What Makes Chrome OS Appealing?

It’s more than a sub-$300 price tag.

The Samsung Series 3 Chromebook has fiercely maintained control of the “top selling” laptop title on Amazon for most of this year, and recent reports indicate that Chromebooks are now used by 1 in 5 American school districts. We also saw Toshiba and ASUS enter the Chrome market with announcements made at the Intel Haswell event last month. By all measures, Chrome OS is starting to make a claim for attention, but what is it about the platform that offers advantages over similarly priced devices?

Chrome OS is fast. Really fast.

It is logical to immediately write any speed advantages off as collateral of the presence of solid state drives in most Chromebooks. That isn’t too far off base; the famed 8 second boot time can definitely be attributed directly to the choice in hardware. However, the single Acer model that includes a standard 320GB HDD is still able to achieve a stunning 18 second boot, definitively setting it apart from other low-cost laptops available at your local retailer.

Chrome OS is easy to maintain.

I’m guilty of using system cleanup utilities religiously, scrubbing temporary files on a weekly basis, and doing my best to keep my machine running smoothly. On most operating systems, that can be a cumbersome task — how much time do you spend oiling the wheels and emptying the recycle bin? Chrome OS is virtually maintenance free, and when it is time for a tune up the built-in “Powerwash” functionality will do a complete wipe of your stateful partition and revert you to factory fresh conditions. As an abstract concept that may sound horrible, until you read the next item…

Chrome Sync is powerful magic.

Imagine for a moment your personal laptop being stolen, dunked into a river, or tossed out of an airplane hatch. For the typical user, that thought alone is enough to bring on heavy breathing and anxiety (try telling me you’re not going to be extra careful carrying your laptop over to your desk after reading this). In this area, the operating system level sync functionality really shines. Your most important data (photos, files, documents) can be stored locally, but are easy to copy and paste to Google Drive with the integrated file manager. The rest of your user data (bookmarks, installed apps, wallpaper choice, even your open tabs) are automatically kept synced to Google’s Cloud. There isn’t any “setup time” with a new Chromebook, you simply login and everything is immediately at your disposal. When was the last time your computer was left waiting on you?

Putting it together: management of multiple devices is a breeze.

Most technology savvy folks are -hoarders- collectors of devices. We like having the newest available gadgets, and we have a hard time passing along our old ones (I can use this as a kitchen media server!). As our collections grow, so does the amount of time we spend managing them. Updating applications, not to mention updating and securing operating systems can take hours out of our day. If there is one point I should stress in this article is the ease of management Chrome OS can offer. Automatic OS updates, automatic app updates, auto-sync for bookmarks, and built-in sandboxing between applications sounds like freedom to me.

With that said, Chrome OS still isn’t perfect for everyone.

Wrapping up, Chrome devices certainly have some very appealing aspects to offer consumers of virtually every technical background. I don’t blame anyone that is jumping for joy at the idea of automatic updates. On the flip side, when it comes to living in the cloud I don’t blame anyone who insists on keeping one foot planted firmly on the ground. The current marketplace offers a lot of competition, and I like to think we’re all simply seeking the perfect system for our own unique needs. Whether this article prompts you to reconsider Chrome OS in your life, or pushes you to something else entirely, at least you’re on the right track for finding your perfect platform.

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