Your next computer may very well be a Chromebook. Here’s why.
You Don’t Install Applications Anymore
It used to be that if you wanted to get something done, you needed to install an application to your computer. A long time ago, that was done via CDs, but then the internet came along. Finding and installing software became easier, but you still had to actually install stuff to your computer. That wasn’t as much of a hassle as it used to be, but it was still harder than how things work in the modern era.
Nowadays, just about anything can be done online without needing to install a single piece of software. The only thing you need install once you get a new computer is Google Chrome, and that’s basically it. Of course, if you need to edit video/audio, or are a gamer, there’s currently no online solution I’m aware of. However, for most people, a lot of what used to be done in applications can now be done completely online with no downloads required (e.g. Google Docs). Why go through the hassle of installing something when you don’t have to?
Having everything online also makes things easier for developers. Instead of needing to build applications for Windows, Mac, and sometimes Linux distros, all that’s needed is one version written for the web. That means more time to work on actually developing, and less time porting what you already have to other operating systems. Hopefully, this will translate into more frequent feature updates as the developers have one less thing to worry about. The only developers who need to worry about multiple operating systems are the ones who actually make the web browser itself.
Recurring Revenue For Companies, And Continued Updates For You
Not only do companies only need to create one version of their software, but they can also ask for recurring revenue from their user base, which has become rather common. It’s not that companies are just being lazy and asking for more money; users expect updates to continue coming along forever, which can only be funded by recurring revenue. After all, developers need to be somehow paid for their continued efforts into improving the software. This isn’t always the case, however. There are still apps, mostly for mobile as far as I’m aware, that only ask for one purchase and provide continued support. But, I don’t quite see how that’s sustainable in the long term.
Chromebooks are laptops, and are therefore expected to have an at least decent battery life. And, Chromebooks typically fare far better than their Mac and Windows counterparts. Since Chrome OS is much more lightweight than Mac and especially Windows, Chromebooks can focus more on battery life than having a ton of RAM and high-end CPUs. This allows them to be not only affordable, but fast enough with outstanding battery life. As an example, my current Chromebook costs around $200, and has yet to die before my day is over. I often use it for what seems like hours at school, and it always has enough power to let me stream a few hours worth of YouTube after I get home.
The battery life and affordability of Chromebooks doesn’t come at the cost of performance. I mean, you won’t exactly be using a Chromebook for anything demanding, but even the lower end ones can handle a dozen tabs open without any signs of slowing down. Chrome OS is the exact opposite of Windows when it comes to resource usage and speed. It boots up in a matter of seconds, and uses barely any resources at idle. That means the majority of the RAM and CPU power can be used for what you want, not for what Windows thinks you want (no one likes Windows Update).
Pro tip: Use an extension like The Great Suspender to get even more performance out of your Chromebook by suspending tabs you aren’t using.
Linux And Android Apps
Chromebooks used to be able to just run the Chrome web browser, and its apps and extensions. While that alone was fine for most people, Google thankfully added Android App support anyways. This allows you to run nearly any Android app on your Chromebook without any problems. While games don’t work too well on non-touchscreen models, productivity apps often work with the mouse and keyboard perfectly fine. You can even run Word for Android without a problem, completely offline! I use this mainly to run OpenVPN, but I’ve also used the Kindle and Amazon Video Android apps without any problems.
In case Android apps just weren’t enough, Google soon added Linux support to many Chromebook. This feature runs a version of Debian inside a virtual machine on your Chromebook. While it’s still in beta and lacks some essential features (e.g. sound and graphics acceleration), it will eventually work just like any other Linux VM and give you access to anything you can do on Debian.
Updates Are Handled Behind The Scenes
Since Chrome OS is based off of Linux, updates take virtually no time at all. Your Chromebook will automatically download any updates in the background, and notify you when a reboot is needed. Compare that to Windows, which decides to reboot and start updating when you’re in the middle of something, and it’s not too hard to figure out which one is better suited for productivity. Not only do Chromebooks let you decide when to reboot, reboots for updates are just normal reboots. That means even when you do decide to reboot after an update, you’ll be back to browsing in literally less than a minute.
You can learn more here, but Chromebooks are pretty much the most secure laptops you can buy. Just about everything is loaded up in a sandbox, which ensures that even if a virus managed to find its way onto your Chromebook, the damage will be contained. You also can’t tamper with any locally stored data, as its encrypted and darn near impossible to crack. Even if a hacker were to take apart your Chromebook and attempt to modify anything important, your Chromebook will detect that upon booting and repair itself.
Shopping For A Chromebook
I can’t really think of any special advice when shopping for a Chromebook. Just like with any other laptop, make sure it’s powerful enough for your needs and has enough storage. Reading some reviews won’t hurt, and you can even test one out live in many stores such as Walmart and Target.