The Wonder of Tech is pleased to welcome Steffen Campbell as a guest author. Steffen is a recent graduate of Clemson University and explains how a Chromebook helped him all four years at college.
In 2013 I was a newly minted university student. I had my entire life packed up and was ready to explore as a freshman.
Then, tragedy struck. My laptop computer broke and I was forced to buy a new computer just as I was starting college.
The following week I purchased a Chromebook, what I thought would be an interim computer, but I was very wrong. I’ve been using that same Chromebook for four years, and it’s only now just showing signs of being that old. I use it every single day, and I love every minute of it.
What is a Chromebook?
So, a little explanation for those who don’t know what a Chromebook is…
A Chromebook is a small computer designed to operate online. It runs the Chrome operating system, which is from Google, but not the same as the Chrome Internet browser you may be familiar with. The Chrome operating system works online and is used by Chromebooks instead of a Windows operating system for PC’s or the OS operating system for Mac computers.
Chromebooks are smaller than your average laptop and can’t run typical software programs like Excel or Word.
While this may seem like a drawback initially, the benefit of the Chromebook is that it can run similar applications for free online, and all your work is synced between your various devices. Google provides G Suite, a collection of applications designed to replace those Microsoft Office programs you may be used to.
A Chromebook functions primarily online, and can handle several different functions like streaming, downloading, or basic web browsing easily. This computer is for those who want to be on the go and not worry about charging their laptop or carrying a heavy computer bag.
Chromebooks are made by many different computer manufacturers, as explained below.
The Differences Between a Chromebook and a Traditional Laptop
As a quick note, there are some distinct differences between these types of machines. A traditional laptop can run any number of software programs for various purposes. These include things like spreadsheets, photo editing software, or PowerPoint. However, Chromebooks have equivalents to these programs in G Suite for those who need them.
A Chromebook and a traditional laptop differ on hardware as well. You’ll typically see better screen resolution, faster performance in specific apps, and a variety of add-ons for a full-fledged laptop.
6 Reasons Why a Chromebook Should Be Your Next Computer
So what are you waiting for? Here are 6 reasons why a Chromebook should be your next computer.
The average Chromebook weighs around 3 pounds. It’s great for moving around the house or the office. However, it’s less about the weight and more about the design philosophy of the Chromebooks: simplicity.
There aren’t a lot of ports for connections you’ll never use.
The Chromebook is small, light, and easy to carry. It fits into almost any bag and doesn’t take up a lot of room. It’s small enough to take wherever you go, and you might forget it’s there (I have).
Most Chromebooks can run for 9 to 11 hours without needing to be charged. That’s right, the battery lasts up to 11 hours. I usually get about 8-10 out of mine after four years. Depending on your use of the Chromebook, you can leave it on for days and it’ll still have a charge.
Compare this to your average laptop computer. Those will usually go somewhere between five and seven hours, depending on workload. This is because of the number of background apps that are running in addition to the other demands placed on the laptop.
Since Chromebooks are designed to do one thing—run Chrome, their performance isn’t compromised by other programs. You can do as much as you want within the Google Suite and not notice any of that annoying slowness you’ll find on larger laptops.
The best part? You don’t have to carry the charge cord everywhere you go!
Google Suite Apps
The Google Suite of applications is great for those who love having their work on every device. You can edit a document or take a note and have it sync to your phone, so there’s none of that pesky file transferring. This is also great for those who use multiple computers and want to access their documents anywhere or share them with friends.
As a side note: keep in mind you can’t download or install applications. The Chromebook is designed around the Google Suite and online use, so there’s nothing like iTunes or Skype. No problem though, Google has their own versions of those called Play Music and Hangouts.
No need to worry about saving your files either. G Suite apps will automatically save every time you make a change, even when you’re offline! That’s right, it autosaves every single change you make! If your computer crashes, no need to worry, it’s all stored on Google’s servers.
As a final note for the iPhone users, you can use all these applications too! Google has optimized their apps for the iTunes App Store, so G Suite is at your fingertips!
The Chromebook can be turned on and booted up within 5 seconds. That’s going from off, to login screen, to completely ready to go. There’s no hassle, no waiting, and no long load times. With such a simple operating system there’s very little straining the memory so you’ll rarely have to wait on anything besides the Internet.
After four years of leaving 20 tabs open at once, I’ve never noticed any slowdown. And for those who like watching movies or Netflix, the Chromebook seems to have an easier time streaming than other laptops, even on a poor Internet connection.
Chromebooks don’t suffer from the typical slew of viruses a PC user has to worry about. The Chromebook regularly checks with Google’s servers to see if its current operating system matches what Google has. If it doesn’t match, the Chromebook will ask to update so there’s not a risk of viruses. It doesn’t require any maintenance or effort on your end. You’re always up to date and always safe!
This is the one we’re all here for. Your average Chromebook will cost around $250. That’s it. The fancier models, such as the HP Chromebook 13 G1, run closer to $500. In general, you’ll only be out at most $250-300 for a great portable laptop that lets you get your work done without waiting for load times or extra cables.
For a laptop that goes everywhere you go, doesn’t slow down or lag, and lets you back all your data up without any effort, at $300, what’s not to like?
The Downsides of a Chromebook
So now that I’ve given you six reasons why you should get a Chromebook, I have to talk about the downsides.
The biggest issue with the Chromebook for you may be it not being able to run downloadable software programs. Any of those programs, at all.
You’re somewhat forced into using the Google equivalent. For those who don’t mind the online functionality, it’s not an issue, but some may struggle with this, especially those who aren’t always connected to the Internet or have slow connections.
There’s also no option to use a different browser, if you prefer Internet Explorer, Safari or Firefox. The Chrome browser is the only option.
The picture quality may not be the greatest. Some higher end models may have better resolutions, but for most Chromebooks expect a lower quality image. For basic browsing it’s not an issue, but if you’re trying to watch TV shows or movies you may notice a dip in quality.
As a final note for those trying to store large files, Google gives 15GB of free storage. After that you have to pay for storage.
That 15GB of free storage space is shared between Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. But you can store unlimited photos in Google Photos at a reduced resolution and it won’t count against your free Google space.
See, The Wonder of Tech, 12 Reasons Why Google Photos Is My Favorite Photo Service.
When I purchased my Chromebook I was given an extra 20GB of storage on Google Drive specifically so I haven’t had to worry about storage. But you should know could be difficult for you to fill that much space up. I have several thousand emails and a hundred documents I haven’t even hit 2GB. However, it is a limit to be aware of.
So what do you think?
Have you ever used a Chromebook? Could you use a computer that didn’t let you download programs? Do you like the advantages of a Chromebook versus a traditional laptop?
Feel free to ask me any question in the Comments section below!
*White Chromebook image (edited) courtesy of kaboompics via Pixabay and Creative Commons
*Chromebook with flowers image courtesy of kaboompics via Pixabay and Creative Commons
*Infographic (edited) courtesy of Steffen Campbell
Steffen Campbell is the founder/copywriter of A Girl and a Geek, a freelance tech writing blog committed to helping companies reach their audiences. He helps IT and tech companies reach their goals and customers with crafted, unique content (IT copywriting, technical writing, ghostwriting, newsletters, SEO, video marketing) about Cloud services, written manuals, and blog posts.