Thinking About Getting a Chromebook in 2017? The Pros and Cons May Surprise You…

Want a super fast laptop for under $199? Heard about Chromebooks and their awesomeness? Don’t even know what a Chromebook is? We don’t care. Read on and learn. We’ll tell you all about ’em.

They’re populating the educational market. Many schools in the US now have replaced their pricey Windows or Macs with these simple, fast, and affordable laptops. They’re easy to use, safe, and fast. Although they’re known for having compatibility issues, or useless without an Internet connection, or even maybe just a laptop with a web browser, they’re much more than that. Critics often accuse them of being too expensive for what they are, but if you really drill it down, you’ll see that they offer much much more than people say.

Last updated: 4/19/17. We keep this page updated for your best interests.

What’s all the rage about these little laptops?

The Acer CB3-131 is one of the most popular and best Chromebooks.
The Acer Chromebook 11- one of the most popular models. (Source)

In essence, Google launched a line of laptops that are made to be efficient, affordable, and fast. They’re made by all the major brands you know, such as Acer, HP, Samsung, Dell, Lenovo, and even some random lesser known brands like Hisense and Haier.

 

Chrome OS logo.
Chrome OS is the operating system that powers these devices.

 

All Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which is Google’s own proprietary operating system (OS). If you don’t know what an OS is, it’s basically the core application that runs the entire system. You know how Mac and Windows look different (menus, keyboard shortcuts, etc.)? That’s simply because of the OS. So, Google has their own OS built into them that’s different from Windows and Mac.

Chrome OS is easy to learn and use. It's perfect for students.
Chrome OS has a slight learning curve that you may not be used to. But it’s very easy to learn since they’re built for simplicity. (Source)

A bunch of welcome differences

Does it look and feel different?

Yes, if you’re used to Mac. Windows users will have an easier task navigating through all the menus since Chrome OS is built in a way that’s very similar to how Windows’ layout is. The navigation, UI, and window controls are almost in identical locations.

Is it easy to learn?

Yes, provided that you’re willing to look up certain keyboard commands and other functions. If you’re used to Windows, you’ll have no problem.

Notice the missing "caps lock" key and up/down arrow keys.
Notice the missing “caps lock” key and F1-F12 keys are gone. And the weird up/down arrow keys. (Source)

Pros:

  • Super fast boot (Chromebooks start up in seconds compared to Windows and Mac)
  • Built-in virus protection (They have tight security features which mean you don’t need to buy antivirus programs)
  • Tons of apps for every purpose- productivity to get stuff done, notes to jot down ideas with your hand, entertainment like Steam games, and more
  • Updates automatically (They automatically update when new versions come out)
  • Fast browsing for simple tasks (Browsing the internet is a breeze)
  • Efficient battery (Batteries last all day in most models)
  • Models available for kids that are learning how to use laptops, students in college, and even business professionals
  • Very competitive pricing (You get a lot of power for a very low price)
  • Free stuff from Google (including a 100GB Google Drive subscription)
  • SSD flash hard drive for quick access to memory
  • 2017 models are packing a punch with more power under the hood
  • Browse from thousands of apps and run them on your laptop
  • Almost everything is free- no need to buy any extra programs or word processors (such as MS Office)
  • Built-in SD ports for additional memory
  • USB 2.0/USB 3.0 ports on most models
  • Constantly improved by Google
  • Newer models feature convertible designs with touchscreens
  • Lots and lots of free games available on the Chrome Web Store- everything from RPGs to shooters and puzzlers

Cons:

  • Compatibility issues (This is the main reason why many avoid them- they don’t run many programs that exist. You’ll need to either use Google’s apps as a substitute, or you can dual boot with Linux. Most of the programs are actually web apps such as Google Hangouts in place of Skype (although Skype now has a web-based version that works), or Google Docs instead of MS Word)
  • Low quality builds (A budget laptop comes with a budget piece of plastic. Chromebooks are fragile and the majority of them consist of just plain plastic. The keyboard and trackpad may be difficult, clumsy, or simply cheap)
  • No internet = $200 digital wallpaper (Another main drawback is that without an internet connection, they can’t really do much if anything. Since the majority of programs that run on one are web apps which require an internet connection, you definitely need to always have a WiFi connection. Google is working on this to make more apps available offline)
  • Small hard drive space (If you have a lot of media to store, you’ll need to buy SD cards. Most models come with only 16 or 32GB of SSD memory)
  • No Ethernet ports (You can only connect to the internet via 3G or WiFi)
  • File compatibility (Chrome OS doesn’t support a lot of common file types, such as .wmp, mp3, mp4, etc. but it does have a file explorer that does support many popular formats)
  • Game support is poor (They aren’t really made for heavy gaming other than light web-based games, nor do they offer the compatibility)
  • No support for common programs (You can’t install many popular programs such as MS Office, you’re forced to use Google’s apps)
  • Tied to 1 Google Account (The registration is tied to a single Google account, you need to reset it to switch accounts)

Concluding thoughts

So all in all, if you want a simple computer to browse the internet, check email, and handle simple tasks, then look no further. They’re perfect, especially for their price tag. If you need more, we suggest you look into a Windows or Mac based computer. There are multiple manufacturers trying to go for the “cheap laptop” model, so this idea isn’t exclusive to Google. However, we think Google currently leads the trend with the Chromebook. There are models running as cheap as $130 for a fully-fledged machine. Fast, affordable, and portable- the Chromebook’s 3 shining features. Other competitors don’t come close to the price/performance ratio. They’re a good buy for those who just want a laptop that works.

 

About Andy Z.

Andy is a casual-hardcore Chrome OS fan and contributes to the site regularly. He likes computers, tech, sports cars, videogames, and of course, Chromebooks. Thinker. Introvert. Geek. You can find him on Twitter (@platytech), or send him an email (platy@platypusplatypus.com).

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