If I had to take a guess, I’d say that the web browser — be it Chrome, Safari, Firefox or IE — is bound to be the most regularly used application on your computer, and that’s of no surprise. Gone are the days when you needed to have Microsoft Office installed to type up a document, manage a spreadsheet or organise your calendar, and streaming services like Netflix & Spotify offer plenty of options for watching movies and listening to music.
Like it or not, everything is moving online and that’s where the appeal of a Chromebook comes in. Priced at around £200, they cost about half the price of a decent Windows-based laptop and to top it off, Chromebooks tend to be much faster, thanks to their Solid State Drives (SSDs) and light operating system.
So, if you’ve been considering a Chromebook as a primary or even secondary machine, here are 3 of my reasons why you should buy one.
#1 Speed & Performance
When you use a traditional operating system like a Windows or Mac, they tend to require a significant amount of hard drive space, as well as update management, individual app and driver installations and so on. It’s far from a plug’n’play experience, and it can get quite frustrating to use and maintain.
Chrome OS on the contrary is extremely lightweight since it’s based entirely on the Chrome browser and uses an integrated SSD (rather than a traditional mechanical hard drive), giving it a super-fast boot up time of 7 seconds. You’ll be reliant on a good Wi-Fi signal and reasonable internet speeds to get the most out of it, but overall the system feels nice and quick to use.
Its modest specs aren’t capable of intensive photo editing or serious, graphic-intensive gaming, but overall Chromebooks are fantastic performers when it comes to basic tasks like casual browsing, answering emails, getting some written work done or playing games.
#2 Decent Selection Of Apps For Productivity, And Fun
Chrome OS can’t be compared to the rich app ecosystem you might find on iOS or even Android — and that’s something I’ve looked at in this separate article — but there’s certainly enough variety at your disposal.
When you need to get productive, web-based services like Google Docs & Sheets, Microsoft Office, Apple’s iWork suite and Gmail are the common go-to options. The Chrome store even has a dedicated ‘Creative Tools’ category with the likes of Pixlr as a decent online photo editor, as well as a section for Developer Tools. In short, there are plenty of options to choose from!
Even when it comes to a little bit of fun, there are Chrome extensions for games like Cut The Rope and Angry Birds to keep you entertained.
Let’s put this in perspective: tablets like the Nexus 10 (16GB) or the smaller iPad Mini cost £319, and while they boast fantastic displays and impressive spec sheets, they don’t have the same keyboard & mouse experience as a laptop. On the other hand you could get yourself a small laptop in a similar £200-300 price range, but if they’re running Windows they’re likely to suffer from sluggish performance after some months of use.
So despite not having first class specs, Chromebooks merge the best part of a laptop experience but with the speed of a tablet, and when you consider the very modest £200 price tag, they’re packing a lot of value for money.
Taking in to account the blend of good performance and low cost, the Chromebook is set up as an excellent value-for-money purchase for anybody looking for a basic computer. It’s not going to appeal to power-users who want to squeeze everything out of the machine, but the casual user who just wants to browse the web and get some light work done is going to find a lot of value in a Chromebook.