When Chromebooks first appeared in 2011, users were not happy. And with a good reason. Chromebooks back then were little more than your ordinary web browsers that required a constant internet connection. However, it’s been ten years now, and things have changed. The change happened not only in Chromebooks but also in our personal usage of software and apps.
Nonetheless, the main question still remains: Can Chromebooks replace laptops? Here’s everything we know so far.
The Differences Between Chromebooks and Laptops
Chromebooks are laptops and two-in-ones that are using the Chrome operating system. Regarding the hardware, they look like any other laptop. However, Chrome OS is web-browser based and offers an entirely different experience from Windows or Mac laptops.
Windows and Mac laptops have a couple of advantages over Chromebooks: they allow for a broader range of software and programs, as well as web browsers. When buying these laptops, we can always customize and choose the features we need the most. But that’s why they tend to be pricier than Chromebooks.
On the other hand, Chromebooks can be even a few hundred dollars cheaper than a Windows or a Mac laptop. Also, Chromebook’s simplicity can’t be beat. And, since we can do plenty through apps and web pages anyway, Chrome OS offers everything we need with the bonus of simpler use and more speed.
Windows and Mac laptops require a bit more in the storage department. But they also offer internal storage space, unlike Chromebooks that offer only Cloud storage. In both cases, we can use external memory to store our apps and files.
Software and Apps
The most prominent flaw of Chromebooks is that they are not compatible with a lot of Windows and Mac software and apps that we are so fond of using. Android users might also have a hard time adjusting to the limited app options.
We could, however, use VMware on Chromebooks to run Windows applications, and there’s support for Linux software, as well. Also, current models can run Android apps with the addition of apps available through Google’s Chrome Web Store.
That being said, we’ve learned from other user’s experiences that Android and Linux app support on Chromebooks can be a mess. So, we might be able to get our favorite apps, but they will probably be unstable, missing some features, or won’t work at all. The same buggy experience goes for playing games on Chromebooks.
All in all, apps and games are there, even though they’re not optimized for a Chrome OS device with a big screen.
The OS You Need
If your work is mostly online, Chrome OS will do perfectly. For the best experience, you might have to switch offline apps with cloud services, though. For example, instead of iTunes, you would have to use Google Play Music. Microsoft Office users would also face a similar issue — having to replace it with Google Drive.
However, if your work requires advanced software, like those pro photo and video editing apps, you’ll want a Windows or a Mac laptop. Don’t get us wrong; it can be done on a Chromebook as well. However, it all depends on your skills and how much of your comfort and habits you are willing to sacrifice.
To sum up, if you need or want a specific Windows or Mac app — but there’s no suitable web or Android app substitute, and you don’t want to use VMware — don’t get a Chromebook. If, however, you need only a web browser and the most basic apps, even a cheap Chromebook will be an excellent fit.
So, can Chromebooks replace laptops? Generally speaking, probably not yet. Nonetheless, some people have shown that they’ve managed to make an easy transition from a Windows or Mac to a Chromebook. In the end, it all depends on your personal needs and willingness to adjust to the simple and practical Chromebook style.