What is a Chromebook, exactly? You have probably heard people talking about Chromebooks, those strange computers that don’t run Windows, but that have other specific advantages.
In this article, I will give you a concrete explanation of what a Chromebook is and what the differences are between it and a Windows portable computer as well as its advantages and downsides.
Chromebooks, what are they?
Chromebook is the generic name given to portable computers which are based on the Chrome OS. It is not just portable computers that use this operating system, but it is more common to find it being used on a portable computer.
Chromebooks first appeared in June of 2011 as a Google initiative with the goal of offering simple, secure, fast and inexpensive portable computers.
Ever since, a number of Chromebooks have been developed and have come to possess a significant market share, especially in the United States where Chromebook sales recently surpassed those of Macs.
These portable computers which run the Chrome OS are focused around web navigation through Google Chrome (hence the name Chromebook), and are designed to offer maximum optimization in this regard.
This is important for two reasons.
First of all, surfing the web on a Chromebook is a real pleasure. Everything is fast, simple and efficient.
Secondly, Chrome OS, being a proprietary operating system, classic Windows applications such as Office, Skype and iTunes won’t work on it. However there are good alternative replacements for these programs which do run on Chrome OS.
Chromebooks and the Cloud
Chromebooks were also conceived with another idea in mind: being able to take full advantage of the cloud, and in particular of Google Drive.
Thanks to the cloud, you no longer have to worry that your files will be lost if you loose the USB key on which you saved them.
Your important files such as documents and spreadsheets are available to you anywhere and on any device, be it a desktop or laptop, or a smartphone.
Because of this, Chromebooks don’t have a lot of internal memory. Thankfully, it’s not really necessary because you will mostly be using it to surf the web and for creating documents and presentations.
What is Chrome OS?
To really understand what a Chromebook is, you must first know more about Chrome OS – the operating system developed by Google and which is exploited by Chromebooks.
Chrome OS is, in point of fact, a derivative of the Linux operating system which has been rendered as simple and as optimized as possible for web surfing.
Being a Linux derivative, Chrome OS, has a great degree of built-in security. What’s more, Google automatically updates their Chromebooks every 6 weeks with the latest performance improvements and innovations.
Since Chrome OS is a different operating system from Windows, you will not be able to run Windows applications – such as Photoshop, Microsoft Word or Skype – on it.
From this point of view Chromebooks are portable computers with rather limited functionality. If you absolutely need to run Windows applications, you should probably only use a Chromebook as a supplementary computer to your desktop PC.
I personally have a powerful desktop computer running Windows, with two beautiful monitor which allow me to work very efficiently, and I only use my Chromebook when I am traveling or to go to class.
The lack of certain familiar Windows applications may be a source of anxiety for you, but it is one which will be mitigated with the imminent arrival of the Play Store on Chromebooks.
Once the Google Play Store, with its millions of Android applications is available on Chromebooks, the major disadvantage of Chromebooks will have been corrected and they will be on their way to world domination!
How to Overcome your Dependency on Certain Applications
In the mean time, you might be asking yourself how you can get around the lack of availability to your favorite applications such as Microsoft Word and Skype.
First off, for primary tasks such as document or spreadsheet creation, or even for creating presentations (tasks accomplished by Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Windows systems), Google has introduced their own alternative suite of programs (Docs, Sheet and Slides) which works perfectly and even has a mode to work while disconnected from the internet.
Chromebooks also have access to an app store, the Chrome Web Store, which offers a very decent selection of programs of all kinds. Be it for drawing with Sumo Paint or playing a game of Cut The Rope, you will always be able to find a program which makes you happy.
To get a more complete list of applications and their respective functions, don’t hesitate to consult the official Google help site.
Once you have gotten over the idea of doing without your favorite software, you will start to appreciate the numerous benefits offered by Chromebooks.
What Advantages do Chromebooks Offer?
There are four main advantages to using a Chromebook. Their price, speed, build quality and security.
Chromebooks are ridiculously inexpensive for the functionality which they offer as well as for their build quality. All you need to do to convince yourself of this fact is to look at the Chromebooks for sale on Amazon.
Where you would have to spend 500$ to get a decent Windows laptop to surf the web, you would only have to pay 200$ for a Chromebook.
Their low cost is therefore one of their main advantages over other types of laptops.
Their speed is also very impressive. Chrome OS is entirely optimized for web surfing, something which won’t take you very long to fully appreciate when using a Chromebook.
You can say goodbye to lags, pages which take forever to load, or endless boot times. Chromebooks make activities such as watching Youtube videos, checking your Facebook page or writing email really pleasant experiences.
Oh, and Chromebooks take less than 10 seconds to boot, and they come out of sleep mode instantaneously.
The Build Quality of Chromebooks
Their good build quality is another important aspect which Chrombooks have going for them. For just over 200$, you can get the same Chromebook that I have, the Toshiba Chromebook 2. It has a sublime IPS 1080p display, high-quality keyboard and track pad, a battery with at least 6 hours of life, feather-weight, silent operation – since it has no fan – and many more great features.
The quality/price ratio of Chromebooks is simply unbeatable on the present day market, and it is a real pleasure to be able to have such a beautiful machine for such a reasonable price.
Ultimately, the Chromebook’s security and its automatic updates every 6 weeks are also very much appreciated features. You will no longer need to worry about your computer getting a virus that might corrupt your whole hard drive.
To learn more about the advantages of Chromebooks, please don’t hesitate to read my article “4 Good Reasons for You to Buy a Chromebook”.
Did this article allow you to find out what you wanted to know about Chromebooks? Now that you have learned more about them do you intend to buy one? Please don’t hesitate to leave your comments, I would love to read them.