The guiding principle when buying a laptop should be just what the user wants from the experience.
For those who will be researching a subject or doing online shopping on the web — or even using Cloud storage, or working on online documents or watching streaming video a Chromebook is ideal — and extremely good value for money.
But those who need onboard processing power — such as people who will be working with video editing and photo manipulation software or who want to run the latest games will find the Chromebook a terrible choice. For those users, a MacBook or a PC using the Windows operating system is a far better option.
It’s also not a matter of cost.
There are more expensive Chromebook options that can cost as much as USD $1,000 (around $1,300 Australian) but even spending this much is not going to allow the user to run software that requires hefty processing power.
They will be limited to the offerings from Google Play and Google Chrome Stores. That said, the selection from these portals is growing all the time. At the higher price points, a Chromebook certainly will not offer any advantages of a product from Apple or a Windows driven machine.
The question is — why would anyone want to spend that much? Some patience is all that is required to get incredible bargains on Chromebooks.
There are usually fantastic deals on Black Friday for instance. Check out our guide to how you can get the best Chromebook at the best price on Black Friday.
The major difference between Chromebooks and those that run Windows or the Macbooks is the operating system.
Windows and MacOS don’t feature on Chromebooks — the Chromebooks use the Google Chrome OS. It only runs apps and software from online shops such as the Chrome Store and Google Play.
Many people may be put off by this idea. However, it is not as limiting as one might think. As mentioned the sheer number of apps available is more than enough to meet the requirements of almost any user.
Word processing, spreadsheet software, as well as quality presentation packages, are all available. Photo and video editing packages are also available (an example is Adobe Photoshop Express).
Most of these can be obtained at a fraction of the cost of the comparable software available from Microsoft or Apple. As far as entertainment is concerned a Chromebook allows easy access to channels such as Google Play Movies, Amazon Prime and Netflix.
There are however some downsides. If your day to day activities require access to highly specialized software (for instance professional level Photoshop releases) then the Chromebook is not for you.
Examples include video editors, professional photographers or designers.
Hardcore gamers will also not be happy with a Chromebook. For those who are into simple and fun games — the online stores have a huge selection.
Chromebooks are designed to perform best when used with an Internet connection. They can be used offline — but the experience is not particularly rewarding.
The Chrome OS needs the Internet for its updates (which run in the background) and you will need to sync to your Google account to ensure that your documents are both accessible and up to date. this is not really a solution for those who do not spend the majority of their time online.
There are two basic choices for those who want to enjoy the pleasure of owning a Chromebook. there are the standard format laptop-style devices and then there are the devices which offer dual functionality — they can operate as a laptop or as a tablet.
There are touchscreen options — but many users shun them due to the fact that the apps that are downloaded from the Google online stores that use touchscreen technology are designed for use with mobile devices — they do not port over well to a laptop or tablet-style technology.
The beauty of Chrome OS is that does not require as much brute processing power as either a Windows PC or a Macbook. This directly impacts the price of the Chromebook — it is a much cheaper option.
A great example if the C300M from Asus. this neat little Chromebook can be purchased for around $250 (around £200 or AU$300) making it an ideal choice for students.
Another reason that Chromebooks offer such good value for money is that they have very little onboard storage.
Most boast around 32GB or perhaps 64GB. But that should not hold anyone back who is using run of the mill programs such as spreadsheets of word processors.
All the saved documents are stored on the Cloud. If you’re streaming content such as movies or TV shows the lack of huge amounts of storage isn’t an issue either.
However, for those who do want to store large image files or video, there is the option of adding an SD card (check that the Chromebook you buy has a slot) or alternatively attach an external hard drive.
It will still be cheaper than buying a laptop running Windows or MacOS.
If you don’t want the hassle then you could buy a Chromebook like the Google Pixelbook which has oodles of storage space.
But then you’re looking at pricing that is similar to the Windows or MacOS powered laptops — so there really is very little point.
Proprietary devices such as security cameras may pose problems due to the fact they use their own drivers only.
If those are not an absolute requirement and you feel that niche, highly advanced software is not part of what you need for daily use, then a Chromebook makes perfect sense — in every way, including from a financial perspective.