I’ve been a laptop user for years. Most of the laptops I have used were given to me by my employer. One of the first laptops weighed nearly 10 pounds. Since that time, laptops have gotten faster and a lot lighter. But how I use a laptop has also changed dramatically.
Now, much of my work is done in a web browser. Whether it is configuring a web server, sending emails, researching stuff — it is usually done via a web browser. For the past few years, my browser of choice has been Google Chrome due to its speed and synchronization with my Android phone.
A couple of years ago, I bought my first Chromebook and just last week I upgraded and bought my second. What is a Chromebook and why would I choose this over a more traditional laptop? Let me lay out my reasons and see if they apply to you as well.
Chromebooks are really simple to use and maintain. One of the most frustrating things with regular laptops is the almost constant need for time consuming updates. Chromebooks on the other hand, update in the background and make the process nearly pain free. There is no updating drivers, the OS, apps, etc. Instead, a little icon shows up indicating that you should restart for the latest update.
There are a few aspects of Chromebook security that I like. I believe that Chromebooks are more secure than laptops, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about it at all. As with any system, you have to secure your password, be suspicious of illegitimate emails, etc.
When Google created the Chromebook system, one of they priorities was security. Because of this, you don’t need to run anti-virus on a Chromebook. In addition, many viruses wouldn’t even run on a Chromebook because they are running Linux underneath.
Another facet of Chromebook security is that it stores much of your data synced to the cloud. While many wouldn’t consider this a security feature, I think it is. If you lose your Chromebook, you data is backed up and accessible. If you are worried someone has gotten access to your lost Chromebook, just change your password (and always use two factor authentication) and they are locked out.
Unless you spend a pretty penny, you won’t be able to match the battery life of a Chromebook. Most average about 8 or 9 hours of normal use on one charge. This is a huge benefit when you are running around all day between meetings. It is also great for those long flights.
If you look at the specs of many Chromebooks, you wouldn’t think that I would list speed as a factor. But due to the simplicity of the Chrome OS, Chromebooks feel far speedier than most laptops. They also boot up in 5 to 10 seconds. And if you just close the lid between sessions, they basically come on instantly.
All of the features come at a cost that is cheaper than an equivalent performance laptop. I’ve seen some comparisons of my $400 Chromebook to the new Microsoft Surface Go. BUT… they compared it to the $549 Go with an added $129 keyboard and $99 stylus. Of course, my Chromebook came with a stylus and keyboard. So a Chromebook stacks up well to a device that costs almost double. That says it all to me.
There are some other things to consider if you are looking at Chromebooks instead of a laptop. I’ll go into detail in my next blog post.