Are you still using a Windows computer? You’re missing out.
Well, it’s been about 5 months in since I first starting using a Chromebook.
At this point, I think I’ve learned pretty much everything there is to know about them- including all the pros, cons, advantages, disadvantages, and all the little thing about these awesome little laptops.
Of course, I don’t consider myself even close to being an expert. But I’ve used mine enough now that I can form a somewhat personal opinion about them.
Then again, they keep updating Chrome OS with new features, so there’s always new stuff rolling out. There’s always something new to play with.
Why get a Chromebook? I’ll give you some basic reasons why I’d buy one for myself.
Last updated: 1/25/21. Update for WFH.
Update: I’ve been using mine for over a year now. If you haven’t read my other article, I jotted down 10 benefits I’ve learned from using a Chromebook over.
Update: In 2021, I’m STILL using a Chromebook for the majority of my work. I’ve learned to carry it everywhere with me and use the “offline” mode apps daily to save power on WiFi. These things are built solid and just keep going and going.
Reason #1: It does pretty much everything you need it to do (without all the bloat)
At this point, my laptop has pretty much replaced my Windows desktop.
It’s actually pretty surprising how this happened. What a surprise.
When I initially bought one, I was thinking I’ll use it in bed or whenever I’m out in public (which I’ve never actually brought it outside yet), but I wasn’t expecting much from Chrome OS.
I’ve heard all those negatives about Chromebooks, such as how they’re useless or can’t do anything without any Internet connection. So I thought, I’ll just use it for some quick web-browsing, YouTube-streaming, and typing up some documents on Google Docs.
Now, I pretty much don’t even touch my Windows desktop- the one computer I’ve grown accustomed to for the past 6 years.
The only reason I switch it on is if I need to use Windows-native programs, which I’m constantly finding replacements and substitutes for on the Chrome Web Store.
Update: I used to do the bulk of my productivity work on my desktop.
But now, I use the laptop. The main reason is that it’s just a lot faster. I use productivity tools like Google Docs or Sheets to get most of my work done. I know you can use those apps on any platform, but I don’t know, working on a Chromebook just puts me in productivity mode. I get the majority of my work done on my laptop and the rest I leave it Windows.
For example, if I’m typing up an article (like this one), I’ll do all of it on my laptop.
When I’m done, I generally just import into my desktop using Google Drive and then doing the image editing or final edits on a bigger screen.
But then again, I tend to goof off on the PC. Perhaps that’s why I get more done on the laptop.
Reason #2: They can be customized to suit your purpose
My work consists mainly of writing and number-crunching. In fact, this article is an example of my work.
I used to load up Microsoft Word, which was bloated, slow, and had way too many buttons on the “ribbon.” Though they’ve much improved on this over time. But it’s still very annoying to use for me. I don’t know why.
Now I just go to Google Docs and start typing up a storm. It has an automatic save feature which saves your work literally every few seconds. This has saved my stuff from getting lost in cyberspace more times than I can count.
I also use a whole suite of productivity apps– Docs and Sheets for work, Hangouts for conferences, LastPass for forms, Session Buddy for tabs, Evernote for notes, and Pomodoro Timer for time blocking. As you can see, my laptop is built and customized to get work done. Your experience may be different. If you’re into entertainment, you can download a whole bunch of entertainment apps, like Netflix and Pandora. If you’re a digital artist, there are a ton of photo editors available as well. If you’re a gamer, there are literally hundreds of games you can install (Arcade Legends being one my all-time favorites).
It’s like a smartphone. You decide which apps you want and you install them. You customize your laptop to suit your lifestyle. That’s what’s awesome about them.
On a side note, I also like to have some kind of background noise running…in the background. This is usually via YouTube, but I have my own music as well. The built-in media player works just like how you expect it to. You can play audio, video, and all the other formats you commonly find media saved. This is the perfect companion for when you’re working and want to listen to something. But then again, you’re free to browse the radio apps available to you on the Chrome Web Store.
Update: The Play Store is also coming to Chromebooks to offer you thousands of additional apps.
Reason #3: A Chromebook offers two main benefits over Windows
Now, the main reasons that divide Windows and Chromebooks are performance and functionality.
First, the performance.
The Chromebook I have comes with your standard 16GB SSD and 2GB RAM (it’s an Acer CB3-131). Everything loads in a snap and apps launch quickly. Starting up the machine only takes about 6 seconds. Updating requires a restart, but that again is super quick.
Think of updating a Windows computer.
You need to download the update, which slows down the system and eats your bandwidth, then you need to restart your machine to actually let Windows install the update. Then Windows may restart depending on the update. It’s a whole ordeal and makes me delay the update every time the window pops up asking me to restart.
Now, I run Windows 7, so I’m not sure if it’s changed for later versions, but all I know is that I hate updating Windows.
Update: I’m now using Windows 10 and it still suffers from the same issue.
Even with Active Hours, I still get annoying popups and my computer has restarted on its own and I lost my work a few times.
Besides the updates, it loads apps, tabs, websites, media, files, and everything else I need in a pinch. If I load an image via the native image viewer on Windows, it lags, struggles, loads the program with a blank image, then loads the image. Though I know this is really dependent on the computer specs, it’s slow for me. Perhaps I just have a crappy computer.
And this applies to everything. It’s generally faster on my Chromebook compared to my desktop. Web browsers, programs, applications, whatever. It’s always faster on my laptop no matter what it is.
Of course, this isn’t exactly a fair comparison considering my laptop is well-specced compared to my desktop.
However, I think it’s a fair comparison for Windows OS vs. Chrome OS. If you took two systems with equivalent specs, I’d bet the Chromebook would win in performance on nearly every test. Chrome OS is built to be fast, lightweight, and secure. And you can definitely see it because it just flies.
Second, the functionality.
They obviously run Chrome OS, which is Google’s open-source operating system. You don’t download programs and install them like you do traditionally on a Windows or Mac device.
Instead, you use the Chrome web store, find an app that does what you need, and install it. This usually takes seconds depending on the size of the app and your ‘net speed, but there’s nearly an app for everything. It’s pretty much like your smartphone and the app store.
The thing is, there are tons of free and paid apps that do literally everything you can do on a Windows-based machine.
So basically, instead of MS Office, you can use Google Docs, Sheets, etc. Instead of Photoshop, you can use an image editor.
Instead of Skype, you can use Google Hangouts, or not, since you can now run Skype on Chromebook or you can wait for the update of the Play Store coming to Chromebooks.
This means you’ll have the Chrome Web Store and the Google Play Store on the same machine. That means Skype, Minecraft, and Clash of Clans will all be playable on your Chromebook.
How cool is that?
But then again, there are plenty of programs it can’t run because they’re native to Windows.
It really depends on you. If you’re a student taking a class that requires specific programs for your class, you’re better off having a Windows computer. But if you’re a student just taking a class without any specific program, the Chromebook wins for notes, assignments, collaborating, projects, and homework.
Reason #4: They’re very easy to use
Chrome OS will greet you as soon as you sign in for the first time with a well-written quick start page.
You’ll learn the majority of “how to do whatever on a Chromebook” by exploring the OS by yourself.
Everything is pretty well laid out and intuitive. If you don’t know where something is, use the handy App Launcher.
You can press the Finder key (magnifying glass) or click on the Launcher icon in the bottom-right. This will bring up your App Launcher where you can search for anything- settings, an app, and even Google search. It makes it very easy to navigate around Chrome OS.
Google is also working towards getting all their products built with material design in mind. It’s where basically everything is built to be easy to use for mobile devices and touchscreens. They’ve even built a new desktop layout and a redid the App Launcher just for touchscreens. This new design will make it easier to navigate.
(If you’re new to Chromebooks, I wrote a huge guide to learning how to use one. You may want to check it out.)
Also, you can browse Google’s support documents online.
Reason #5: They cheap
These laptops are super cheap compared to Windows laptops. You can get a very nice laptop for less than half the price of an entry Windows laptop.
In fact, a lot of them are bought by students for school, which is why they currently own the classroom.
They’re cheap, portable, and can do pretty much all your basic tasks. They’re perfect for homework, taking notes, and are small enough to fit in a backpack. This is why they appeal to schools that have made the switch to them.
They’re also used by professionals because they offer an affordable solution for work on-the-go.
(Don’t know where to start looking? I wrote a list of the best Chromebooks under $200 to get you started.)
Bonus reason #6: They don’t get viruses
Windows is the king of malware because of its huge userbase. Chrome OS is nearly bulletproof and super secure. This protects you from viruses, trojans, and other nasty malware.
Chromebooks automatically update to the newest software version, which keeps them up-to-date in security. This is why there’s no antivirus in existence for Chrome OS.
And in the rare event you download a file that you think is infected, you can always take steps to remove the virus.
I’ll take the Chromebook
So far, so good. My Chromebook has taken over my Windows desktop for the most part.
I’d never have thought a laptop would be more productive than a desktop, but I guess so.
Keep in mind, I’m not a laptop person, so this is why it’s surprising to me. I’ve always used desktops and hated laptops since you always get more for your money going with the tower.
Now that I’ve experienced how much more productive a laptop can be, I stand corrected about my previous opinion.
If I had to pick out the thing I don’t like so far- it’s gotta be the trackpad. If you press on the top half of it, it doesn’t register a click unless you press hard. It seems to be a common design issue across all of them and not just mine. It’s pretty annoying because you have to learn to click on the bottom half only.
It’s pretty annoying and I’m assuming all early generation Chromebooks have this issue. If it really bothers you, you can always just buy an external USB mouse and plug it in.
Other than that, I have no complaints. I’m stoked to power up this beast every single day and I’m having a blast with it.
It’s like playing a new videogame console or starting up a new car. You know that feeling? Yeah. It’s good.
If you’re on the fence about deciding whether not to get a Chromebook, I’d say go for it. They’re cheap enough to afford.
Sit tight for updates.
Update: I’ve been using my laptop for over a year now. I’ve learned a lot of things (both good and bad) about Chromebooks in general.
Chrome OS continues to improve for the most part and is really making some drastic changes recently.
The shift to convertible touchscreen form factors is here. Newer laptops will all have Play Store apps. A lot has changed about Chrome OS for the better. They’re taking a big part of the market in schools. A few flagship models have come out for 2018.
A lot of big things going on in favor of these laptops.