At first glance, there are hardly any appreciable differences between them: they have a screen, hard drive, keyboard, trackpad, connections of all kinds… and they even seem more compact. The key, the big difference, is in their operating system since… no, they are not Windows or Mac OS computers.
This is, broadly speaking, the great hallmark of Chromebooks, a family of laptops that is strongly committed to the cloud thanks to Chrome OS, a system based on the Linux kernel. In practice, the user experience does not differ much from that of Android phones. And it is that devices from HP, Samsung, Acer or Asus have the classic app drawer (including those from the G Suite: Gmail, Meet, Docs, etc.), they allow you to manage multiple desktops, they are compatible with the Play Store… Everything , very recognizable for those who have a ‘green robot’ mobile. So what sets them apart from classic Windows laptops?
Chromebooks, with many advantages…
operating system . Although they boast a wide configuration, Chromebooks are focused on those users who make basic use of the internet. In other words, they are ideal for those who limit their experience to browsing, watching online videos, organizing video conferences or working with office apps.
Autonomy . A forced consequence. If we add to more modest features (in terms of processor, RAM, etc.) a greater system efficiency (Chrome OS) and the execution of less demanding apps, the battery notices. And a lot. Hence, this type of device can easily reach an autonomy of up to 10-12 hours.
Price . The great claim. As they are intended for a public without the need for high performance, their cost is lower (many start at 200 euros). This is helped, among others, by ‘discounts’ such as those implied by the absence of a Windows license. Many manufacturers make up for this with extras like touchpads, backlit keyboards, or the ability to turn them into tablets.
Updates and Security . Although both have a lot in common, Chrome OS is not synonymous with Android. And that shows in the update policy established by Google, more ambitious than the one that most smartphones ‘suffer’. And at the security level, it can also take off: due to architecture and because it is a ‘less massive’ objective, friends of the alien tend to set their sights on more massive systems such as the Windows environment itself.
… and also drawbacks
Power . Although there are more and more ambitious models, due to specifications many Chromebooks are far from the classic ‘premium’ laptops. This translates into the fact that they are often not capable (nor do they intend to be) of executing programs that involve high processing speeds or medium graphic demands, in the case of those dedicated to photo or video editing. They are also not recommended for gamers looking for maximum resolutions or high refresh rates with Triple A. Alternative? In addition to the titles of the Play Store, the streaming game seems like the perfect option.
Storage . Due to their online nature, they do not need it, but the memories that they usually implement do not usually exceed 64-128 Gb. and this can be a burden depending on the case. Of course, they often have a microSD card port.
Versatility . Another of its great shortcomings. Unlike Windows, a more ‘universal’ and versatile operating system, the scope of action of Chromebooks is reduced to the apps of the Google Play Store which, while not few, do not reach those of the Microsoft system in quantity and compatibility. And what about those communication and resource management applications specifically implemented for Windows in a work environment….
Chromebook yes or no? Depends on usage
Opting for a device with Windows or Chrome OS is not an easy decision and depends on the needs of each one. If you are only going to use the laptop for simple tasks on the Internet (browse, watch streaming videos, ‘casual’ games…) Chromebooks seem like a perfect complement since, in addition, they have contained dimensions and very reasonable prices . On the other hand, if you aspire to more complex tasks or need maximum compatibility with other environments, don’t hesitate: prioritize a model with a Windows system (or Mac OS depending on the case).