Chromebook vs. Laptop: What Can and Can't I Do With a Chromebook?

Chromebooks are a good option for those on a tight budget, especially if they need a new computer that they can easily carry. Keep in mind that comparing a laptop to a Chromebook is not an apples-to-apples comparison. Aside from price, the operating system is the most significant difference. If you’re used to Windows or MacOS, Google’s simple Chrome operating system may not have all of the capabilities you’re looking for. But, on the other hand, with some Chromebooks at under $300, you might be able to save a lot of money by skipping features you don’t use anyhow.

Chromebooks were widely ridiculed when they initially appeared in 2011. Rightly so, for their limited capability and dependency on a steady internet connection. Last year, the operating system reached ten years old. Today’s Chromebooks, which come in both laptop and two-in-one designs, are far from where they started. But certain things haven’t changed. You may not be prepared to work with the constraints they do have. 

What can and cannot a Chromebook do?

Chrome OS was essentially simply Google’s Chrome web browser when it initially appeared. For those who are used to operating systems like Windows and Mac, a Chromebook looks to be nothing more than a laptop with a web browser installed.

Even if the Chrome OS never advanced beyond that, the reality is that a lot can now be done entirely over the internet. Take a look at what you do daily, and you could find that there’s nothing you can’t accomplish using Chrome at its most basic level.

A Windows laptop or a MacBook, on the other hand, can run the Chrome browser as well as other apps supported by those operating systems. Even if you don’t need a specific piece of software right now, it’s wonderful to have the choice. Plus, if you’re looking for a Chromebook for Google Classroom remote learning, a Mac or Windows PC would suffice.

Chromebooks, on the other hand, are not natively compatible with Windows or Mac apps. Businesses can run Windows apps on Chromebooks using VMware, but this isn’t a simple choice for most Chromebook users. However, Linux software is supported, and modern versions can run Android apps. There are also online apps accessible via Google’s Chrome Web Store. Also, if you’re considering a Chromebook as a secondary device, it’s possible to use Windows or Mac software on a Chromebook by using Chrome’s Remote Desktop feature and it actually works really well!

For many people, having access to Microsoft Office is a huge obstacle. Although you cannot install the full Windows or MacOS desktop versions of Office on a Chromebook, you may use Office 365 online and install the Office progressive web apps. PWAs are comparable to mobile apps in that they may be used offline, get notifications, and be pinned to the taskbar. Do not buy a Chromebook if you need or want a certain Windows or Mac software for which there is no viable web or Android app equivalent and VMware is not an option.

If you need to perform a lot of photos and video editing, you’ll need a Windows, Mac, or Linux laptop. Basic photo and video editing are OK, but Chromebooks sometimes lack the graphics processing power needed for demanding applications. As well as the ability to install Windows or Mac software and games. Thanks to streaming-game services like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, Amazon Luna, and Xbox Cloud Gaming, Chromebooks may now be utilized for more than just Android and browser-based games. You may also install and play Linux games; however, this will need a more powerful Chromebook. There are also several Android apps for photo and video editing, including Adobe options.

What is a good Chromebook?

Several years ago, regardless of manufacturer, all Chromebooks were essentially the same. There is now a far wider range of laptops and two-in-ones – convertibles and tablets.They can take advantage of Chrome OS’s present capabilities. When it comes to Windows laptops, you’ll still find more sizes and designs. Especially if you need top processing and graphics capabilities. But the choice is much greater than in the past.

If all you want is a pleasant, basic experience with a Chromebook, the compact, lightweight OS has minimum hardware requirements, as do online applications. Demanding multitaskers will benefit from a quicker, higher-end CPU, more memory, and more storage for files and applications; an Intel Core i-series or AMD Ryzen processor, 8GB of memory, and a 128GB SSD for storage will go you far, but it will be pricey. When people ask me what basic Chromebook specs they should look for, I recommend the following:

Intel Celeron or Pentium, Qualcomm or MediaTek processors

  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of storage
  • Full HD (1,920×1,080-pixel) display 

These rules can be interpreted in a variety of ways. A 1,366×768-resolution display, for example, is available. But when compared to full-HD devices, the cheap ones used in low-end Chromebooks appear noticeably soft. If you don’t plan to download a lot of Android apps or if there’s a microSD card slot, 32GB of internal storage should be plenty. Unlike a regular laptop, a Chromebook stores data in the cloud rather than on the local hard drive. It’s also worth noting that storage and memory are typically soldered on and cannot be altered afterward, so prepare ahead of time.

You should check the device’s Auto Update Expiration date, or AUE, before purchasing it, regardless of the Chromebook you pick. Chrome OS and browser upgrades, including security fixes, are presently only available for a short period on non-Google hardware. The date is normally seven to eight years after the device’s first release for models introduced lately. However, this is not always the case. Google maintains a list of AUE dates for all models. You should check before buying a new or used Chromebook.

Is it necessary for Chromebooks to have an internet connection?

When Chromebooks first came out, they were paperweights when not connected to the internet. It was a significant problem if you were in the middle of drafting an important document and suddenly couldn’t save it because your internet connection had gone down. Fortunately, Google has boosted offline capabilities, and major apps like Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify now provide offline options as well.

Being offline on a standard laptop is less of an issue because you’re utilizing installed software that saves to internal storage. While neither experience is fantastic offline these days. Chromebooks are not a good option if you are not ready and able to be online the majority of the day. On the plus side, Google has made it incredibly simple for Android users to transform their phones into instant mobile hotspots. And for Chromebooks and Android devices to function more seamlessly together.

Are Chromebooks inexpensive?

Because of Chrome OS’s modest hardware needs, Chromebooks are not only lighter and smaller than an ordinary laptop, but they are also less costly.

New Windows laptops for $200 are hard to come by and, to be honest, are rarely worthwhile to purchase. Finding a nice $200 Chromebook, on the other hand, is rather straightforward. While investing more can bring you better build quality, more features, or faster performance, even these premium Chromebooks normally start at $400 to $500. But may easily cost more than $1,000 depending on your demands.

With Windows laptops, you should expect to pay $700 or more for a tiny, lightweight device with adequate performance and battery life that will last for years.

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