Chromebook

With such a wide assortment of portable computing options available today, it’s becoming harder to understand the difference between notebooks, tablets, laptops and other personal computing devices. One recent entry into the portable computing market is the Google Chromebook. The Chromebook is something of a hybrid between a tablet and a laptop. In terms of hardware, it looks feels and operates much like a laptop or notebook computer. In terms of software and storage, however, it is more like a tablet than a laptop. Here is a basic overview of the Google Chromebook and how it differs from other Windows laptops.

Chromebook Pricing

Probably the biggest upside to a Chromebook is its price tag. Chromebooks are mostly priced in the $200 – $400 range, making them a great first computer for students or a great second, third or fourth computer for a family. With their tiny price tag comes some serious limitations over other computers, however, so they may not be the best option for a primary computer for anyone that relies heavily on a computer to perform a wide variety of tasks. While they can perform a number of other tasks, Chromebooks are predominantly designed for web browsing, video streaming and simple computing tasks like creating documents and spreadsheets.

Chromebook Storage

The biggest drawback to Chromebooks, however, is that they often don’t offer any storage other than cloud-based storage through Google Drive (which is offered free for the first 2 years with a purchase of a new Chromebook.) What this also means, however, is that they require the internet to operate many programs and apps and can’t be used for a number of tasks in areas where there is no WiFi available. For some, this may present a serious drawback.

Laptop Operating System

Like a PC, what makes a Chromebook a Chromebook is its operating system. Originally, like MacBooks, Google manufactured its own Chromebooks, but now they are made by a number of different manufacturers such as HP, Acer or Samsung. This is like a PC, which can be made by a number of different manufacturers but runs on Windows OS. This is different from Apple notebooks that all run Mac OS. Apple creates its own software that runs only on the hardware that it manufactures. Windows, on the other hand, does not make hardware like a notebook or desktop, they only create the operating system. The hardware that Windows OS or Google OS runs on is created by HP, Samsung or other computer manufacturers.

Chromebook Apps

Not surprisingly, Chromebooks are optimized to work with Google Apps, such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Drive. This can be a positive or a negative depending on what services you use most frequently. If you already have a Gmail account and use Google apps for your e-mail, calendar and synching photos and contacts from your phone, then getting set up on a Chromebook will be a breeze. If you use a PC or Mac as your main computer, however, then there are a number of programs that are not cross-compatible between a PC or Mac and a Chromebook. Until recently, Android apps were also not available on Chromebooks, but new Chromebooks set to launch in 2017 will offer the availability of Android apps as well. This will also open up a whole slew of available apps that will work offline as well.

Games on Chromebook

While you can play games on a Chromebook, choices are currently limited to what you can find in the Chrome Web Store. The store offers a good selection of the usual suspects like Solitaire and Bejeweled, but you won’t find nearly the selection that is available for PC’s or Macs. However, with the availability of Android Apps on the new 2017 models, that should open up a much broader selection of available games as well.

Other Software Programs

A number of software applications that people frequently use on their computers, such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office Suite, are not available for Chromebook. This does not mean, however, that you cannot edit photos and documents in those programs on a Chromebook since both Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office have online applications. All in all, however, Chromebook are mostly geared towards web browsing and other light computing tasks. Processing and RAM

Processing and RAMSince Chromebooks are made to predominantly be used for web-browsing, they are light on RAM and don’t have very powerful processors. On the other hand, they generally tend to have fairly long battery life as a result – with many models able to run up to 12.5 hours without needing to be charged. Chromebooks generally come with only 2GB of RAM but 4GB Chromebooks are available at the higher end of the price spectrum. Most Chromebooks use the Intel Celeron chip, but for slightly more processing speed you can find units containing a Core i3 chip.

Since Chromebooks are made to predominantly be used for web-browsing, they are light on RAM and don’t have very powerful processors. On the other hand, they generally tend to have fairly long battery life as a result – with many models able to run up to 12.5 hours without needing to be charged. Chromebooks generally come with only 2GB of RAM but 4GB Chromebooks are available at the higher end of the price spectrum. Most Chromebooks use the Intel Celeron chip, but for slightly more processing speed you can find units containing a Core i3 chip. Sizes

Chromebook Sizes

Chromebooks generally come in 3 sizes: 11.6″, 13,3″ and 15.” For lightness and portability, the 11.6″ inch Chromebooks, such as the Lenovo 100S Chromebook and the HP Chromebook 11 G4, can’t be beaten as they both weigh in at under 3 pounds. If you need a slightly larger screen, however, you might consider the Dell Chromebook 13 or the Toshiba Chromebook 2 CB35. For maximum screen size, check out the 15-inch Acer Chromebook 15 – the largest Chromebook offered.

Chromebook Brands

Many traditional laptop makers now build Chromebooks. Here are a few popular brands that make Chromebooks:

  • Lenovo
  • Asus
  • Acer
  • HP
  • Samsung
  • Dell

Special featuresUnlike most laptops and tablets, Chrome OS has voice controls, which allows you to say “OK, Google” and be greeted with a voice assistant ready to help. If you use an Android phone and/ or tablet, Chromebooks can stay synced with your other devices. You can start a task on one device and pick up where you left off on another. Some Chromebooks offer a flip screen, which makes them convertible into more of a tablet, while others offer a touch screen and onscreen keyboard.

Unlike most laptops and tablets, Chrome OS has voice controls, which allows you to say “OK, Google” and be greeted with a voice assistant ready to help. If you use an Android phone and/ or tablet, Chromebooks can stay synced with your other devices. You can start a task on one device and pick up where you left off on another. Some Chromebooks offer a flip screen, which makes them convertible into more of a tablet, while others offer a touch screen and onscreen keyboard.

Overall, Chromebooks are excellent computers for anyone that just needs a computer to perform the most basic computing tasks. Chromebooks are excellent for students or as the first computer for kids. Chromebooks are also an excellent option for businesses that need to provide their employees with a portable notebook computer or for individuals that predominantly use a desktop computer, but need a lightweight laptop that can access the internet.