Why a Chromebook is probably all you need

Due to the rise in remote learning and working during the pandemic, many people are now aware of the world of Chromebooks. It’s probably because of this that I’ve spent more time answering questions about them from family and friends than I have since. they were first launched in 2011.

Chromebooks are now 10 years old and a lot of things have changed. Most of my Chromebook conversations are about people buying them for kids, but those Q&A sessions regularly end with the question, “Should I buy one for myself?” And the standard answer is usually “It depends on your needs”. But after a bit of research, many people find that they don’t need to do more than can be done on a Chromebook.

A common argument against buying a Chromebook is that you can do so much more with a real computer, meaning a laptop running macOS, Windows, or a Linux distribution. That’s usually true, but again, a lot of people don’t. need Do more. What can be done with web, Linux, and Android apps on Chromebooks is increasingly enough to get your day-to-day things done.

Acer’s updated Spin 713 Chromebook is the first Intel Evo-certified Chromebook.

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Is a Chromebook enough for me?

Not sure if a Chromebook is right for you? Start by making a list of exactly what you need to do on a computer. Include what you to like to do too. If everything on your list is done in a web browser, congratulations, Chromebooks are a perfect fit.

So much, especially when it comes to productivity tasks like word processing and spreadsheets, can happen in a browser or with a web application. Web apps are basically websites that work like downloadable mobile apps and Google has an online store full of them.

If you can’t find a web app to suit your needs, all modern Chromebooks can also run Android apps from the Google Play Store. It’s essentially this combination and some other key Chrome OS features (I’ll get to that in a second) that make Chromebooks an easier recommendation than they were just a few years ago.

A Lenovo Chromebook Duet on a table with a bowl of fruit in the background

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is both a pen tablet and a laptop.

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What’s good with Chromebooks?

Price is one of the main factors that make Chromebooks so attractive. While high-end models start around $500, you can find great options for everyday use for $200 to $300. One of my favorite cheap models, the Lenovo Chromebook Duo, sells for less than $300. It’s a two-in-one Chromebook with a removable keyboard cover so it can be used as a tablet or laptop. With his USI pen support, you can draw and take notes on the screen. You can connect a Bluetooth gamepad to it and play Android games on it.

Speaking of gaming, while you can’t play the latest PC games directly from a Chromebook, game streaming services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now make the game possible. And, again, you can also play Android and browser-based games. Additionally, the availability of apps for services such as Netflix, HuluSpotify, YouTube and YouTube Music mean you have plenty of entertainment options.

Also, some of the same reasons Chromebooks are good for schools and businesses make them great home computers. All family members can have separate Google accounts, and signing in only gives them access to their stuff, not yours. Child accounts can be managed with Google Family Link. It’s almost impossible for Chromebooks to get corrupted by viruses or other malware. And if it doesn’t work properly, you can reset it with Chrome Powerwash feature and within minutes the system is clean and fresh.

Read more: Laptop vs Chromebook: What’s the difference and which is better for you

A Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 on a table

Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook 2 delivers a premium Chrome experience.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Google regularly updates the operating system for security reasons and adding new features and installations are quick and painless. In fact, Google announced several new tools and updates to celebrate its 10th anniversary last year. And if you’re an Android user, there are even more reasons to choose a Chromebook. of Chromium Telephone concentrator function makes it easier than ever to collaborate between the two devices.

However, there is one thing to know about updates. Google Chrome devices have a Automatic update expiry date. Non-Google hardware is only supported for a certain period of time before it stops receiving Chrome OS and browser updates. For models released in 2020, the date is around seven to eight years from the device’s initial release, but that’s not always the case. Google maintains a list of AUE dates for all models and it’s definitely worth checking out before buying a Chromebook, new or used.

What can I do with a Chromebook?

A hurdle for some is the need to run Microsoft Office or other native Windows or Mac software. There are progressive web app versions of Office software which look and behave like the Office 365 mobile apps. However, you’ll want to make sure all the tools you need are available online or in apps before you make the switch. Take this same approach with every app on your must-have list.

For example, if you need a laptop to run full Adobe Creative Cloud software like InDesign and Photoshop, a Chromebook isn’t a good choice. Adobe has limited versions of CC apps for Android that are supported on Chromebooks, so depending on what exactly you’re doing, you might be able to get by. Again, however, Chromebooks aren’t natively compatible with software for Windows or Mac.

That said, software maker Parallels now offers Parallels for Chrome for Chrome Enterprise. It allows you to run full Windows applications. However, it is primarily intended for professional users and is not the best option for regular consumer use.

You can also use a Chromebook and its Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to other computers that have the Chrome browser installed. Remote desktop only takes minutes to set up and can be used as a workaround to access Windows and Mac software on a Chromebook. You can also use it to provide technical support to family and friends or share your computer with them so they can securely access your applications and files.

Chromebooks have come a long way over the past 10 years and while they may not be a solution for everyone or everything, they now meet the needs of many laptop buyers.

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