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Chromebooks: What Are They And Should You Buy One?

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Chromebooks were launched in May 2011 by software giant Google as a new personal computer running Chrome OS as its operating system. In essence, a Chromebook is like all of your favourite Google web applications in one bundle, with optimal Internet browsing on Chrome and all of your files saved onto Google Drive.

As a relatively new competitor on the market, Chromebooks are still a topic of mystery for many. What are the different types and who are they catered for? How do Google’s claims hold up in reality? We’ve done some quick research for you…

Three different models

Currently, there are three different models of Chromebooks available for sale, retailing from $299: the Samsung Chromebook, Acer Chromebook, and HP Pavilion Chromebook. Essentially, these three models are quite similar with the same amount of free Google Drive space for the first two years. If you want a bigger display, go with the HP; if you’re after more battery, the Samsung. All are very sleek, portable and affordable.

“Boots in seconds”

One of the key selling points for Chromebooks is the fact that they start in seconds. According to Google, the HP and Samsung Chromebooks both boot up in less than 10 seconds and the Acer in less than 20 seconds. The puts the Chromebook on the same playing field as the much more expensive MacBook Air, which revolutionised the computer world with its lightning speed bootup time when it was first launched. If you’re after a laptop that literally starts up in a flash, you’ll adore this.

“Nothing complicated to learn”

Google’s claim that there is nothing complicated to learn when it comes to using a Chromebook is true, partially. If you’re well accustomed to using Google software on your existing laptop or computer (think Chrome, Google Drive, and Gmail), adapting to the Chromebook will be dead easy. If you’re not so familiar to Google’s many applications, it may take a bit longer to learn, especially if you’re used to saving all of your files on “My Documents” with your old PC.

Did anyone say…WiFi dependency?

Google claims that the Chromebook also contains offline applications like Gmail and Google Docs ‘for the rare times that you’re disconnected from the web’. While this may be true, it’s worth noting that the Chromebook is a heavily, Internet-based laptop. If you’re planning to take your laptop to places while travelling lots, or to places without accessible WiFi, think twice about getting a Chromebook.

What’s your usage?

At the end of the day, there are many laptops, tablets, and other kinds of hybrids out there vying for your attention. In what cases should you choose a Chromebook over the rest? If you need a simple laptop for everyday Internet browsing and basic processing, go with the Chromebook. If you’re a student or short on cash, it’s a good choice too. However, if you’re looking for more than Google in a laptop, maybe consider looking elsewhere – ultrabooks and hybrids are all the rage these days, after all.

Heather Shaw is a university student and freelance writer who is interested in new technology. She’s incredibly thankful that she can always rent a computer in case anything happens to her existing laptop!
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