for drawing on the go.

Unfortunately, the Pixel Slate doesn’t come bundled with the Pixelbook Pen or the keyboard cover. The Pixelbook Pen is still expensive, even in 2021. Because of this, you’re going to spend $200-300 extra to enjoy drawing and typing on your Pixel Slate. Battery life is solid with around 7-8 hours screen on time per cycle, which is above average for a Chrome OS tablet.

The Pixel Slate has the same 12.3 inch screen size and 3:2 aspect ratio as Google’s previous tablet-laptop hybrid, the Pixelbook, but it’s a much higher resolution. The Pixel Slate’s LCD display is incredibly sharp, with a 3,000 x 2,000 resolution. Google calls the screen a “Molecular Display” which feels like nothing more than a marketing buzzword to compete with Apple’s Retina.

Marketing buzzwords aside, the screen is phenomenal. The 12.3-inch screen size is large and comfortable to use as a tablet and a laptop. Watching movies, playing games, or just simply browsing the web on the Slate’s colorful, vibrant, and contrasty display is a joy. The black levels on this panel are so good you might second guess it for an AMOLED panel. The screen gets bright enough to comfortably read should you decide to take your productivity or entertainment outside for the day too.

In terms of drawing, the Pixel Slate has a beautiful display that pairs incredibly well with the Pixelbook Pen. Despite the high price for the extra accessory, the Pixelbook Pen is a much more capable tool than many USI pens out there today. Considering that Google specifically engineered the hardware and software to work in tandem (much like the iPad and Apple Pencil), there are fewer instances of input lag with the pen. One thing that can be concerning is the palm rejection sensitivity, but that’s somewhat of an issue on any Chrome OS tablet today.

For those that want true productivity to go along with drawing capability, you might want to look elsewhere. But for those of you that care most about portability and excellent integration with the Google ecosystem, this is an option worth a look for drawing.

    Google Pixel Slate
    While it's getting a bit older these days, the Pixel Slate is still an excellent option for the true Google experience on Chrome OS. It also supports an optional detachable keyboard and the Pixel Slate pen for productivity on the go.

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Acer Spin 513

The first thing you’ll notice about the Spin 513 is the incredibly light and thin form factor. Acer lists the weight on their website as 2.84lbs, but I weighed it myself in my review and found my model to be closer to 2.6 lbs. Obviously there’s a little bit of variance on each unit, but I can definitively say it’s lighter on average than what Acer claims on the specs page. Add that to the .61″ thickness and you have a device that feels more like a tablet than a laptop. If you need an ultra-portable drawing machine, the Spin 513 can do the trick.

With its FHD display, the Spin 513 is somewhat an anomaly in this class of Chromebooks. Most devices you find below $400 have much lower resolution displays. Right away, that’s a win for the Spin 513. In addition, the display gets bright enough at around 300 nits of maximum brightness. That’s also beating nearly all of the best Chromebooks in its class.

The IPS panel also provides solid color accuracy and viewing angles. I was able to use this laptop outside pretty well, as long as I was not in direct sunlight. My unit did have a bit of a blue tint to the display, but of course these uniformity issues occur with any product that uses an LCD panel.

Touch accuracy is also good, with no issues using Android apps in tablet mode. Playing games and watching Netflix are enjoyable activities with the Spin 513’s 16:9 display. As is the case with many Chromebooks, the speakers are the real detractor for media consumption. You get stereo speakers, but they are bottom-firing which is never optimal. Maximum volume is still pretty quiet and there is virtually zero bass when listening to music. The audio is passable for the occasional podcast or streaming movies, but you should absolutely use headphones for music.

The good news is the Spin 513 does deliver excellent battery life. I certainly didn’t get the 14 hours of use Acer claims on the spec sheet when I tested it, but I did average a respectable 10.5-11 hours of actual on-screen time. During my testing I also put it through some pretty heavy workloads, so that could potentially stretch to 14 hours if you only do light browsing and use productivity apps. It’s pretty rare the number listed by an OEM is attainable in practice, but that’s at least conceivable with the Spin 513.

As a drawing or coloring machine, this is a great value with an above-average display at this price point. The Acer Spin 513 is also one of the lightest 2-in-1 Chromebooks out there. Combine those traits with the awesome battery life and this is a great contender if you need to be around $400 for price.

    Acer Chromebook Spin 513
    If you want a 2-in-1 Chromebook, but not at a high price, the Spin 513 is a great option. You still get a bright and vivid HD display, along with excellent battery life. If you need to work on the go, the Spin 513 has optional 4G LTE capability. Performance isn't the best, but if you're not a power user this is a nice Chromebook.

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Those are our picks for the best Chromebooks for drawing. All in all, the HP Chromebook x2 11 is your best bet. It has a tablet form-factor, which is really the best option for a drawing machine. In addition, the screen is incredibly high resolution and the HP USI pen glides effortlessly across the touchscreen when using Google’s new Cursive app. The Cursive app was initially optimized for the HP Chromebook x2 11, so you get the best drawing experience in that particular app. Considering the impressive package on offer, it’s surprising you get the HP pen and keyboard/kickstand included in the retail price of the HP Chromebook x2 11.

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, the original Lenovo Chromebook Duet is an excellent option. This Chrome tablet can be found for under $200 on sale these days and it’s still a nice compact tablet for drawing. The screen isn’t quite as impressive or bright as the HP Chromebook x2 11, but you can easily carry it just about anyone for sketching and drawing.

About author

Jeff Springer
Jeff Springer

Applied mathematician with a love for Android. I am interested in inverse problems for imaging and integration with camera software for mobile phones.