Increasingly, the ranks of laptops are filled with curious compact devices with their own name – Chromebook. For an inexperienced user, they seem rather strange – everything seems to be like a laptop, but the permanent memory is like a smartphone. Moreover, instead of Windows OS, something incomprehensible and alien … What is a Chromebook really, and how is it different from a regular laptop? More details in this material.
What is a Chromebook
What does the word Chromebook associate with the average Internet user? First of all, with the Google Chrome browser. Bingo! The Chromebook is the development of the Google mega-corporation. The one that owns the most popular browser in the world, a huge number of different Internet services and the most popular Android mobile operating system.
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Even at the dawn of the Android OS, the company was puzzled to develop an operating system for laptops that would easily run on entry-level hardware and use the Internet connection to store information and run programs. It’s called Chrome OS.
Due to the fact that Chrome OS does not need productive hardware for comfortable work, devices on it should be equipped with inexpensive energy-efficient platforms and, with comparable smooth operation, be much cheaper than Windows laptops. For the same reason, they should provide much better autonomy. Together with major manufacturers of computer equipment, the first such mass devices, Chromebooks, were developed and released already in 2011.
A Chromebook is a lightweight, compact subnotebook with entry-level and mid-range laptop features, but running its own operating system, Chrome OS. Its peculiarity is that your data is not stored locally – the vast majority of application data and multimedia is stored on Google servers. This is why most Chromebooks have so little permanent storage. Often they are equipped with a touch screen – this is a tribute to the support for working with Android applications that appeared in Chrome OS a few years ago.
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The main idea of a Chromebook is to use applications as web services by opening them in the Google Chrome web browser. So you do not need to install applications on the internal drive – their necessary parts are downloaded from the Internet themselves when you interact with them. And only a small part is cached to the drive for faster re-launch – just like regular web pages are cached in the Chrome browser.
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Exactly the same idea with user data. By default, they are offered to be stored in the cloud, loading them from there or uploading them there as needed. When you use your Chromebook, your media files and documents are stored in Google Drive, which is in turn linked to your Google Account. That is, after working with a Chromebook, you can access them if you wish from any device connected to the Internet – a computer, laptop or smartphone. It will be enough just to log in to your account on the desired device.
The original concept of Chrome OS was to work online. However, later Google made a concession and allowed the installation of regular Android applications on devices that are capable of full-fledged offline work. And also save user files locally if necessary. Although on simple modifications of Chromebooks with 32GB of ROM, there is little sense in the latter – then there simply will not be room for Android applications, and a compromise will have to be found so that the drive is enough for all the data. More expensive modifications with more storage do not have this problem.
Advantages and disadvantages of Chromebooks
Chromebooks have a number of advantages and disadvantages compared to conventional laptops. Among the positive aspects:
High operating speed
Chrome OS uses a minimum of local resources and runs on low and mid-range hardware with the same smoothness as expensive Windows devices.
As a rule, Chromebooks are significantly cheaper than laptops at comparable speeds.
Chrome OS devices are equipped with energy-efficient processors and perform less computing work than Windows devices. Therefore, their autonomy is usually significantly higher.
Compact and portable
Chromebooks are light and thin devices. Weight and dimensions provide them with good portability and ease of use on the road and travel.
But Chromebooks have a lot of disadvantages.
Few apps for Chrome OS
Under the operating system, there are all the essential applications, but the choice is incomparable with what is available for Windows. Now this moment is mitigated by the fact that a few years ago, Google allowed users of the system to also install regular Android applications. At the start of the system, this was not possible yet.
A good internet connection is required for full operation.
Without an Internet connection, the possibilities of Chromebooks are extremely limited – the device turns into a kind of Android tablet with a keyboard. If you have pre-downloaded and installed Android applications, you can, of course, use it. But it is the Internet connection that reveals all the possibilities of a Chromebook. Moreover, in the case of active use of large user files from the cloud, it should be fast and unlimited.
Inability to change the operating system to an alternative
Despite the fact that Chromebooks use conventional laptop processors, there is no official option to change the operating system to Windows or Linux on such devices. At the request of Google, manufacturers of such devices release a special BIOS for them, which does not allow the installation of other operating systems. And although enthusiasts from time to time try to “hack” some models to install other operating systems, most of them remain impregnable.
Low local storage
This problem is more common with initial modifications with 32 or 64 GB storage. More advanced models are equipped with 128 or 256 GB of memory, but at the same time they partially lose one of the advantages of such devices – low cost.
Can a Chromebook replace a laptop?
A Chromebook is a great device for work that requires portability. It will delight you with its high speed and good autonomy, as well as its light weight and small thickness. Well, the icing on the cake is the price, which is usually significantly lower than that of laptops of similar speed.
But there are no heavyweight programs, like full-fledged video processing software, for it. Yes, and games, with the exception of mobile projects for smartphones, cannot be played on it. Therefore, it is more of a light and fast typewriter for working with documents, mail and the Internet than a real replacement for a computer or laptop. But, again, this machine needs a constant Internet connection for full-fledged work, otherwise its capabilities will be limited.
These devices are still not able to replace a productive laptop or computer – after all, despite the smooth speed of operation, there are no analogues of many heavy programs for them. But if your work is limited only to electronic documents, the Internet and mail, then a Chromebook replacement for a laptop can be quite good.