Our computers are dying. The Macbook is 7 years old and is starting to show its age. The Windows laptop I bought for Mrs. 1500 was junk, lasting only a couple years before the display crapped out. Grrrr. I decided to buy a new computer, but didn’t know what to get. I love Apple products for their very high quality and durability, but they also come with a steep price tag.
This new computer was going to be primarily for Mrs. 1500. One thing I’ve noticed is that the Mrs. does almost all of her work in the web browser. After thinking on it for a while, I decided on a Google Chromebook.
We picked up the Chromebook from Costco a couple weeks ago and love it. If you’re not a geek like me, you’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about. Please allow me to tell you about our new computer and why it may be perfect for you.
What the heck is a Chromebook? A Chromebook is an inexpensive laptop computer that runs Google’s Chrome web browser. That’s it. No Windows. No Linux*. No Apple OS.
Why would I want a computer that only consists of a web browser? Think about the amount of time you spend on a computer and what you’re doing on it. Most time is spent in a browser. Email, facebook, Google Docs, etc. It’s becoming a web world.
How much do they cost? I bought a high-end one at Costco last weekend for $379. Most of them seem to be in the mid 200’s though.
How is the quality of the hardware? My HP version is Apple-esque. Very good. I think my Macbook is a little better, but not by much. The Chromebook is a lot nicer than the Dell notebook that I have to use for work.
One great think is that it’s solid state; no moving parts. This alone makes it a lot more durable than most laptops: no hard drive to break.
What about Microsoft Word? Whenever I suggest a Chromebook to people, this is how the conversation typically goes:
- Other person: I need a computer, what do you recommend?
- Me: You should get a Chromebook!
- Other person: Does it run Microsoft Office?
- Me: No, but it does run Google Docs. Google Docs is similar to Office and is even compatible with Word. Best thing of all is that it saves all of your files to the cloud. No more losing stuff when Word or Windows crashes. Docs doesn’t have all of the fancy features of Office, but how many of those do you use? Besides, Office alone costs 100’s of dollars.
- Other person: But I want Microsoft Office.
I don’t have a clue why people are so obsessed with Office, but trust me, there is life without it.
What about storage? This is one of the best parts. The Chromebook uses Google Drive (cloud storage). The Chromebook has it’s own storage too, but you probably won’t use it.
What about apps? You have 2 options here:
- Chrome Extensions: Extensions are add-ons to the browser. Want to run Spotify? There is an extension for that. Here’s one for TweetDeck. Angry Birds anyone?
- Web Apps: HTML (the language of the web) is now very powerful. There are some great interactive websites that can replace the software you use on your computer. We use PIXLR for photo editing. I use Google Huddle for video calls. Does anyone not use Gmail these days?
What about offline work? This is a valid concern, but the Chromebook has your back here too. Read about all you can do offline.
What about Skype? This may be the biggest drawback, no Skype support yet. However, the Chromebook supports Google Huddle which accomplishes the same thing.
Who wouldn’t you recommend a Chromebook too? A Chromebook is no good if you spend a lot of time out of your browser. Off the top of my head, it won’t be good for gamers, software developers and people who use other software packages.
Anyway, if you’re in the market for a new computer, check out the Chromebook. If you already have one, let me know what you think.
*If you want to get all technical and geeky, the heart of the Chromebook is the Linux kernel.
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