Chromebooks: fast, cheap and mobile – but no fun without internet
You want a notebook without Windows or MacOS? You’re already in the Google ecosystem and have a Google account and an Android smartphone? Then a Chromebook might be right for you.
These low cost devices run Google’s Chrome OS, boot up incredibly quickly, have long battery life, and can be bought for as little as 350 dollars.
Chromebooks aren’t powerful, but they offer inexpensive access to the web and the online services of Google. In fact, almost every activity takes places in the browser and is saved in Google Drive. You can also download Android apps from the Play Store.
So who would a Chromebook suit? According to laptop tester Stefan Porteck, they’re a good choice “for everyone who needs a reliable device that costs little.”
If you can accept working exclusively with Google’s web services you usually don’t need anything more than what a Chromebook offers.
Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and photo editing are all available. If you want to use the Chromebook for gaming, there’s also Google’s Stadia, which only needs a fast internet connection to play top games.
Thanks to the Google ecosystem, anything you do on an Android smartphone can be continued seamlessly on a Chromebook, such as editing photos or sending messages. Passwords for online services can also be synched between different devices.
Chrome OS is clearly developing in the same direction as Apple’s iOS: many devices using one system and with no limitations between them.
One of the Chromebook’s strong points is also one of its weaknesses: simplicity. “It’s a very closed system,” Porteck says. “You don’t really have the choice of what to install.”
You’re limited to what’s available in the Chrome Web Store and the Google Play Store. And by no means all Android apps are well adapted for Chromebooks.
If there’s an app and a web service that do the same thing you’re usually better off using the latter. Without internet access, Chromebooks can only be used to a limited extent.
For analyst Malini Paul, Chromebooks offer clear advantages for some users. “Not all users need a lot of computing power all the time,” she says. Mobility is a big advantage as are ease of use and low prices.
According to Google, around 50 models will be launched in 2021. In terms of price, there should be something for everyone.
The Chromebook product range is wide, from the fairly basic Asus C223 for around US$350 (RM1,433) to the much more advanced Lenovo Thinkpad C13 Yoga Chromebook for around US$800 (RM3,276). – dpa