by Yuliia Iziumova
What are Chromebooks?
Chromebooks first appeared on the market in 2011, but it’s only in the past few years that the technology has gained a momentum. Despite their growing popularity, however, Chromebooks are not for everyone, and you should know more of the specifics before you look into buying one for yourself.
Generally speaking, Chromebooks are a type of computer that run on Chromium OS (similar to Windows or Mac OS X), an operating system based on the familiar Chrome browser; as such, most of the device’s processes are done online. These laptops are under the license from Google but can be manufactured by an assortment of vendors, and therefore there are a great variety of models. Below is an example of a 2011 model vs. a model manufactured in 2020.
- Inexpensive ($300-400 mid-range) and easily replaceable
- Auto updates (reduces the reliance on IT professionals)
- Presumed greater reliability and longevity due to the lack of moving parts in the machine
- Can be wiped with minimal effort
- High security (built-in virus and malware protection)
- High speed (powers up and is ready for use in about 8 seconds)
- Supports multiple users
- Parental control
- Cloud storage (100GB of Google Drive Storage)
- Other affordable devices on the market, making the price advantage of Chromebook not as prominent as it once was
- Microsoft Office limitations (Google encourages use of its own free suite of similar services, though they lack some essential features; Microsoft Office cannot simply be installed)
- Small amount of local storage (32GB)
- No optical drive (not a common feature nowadays, but if desired, it’s not available in Chromebooks)
- Low power (not good for multimedia projects)
- Printing (Google Cloud Print takes additional steps to set up)
- Only the newer versions support Android Apps
- Not suited for gaming
- Not very functional offline
There is no such thing as a perfect device, but any user would like to have technology that best fits their needs. Chromebooks have been very popular in the education field, given that schools are able to maintain and control a large number of them at once. By contrast, Chromebooks don’t seem to meet the needs of college students as running applications locally; printing, notably, is a significant part of what a proper device should be able to handle. All students get free access to Microsoft Office products at Nebraska Wesleyan University, but the resource is not available while using a Chromebook. If your work consists of sending emails, simple processes with the documents, and you are accustomed to using web versions of the applications (accessed through the NWU website), however, Chromebooks are an opportunity to save some money. Furthermore, there are several Google applications that will likely be able to replace some of the Office versions.
If you are still hesitant on whether a Chromebook is a device that will meet your needs, you can experience Chrome OS using only a flash drive. Additionally, you don’t have to buy a Chromebook to get one; if you find yourself with an old laptop that is struggling with the demands of a current operating system, you can simply download Chromium OS as an operating system. This will reduce stress on your computer than the traditional OS, so turning your device into a Chromebook can be an alternative way of repurposing. Find more information about the detailed steps here, and if you want the information on how to temporarily run Chrome OS on your device, consult this resource here.
For additional information and more specifics on the different models, check out the following sources used to write this article: