What is a Chromebook?

The name says it all. What sets a Chromebook apart from other laptops is the Chrome OS, which is designed to use online web applications and cloud storage, rather than programs and files loaded onto an internal hard drive. The result is a new category of very thin, very light and very popular laptops.

Chromebooks started out as a low-priced alternative to mainstream laptops : You can find a variety of affordable Chromebook laptops for less than $200. As users have come to appreciate the ultra-light operating system and highly mobile design, a wide range of Chromebooks have emerged, including advanced models with high-resolution displays and ultra-fast processors, available starting at $700.

What sets Chromebooks apart from other laptops?

Chromebooks were promoted by Google, the search engine company that has also introduced game-changing products in other areas, such as the Android operating system for mobile devices. The first Chromebooks hit the market in 2011, and since then, almost every major PC manufacturer has partnered with Google to create lines of branded Chromebooks, such as the Lenovo Chromebook series.

The great innovation that the Chromebook brought to the market was the elimination of the typical operating system of all-in-one PCs that did everything from starting the system and sorting documents, to running programs and playing DVDs. Instead, Chromebooks use Google’s minimalist Chrome OS, based on open source Linux. The Chrome OS, in turn, uses the Chrome web browser as its primary user interface, similar to how other operating systems might launch programs from the so-called ” desktop “.

Since most actions are initiated from the Chrome web browser, most activities performed on a Chromebook take place over the web rather than within programs on the system’s hard drive. These web-based activities include watching movies or other popular content, using office software, saving files to cloud storage, etc. With most activities taking place online, Chromebooks can reduce cost and weight and thickness by eliminating traditional optical drives (DVDs, CDs, etc.) and using comparatively small solid-state storage drives.

Advantages of a Chromebook laptop

With less expensive hardware and software components, Chromebooks have quickly carved out a place for themselves in the PC market for buyers looking for a low-cost laptop that allows them to do most things online. With the popularity of Chromebooks growing beyond the budget shopper, more advanced PC users are valuing Chromebooks for their fast boot times, lightweight system, and overall mobility.

What are the advantages of a Chromebook?

The advantages of a Chromebook computer include:

  • light operating system
  • Long battery life
  • Optimized for Google apps
  • Fast boot times
  • Browser-based simplicity
  • Extremely thin and light

Long battery life

The minimalist Chrome OS and the absence of the typical spinning hard drive means you spend more time unplugged.

Optimized for Google apps

If you already rely on popular Google apps like Calendar and Gmail, Chrome OS is optimized to use these Google products comfortably.

Fast boot times

With an intentionally minimalist operating system and data stored on a solid-state drive, Chromebooks have less to do when booting up, drastically reducing startup time. Chromebooks boot up in as little as 10 seconds.

Browser-based simplicity

If you can use a web browser, you can use a Chromebook. The user interface is the Chrome browser, a platform familiar to many.

Extremely thin and light

With fewer bulky internal components, Chromebooks are among the thinnest and lightest PC devices available today.

For more information, see Chromebook vs. laptop: Which one is right for me?

Are Chromebooks good for students?

Chromebooks can fit the needs of many students, but not all. These laptops are extremely light and portable, they are among the cheapest systems available, and the Chrome OS is very easy to learn and use. However, because Chromebooks have less internal storage than comparable devices, and work primarily through remote cloud services and web apps, these laptops are better suited to users who are comfortable working that way – less so for those who prefer to load programs and save multi-gigabyte files locally.

A Chromebook could be a good, cheap laptop for a student who is primarily engaged in reading books, writing papers, and doing research on the web. Google has created a vast universe of useful word processors and other apps that Chromebooks come pre-optimized for, like Google Photos, Docs, Music, Drive, and others. Outside of the Google universe, other software companies have released Chrome OS or cloud-based versions of popular programs, too.

A Chromebook may be less suitable for a student who often works outside the range of a wireless Internet signal (did we mention that? Chromebooks require connectivity for many of their features), who wants to spend study hours playing video games, processor-intensive computer, or whose course of study requires the use of advanced software programs not available for Chrome OS. Also, most Chromebooks have fewer ports to connect external devices to charge the battery or transfer data directly when short-range or long-range wireless options aren’t enough.