Chromebook vs. Laptop: Which Should You Buy on Black Friday?
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Black Friday deals are incoming. What better time to pick up a new laptop? Wait. What about a Chromebook instead?

Chromebooks and laptops compete in the portable computing market. Some offer very similar products. So, at the time of year with bumper deals, is the price the best way to choose between a laptop and a Chromebook?

Chromebook vs. Laptop: What’s the Difference?

Before you head out to grab your shiny new laptop or Chromebook, consider the differences between the two.

Chromebooks

Chromebooks offer a basic, stripped-back experience compared to a regular (in this case, Windows 10) laptop. A Chromebook runs Chrome OS, Google’s Linux-based operating system.

Chrome OS focuses on the Google Chrome browser and the myriad apps that run within the browser and Chrome OS environment.

Don’t be fooled by the term “stripped-back.” The environment is lightweight, but the range of apps and overall experience make a Chromebook an extremely valid alternative to a laptop. Indeed, several MakeUseOf editors and authors are using a Chromebook as their daily driver.

One of the biggest draws of a Chromebook is the price. An excellent Chromebook, such as the Acer Chromebook 15, starts as low as $200. Depending on your requirements, you will finder cheaper Chromebooks, too The 5 Best Chromebooks to Buy in 2018 The 5 Best Chromebooks to Buy in 2018 Looking for the best Chromebook on the market? Look no further, we've rounded up the best Chromebooks around! Read More .

Windows 10 Laptops

A Windows 10 laptop offers the extensive Windows experience. Love it or hate it, there’s a strong chance that you have at least some experience with it. As far as Microsoft operating systems go, Windows 10 is a good one.

That’s after considering the persistent mind-boggling bugs that keep making their way into version updates. Or the lack of control over certain aspects of the operating system, especially compared to older Windows versions.

Back to the laptops. The price of a reasonable Windows 10 laptop has fallen in recent years. (Here are some of the best you can buy for under $500 The 5 Best Laptops Under $500 The 5 Best Laptops Under $500 From good 2-in-1 hybrids to excellent desktop replacements, here are our picks for the best laptops under $500. Read More .)

As low-to-mid tier laptop hardware prices remain low, you can pick up a Windows 10 laptop with a decent screen, reasonable battery life, and competitive storage and memory. The initial target bracket for Chromebooks—the low-to-mid tier laptop buyers—is incredibly competitive.

How Do Chrome OS and Windows 10 Compare?

On a base level, Chrome OS and Windows 10 offer a different experience.

Chrome OS is very much a web app focused environment The Ultimate How-To Guide for Chromebook Beginners The Ultimate How-To Guide for Chromebook Beginners Chromebooks deserve their reputation for being easy-to-use, but that doesn't mean everything is simple. To help you get to grips, here's an ultimate how-to guide for your Chromebook. Read More . That means you will use web app versions of Google Docs or Office Online rather than a desktop equivalent. You might use Pixlr or Polarr for image editing, rather than Photoshop or similar, and so on.

However, given the amazing amount of development put into the Chrome web apps, having a Chromebook running Chrome OS is no hindrance at all.

On the flipside, Windows 10 is better for multitasking across multiple applications. Depending on the size and power of your Windows 10 laptop, you can run multiple resource-heavy applications, and that is something the vast majority of Chromebooks cannot compete with.

Furthermore, you can use any program you like with Windows 10. That’s the supposed 600,000 apps on the Microsoft Store What Is the Microsoft Store and How Do I Use It on Windows 10? What Is the Microsoft Store and How Do I Use It on Windows 10? Curious about the Microsoft Store in Windows 10? Here's what the Store offers, how to access it, and some tips for using it. Read More , plus any other program, licensed or otherwise, on one machine (with respect to the laptop storage, of course).

If you’re considering a Windows 10 laptop or a Chromebook, you need to consider how you’re going to use the machine. It is no coincidence that the low-price web-based app-led Chrome OS ecosystem is so popular with students 5 Reasons Every Student Should Be Using a Chromebook 5 Reasons Every Student Should Be Using a Chromebook Looking for a new computer for your college work? Forget a new Mac and disregard Windows. What you need is a Chromebook -- here are five reasons why. Read More .

Chromebooks vs. Windows 10 Laptops on Battery Life

Battery life is incredibly important when you consider a new machine. The battery life of your machine ties heavily to the operating system. In that, Chrome OS is a superior lightweight option in comparison with Windows 10.

The hardware the battery is powering makes a difference, too. A barebones Chromebook draws less power than a larger device with higher performance specifications. The previously mentioned Acer Chromebook 15 battery lasts for at least 12 hours.

However, with the right settings (dim screen and this model has no battery-eating fans to contend with) the Chromebook 15 can last for over 16 hours of continuous use. That’s nothing short of incredible for just $200.

Want that same performance in a Windows 10 laptop? You’re definitely looking toward the top-end of the laptop scale, into Ultrabook territory. The awesome-looking Lenovo Yoga 920 clocks in at over 16 hours solid use, but also comes with a price tag of around $1,000 new.

Admittedly, the Yoda 920 also has an FHD screen, an 8th generation Intel i7 processor, and 8GB RAM. But it is a huge price difference, nonetheless.

Overall, you would expect a Chromebook to have better battery life than a Windows 10 laptop. Given there is such variance between models, checking before you buy either portable device is vital.

Should You Buy a MacBook Instead?

In my mind, no, you shouldn’t, because MacBook’s and MacBook Pro’s are overpriced, comparatively speaking. If you are a student, there are products with similar specifications that you can spend your money on.

Again, ask yourself what the device is for.

Are you editing and processing videos, engaged in heavy 3D modeling, or game development? Go ahead, consider a pricey-albeit-useful MacBook. Are you just taking notes, writing papers, updating your socials, and responding to email? Save yourself a thousand bucks and grab a Chromebook instead.

Don’t take it from me. Check out precisely why you should choose a Pixelbook over a MacBook Pro 10 Reasons Why I Chose the Google Pixelbook Over a MacBook 10 Reasons Why I Chose the Google Pixelbook Over a MacBook Looking for a slimline laptop? You'll probably consider a MacBook, but here's why you should also look at the Google Pixelbook. Read More from someone who did exactly that.

Black Friday Deals for Chromebooks and Laptops

Now, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just around the corner, some decent Chromebook and Windows 10 laptop deals are starting to appear. (Some deals will only appear official during the Black Friday week!) Note also that these deals aren’t competing—I’m just showing you where to go on the big day.

Chromebooks

Windows 10 Laptops

Some of the upcoming Black Friday Windows 10 laptop deals are sensational. That’s if you can grab one before they sell out, of course.

Several retailers limit the number of devices that a single user or shopper can purchase—but it doesn’t always work out that way. Also, if you’re hitting up Black Friday from the comfort of your home, please remain vigilant.

There are many scams out there waiting to trap unsuspecting Black Friday bargain hunters 7 Scams to Watch Out for on Black Friday and Cyber Monday 7 Scams to Watch Out for on Black Friday and Cyber Monday While you shop for deals this Black Friday and Cyber Monday, scammers will be looking for YOU. Here's how to shop safely online. Read More .

Explore more about: Black Friday, Buying Tips, Chromebook, Laptop, MacBook.

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  1. ReadandShare
    November 20, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    I don't care how "lightweight" the environment is -- when that environment is Google, where everything that you do is carefully monitored and retained and packaged and sold -- with an unflinching focus on monetizing YOU for profit!

    Using just one example: When I do my finances on a spreadsheet app running on Apple or Microsoft OS, the data is all local. When done, I encrypt (password protect) my file. And I can upload that protected file to 'the cloud' as an external backup and for worldwide ease of access - knowing that it's protected from prying eyes: my cloud login credentials and the file encryption itself.

    With Chrome, there is no way for me to encrypt that file! Sure, Google puts on its layer of encryption - protected by my Google password. But two problems:

    1. My file is protected only by my Google (email) password. If compromised, all my files with Google can be read by anyone with that password.

    2. My files are not shielded at all against Google's own scanning. And Google's bread and butter lie in knowing (and selling) its customers!

    So casual web browsing and working with totally innocuous files aside, I would not use Chrome OS - nor would I store anything important with Google that I cannot encrypt beforehand.

    • SteveB
      November 21, 2018 at 9:20 am

      There's nothing to stop you using local storage when using a Chromebook, files do not have to be uploaded to Google's servers and there is nothing to stop you uploading encrypted files either - perhaps only your own antipathy to Google.