A Chromebook is a class apart compared to a regular Windows computer or a Macbook. They are sleek and stylish, lightweight devices that run the Chrome OS. There is an immense number of Chromebooks out there, which can make us all wonder at times; which is the right one?
Therefore, this article from Chrome Ready focuses on breaking down the fundamental factors that make up a Chromebook, elaborates on them, and helps lay out the ground realities to gauge which Chromebook is the one for you. Without further ado, then, let’s dive straight into this master guide.
Choosing Your Chromebook
Before we get into the tech-related components of a Chromebook, it’s absolutely key that you whole-heartedly answer the following questions according to your personal preference.
Do You Really Need a Chromebook?
Before even getting into the debate of choosing a Chromebook, ask yourself, do you really need it? As Chrome OS is commonly found in schools, businesses, and enterprises for its fast computing features, it has become exceedingly hard to overlook them. It might have caught your attention and fairly piqued your interest, but is the additional purchase worth the time and money?
What you can do to answer this question for yourself is hop on the Chrome browser on your existing Windows or Mac computer and try staying within the domain of that browser for at least a week or so. If you find that everything you need to do, including your work, can be handled by the Chrome browser and you’re not using other programs like Adobe Photoshop, or any other high-end software, a Chromebook will satisfy you more than enough.
However, it is worth mentioning here that there are significant workarounds to popular apps on Chromebooks as well. This, however, will be discussed in detail later on in the article.
What’s Your Use Case?
A use case is a specific purpose for which you buy anything, especially electronic devices like these. Before you buy your Chromebook, you need to reflect on your use case and ask yourself this, “How will I be using my Chromebook?”. The answer to this question will help you filter your search and take you a step forward in tailoring it to perfection.
As mentioned before, Chromebooks are a norm in the education sector, and all for a good reason. If you’re a parent looking out for your youngster or simply are a student yourself, Chrome OS will stand out in your life. They are highly secure, easy to use, and have regular, automatic updates to keep them up to speed without hindering your workflow.
Moreover, these Chrome-powered devices are handy for business use too. There are many Chromebooks out there that look and feel like a proper laptop with powerful specifications to help you as your daily driver. On the other hand, Chrome OS is terrific if you frequently move too. These travel-ready systems won’t bother you one bit, given how delicately undemanding they are.
Furthermore, a Chromebook’s eminence in the field of home entertainment needs no introduction. They are perfect for binge-watching shows, streaming movies on platforms such as Netflix, along with gaming and areas of the like. If you’re looking for a minimalistic system that ticks all of the boxes above, look no further than Chrome OS.
Let’s Talk Specs
To help you pinpoint the type of Chromebook you want, let’s have an overview of some of the important specifications. From features to price points, this section discusses it all.
Chromebooks come in all kinds of form factors. They can be a traditional laptop, a convertible one, and there are detachable Chromebooks as well in which the keyboard separates itself from the screen. Let us explain how all three of these lead to different results.
A laptop-style Chromebook offers a classic look with a lustrous design. Despite being built conventionally, the real beauty of a Chromebook lies in its light and thin body. This is a feature that’s found in every Chrome OS, regardless of its form factor. Rest assured, these are the most common Chromebooks out there, and the appeal for them has stayed evergreen.
Next up, we have convertible Chromebooks that are 360 degrees rotatable, allowing you to switch up your game plan in any way you like. These are made highly versatile, as you can presume, and attribute to multiple viewing modes. With a 2-in-1 design, they are more than just a laptop and boast flexibility like no other. However, do bear in mind that devices like these can get pricier than regular ones.
Lastly, we have detachable Chromebooks that take portability to extra lengths. Comprising one of the most travel-ready designs, the keyboard of these devices can be separated from the screen. In this way, you’re turning your Chromebook into a tablet with its very own functionality.
That’s it for the form factor of Chrome OS. If you’ve read the above and decided which design suits you best, move on to the next aspect.
RAM’s importance in a computing device cannot be stressed enough. While Chromebooks aren’t too phenomenal with their memory, the RAM inside them sure varies enough to yield different results. Chromebooks come in variants of 2 GB and 4 GB. Other than these, there are a handful yet top-of-the-line Chromebooks that comprise 8 GB of memory as well, along with a whopping 16 GB. Anyhow, this is what makes Chrome OS truly efficient – lesser complications in the working of these computers demand no heavy hardware.
Therefore, most good quality Chromebooks that you’ll find today come with 4 GB of RAM. If you cannot sacrifice luxury by any means, we recommend getting a 16 GB/8 GB Chromebook, but if that’s really not what you need, a 4GB variant will do just fine. You can also get a 2 GB RAM Chromebook like the Lenovo N22, but extensive multi-tasking can become burdensome for such devices, thus leading to slower loading times and unresponsiveness.
RAM links with the storage of a Chromebook, which is why the latter is next up to be discussed in this guide.
Thanks to a multitude of USB ports on Chromebook, hooking up an external drive will always bring your device no harm. But, to talk about Chrome OS’s internal storage, you’ll find variants of 16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB, and even 128 GB on higher-level devices. That said, Chromebooks aren’t really cut out for storing heavy applications and programs like traditional PCs and other laptops.
Moreover, since the Chrome OS is cloud-based, you get 100 GB of free cloud storage with your Google Drive account, which is also free to make. This is a fantastic method of backing up your files, photos, and other data, so nothing of considerable size stays on your device’s storage. In this manner, you can save up a lot of storage and keep your Chromebook unclogged and unburdened.
Furthermore, each Chromebook has a built-in SD Card reader slot as well. You can also utilize this to your benefit and get additional storage for your cause.
Chromebooks have several variations when it comes to processors and CPUs. The most ubiquitous of the lot is Intel Celeron, which is present in almost every mid-range Chrome OS. The speed they provide is fair enough, and they can also handle multi-tasking comfortably. If you wish to go a bit higher on the quality chart, you can get Intel Core processors that pack double the punch.
While it’s no doubt that you’ll be getting amazing speed and a smooth workflow with Chromebooks that feature Intel Core CPUs, do bear in mind that you’ll also have to pay more for them. The price point goes up when there’s additional processor power involved. The latest Pixelbook Go, for one, features 16 GBs of RAM with an Intel Core i7 processor, thereby being one of the most sought-after Chromebook on the planet right now.
What we wrote above about the storage in the RAM subheading correlates here as well. With free and purchasable cloud storage, and the option to connect external hard drives and memory cards, storage won’t be much of a problem on your Chromebook, considering how lightweight their executable operations are.
Display and Screen Size
While Chromebooks aren’t fully there, they certainly show no signs of slowing down in catching up to the level of traditional laptops. In terms of screen size, there are three distinct categories – Small for 10-11-inch, Medium for 12-13-inch, and Large for 14-15-inch screen. Many people don’t like too big displays, while some wouldn’t work with a tiny one. It’s quite possible that you’d prefer a moderately sized Chromebook, but then again, this entirely falls to personal preference.
From full-HD to IPS touch-screen displays, this is a facet of Chromebook screens that offer diverse options. Many of these computers even have QHD and 4K displays, exemplifying how far Chrome OS has come across. Again, these displays will each have their own resolutions, so be sure to decide early on which one’s going to fit your budget and needs.
Chromebooks start from somewhere around $189 and go as up as $1000. In between, there, you have an enormous amount of choices in these devices that range from low-tier and mid-range to stellar high-end. A while back, Chromebooks weren’t priced very high, but as technology started to take its toll on them, more premium level computers started to fall in production. The latest Samsung Galaxy Chromebook with a 13.3″ 4K AMOLED display is an excellent proponent of the thought.
As the price point goes up, so do the specs of the Chromebook alongside its quality. Rest assured, there are some great quality devices in the budget range as well, although you will have to compromise on premium features on them.
Let’s Talk Features
While this section does not discuss any particular specification of Chrome OS, it does, however, sheds light on some of the best mutual features of a Chromebook – all fueling your decision to get one.
Android App Support
The majority of Chromebooks today come with pre-enabled support for the Google Play Store. Not only this integrates you with a powerful tool, but it also opens up a world of Android applications for your device. Now may it be games or apps, the Play Store is yours for the taking.
Interestingly, the support for Google Play Store isn’t something that birthed with the first Chromebook that ever launched. This, in fact, is relatively recent and came out 5 years later after the first Chromebook was up for sale. Most devices already have this feature, while some of the ones that don’t will get an update for compatibility sooner or later. Be sure to check with your retailer for the Google Play Store pre-installed since the realm of Android apps inside your Chromebook makes the purchase even more worth it.
The Linux Terminal
Linux is an operating system on its own that eventually made its way to the domain of Chrome OS. Now, in a Chromebook, you get the native operating system right alongside the utilitarian Linux. What it actually brings to the table is a catalog of potent applications that supply the Chromebook with more functionality, making it fundamentally better equipped than before.
Installing Linux on your Chromebook provides you with a special “Termina” from where you can access this convenient operating system. If you’re looking for quality replacements to popular desktop programs like Adobe Reader, or Photoshop, Linux has all the answers for you. To read more about all this, read our article on the top reasons to run Linux on Chrome OS.
The Fun Never Stops Offline
If your work doesn’t always involve an Internet connection, the remarkable offline functionality of a Chromebook is a great plus you should know about. There’s a ton that you can do on Chrome OS without a connection, and a portion of that includes working on Google Drive files, checking and replying to your emails, and streaming multimedia content, among other options.
Taking advantage of the Chromebook’s web-driven environment, you can also save web pages for offline usage easily as well, and while you’re at that, the plethora of Play Store and Linux apps sitting in your Launcher make the experience all the more top-notch.
The battery is something that is not be taken lightly on Chrome OS. As a matter of fact, exceptional battery timing is one of the many hallmarks of a Chromebook. While a first-rate said device might suffer from comparatively lower battery timings because of obvious reasons like better hardware and top-end display, others will easily last you around 10-14 hours, depending on the usage.
With that being said, high levels of performance and incredible battery life are two features that have earned Chromebooks the recognition they deserve today. If you prefer these two attributes rather than others, you know what’s your next purchase already.
We hope that this guide has helped you come to a firm conclusion as far as buying a new Chromebook is concerned. Typically, you need to look out for important components in a device, as we’ve written above, and now that you know what makes up a Chromebook, you’ll have an easier time with your decisions. Chrome Ready wishes you the best of luck on buying your perfect Chrome OS!