A Chromebook is a laptop running the Linux-based Chrome OS as its operating system. The devices are primarily used to perform a variety of tasks using the Google Chrome Browser, with most applications and data residing in the cloud rather than on the machine itself. Chromebooks have done quite well in the education market, but their appeal has broadened. But are they worth buying?
How Much Do Chromebooks Cost?
For the most part, there’s a pretty narrow price range for Chromebooks, and it’s on the more affordable end of the spectrum. You can pick up the affordable and light Acer Chromebook R11 — which has an 11.6-inch HD display, an Intel Celeron N3150 CPU and 2GB of RAM — for $169. Rare models ask you go higher, such as the $549 Samsung Chromebook Pro, a stylus-equipped 12.3-inch notebook with a 2400 x 1600-pixel display, an Intel Core M3 processor and 4GB of RAM.
You may like paying more for a Windows 10 notebook, as the average selling price for a PC is $448. There are more affordable options, as we’ve detailed here, but the PC laptop market has a much higher cap than the Chromebook market.
MORE: Essential Android Apps
Which Apps does it supports?
It supports thousands of apps on Chromebooks and it’s getting better every day, but these machines were still originally optimized for Google’s apps, such as Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive. This deep integration can be either positive or negative, depending on how you use a PC. Chromebooks will be easy to set up if you already use those apps.
Android apps are now coming to Chromebooks, however, only a few selected systems can access the Google Play store at this time. The idea is to give Chromebooks access to more games, productivity options and other apps to make these machines more versatile.
Can I Play Games on Chromebook?
You’ll still be able to play games onI the Chromebook, but your options are sparse. The Chrome Web Store offers casual titles such as Bejeweled and Cut the Rope, but you won’t have the same selection as you would on a Windows machine or a Mac. Of course, Chromebooks with Android support get more modern titles such as Fallout Shelter, Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes and Minecraft and many more arcade games.
You won’t be able to play popular games and heavy games as Chromebooks generally have limited Graphics processing.
Unfortunately, popular software applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and the Microsoft Office suite, aren’t available on all Chromebooks. However, the Android version of Office is rolling out to those Chromebooks with access to the Google Play Store. If you need Office, but your machine doesn’t have Android apps yet, you’re limited to Microsoft Office Online, the free cloud version of Office via the Chrome browser.
Chromebooks are designed to rely heavily on the Internet, which means that many apps simply won’t work if you’re out of Wi-Fi range. There are more than 200 offline Chrome apps that can work without Internet connectivity, including Gmail, Pocket and Google Drive, and tons of the Android apps coming soon will also work offline.
Chromebook for Work models also offer tools that IT administrators need to manage laptops in and out of the office. The Lenovo ThinkPad 13 Chromebook and Google’s Pixelbook include the Trusted Platform Module, a security chip that helps keep malicious attackers away from your passwords.
It has built-in virus protection, and backs up your stuff in the cloud. With automatic updates, it keeps getting better.
Google Assistant is available on the Chrome OS platform in the Pixelbook. While you can activate it with the Pixelbook Pen, that $99 accessory isn’t necessary when you have the Assistant key in that laptop’s keyboard. While the launcher is currently with Google Now, giving you info cards for the current weather and local news stories, Google Feed.
Chromebooks are affordable and offer decent performance, and the introduction of Android apps is increasing their capabilities. Microsoft is fighting back with low-cost Windows 10 Laptops, but if you’re looking for a simple way to get online and you prefer Google’s services, you’ll be happy with a Chromebook.