One of the newer ventures in technology has been Chromebooks, laptops that are exclusively Internet-based. There’s a lot of argument about them of whether or not they’re worth buying into. Both sides of the argument have good points, but really, you need to dig into the crux and decide whether or not it’s a laptop that will meet your needs.
Follow along below and we’ll dig into Chromebooks and see if they’re a right fit for you.
What are Chromebooks?
Chromebooks are laptops that are running Google’s Chrome OS software, an Internet-based operating system. In general, you’re not going to find a Chromebook made by Google. Acer, Dell, ASUS, Samsung and many other manufacturers takes Google’s Chrome OS and load it on their own hardware. Google used to make Chromebooks — the Chromebook Pixel — but they were overpriced and didn’t really go anywhere.
What’s the purpose of a Chromebook?
Chromebooks are all around good devices for what they are. You’re getting a low-profile and very portable laptop that you can carry with you anywhere. It’s a perfect choice if you need something low-profile to take into meetings to write notes, school and so on.
The form factor isn’t really where people get hung up on though — it’s the fact that the laptops are very limited in what they can do. Aside from some limited offline access, there’s very little you can do without access to an Internet connection.
Another frustration is that one can’t install programs on the laptop — Microsoft Office, CAD software, video editing software, games and so much more. None of that can be installed on a Chromebook, which is why many aren’t confident in Chrome OS-based laptops.
However, it’s important to not get hung up on either of those things, as it isn’t the goal of the Chromebook to meet those needs. First, let’s touch on the Internet “problem.”
Frankly, it’s not a problem for most people. Much of our computer usage takes place on the Internet — Facebook, Twitter, viewing articles, watching video, streaming Netflix, online courses, collaboration in the Cloud and so much more. None of that takes place on a local machine. So many people download a browser, and then have access to all the tools they use online. There’s very little else they’d use an offline laptop for. In fact, many people out there wouldn’t use a computer if there was no Internet access. This is the intended audience of the Chromebook, and frankly, it works extremely well for this audience.
Secondly, the frustration with not being able to download programs. It essentially boils down to the aforementioned statement — it’s just not for the intended audience. Many or most people will access everything they need by way of a browser. But, even people who need to use programs are using Chromebooks, and that’s because many programs are going Internet-based — Microsoft Office 365, some CAD software and some Adobe software just as a couple of examples. There’s many more out there.
On top of that, Chromebooks do offer applications. It’s a recent addition to Chrome OS (and it’s slowly being adopted), but now you can download Android applications on your Chromebook to expand functionality. Suffice to say, this has opened up a lot more possibilities.
All in all, Chromebooks are good laptops. Sure, they’re not for everybody, but if you’re in a pinch, need something cheap and really, all you use is the Internet, the Chromebook will get you by no problem. A huge bonus is that they’re super portable, making it the perfect companion for school, work or even play.
Another neat thing about Chromebooks is that they’re becoming popular among the modding community. There are ways to wipe away Chrome OS and install Ubuntu and other Linux distributions on the Chromebook. By doing this, you’ll be able to get a full-fledged laptop going on some decent hardware (although, you might need to find yourself a larger SD card for more storage space).
So, when it comes down to it, and if you don’t mind a little tweaking, Chromebooks really are solid laptops, whether you decide to keep Chrome OS or not.
Do you own or have you used a Chromebook before? If so, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!