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What is Chromebook? Computers and the way we use them have gone through several changes over time. The evolutionary process was a necessary one so that the age-old cabinets could be transformed into modern computers.
The change is such that a room full of computing components has shifted in size, and today you can hold a computer on the palm of your hand.
Now, this evolution is not only in the hardware but also regarding software and other such things that we cannot physically see.
The emergence of the Chrome OS back in 2011 brought a fresh alternative to the stereotypical operating interfaces.
It was special in such a way that it provided an easy-to-use computer but within affordable prices, along with added features.
With the arrival of Chrome OS, the need for portable devices that could run it also increased. Hence, laptops were designed which were specifically built to run the Chrome OS, and thus named Chromebooks.
These devices didn’t gain a massive audience at first, but eventually, people realized that although they aren’t as flexible as the other operating systems, it did have some advantages of its own.
This article is dedicated entirely to the Chromebooks, what they are, and their strengths and weaknesses. To gain some more insight, consider viewing our article made for the Chrome OS solely.
What is a Chromebook?
A Chromebook is a laptop that runs on the Google Chrome OS. It offers the same features as any other laptop does, be it portability, small size, and so on, but on the Chrome interface.
The basic model on which the Chrome OS is developed is Linux and Chromebooks can be used to access anything present on the Play Store, along with Google Drive (or Cloud storage) and other web-based applications.
A typical Chromebook would be lightweight and slimmer than a laptop even since it doesn’t need heavy components to run the OS.
Over the years, the number of users has increased, but there are still others who are more comfortable with Windows or Mac on a large screen.
Those who don’t have extensive requirements or want a secondary computer for media storage or consumption prefer the Chromebooks.
The first-ever Chromebook was launched by Acer, very close to the launch of the Chrome OS itself.
Not only that, but there was also something known as a Chromebox launched soon after, that offered the use of Chrome OS on a desktop.
But the ability to run android apps wasn’t something that the Chromebooks had from the very beginning.
Rather, it was only in 2016 that the Chrome OS was integrated with Android.
Many laptop brands have Chromebook options, and those aren’t very expensive either.
The lower price tag has always been one of the good things about the Chrome OS. Check out best Chrome OS desktops.
But the question of whether a Chromebook or a laptop would be best for you is a matter of its own and requires special attention.
Now that you know what we are dealing with here, let’s see the good and bad sides of the device.
1. Lightweight and thin
The main advantage of a Chromebook is it’s lightweight, and one would even be lighter than a Windows laptop in general.
This is because they don’t use heavy storage drives or other equipment as the latter, and as a result, the overall weight is on the lower side.
The lower weight and thin profile makes it highly portable and allows you to carry a Chromebook to places where you wouldn’t have carried your laptop.
2. Variable Display Choice
Chromebooks are available in both small and standard laptop display sizes, which make them ideal for anyone’s screen size preference.
There are Chromebook which are 12″ in size, while a bigger 15″ display is also available. You won’t find a bigger Chromebook, although a size bigger than that would hamper the portability anyway.
Not only the size, but there are choices regarding the display quality as well. The screens of the Chromebooks may not be the brightest but are good enough for enjoying a movie or a video and working outdoors.
The screen resolution of the majority of Chromebooks is in the FHD (1920*1080p) range, while some also have better (2K) displays.
You might even find one with a 4K display, like the Lenovo Yoga C630, or the more expensive Samsung Galaxy Chromebook.
3. Touchscreen Devices
Like other laptops, there are some convertible Chromebooks too that offer the functionality of a tablet and a laptop at the same time.
4. Multiple uses
A Chromebook has almost all the functionalities that a laptop would provide you but within the Chrome environment. This includes the ease to attend video calls, connect headphones, and so on.
A general misconception about this platform is that it doesn’t have many usages offline. Well, this is only partially true.
Several applications have some sort of an offline mode that still allows you to work, which is then uploaded once you get connected to an internet network.
You can then access this data from a different device too, as long as you are using the same Google account.
5. Dual Monitor setup
The newer versions of the Chromebooks are being launched with video ports (HDMI ports directly) which allows you to connect to and control more than one displays at the same time.
So you can use it in similar ways as you would have used your laptop, and won’t be stuck with a single display while working, watching movies, or even playing games.
6. Good Connectivity
Now the Chrome OS has some specific purposes and has more uses online. These range from web surfing to running various applications.
For this reason, Chromebooks come with WIFI and even LTE connectivity so that you can easily connect to the Internet.
There are also lots of ports that you can use, and even if there aren’t, a USB hub solves the issue.
The number of ports might be limited, but would be enough to add an external storage device.
7. Better Battery Life
Since the Chrome OS is small in size and is highly efficient, the devices that use it tend to have long battery life.
Now surely other kinds of laptops may have bigger batteries, but they also need to run heavy software and games.
Whatever you can run on a Chromebook isn’t very power consuming, and for this reason, they last longer.
The average battery backup of a Chromebook is about 8 hours, but this depends on the underlying specs and how you use it.
8. More Multitasking
Another very important aspect of a Chromebook is its ability to multitask. Even with a low-processor and less RAM, you can easily open multiple tabs on the Chrome browser, while playing media in the background or playing games.
There would be no sign of a lag unless you decide to put it under extreme pressure. There are expensive options though that can handle a good amount of workload without slowing down.
Currently, the latest version of the Chrome OS can run almost every app on the Google Play Store without an issue.
Thus you can browse the internet, check emails, use video or music players, and heavily multitask between various applications on a much bigger screen than your smartphone.
The trouble of dealing with viruses and formatting storage drives as a result of a virus attack is something that every Windows or Mac user has to face at some point or the other.
But that is not the case for Chrome OS users since Chromebooks do not use the software which the other two operating systems generally use.
This reduces the risk of a virus creeping in, and thus there is simply no need of having anti-virus installed on your Chromebook.
10. Variable Options
You get multiple options for a Chromebook and depending on your needs and budget preference, you can choose from them.
There are devices that are as cheap as $200, while those with more RAM and Storage can cost up to $1100.
The price segment of $300-700 would provide you with the best of options.
11. Limited Usage
The Chrome OS has certain limitations that one has to face. The most concerning of them all is how it can be used.
A laptop, for example, can do a lot of work even though it isn’t a high-end model. But the same cannot be said for a Chromebook.
This is why you can never use it as a primary device if you are a professional of any kind.
No matter how useful it may be in certain situations, it can never entirely replace a laptop or a computer running on Windows or Mac OS.
12. Weaker Processor
The very reasons why a Chromebook is advantageous is also why you’d have problems with it. The first among these is weaker processors.
Now it does support various kinds of processors, but there isn’t any reason why an i9 would be present on a Chromebook.
Even if there were, there aren’t enough things you could do with it on the Chrome OS.
Chromebooks usually use battery saving iterations of the CPUs and aren’t designed for enormous power delivery.
This means the raw processing power would still be better on a decent Windows or Mac OS laptop, compared to the most expensive Chromebook available today.
13. Not so satisfying graphics
The next problem with Chromebooks is that they aren’t very good with graphics processing, and the reason is similar to that above.
Even integrated graphics on a Windows laptop is better than what you will find on most Chromebooks, and there simply isn’t a way you could add a dedicated GPU.
This not only limits the graphics capability but also the overall processing strength of the device.
14. Not suitable for gaming or editing
Gaming or editing on a professional level is not possible on a Chromebook.
You are restricted to the editing apps available on the Playstore or the Chrome Webstore, and in most cases editing there is as good as can be done on a smartphone.
Now some Linux applications provide a few more features, but that would never be as good as Adobe Photoshop or such software.
For gaming, things are similar, and all you can play are simple games or those available on the Play Store or the Chrome Webstore.
An $800 Chromebook cannot run any of the PC games that a laptop of the same price would. This is disappointing, especially if you were planning to game on the new Chromebook you just bought.
15. Limited Storage
Most Chrome-based devices would indeed provide you with the ports and SD card slots through which you may expand the storage.
But this doesn’t alter the fact that the storage by default on such devices is much smaller, usually in 32 or 64 GB.
In the current time, storage like that is insufficient for even storing a good amount of movies of high quality.
Now there is always the option of using Cloud Storage and that surely is useful, but not always.
There might be a time where you need a file urgently and there isn’t any internet network to connect to. That might be a big inconvenience to face.
16. Dependence on Internet Connectivity
This may sound contradictory to what we said about a Chromebook’s advantages, but these devices largely depend on an Internet connection.
You may be able to work offline for a while and use it for other purposes, but the only way you would be able to utilize it fully is after having a decent internet connection.
To upload a large file on cloud storage or a server, for instance, a fast internet connection becomes a necessity.
The importance of Chromebooks cannot be judged only on the weaknesses and strengths of the device concerned or the Chrome OS.
Rather, it largely depends on the user’s needs and preferences. While it may be useful for students and those who want to enjoy media on a bigger display, professionals would have to use a separate PC for most of the tasks.
No matter what, it still is a very good alternative to the traditional operating interfaces that can be availed at a budget-friendly price.