Why most people should buy a Chromebook

Many more people were introduced to the world of Chromebooks over the past year and a half as they have been ripped off for distance learning and homework over the pandemic. This is probably why I spent more time answering questions from family and friends than I have since. they first launched in 2011. It’s true: Chromebooks are 10 years old now and a lot has changed.

Most of my Chromebook conversations are with people who buy them for kids. But these question-and-answer sessions regularly end with the question, “Should I buy one for myself?” And the common answer is usually, “It depends on your needs.” But after some research, many people find that they just don’t need to do more than can be done on a Chromebook.

Read more: Best Chromebooks for 2021

A common argument against buying a Chromebook is that you can do a lot more with a real computer, that is, a laptop running MacOS, Windows, or a Linux distribution. This is generally 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 sufficient to accomplish your daily tasks.

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

Josh Goldman / CNET

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 would like Like to do too. If everything on your list is done in a web browser, congratulations, Chromebooks are great.

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 for them.

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

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Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet is partly a pen tablet and partly a laptop.

Joshua Goldman / CNET

What’s good about Chromebooks?

Price is one of the big things that makes Chromebooks so appealing. While premium models start at around $ 500, you can find great options for everyday use for $ 200 to $ 300. One of my favorite models from last year, the Lenovo Chromebook Duo, sells for less than $ 300. This is a two-in-one Chromebook with a detachable keyboard cover so that it can be used as a tablet or laptop. With his USI stylus 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 games, while you can’t play the latest PC games straight from a Chromebook, game streaming services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now make gaming possible. And, again, you can play Android and browser-based games as well. In addition, the availability of applications for services such as Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and, of course, YouTube and YouTube Music give you plenty of entertainment options.

Additionally, some of the same reasons Chromebooks are good for schools and businesses make them great home PCs. All family members can have separate Google Accounts, and signing in gives them access to only their stuff, not yours. Children’s accounts can be managed with Google Family Link. It is harder for Chromebooks to be affected by viruses or other malware. And if it’s not working properly, you can reset it with Chrome’s Powerwash feature and within minutes the system is clean and fresh.

Read more: Laptop vs Chromebook: what’s the difference and which works best for you

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The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2 offers a premium Chrome experience.

Josh Goldman / CNET

Google regularly updates the operating system for security, and adding new features and installations is quick and painless. In fact, Google just announced several new tools and updates to celebrate its 10th anniversary. And if you’re an Android user, there are even more reasons to buy a Chromebook. Google added a telephone hub functionality This makes it easier than ever for the two devices to work together.

There is one thing to be aware of when it comes to updates. Google Chrome devices have a Automatic update expiration 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 7-8 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 before buying a Chromebook, new or used.

What can I do with a Chromebook?

A hindrance for some is the need to run Microsoft Office or other native Windows or Mac software. Although there are web and mobile app versions of Office software, not all of Office functionality is duplicated. 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 list that is a must-have.

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 the 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 Macs.

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 business users and is not the best option for use by regular consumers.

You can also use a Chromebook and its Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to other computers that have Chrome Browser installed. Setting up Remote Desktop only takes a few minutes 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 your family and friends or share your computer with them so that they can securely access your applications and files.

Chromebooks have grown a lot over the past 10 years and while not a solution for everyone or everything, today they meet the needs of many laptop buyers.


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