If you look at the readers’ comments for a Chromebook article, either on MakeUseOf or elsewhere, you’ll quickly reach one conclusion above all else – Chromebooks are highly divisive. Whether you see a long discussion about how useful Chromebooks are when used offline, a tirade against the lack of specialist software, or a stream of comments from the device’s advocates, it’s instantly apparent that a consensus about Google’s offering is a long way from materialising. It’s unlikely that this article’s comments will be any different.
Nonetheless, if we were commenting on articles, you’d find us camped deep inside the advocates section. Therefore, this piece aims to summarise some of the key advantages of using a Chromebook when compared to Windows and Macs.
Superior Security Of Chromebooks
We know that Windows 8 is the most secure version of Windows so far, we know Linux machines are typically consider the safest of the traditional operating systems, and we know that Macs have always held an upper-hand in the battle to stay virus free.
Chromebooks are better than all of them. If you visit a suspicious website by clicking on a bad link, open a dodgy email attachment accidentally, or download a program that has a dubious provenance, a Chromebook has you covered. It’s due to the device’s stateless operating system (meaning no unique software configuration is saved locally – rather it is all synced with the ‘cloud’) and its built-in multi-layered protection which includes features such as automatic updates, sandboxed browsing, verified boot and localised data encryption. Chromebooks don’t solve all digital security issues, but they are a great start.
All Your Data Is In The Cloud
Aside from security, a key advantage of Chromebook’s stateless system is that nothing is saved locally – instead all your apps, preferences, documents, and data are saved on Google’s servers in the cloud. In practice, this means if you are unlucky enough to lose your machine, have it stolen, or throw a cup of coffee over it, there is absolutely no risk to your information. Compare that to Windows or Macs, where unless you are diligent enough to back everything up on a weekly basis you are at risk of losing everything, and it’s easy to see why Chromebooks hold the advantage.
Google storing all your data on servers way outside your control might set alarm bells ringing in certain people’s minds – but frankly, if you don’t feel comfortable with your data being held by an external organisation it’s probably best you never turn a computer on. Or open a bank account. Or have a mobile phone contract. Or a TV subscription. Or a … (you get the idea).
Chromebook Cost: Cheap
How much is a brand new mid- to high-end Windows laptop? In Europe you’d need to spend at least £500 (approximately €625) for a usable, fast machine. If Macs are your usual preference you’d need to shell out £750 (€940) for the lowest spec MacBook Air on Apple’s website.
Contrast those prices with Chromebooks – where you can pick up the latest releases for the somewhere in the £180 – £300 range, depending on the specs you need. There’s no comparison, especially if you use your Chromebook as a travel companion, and expose it to bumps, breakage and even theft on a regular basis. The lower cost makes the machine easier to replace – meaning less time worrying about your device and more time taking selfies in front of famous monuments. Chromebooks are perfect for college for the same reasons.
A Normal Laptop With Normal Functionality
Chromebooks are not some odd beast; they should be considered by anyone who is in the process of looking for a new laptop. Do you want to video chat with family and friends? It’s possible. Do you want to browse social media? It’s possible. Video editing? Word processing? Listening to music? Playing games? All possible.
Ultimately, if you’re the type of person who spends most of your time on a computer simply using a web browser, you should get a Chromebook. At their core they have a single goal: running the Chrome web browser as brilliantly as possible. Chrome runs smoothly and quickly, and is designed to seamlessly integrate with all the other features on the laptop. Don’t worry about Internet access, either. Chromebooks really do work offline.
To a lot of people the extra ‘horsepower’ of Windows and Macs is not used and is thus dead weight. Chromebooks don’t have that problem.
You Can Run (Almost) Any Software You Want
Of course, if you need complex software for your hobby or your job you might not be able to install it directly on the Chrome OS – and it is one of their drawbacks. Remember, however, for competent computer users it’s reasonably straightforward to install a Linux distro, meaning if your necessary software has a Linux version it can be used (including Skype). Finally, if all else fails, use Chrome Remote Desktop on full-screen mode to access your traditional OS – you may not even notice the difference.
Do You See The Chromebook Advantage?
Do you agree that Chromebooks have some great advantages or are you in the army of haters? Either way, let us know your opinions.