Windows laptops and Macbooks in offices are pretty standard these days, but when it comes to education and even some workplaces, Chromebooks are pretty common too. Some of the main factors that contribute to their popularity are: They are cheap, they can cut costs for businesses, and they are royalty-free and easy to use.
The Chrome OS came out in 2012 and Google called it “a breath of fresh air” as most laptops of the time were clunky and Chrome OS was a cloud-based operating system that only ran the Chrome browser and only a lot few resources were needed to run. Total Chromebook sales were not convincing until the pandemic hit the world, and sales soared and doubled in 2020.
In this article, let’s take a look at what makes Chromebooks better and if you should consider buying one for yourself.
Why you should buy a Chromebook
1. For browsing, entertainment and editing of documents
Thanks to the pandemic, the social media and entertainment industries are booming with content and consumers. Social media can be useful for learning a new skill or for showcasing yours and getting noticed.
If you are a college student or a professional who only uses social media, surfs the web, and consumes a lot of video content, a Chromebook might be an ideal choice. If your day is juggling between Excel spreadsheets or other documents, a Chromebook is again a great choice. Note, however, that there is no Microsoft Office suite on Chromebooks. Hence, you need to use Google’s cloud-based office suite, which is a great alternative to Microsoft Office.
One of the other great aspects of Chromebooks is their battery life. You can expect an intermediate level to take at least 8-10 hours. Part of this is because Chrome OS is a very light and energy efficient operating system.
2. Support for Android apps
Google added support for Android apps in Chrome OS in 2016. Chrome OS lets you install apps from both the Chrome Store and the Google Play Store, which is great. One of the downsides to Chrome OS is gaming, and the Google Play Store helps make that downside a little less punishing as Android games have gotten better over the past few years.
Not to mention, with a Chromebook, you also step into the Android ecosystem, just like you did with iOS. Well, it’s nowhere near the latter, but it does allow you to view and answer text messages and calls, and enable and disable phone features on the go.
3. Chrome OS is a feast for the eyes
In a world of Windows and macOS laptops and PCs, using the same operating system for extended periods of time could be incredibly boring. We then have tons of Linux distros, which again is not for everyone. In that case, the Chromebook is a viable option when you need a secondary device for casual use for a refreshing experience.
For the most part, if you are an Android user, the UI elements are very familiar. The experience will be very close to using Dex mode on Samsung devices (where you plug your phone into a monitor and rearrange the interface elements to give you a desktop-like feel.
4. Chromebooks are cheap
I’m pretty sure you will see this coming. Chromebooks are much cheaper than Windows laptops and MacBooks. For example, to buy a good and “usable” Windows machine, you need to spend at least $ 600, while Chromebooks with “low-end features” start at just $ 250. Premium and high-performance Chromebooks, on the other hand, cost no more than $ 700.
Not to mention, you can also opt for something in the middle, like the $ 400 Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5. That isn’t the end of the world, though. You can explore a wide variety of Chromebooks and choose the right one for your needs.
5. Chromebooks can run Windows (some type) and Linux
Yes indeed! You heard that right. You can run Windows on a Chromebook with a VM app called Parallels. We previously had Parallels in our ‘How to install Windows 11 on M1 MacBooks‘ Items. One of the unique features of Parallels is that you can drag and drop files directly from Chrome OS to the Windows VM and vice versa, which is pretty great.
Note, however, that if you want to run VMs on Chromebook, you need to buy one with good specs or the VM would run terribly slow.
Since Chrome OS is based on the Linux kernel, Google added Linux support a few years ago. While it’s still in beta, Linux users and developers who compile their code on Linux have definitely appreciated its feature. We tried it out in our How to Install Linux on Chromebook, too, and were pretty impressed with how well it went.
All good things come at a price, however, and Parallels is no different. For more information on pricing, see the Parallels official website. If you already own a Chromebook and want to run Windows, Parallels also offers a free trial.
Why you shouldn’t buy a Chromebook
As mentioned earlier, you cannot run Windows games on Chrome OS. So, if you want a computer that can play games, we recommend sticking with Windows, at least for now.
Also, some of the Android games like Call of Duty and PUBG won’t work on Chrome OS. Hence, the best thing to do is to check what’s going on and then decide if you should buy a Chromebook.
General app support
While the presence of the Google Play Store for apps is very much appreciated, one of the main problems with Chrome OS is that you can’t run Windows apps and there aren’t many alternatives for that on the platform. I wouldn’t say there aren’t many apps out there, but app support is definitely lacking.
For example, if you make extensive use of the Adobe Suite, you are limited to its Android counterparts, which are different from their PC app counterparts. In fact, some of its counterparts like Microsoft 365 support have recently been retired on Chromebooks.
Chromebooks do not receive an extended update period
Windows PCs and laptops are all upgradeable to the latest Windows 11 using official or unofficial installation methods, but Chromebooks are not. You will receive major updates for about six and a half years.
Should You Buy a Chromebook? Here is our take
If all you want to do is browse the web, watch videos, and edit documents, buying a good Chromebook instead of a Windows laptop is a great way to save money. Most of them are very well built, have mediocre to good specs, and have excellent battery life that will last you all day.
If you’ve decided to buy one, we recommend buying one with an FHD display (1920 * 1080 pixels) and a 10th generation or higher i5 processor.
That said, last year in the US was the year of the Chromebooks. Thanks to the pandemic, Chromebook sales have reportedly skyrocketed, with over 30 million of them sold. Most of the buyers were students and educational institutions.
If Google manages to improve Chrome OS, students will grow up with Chromebooks, paving the way for much higher sales in the future as most students grow up with it and prefer it to any other operating system.
Of course, that prediction could fall far short of that, but we have to see what the future holds for Chromebooks. What do you think of Chromebooks? If you’ve ever used one, let us know your views and opinions on it in the comments section below.