Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

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Google’s Chromebooks are surprisingly good laptops. They’re cheap — only $249 for what’s probably the best one at the moment — lightweight, portable, and quick-to-boot. They may not be the ideal computer for a PC gamer or heavy-duty desktop software user, but they can be great portable web browsers to drag to class.

Chromebooks have become surprisingly capable, but they can’t do everything. They can’t play the latest PC games or run the desktop version of Photoshop. You can’t install iTunes and maintain a 500GB collection of local music files. But you’d be surprised at all the things a Chromebook can do. A Chromebook can accomplish most of the things most people do on laptops.

What’s a Chromebook?

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which is primarily just a Chrome browser with some other software around it to make it more useful. There’s a simple local file system that lets you view files like images, documents, videos, music, and archive files, but you’ll be spending most of your time in Chrome. If you’re someone who already spends most of your time in Chrome, a Chromebook might be a good option.

That said, you’ll be limited to applications you can run in Chrome. There’s definitely offline support, including a Gmail Offline app, so you don’t have to worry about being unable to read your email, look at your calendar, or write documents without a Wi-Fi connection, but if you depend on software that’s only available for Windows or Mac desktops, you may want to skip the Chromebook.

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Rather than rely on local files — there’s some local storage, but not very much — you’re encouraged to use cloud-based file storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, or SkyDrive. Google Drive is the most integrated solution, and buying a Chromebook like the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook will get you 100GB of Google Drive space for two years.

There’s no Skype just yet, but Google Hangouts works great and offers the ability to have video chats with up to ten people for free — unlike Skype, which requires you pay for this feature.

chrome os desktop with app launcher   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

Documents, Spreadsheets, and Slideshows

Chrome OS has access to all the web-based office software out there. This includes Google Docs, and Chrome offers offline access to your documents so you can keep writing new documents and editing existing documents even while you’re offline.

If you really need Microsoft Office, you won’t find the desktop version of Office available to you on a Chromebook — but you will have access to Microsoft’s Office Web Apps. They don’t offer any offline access, but you can edit documents from SkyDrive and use familiar Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote interfaces in your browser. You won’t find every advanced Office feature here, but basic document editing and viewing are all many people do with Office.

Best of all, the Office Web Apps and Google Docs are completely free — there’s no boxed software cost or monthly subscription fee, as there are with Microsoft’s other Office products.

google docs offline chromebook   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

Notes, To-Do Lists, Reminders

Chromebooks have a variety of notation and to-do list apps available. There’s a web-based version of Evernote that can be used on Chrome OS, while Google offers their own Google Keep app that works offline with an online sync feature — so it will work perfectly when you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network.

google keep app on chrome os   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

All web-based to-do list apps will work, but apps like Any.DO and Wunderlist offer offline packaged app version that work entirely offline. So-called “packaged apps” that work entirely offline are becoming more common — even Pocket now offers a packaged app that will sync your reading list to your Chromebook, allowing you to read your saved web pages even if you don’t have an Internet connection.

wunderlist offline packaged app on chrome os   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

Editing Photos

You can easily grab photos off a digital camera using a USB cable or by plugging in an SD card. The photos can be saved to your Chromebook’s local storage, but you’ll probably want to upload them to a web-based file service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Google+ Photos.

You can also easily access photos stored in the cloud — if you use an Android smartphone and set up instant photo upload in Google+ or Dropbox, all the photos you snap will be automatically uploaded and available on the web on your Chromebook.

When it comes to photo-editing, there’s a built-in basic image editing, but otherwise you’re dependent on web-based tools. There are countless web-based image editors out there, but if you’re looking for an extremely powerful one, you should try Pixlr.

pixlr image editor on chrome os   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

Listening to Music

You could download MP3 files to your Chromebook and listen to them locally, but there’s not much local storage space and your Chromebook isn’t really designed for that. As long as you have an Internet connection, you can stream music from all the typical websites — Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, TuneIn Radio, and more.

If you want to take your local music collection with you, you can use Google Play Music. Install Google Play Music Manager on your current Windows, Mac, or Linux computer and it will upload up to 20,000 songs to your Google account — entirely for free — and allow you to stream them on-demand from anywhere, including your Chromebook.

listening to music on chromebook   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

Watching Movies

Chromebooks have access to all the standard web-based video services, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and anything else using Flash or HTML5 to play back videos in your browser. You can also play local video files, such as ones in MP4 format, so if you can find a link to an MP4 file online you can download it to your Chromebook and watch it using the local video player.

If you have an Android phone or tablet, it’s simple to plug in your phone and copy such local music or movie files back and forth via the Files app. Chromebooks don’t play too well with Apple’s iPhones and iPads.

watching netflix on chromebook   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

Playing Games

Games are definitely a weak point of Chrome OS. If you’re a PC gamer, you won’t find all the games you’ve come to expect on your Chromebook. However, if you only play a few casual games — maybe you’re a gamer but you prefer consoles, anyway — you’ll find you have access to quite a few games.

Unlike iPads and modern Android tablets, Chromebooks officially support Flash content. That means you have access to all the Flash games online, including ones on sites like Kongregate. There are also the games in the Chrome web store, including ones that use HTML5.

Nevertheless, if you plan on doing major gaming, you’re going to want a Windows PC or a console — that’s just the way it is. If you’re a gamer but you already have a Windows PC or console and don’t expect your laptop to do any gaming, you can get along pretty well with a Chromebook.

chrome web store games   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

Working with Windows and Mac Computers

You can’t run Windows or Mac desktop software on your Chromebook, although you can set up Chrome Remote Desktop on a remote Windows, Mac, or Linux PC and access its desktop remotely. If you have access to a Windows desktop, you could remotely access it from your Chromebook if you ever needed to use a desktop program. Nevertheless, if you depend on running such software regularly, a Chromebook isn’t for you.

windows remote desktop on chromebook   Looking For A New Laptop? Get A Chromebook Instead!

You can also connect standard USB flash drives to a Chromebook, allowing you to transfer files between computers. Files can also be transferred with web-based services — for example, by sharing them in Dropbox or Google Drive. Chromebooks also work with other standard peripherals, like USB mice.

Should you Get a Chromebook?

Chromebooks aren’t for everyone. If you’re in a class that requires you use Photoshop, Office, or another desktop program, you can’t get by with just a Chromebook. If you want to sit in the back of class playing Call of Duty on your laptop, a Chromebook won’t do that, either.

If you’re looking for a cheap, lightweight, and fast laptop that lets you get on the web and gives you access to the Chrome browser without any other junk getting in the way, Chromebooks can be a great option.

At the moment, the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook — check out our review — is probably the best one to get. It’s inexpensive at only $249, quick to boot, lightweight, and portable with decent battery life. The hardware — keyboard and touchpad included — feel fairly good, too. Samsung and Google made all the right compromises to hit a $249 price point while offering a good experience.

Have you picked up a Chromebook yet? Would you recommend one, or did you find it too limited? Leave a comment and share your experiences!

This review contains affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

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92 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Kev Quirk

I bought myself a Chromebook Series 5 550 recently and I have to say that it is a superb machine. I have a desktop PC, and a laptop that I use for work, so I decided to get a Chromebook as a backup for those machines – for those times when I’m chilling on the sofa and my Nexus 7 won’t do.

I actually found that the Chromebook is far more than a “backup machine”. I migrated to Google Drive because I got 100GB of free Drive storage with my device and I haven’t looked back since. I actually use my Chromebook more than my PC now – pretty good for a “backup”.

Some people say things like “it’s useless without an internet connection”, but to be honest, my PC and laptop would be equally as useless without internet as I couldn’t get my emails, connect to my corporate VPN, or do a tonne of other things like remotely connecting to devices etc.

I personally use my Chromebook for general internet surfing, managing my documents via Google Docs and of course Gmail. Being already heavily enrolled in the Google ecosystem helped me I think, but having said that my girlfriend has taken to the device like a duck to water and the only thing she had with Google was her emails (Gmail).

Overall I would absolutely recommend the Chromebook to anyone that isn’t a gamer. They’re cheap, well made, run extremely well, and have a battery that lasts all day. What more could you ask for?

Patrick P

How about access to my information without worrying about connecting to the ‘net? 100GB is not big enough to carry what I have to access on a daily basis. Too bad Google can’t make a real computer for the people that have to have access to real information in real time.

Kev Q

I don’t need to “worry” about connecting to the internet. My Chromebook automatically connects to my wi-fi in just the same way as it does on your “real” computer.

Maybe 100GB isn’t enough for you, that’s fine, but you could always purchase more – this isn’t just an issue with Chromebooks though, this would be the same if you used Dropbox, Copy, or any one of the countless other cloud syncing services.

_”Too bad Google can’t make a real computer for the people that have to have access to real information in real time.”_

What defines a “real” computer Patrick? Right now I’m working on an article, I’m using a number of documents in Google Docs, I’m listening to music from Google Music, and I’m checking my emails in Gmail. How is this not “real”? I’m able to do the exact same thing on this computer as I can on any other computer.

This whole “ChromeOS is useless without an Internet connection” mantra that people spout off is getting really old and is simply not a valid point. The Internet is so accessible that it isn’t even an issue, besides, as I said before, a “real” computer would be just as useless to most other people without an Internet connection…lucky for us the Internet is so accessible though.

Sure you can edit documents offline with a “real” computer, and you can compose emails that are ready to be sent when you re-connect…oh wait, I can do that on my Chromebook also. You see, they’re every bit a “real” computer as yours is.

Patrick P

So I am in a “dead” zone with no signal and have to show a client a prospectus that rocks. Unfortunately with no signal, the oversized media deal rocks out at 150GB and the written part isn’t even figured in.

Do I want a netrider or do I want a COMPUTER to do this job?

Real computers don’t rely on the cloud to get things done, they just do it.

Kev Q

As I mentioned before, both email and documents can be accessed offline. So the “dead zone” statement isn’t relative to this conversation.

The Chromebook may not suit your needs, and that’s fine. But it doesn’t make it any less of a “real” computer than a laptop or a desktop, it all depends on what you need the device for.

By your logic we could take it what step further and say “I need Photoshop, so a Linux based laptop isn’t a real computer because I can’t get things done”. That’s a ridiculous thing to say. As is what you’re saying.

The Chromebook isn’t for everyone, I totally agree with you on that, but claiming that it isn’t a real computer just because it’s cloud centric is quite frankly a little ignorant.

Patrick Piklapp

Considering, I use Photoshop on a Linux based OS, I find your statement to be ignorant. A computer is a machine, which depending on the programs contained within, allows the user to complete projects and access data contained within.

A netbook is not a computer and neither is a tablet. Both can be used on a limited basis, but considering the lack of storage and processing power, can’t be used to completely replace a real computer. A phone, these days, can access the net, but I would hate to run a business from it.

Joshua Lam

@Patrick P,

Tablets are computers. So are TI-84’s and netbooks. I find your definition of “computer” to be rather narrow, not to mention technically incorrect.

At any rate, none of your concerns are particularly concerning for the every day user. Or even actual workers. The Chromebook can be easily outfitted for offline work–especially when Ubuntu via chroot is loaded onto it. And if you need to access large media files, that’s what portable external HDD’s are for.

At any rate, some people need a machine with 32GB of Ram and an octa-core CPU to do their work. Others just need a netbook. This doesn’t mean both are not equally computers. It’s just not the computer for that particular use case.

Dan Chandler

Just throwing this out there…Chromebook, laptops, tablets, and desktops are all “real” computers. A computer by definition contains a processor, memory, inputs, and outputs. All of the above contain those, even with Chromebook’s claim that it’s “not a computer”.

Kev Quirk

@Partick I’m sure you are using Photoshop within Linux. But I bet it’s using what is basically a hack, like WINE. The FACT of the matter is that there is no official build of Photoshop for Linux, it’s extensively documented all over the Adobe forums.

So I feel unfortunately that it’s you who is being ignorant, and quite close minded. Just because a particular machine doesn’t fit your needs, doesn’t make it any less of a computer. System specs do not matter, tablet, PC, laptop, Chromebook. smartphone, server, mainframe, super computer…they are all computers in one form or another.

I’m not going to waste any more time on this pointless discussion. So I wish you luck and all the best Partick.

Brian

So is a calculator. But Chromebooks and tablets are NOT ‘fully functional’ computers.

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William Moffett

No, thank you. I wouldn’t recommend a Chromebook to anyone. I rather pay extra $100 to get a Windows laptop or Android tablet. You are paying for a browser, which can’t do any real work. Plus with all this NSA stuff going on, I wouldn’t trust Google or a Chromebook, since it relies on the internet to work.

Kev Q

ChromeOS is so much more than “a browser”. It’s very browser centric I totally agree with that, but it is a lot more than “a browser”.

What “real” work can you do on Windows or Android that you can’t do on a Chromebook? Bear in mind I said “work” – gaming doesn’t count. ;-)

I can see how the privacy thing would be an issue for some people though. However, this isn’t any different if you have a Facebook or Gmail account on a “normal” computer.

Dan Chandler

You do realize some people get paid to play games right?

Brian

There are plenty of alternatives to Facebook and Gmail where you don’t have to worry. However, if you use Chrome OS, everything on your computer is available to see.

Kev Q

What do you mean by “available to see”?

There are no alternatives to Facebook with the same adoption rate, and no free services that offer the same functionality as Gmail, unless you go with someone who is equally dubious.

Brian

By available to see I mean that Google can access any Chromebook that is connected to the internet, and will regularly receive data from it. While nothing is as widespread as Facebook, if you have a core group of people you want to communicate with, you can ask them to get on a secure service like Zurker.com. If you want a Facebook clone, you can go offshore with a service like vk.com.
As for Gmail, due to the NSA requiring most US based companies to provide open access to all emails, you have to go offshore. A free service very much like gmail is yandex.com, based in Russia. You could also pay just a little for runbox.com, a very secure service based in Norway that won’t provide info on users.

Kev Q

Brian, do you have references to backup these claims that Google can access any Chromebook connected to the internet?

The reason I ask this is because ChromeOS has an open source counterpart – ChromiumOS that are both based on the same code. I’ve never heard of this “Google accessing any Chromebook” debarcle, and neither can I find any reputable sources online to backup you claims.

Google, will access some data from you whenever you use any of their services, this isn’t native to Chromebooks, or Google for that matte. Most websites will store Cookies on your machine in order to track what you’re doing whilst on the site.

The advice I always give to people is that if you have any serious privacy concerns then stay off the Internet, it’s that simple. Outsourcing your emails to some company in Russia is far from a fix.

The only thing that’s even close to providing secure communications over the Internet that maintain privacy is Bit Message, but it’s an extremely young product that’s still in development.

Chris Hoffman

As a tech blogger who also needs to use Windows and more complicated desktop software, I use a Windows laptop as my main computer. But I actually love using my Samsung Chromebook (the $250 one).

Why a Chromebook and not Android? Well, you can view Flash content, easily access full desktop sites, and use a screen that’s larger than a Nexus 7 or Nexus 10’s screen. There’s always a keyboard attached. You can have multiple websites on-screen in windows at the same time.

Sure, many people need Windows, but a Chromebook is so much simpler. I honestly think my parents — and many other people who use a browser all of the time — would be happier with a Chromebook than a Windows laptop that takes minutes to boot up through all the bloatware. It’s the simplicity and the cleanliness of experience that a typical Windows laptop doesn’t have.

mhartnag

I agree 100%. As a matter of fact, I think Google is missing the boat on targeting seniors with the chromebook or chromebox. It’s the simplest solution for them.

mhartnag

About that NSA thing… Microsoft accesses your computer nightly. You think all your info isn’t available to them too?? Try again..

Brian

That’s why people should use Linux. Chrome OS is a trojan program for Google, and Windows is the same for Microsoft.

Chris C

I guess I must not do any “real work” then. The only thing I use my Windows laptop for anymore is to sync music and games to the family’s iDevices, and Calibre to organize my ebook library. Other than that, I use my Chromebook for everything else, so about 99% of the time. I feel so slothful…..

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Charlie Levenson

Is anybody using this for playing the flash-based games on Facebook? I’m thinking of a new computer for my spouse, and that’s what it would predominantly be used for.

Any advice on speed and performance of Farmville 2 would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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Garry

Whats the point of having a Chromebook when a hybrid/tablet is more functional? I would never buy a Chromebook, it just makes no sense.

Eric L

It was the keyboard that convinced me. And the price. I can’t imagine typing a paper or even doing a lot of email on a tablet. Most tablet keyboard add-on devices leave a lot to be desired, from what I’ve seen. My family uses it multiple times daily.

mhartnag

Connecting it to my 60″ monitor and watching videos comes quickly to mind…

Chip

There are 4 key reasons why a chromebook makes more sense than a tablet with a keyboard dock:

1) The browser functionality on the chromebook is much, much better, mainly because the browser is a “real” browser rather than a mobile browser.

2) It costs considerably less (if comparing to a 10″ tablet with keyboard dock).

3) It has a larger screen.

4) The keyboard is full-sized or near full-sized, unlike most tablet keyboard accessories.

By the way, I own both a chromebook and a tablet with keyboard dock (Asus Transformer Pad TF300) and the chromebook is much, much more enjoyable to use.

David B

One point is because there are legions of users like myself who absolutely hate tablets, and hybrids are a PITA. This is a small, light, and fast device that does everything I need it to do. It’s perfect for travel and Sys Admin work. I have a wonderful powerhouse Windows/Linux laptop, but I don’t want to lug 7 lbs of laptop with me every time I hit the road.

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dragonmouth

Unless one is already a google serf, Chromebook makes no sense.

Chris C

Because it is better to Windows serf? or Apple serf?

I only need 1 reason: Simplicity
This simplicity has the following benefits:

1. Ease of use for computer-phobes (my 81 year old father who had no never used and no interest in computers, just bought one after he tried mine; putting everything in the browser made it simple enough for him to use without fear. That and not having to worry about viruses and malware swung the deal.)
2. Ease of recovery if you need to restore (5 minutes and all your apps, email,, etc are back where you left off. No endless hours reinstalling software and data like after a Windows recovery)
3. Lightweight, long battery life
4. Cheaper than a 10″ tablet, more powerful and has a real, usable keyboard.
5. Way, way, way cheaper than a hybrid/tablet.
6. Can do 99% of what I do on a computer on this.
7, If I don’t want to use Google Drive, I can set up a personal cloud server (eg. Pogo Plug) and access my data from anywhere, anytime, without carrying it with me and worrying about losing it if I lose my laptop.
8. If my laptop dies, gets lost or stolen, I can buy a new one, login in and have everything at my fingertips again in under 5 minutes.

Bruce Barnes

You can always get an Outlook.com account and do many of the Google things in Microsoft’s environment from a Chromebook. Things like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and Skydrive.

In my opinion most of the detractors say something like “I would never own a Chromebook”. This implies they’ve never used one. If they tried them and learned to think outside the desktop box then they might be surprised.

We’ve had one for a year and I still have Ubuntu and Win 7 computers but we love the Chromebook.

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Col_Panek

You can also install a “real” Linux distro on it, and do everything off- and on-line.

I looked at them in the store and I’d go for the cheaper Acer, which has a video out jack I need for a projector, and a removable battery. Play with both, you’ll be hooked.

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Ed

First of all, very nice article.

Secondly, I don’t get why people are still on the “chrome books are useless” bandwagon. I could understand this two years ago, but not today.

This article clearly demonstrates how chrome books can be as useful as tablets to say the least and also presents a viable option to low cost, light use computing.

Everyone argues that without internet access chrome books are useless, but this article demonstrates off line scenarios.

Frankly, I require internet access on my home and work computers, as well as my tablet and phone most, if not all the time. Chrome books may be more reliant on internet access than other devices, but not by much. Imagine your phone or tablet without internet.

I don’t have a chrome book, but the more articles I read like this one, the more tempting they appear. Switching between Chrome OS and a Linux distro would just be a bonus.

dragonmouth

It is interesting that we demand more and more features and functions on our devices but then go gaga over a limited function Chromebook. Because of its limitations it does not make financial sense for many people. It’s nothing more than a glorified e-reader.

Ed

Glorified e-reader? What? An e-reader can’t do 99% of what is described in this article. To me, this device is an alternative to a tablet at a similar price point. If you have a phone, tablet and PC/laptop you don’t need a chrome book. If you don’t have a tablet and want something in between a phone and your main computer, the chrome book can be a good alternative for many people not interested in gaming.

My tablet is nearly useless to me without internet because I browse nearly 100% of the time on my tablet. I’m sure there are plenty of people just using their tablets for web, facebook, twitter, email, blogging, news, online music, Netflix, shopping, YouTube, reading PDFs, viewing photos locally and online, booking flights, looking for jobs, remoting into a desktop, reading MakeUseOf… You get the idea.

These are all things you can do with a chrome book too. I certainly don’t yet consider chrome books as laptop replacements, but they can be tablet replacements for many.

I appreciate your opinion, but glorified e-reader is a bit of a stretch.

Chip

Ed – in all seriousness, chromebooks are vastly superior to tablets if your primary use for either device is web-browsing. The only two areas where tablets have an advantage IMO are 1) watching videos and 2) (ironically) reading books, i.e. functions where a keyboard is not needed and is actually a drawback rather than an asset.

mhartnag

Got an ereader.. You’re not even close.

mhartnag

It took me about a month of going back to my PC before I finally went chromebox solo. Minor adjustments in approach but overall it’s much simpler.

Ed

I’m tempted to sell my Android tablet and get a chromebook simply because most of my tablet usage is browser based. Sometimes when I’m doing something on the tablet that requires viewing a desktop webpage that doesn’t render properly on the tablet or requires something more than content consumption, I’m forced to turn on the laptop.

I would love something fanless and relatively thin, like the Samsung ARM-based chromebook, but want full x86 compatibility so I can install a linux distro with full x86 software compatibility. I’m patiently waiting for Bay Trail Atom chips coming out this fall to usher in super-thin, fanless, x86 compatible chromebooks/netbooks.

Chip

Ed – There are chromebooks out there that use Intel processors. The Samsung Series 3 discussed in the review above does not, but I’m pretty sure the Acer and HP models that were released within the last year do.

Ed

Hey Chip. I know there are chromebooks on the market with Intel processors, but they are not thin enough and have moving parts (cpu fan, a few models have a spinning disk).

I like the size of the Samsung ARM chromebook, which seems to be the more popular model. If I knew for sure that installing a Linux distro on it would at least get me hardware acceleration, I would go for it. Last I read, hardware acceleration (proper drivers) was not an option for Linux distors on a chromebook. Maybe that’s changed.

My wishlist would be a chromebook with an x86 Linux distro (the distro would have a VM of Android x86), that is fanless with flash storage and super thin like the Samsung ARM chromebook or Macbook Air with no moving parts. With Bay Trail Atoms coming out very soon, I think this will be possible before the end of Q1 2014.

I too have the Asus TF300 and really like it a lot.

Thank for your comments.

Brian

I would definitely use the lInux distro and forget the Chrome OS- Chrome OS is a trojan program from Google.

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Tamim

I will say, it’s just waste of money! If I have Desktop for hard-core work, laptop as portable light work and tab for reading ebooks or lazy browsing then why this chrome book!

It is going to be Google’s another lose project. :)

Ben

Chromebook is supposed to be an alternative for a laptop and a tablet.

So, once you need to upgrade your laptop and tablet, you could just get a chromebook.

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carlos medina

The question is…
Are they good for programming?
Scripting simple python. Maybe some django.

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Mak

You should have mentioned that although the Chromebook is not capable of holding OSx or Win you can use this small laptop (i would even say next-gen netbook) to install Linux and use away anything you want if you can not get used to a chromeOS.
Great device and totally worth having if you need a compact laptop with a keyboard for typing or browsing.

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Pooky J

… and Google will track wtf I’ve been doing on it.

mhartnag

As does Microsoft and Apple.

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Dean Sherwin

I think I’m gonna get a Chromebook for college this year for use as a note taking machine / research / emails etc…

The fast booting time and lightweight design appeals to me!

Lynn

My concern, for school students, is the weak construct of the power plug and the limited offline functionality. Without the Internet they will view it as a rather expensive paperweight,

mhartnag

As far as the construct goes, I see no problems with it. As to the web connection… you can move documents offline or save them on the hard drive or on a thumb drive if you need extra storage. These can be accessed offline and documents prepared without an internet connection. I have my docs backed up on an external harddrive and are always accessible to me, web connection or not.

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G P Witteveen

The samsung comes with or without 3g. For an extra $75 you can buy the 2 year monthly dataplan (capped at 100mb/ month). Adding the “extensions” to the Chrome browser can consume that monthly bandwidth. An easy work-around is to login “as guest” when on 3g, but only use the full set of functions & apps that come when logged in as named user or owner during wifi sessions to sync files, check for browser & OS updates, and so on. As for using USB to move files in and out of the device, image, audio and video go between devices all right. But anything drafted in offline DOCS or KEEP or Scratchpad (app) can only be usefully “saved as…” PDF, since there is no TXT in the autosave design of google documents. But still, from a PDF it is possible to copy/paste or save as TXT when working on a full Win PC or Mac.

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Mac W

I suppose it works well with Android phones and tablets but what about the one with OS from Apple and Windows?

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Anon

I dislike that it forces users to use “cloud” storage. The NSA has access to these services; nothing you upload to them can be considered safe or secure. My university provides all students with a skydrive account, but I refuse to use it. Tbh, I even dislike emailing files to myself anymore; I may as well just CC the NSA a copy. I have two flash drives I use for storage and moving files between computers. If you need to back up a lot of files, invest in an external hard drive; it’s well worth it. Also, think of the spyware that comes preinstalled on this! Google is known for spying on their customers, just think about that before you go for this.

mhartnag

You do not have to use cloud storage. Save you work to a USB external hard drive or a 64 Gig thumb drive. As far as the spyware installed… that is on Googles servers not on your computer. That’s something they do for you so you don’t have to buy it, update it and have it slow your computer down to a crawl. Every OS has spyware built in to access your computer. If you do any updates you will see that data is flowing in both directions.

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Mike B

I have had a Chromebook for two almost two years now, and i will never go back. I find it interesting how many people do not get the concept. I know some will not understand this, but Windows frustrates me because it is so limited. Form me Chromebook is the only way to do for a laptop.

Mike

I bought the $199 one for my daughter a year ago. She loves it and I don’t have to maintain it.

The article does not mention printing which is still important to a lot of folks. You can’t install drivers so there is no “direct” printing. Fortunately, there’s Google Print. We use it in our household and it works great.

Really enjoying my “Useless” laptop…

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Jonathan

The link to find the 249 price is to amazon and it shows a 400$ machine, where do we get a $249 option?

Tom D

Saw one for $249 yesterday at Best Buy in Manhattan. I think it was the Samsung

mhartnag

Best Buy…

Lonnie

You need to select the WIFI one, not the 3G.

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Mike Donovan

I didn’t think I would like my Chromebook as much as I do. I have a Dell laptop, an iPad and a Chromebook. I’ve been going to the Chromebook more often than anything else and it has been a surprising winner for me.

Some points that are referenced in the comments…

1. You don’t have to use Google Drive, they don’t lock you into Google-only products. There’s even an app for SkyDrive and Outlook! Though, really they’re more like glorified bookmarks, the point being I can (and do) use Dropbox, SkyDrive and yes, I use Google Drive too.

2. The storage issue isn’t a problem. You DO have local file storage on the Chromebook. Not a lot, but it’s there. It’s also expandable to as much as you want. My $249 Samsung supports USB 3.0 drives and also has an SD slot where I use a 64GB card. There’s also a local media player, so any music stored on my local drive, flash drives, external hard drives, SD cards, etc. play fine. But I love Amazon and use the Amazon Cloud Player for most of my music. Amazon Instant Videos work great, as does Netflix, etc.

3. One thing that I had no idea I would love so much is the “instant on.” I open the Chromebook and it’s ready to go. This is where the keyboard comes in so handy, far more than expected. For example, if I need to write an email, instead of using my phone or tablet, or waiting for my Dell to bootup, I find myself grabbing the feather light Chromebook and I’m up and writing on the full size keyboard in no time at all. It’s become the “go to” device because of its speed and simplicity, but also the practicality of being very usable versus typing on the phone or tablet.

4. Battery life. I routinely get 11 hours. No overheating, no fan noise (in fact, there’s no fan at all).

5. I have a VPN service I use with the Chromebook when I’m at a public hotspot. Of course, if one is really concerned with sensitive material, they can use the VPN all the time if so desired.

I could go on. I was a skeptic at one time but have been completely won over by much of what I wrote above.

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flag flagit

Order subtotal: $309.15
from the link at the top. thats really in the price range of some low end quad cores. again, heavier hardware, different tasks. those can get heavy and hot sitting in your lap, even with a good cooler. great points, as not everyone has 12 tabs open at once.
would have liked to see more info on the hardware configurations available, but thats negligible.
i had just read your old article about using Tor and decided to come look for more articles from you. i liked the way you participated in the discussion and were able to maintain your composure in the face of trolls. me, on the other hand, am usually staring at a fresh pile of troll-ears, over my morning orange juice.

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flag flagit

@Mike Donovan
the reply system here seems a little funky, but thx for the user end comments!
its great to hear how things work in real world applications.

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Eric L

I am a happy Samsung Chromebook user, but I can’t in good conscience not mention one ongoing problem that seems to plague the model for some users. The trackpad becomes unusable when the charging cable is attached. I had this issue at one point, but it went away with a version update. I no longer have the problem at all, yet others continue to post about it on this thread:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/chromebook-central/report-an-issue-and-get-troubleshooting-help/1NWkSHNplNo%5B201-225-false%5D

If you think you will use your Chromebook while plugged in, there is a possibility that you may be affected by this issue. It seems new owners are encountering it as well as those with older units.

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Tcrayon

We picked up a Chromebook for my son – a newly appointment college freshman. It’s been great for him! He manages his calendar, to-do lists (he likes Asana that syncs reminders to his phone), create documents, do research, view online textbooks. It’s been perfect for him.

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WEM

Uou comment it is so light but never tell us how light.

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Jacob

I rather buy a Windows RT device.

Anonymous

Does this mean you believe the oh-so-f*cked-up Windows RT is better than Chrome OS? Or does this mean you think Windows RT is great?

I hope it’s not the latter.

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mhartnag

Bought the chromebox as my main computer back in November 2012. It does everything I need it to do. I store my music on an external USB hard drive. It accesses almost all file types. It won’t run a CD’s so games and native programs are out, but just about everything is available online anyway.
Best part is no updates to deal with, no antivirus software or malware to buy or run. You turn it on and 5 seconds later your working. Google drive will convert office docs (albeit with some formatting loss issues) but google docs are more than adequate. Bottom line… I don’t miss my Windows PC at all.

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Brian

A fine idea, as long as you don’t mind Google having FULL access to EVERYTHING on your laptop. For $50 more you can get a real laptop with Linux or $100 more for Windows.

David B

With crappy hardware, crappy battery life, and a very short lifepan, why yes, you can do that.

Brian

You must not be a very good shopper. I can find a much better machine than a Chromebook, and I don’t have to worry about a 22 year old at Google spying on me, or my insurance company being able to know everything about me from buying info from Google.

David B

I’m a great shopper, terrible at ignoring trolls though. My last laptop lasted seven years, fyi.

Brian

Um, you’re the one trolling my comment. And I guarantee you a Chromebook won’t last you seven years. The Chromebook is the one with crappy hardware and a very short lifespan. Good look changing the battery on one.

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Charles Rachor

First off: I own a Cr-48, that I don’t use anymore, due to a hinge that’s just about broken :( I absolutely LOVED using that thing. All day battery life, basically full size keyboard, light-weight, I could go on and on. And yea, if you still don’t understand why people would use chromebooks, then they’re obviously not meant for you. The offline functionality has greatly increased and the lightweight OS and instant boot up times are pluses, not minuses.

Second: I owned a Galaxy Tab 2 7.0″ for just over 6 months and also really got into using that a lot, more than my laptop. With my Cr-48 and tablet, I had almost the perfect setup, using my laptop less and less (mostly for movies, Word, and Photoshop, I still prefer Word over docs or any online option.)

Third: Realistically, let’s analyze this whole freaking out about the NSA, and online privacy in general.
A – If you have any kind of online account ANYWHERE (banking may be the one exception), then you’ve inadvertently given your information to a lot more than just one service. I forget the numbers off-hand, but I think it was something like a 1:10 ratio for service/third parties involved with your information. It gets worse depending on how large the initial company you have your information to is.
B – Honestly, the NSA probably isn’t really interested in 95% of the data it collects and sifts through…..just my personal thought on that, I could be completely wrong.
Yes, I have a Google account, among the many various accounts with different services I use; I’m very careful about the information I put online, as should anyone be. Remember, the internet never forgets.

In summary, yes, I’d love to have a working chromebook/tablet/laptop setup again. For now, I’ll have to settle for just my Android smartphone and laptop setup….but it’s not as awesome as it could be.

Brian

If your willing to trade freedom for security, you deserve neither.

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Joshua Lam

I own the Samsung Series 3 ARM based Chromebook. Recently I loaded Ubuntu 12.04 via Crouton onto it and switch between that and stock Chrome OS as my needs dictate. It works like a charm. In Chrome OS, I don’t have to worry about script based exploits, trojans, or viruses, and have it connecting through my VPN for secure browsing. After being hacked and stalked by a blackhat for a number of months, I finally found something that makes me feel pretty safe. Moreover, for $250, I have a snappy and attractive ultra-mobile computer for every day use in Chrome, that also runs a lot of local apps in Ubuntu. With Ubuntu Linux loaded through the chroot directory, it seamlessly runs LibreOffice, Audacity, Wireshark, Firefox, GIMP, Pidgin, and qBittorrent without breaking a sweat. For web developers and programmers, there are also a whole host of other productivity tools available on the Chromebook with Ubuntu. I use both OS’s frequently, and this is just a great value.

My Chromebook may be a secondary computer, given I have a Windows 8 PC for work, but it is now my go-to computer for travel, play, and even light productivity. Really, I don’t see a reason to spend more than $250 on a laptop now that these ARM Chromebooks are here.

ubuntu hater

ubuntu SUCKS, ubuntu isn’t a true linux, even Richard Stallman (RMS),the Father of Free Software doesn’t like Ubuntu cause it SUCKS

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Stephanie S

I could definitely see a use for the Chromebook even with its limitations. The price is great for a first-time computer/netbook user. I think that, for example, a senior citizen who really wants to just get/receive email, type a letter, save photos (in the cloud) would love this little guy. :)

Brian

Until their insurance company drops them when they start doing Google searches for a health condition. If you want any privacy, it’s best to staty away from Google products, which is pretty easy to do.

ubuntu hater

ubuntu SUCKS, ubuntu isn’t a true linux, even Richard Stallman (RMS),the Father of Free Software doesn’t like Ubuntu cause it SUCKS

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Kannon Yamada

Great article! I’ve been wanting a Chromebook for Chrubuntu (Ubuntu for Chromebooks), but have been afraid to pull the trigger. I might just pick one up if my current Android laptop fails. Thanks for the great read!

Brian

Since you use Android, Google already knows you want a Chromebook.

Kannon Yamada

Funny thing. I get bombarded with ads for Chromebooks. They definitely know.

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Bill M

With a home that has 2 C710’s running non stop I am at a loss why all the hostility towards the Chromebook. It does everything that my Quad core does MINUS the games I play ( I play ArmA III) And they are easy enough to use my parents (in their 80’s) work it just fine.

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Félix D

I used Chromebook once, and I loved it. The only problem is that I can’t even code. I have to use a normal Windows Laptop to do it.

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wordsdontmatter

I have had the chrombook samsung, the expernsive version 449$, for the past couple years. Sadly, i bought it a few months before the cheaper 249$ version came out. I wish I would not have don that as with the chrome book you do not need much power. It runs so fast, and compared to a cheap windows netbook, which I have used windows since 3.1 and was an MCSE on NT 4.0, and it gets slower with more hardware power each year. It sucks. Also, I bought a 249$ netbook, windows, for my sis, her first computer, and a month later the cheap 249$ chrome book came out. I wish I could have got her it instead. She has learned to get by, but the box is sooooo slow and annoying, even if I have to ‘fix’ it or rebuild it every now and then.

Frankly, I wanted one when it first came out, but learned the hardway over the years, to wait for second gen products. Heck, I remember buying a 1000$ plus digital camera with 2.4 mp in 2001!

I use my chrome book for everything, and only sometimes, need windows word which i can use at school. Now, if you have a windows box, you can use the chrome remote pc and use all your apps from the chrome book! I do not have one right now, but you could use a ‘work’ pc or a family members too. So, you would have full access to everything.

One thing I was looking for today, online, and found your web site, which would be sooo great: a chromebook tablet!

I wish, and maybe they will one day, even if it competes with nexux 7, they will release one! I really could use a book reader, and the kindles are not really good for me, due to some limitations, and nexus 7 is not very useful with all the commercials and apps I do not need.

I hope one day they launch a chrome book tablet model as it would be perfect!

still, the chrome book is one of the best ‘computers’ i have ever enjoyed and I started off with commodore sx 64 (portable suitcase 25 lb computer) in 1984!

It is great for power users, and especially great for newbies, and if it came in tablet size would be even greater too!

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Don McMahan

this is it a “real computer”? debate is almost as senseless as the Mac vs PC arguments. if you have a load of reasons why it doesn’t meet your personal needs, simple, don’t buy one. it is pointless to imply that someone else shouldn’t buy one.

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Ian perry

Just recently purchased a Chromebook. Downloaded the google+photo app (which is really good); BUT please, does anyone know how to get a photo on to Facebook, so i can share it with friends?

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eric young

I purchased an Acer Chromebook from an online vendor and got a very good deal. I bought it with the idea of using it for some classes I am taking. It’s solidly constructed, nice tight design. It feels more well made than my Dell Inspiron laptop which, by comparison, feels plasticky and junky, quite frankly.

Overall, I like the size of the Chromebook. I do not like the keyboard much. It’s too small, crowded and hard to use. Still, it’s heads and shoulders above trying to type on an iPad, which I have also used for class and it sucked despite my being able to type really fast.

In terms of the many other features you mentioned, all I can say is that there is definitely what I would call an “un-learning curve” with the Chromebook – unlearning the over-reliance on a lot of desktop download only applications. I use multiple browsers, too, for different work, and being limited just to Chrome is tough at times.

Bottom line – If I had it to do over again, I probably would have researched it further before making the purchase. At the same time, I am getting more comfortable with it, and I can’t argue with its sticker price.

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L. MacGregor

I have an old (but excellent) Compac (with Windows 98), a HP (with Windows XP), a Toshiba (Windows 7) and now an Acer (Windows 8). I don’t throw them away, trade-in, or sell. However, after reading all these interesting comments about Chrome it looks like I’m going to get one for myself and one as a gift to a friend who doesn’t own a computer. By the way, those old Compacs seem to last forever — never had a problem — still works. The HP was a lemon — 4 repairs and a new motherboard all in just 2 years! The Toshiba is another keeper — no repairs and still going strong but it does tend to overheat a bit (sometimes). The Acer works okay but looks cheaply made. The keyboard is too small. And frankly, Windows 8 sucks bigtime! I’m using Windows 7 Classic Shell but I’m thinking of using Linux. Frankly, that Chrome doesn’t sound any worse or better than most computers. However, it definitely seems like a big bang for the buck. Not all that many good deals around. It’s worth a try. Regarding the situation with spying on everyone on the net, well, I don’t think anything we do is going to protect us much. One should do whatever one can and just let it go at that. Either we deal with it, change the laws, get off the net, or even get off the grid entirely. Take your pick.

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