In your travels around life and internet, you may have heard the term Chromebook – but what exactly are these devices and where do they fit in the personal computing ecosystem.
Chromebooks are a series of computers which were first introduced by Google in 2011. The range includes various screen sizes and specs, including laptops and desktop versions as well as touchscreen variants and everything in between.
The big difference with the Chromebook is that it doesn’t run a standard operating system, like Windows or Mac OS – instead its powered by the Chrome OS which lives and breathes through the power of the cloud.
A Chromebook thrives on an internet connection, letting you perform most of the tasks you need in what amounts to a browser window. That includes word processing and picture editing which is all instantly synced to shared services like Google Drive – this is a product which syncs your images and documents to the cloud, giving you access to them anywhere you log in.
This pared down system means that Chromebooks have a number of real advantages – like being able to boot in a mere 10 seconds and letting you work for 9 hours on a single change. And they’re also priced very competitively.
But there are drawbacks too which absolutely mean the system isn’t for anyone.
For example, while the Chromebook is a capable enough writing and browsing tool, its raw processing power pales next to even the most basic of laptops. You’re simply not going to be playing any proper games on a Chromebook and you technically can’t install any programs on the Chrome OS – meaning proper photo editing, video editing and other tasks are impossible.
They also come with a small amount of local storage (as well as extra cloud based gigabytes) and there’s no Cd or DVD drive– so you won’t be able to watch movies on the move.
With the wealth of apps available on Android and iOS, you’ll actually find more advanced functionality on most tablets, not to mention better performance for games and other processing. There’s a definite learning curve to getting into the Chrome OS, meaning the intuitive touch controls on a tablet will probably be infinitely preferable to most people.
Chromebooks are an interesting new piece of technology from Google and the commitment to the connected world is likely a good indication of where personal computing will go in the future. However, for most users the limitations and sacrifices will be too many to see them giving up the ease of use of their tablet or the raw power of their laptop.
In Short: We take a look at Google’s Chromebook ecosystem – what does it do, how does it do it and how does it compare to your regular laptop or tablet