What Is a Chromebook, and How Is It Different than a Laptop?

If you’ve been in the market for a laptop recently, you may have seen a type of laptop called a “Chromebook” It might sound a little weird; after all, isn’t Chrome a web browser? Why are there laptops named after it?

Chromebooks fill a specific niche in the laptop world. If you purchase one expecting something similar to a normal laptop, you may end up very disappointed with your purchase. However, if your needs and wants from a laptop match what a Chromebook does, you may find yourself saving a bit of money in the process!

So, how do Chromebooks differ from regular laptops? Let’s take a look at the main areas where the two are different.

Cheaper Price

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On average, Chromebooks are cheaper than their laptop brethren. This is because they’ve been designed in a way that cuts down costs, as we’ll explore later in this article. If you’re only interested in something to carry around and do work on, a Chromebook is an inexpensive solution to a simple problem.

Chrome OS Operating System

You’re probably used to buying laptops with Windows, macOS, or Linux installed on them. Chromebooks don’t have a choice in these, instead coming with Google’s own operating system, Chrome OS. This is the reason why they’re called “Chromebooks.” This means if you treasure the freedom of installing whatever operating system you like, a Chromebook is not ideal.

No Hard Drive

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Chromebooks also don’t have a hard drive installed. Instead, they will have a small solid state drive which holds the operating system. This is deliberately done to help keep the cost of the Chromebook down to a budget price.

So if there’s no hard drive and only a small solid state drive, how do you save work on it? The intent with Chromebooks is that you use cloud-based storage, specifically Google Drive, to keep your files. That way the Chromebook doesn’t really need a hard drive; all your storage is in the cloud! If you’re doing all your typing on Google Docs anyway, a Chromebook may be an inexpensive way to take your work on the go.

Faster Boot Times

Because everything on a Chromebook runs off of the solid state drive, this means you’ll get a faster booting time overall. On average, it take eight seconds for a Chromebook to go from completely turned off to active and ready to go. This makes it very appealing for those who want fast, speedy boots from their laptops.

Limited Software

Maybe not limited software, but at least none without using specialist tools! While you can download software just fine, actually installing programs such as Word, Photoshop, and Skype won’t be possible unless you use workarounds. This is often a dealbreaker for people who rely on these tools to get work done. However, before you throw the idea of a Chromebook out entirely, check if there’s an online browser or Android version for your favorite software. For instance, Microsoft has recently been rolling out Office for the Android store for specific models of Chromebook.

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Chromebooks fill a very specific niche when it comes to computing. Some users may fall in love with the positives, while others will consider the negatives an absolute deal-breaker when purchasing a laptop. So, who are Chromebooks for, and who will fall out with them?

Perfect Fits

Chromebooks fill a fantastic niche for people who want a simple, lightweight laptop for basic work. If you just want something that can browse the Internet and help you get your school or office work done, a Chromebook is a perfectly inexpensive way to do just that. It also makes for a great basic entertainment center. Want to watch YouTube videos or catch up on social media at the café or in bed? Chromebooks can fill that niche.

 Not Ideal Picks

If you’re a power user and need a laptop that keeps up with your demands, give Chromebooks a pass. This includes performing heavy-duty work that requires specialist software to perform, such as 3D modeling. Also, you’ll be hard-pressed to enjoy a Chromebook if you’re an avid gamer, so perhaps stick to Windows machines if you enjoy video games.

Despite their unique name, Chromebooks are quite simple in their design. If you’re a lightweight user who loves the cloud, a Chromebook is a budget-friendly way to work on the go. However, power users may want to stick with their traditional laptops.

What do you think of Chromebooks? Are they for you? Let us know below.

Image credit: Open Grid Scheduler on Flickr

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