Chromebook Review — The Key Pros and Cons in 2022

A chromebook (Asus model).

“Should I buy a Chromebook?” is a question that is asked with increasing frequency by individuals, businesses, parents and students looking to reduce their computing costs or work more collaboratively in the cloud. This Chromebook review explores the pros and cons of using Chromebooks and other Chrome OS-based computers, helps you answer that question and highlights a few Chromebooks that you might want to consider using.


Because of the nature of the work I do, and the times we live in, I seem to have ended up using a LOT of different devices.

Depending on where I’m working, I switch between an iMac, a Windows laptop, an iPhone and an iPad — but one thing I’ve noticed about all these devices is that much of what I’m doing on them is now being done in the Chrome browser.

Increasingly, I seem to be neglecting installed productivity apps like Microsoft Word, Outlook and Excel in favour of online, cloud-based equivalents (mostly Google products) that run in Chrome.

The Chrome browser in use on an Asus Chromebook.
A lot of people’s work now happens in the Chrome browser

And the ecommerce and web design apps that I use for my business — like BigCommerce, Wix, Shopify and Squarespace — all run very happily in a browser too.

This observation, coupled with some adverts featuring shiny computers popping up on Facebook, got me wondering about Chromebooks — and whether I should buy one.

And this, of course, led to me buying a cheap Chromebook, testing it out and writing a blog post about the whole experience! Hopefully it will help you decide whether a Chromebook is right for you.

(My colleague Matt has also recently produced a video about all the pros and cons of Chromebooks, which is well worth a watch — you’ll find this below. To get the best understanding of Chromebooks, we suggest watching the video and reading this post in full).

Let’s start with a look at what a Chromebook actually is.


What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a laptop that you use mainly when you are online, and one that you don’t — generally speaking — save files onto.

With Chromebooks, nearly everything — word processing, spreadsheet-editing, note-taking and so on — is done on the web via Google’s Chrome browser, and your work is saved ‘in the cloud.’

An AMD-based Chromebook
An AMD-based Chromebook

This means that Chromebooks don’t usually come with much storage, and don’t require a particularly fast processor.

This in turn makes them fairly cheap by comparison to ‘normal’ computers — i.e., those running Windows or Mac OS.

Instead of using these operating systems, Chromebooks run Chrome OS, a stripped-back, Linux-based OS which is centered around the Chrome browser.

The Chrome OS interface
Chrome OS

In recent years, Chromebooks have become a very popular computing choice: 37.3 million of them were shipped in 2021, and nearly 30 million have already been sold so far in 2022. This means that a large community of users has grown around them, alongside a large ecosystem of apps.

Statistics on Chromebook shipments from 2019 to 2022 (source: Statista)
Statistics on Chromebook shipments from 2019 to 2022 (source: Statista)

Now, there are some really great things about Chromebooks…and some not so great.

Let’s take a look at the good stuff first.


The pros of using Chromebooks

Chromebooks can significantly lower your hardware and IT costs

Chromebooks have the potential to lower your IT (information technology) costs in quite a few ways.

First, and for the reasons discussed above, they are much cheaper to buy than ‘normal’ computers.

Examples of low-cost Chrombooks
Low-cost Chromebooks

I’m typing this on a machine that cost me just $175; I picked it up in a sale, but you can definitely buy a perfectly usable Chromebook up for less than $300 (as the screenshot above highlights).

My mid-range Windows laptop cost four times as much as this without — when it comes to using Chrome and cloud-based software at least — being four times as good.

So, whether you’re an individual or a business, there are significant cost savings to be made by using Chromebooks.

In particular, if you apply these sort of cost differentials across a large team’s computing requirements, you’re talking about saving a LOT of money (making Chromebooks a particularly attractive option for anyone starting a new business).

Second, because Chromebooks do not particularly rely on locally-run applications, there is less of a need for an IT department to install software. Or update it. Or support it.

This is because by default, any updates to your Chromebook and the Google software you use on it are carried out regularly and automatically by Google.

(And, if you’re a Google Workspace customer, you have a 24/7 Google helpdesk at your disposal too).

Third, because there are no moving parts in them, Chromebooks are much less prone to developing mechanical faults, meaning that Chromebook users generally enjoy greater reliability and longevity — and a lack of repair bills.

And finally, because Chromebook users generally work ‘in the cloud,’ you don’t need to spend as much money on physical storage to handle networking or backups.

(That said, investing in a third-party cloud backup service like Backupify or Spanning Backup is definitely a good idea).

Chromebooks can lower your software costs

For many individuals and businesses, Google Workspace — Google’s suite of productivity apps — is now capable of handling core computing needs — word processing, spreadsheets, email and diary management — perfectly well, and cheaply too (Google Workspace starts at $6 per user per month).

Google Workspace pricing
Google Workspace pricing

And if you don’t want to use Google Workspace as your productivity suite, there are cheap or even free browser-based alternatives available to you — not least a free version of Microsoft Office.

Have you seen our Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace video?

Subscribe to our YouTube channel | Read our full 365 vs Workspace comparison

You can also use the entry-level Microsoft 365 plan on a Chromebook — this runs happily in Chrome and provides you with an email account and cloud storage for a few dollars per month (you also get access to the online versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc. as part of your subscription).

(Note that Microsoft Access can’t be used on a Chromebook, however.)

Tip: For a detailed overview of when and why you might want to use Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, check out our Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace (G Suite) comparison.

Chromebooks are much less vulnerable to viruses

Because of the emphasis on cloud-based working, using a Chromebook doesn’t tend to involve much installation of software. This means that it’s pretty difficult for users to get a virus on one.

(Note however that you can still get ‘phished’ on a Chromebook, which is something different).

And, on top of that, Chromebooks are viewed as one of the more robust options available from a virus protection point of view — the automatic updates, ‘sandboxing‘ and ‘verified boots‘ used by Chrome OS help prevent infection (you can find out more about what all these terms mean on Google’s Chromebook Security help page).

All this means that if you are using a Chromebook, you can generally forget the costs associated with virus and malware protection software — or paying IT professionals to clear up the mess you made on the network after you opened that dodgy attachment!

The bottom line on security is this: it’s still important to take general cyber security precautions when using a Chromebook — but you’re definitely talking about one of the safer computing options available.

They can encourage collaboration and improve productivity

With Chromebooks, the focus isn’t on installing standalone pieces of software on your computer; this means those using them are effectively ‘nudged’ in the direction of using web applications that allow multiple users to access and edit files together in real time.

This opens up a lot of collaborative possibilities — and new ways of working.

Additionally, with a Chromebook, less seems to get in the way of actually doing work. This is because Chrome OS is clutter-free, stable, and free of the ‘bloat’ or ‘lag’ that you often get with other operating systems.

Chromebooks also boot up really quickly (in about 5 to10 seconds) and are ‘instant-on’ from sleep. Any operating system that’s fast and comes with lack of distractions, delays and crashes has good implications for productivity.

You’re dealing with a robust platform

Whether we’re talking about email apps like Gmail, CRM tools like Salesforce, accounting software like Xero, e-newsletter solutions such as Mailchimp, dropshipping tools like DSers or helpdesks such as Zendesk, these all have two things in common:

  • They are examples of software titles used by millions of individuals and businesses all over the world.
  • They are all applications that run in a web browser.

So, if your team accesses all its key tools in a web browser, why not provide it with system that is designed explicitly for doing that? Even modestly-specced Chromebooks can provide a fast and stable environment for working with browser-based applications.

The same goes for using a Chromebook for personal entertainment. If the main reason you want to get a laptop is to watch Netflix or Amazon Prime shows on the move, there is little point in splashing out on an expensive Apple product or a high-end Windows device when you can access video content perfectly well via the Chrome browser (including, in many cases, while you’re offline).

Chromebooks are ideal for a workforce that moves around a lot

If you travel a lot, a Chromebooks can be a good option for you.

They are generally lighter and thinner than traditional laptops (due to the lack of moving parts), and this makes them easier to transport.

The lack of moving parts also means that their battery life is excellent.

The key thing to watch out for, of course, is what happens when there’s no Internet connection available.

This is less of an issue these days, with phone tethering and ever-improving Wi-Fi available, but it is still possible to hit a black spot (not least when travelling on an airplane).

If that happens, there are offline working options available for some Chrome apps — including, importantly, the Google Workspace apps — but you will have to plan ahead to use them (more on this in a moment).

The integration with Google Workspace is great

Over 6 million companies use Google Workspace now — and if your business is included in that number, then you will be hard-pressed to find a nicer, more reliable and tightly-integrated way to work with this suite of products than on a Chrome OS device.

Google Workspace
Google Workspace

You can install a wide variety of apps on them

Although Chromebooks are designed mainly for online use and chiefly via the Chrome browser, you can actually install a lot of apps on them too if you want (many of which can be used both online and offline).

The Google Play store is well stocked with Android apps that you can install on Chromebooks. These include popular entertainment apps like Netflix and Disney+; or social media apps like Twitter.

Chromebook apps in the Google Play store
Chromebook apps in the Google Play store

And, with a little bit of configuration, Linux apps can be installed fairly easily on them too, further extending the number of programs you can install on a Chromebook — and the functionality it offers you.

Are Chromebooks good for education?

For many of the same reasons that Chromebooks are a good option for a business, they are often a good choice in an educational setting too.

The hardware is cheap and key pieces of software are free; and significantly, battery life is very good, meaning that students can usually avoid recharging their machines during the school day.

Additionally, Chromebooks work seamlessly with Google Classroom, which in the COVID-19 era has proved to be a useful tool for facilitating the remote learning that has become more commonplace in education.

The main drawback from an educational point of view is that there are limits to the types of applications that you can install on Chromebooks. This will rule the machines out for students who need to work on very specific, locally installed apps.

But for general browser-based learning, Chromebooks are an excellent, cost-effective and safe choice.


The cons of using a Chromebook

That all sounded great didn’t it?

But before you rush out and buy a Chromebook, there are some significant downsides to consider. Let’s take a look at these.

You can’t install the full versions of Microsoft 365 apps on Chromebooks

If you are particularly attached to (or reliant on) Microsoft apps like Outlook, Word and Excel, you should note that you can’t install the full desktop versions of them on a Chromebook.

Accordingly, a lot of Chromebook users end up making a move to Google Workspace, which, being a Google product, works very well in a Chromebook context.

Google Docs
Using Google Docs, the word processing app included with Google Workspace

However…

  • switching to Google Workspace will inevitably bring a learning curve

    if you’ve never used it before
  • Google Workspace isn’t as feature rich as Microsoft 365
  • even if you start using Google Workspace, you’ll probably still end up with a need to occasionally supply content to other people or organisations in MS Office format.

The good news is that it is perfectly possible to create, save and edit Microsoft 365 files using Google Workspace — but if you’re dealing with more complex documents, you may occasionally encounter formatting problems when you save your files.

And can still use Microsoft products on a Chromebook in various ways — via the online versions of Microsoft 365 apps, or cut-down, Android versions of some of them.

(For example, you can install an Android version of Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel on a Chromebook).

While not providing as comprehensive a set of tools as the desktop version of the Microsoft productivity suite, these alternative versions of 365 apps nonetheless enable you to access and edit most Word, Excel and Powerpoint files on a Chromebook (and without some of the formatting headaches you occasionally run into when you try to edit Microsoft files with Google Workspace).

Using Word Online
You can use Microsoft Word on a Chromebook, but the online version only.

So, all in all, if you want to work with Microsoft 365, not being able to install the full versions of the apps on your Chromebook doesn’t necessarily have to hold you back too much.

But if you are a ‘power user’ of Microsoft products, and you can’t live without the full desktop versions of Microsoft 365 apps, maybe a Chromebook is not for you.

Chromebooks are not ideal for working on multimedia projects

If your business is one which deals with a lot of audio or video related projects, you are usually better off working on a traditional desktop.

It’s not that there aren’t Chromebooks available that can handle this kind of work; it’s more that the software typically used for high-end multimedia projects (Adobe Illustrator, Pro Tools, Final Cut Pro etc.) is not currently browser-based.

That said, basic image editing and graphic design on a Chromebook shouldn’t pose any problems. There are plenty of simple online image editors available, and some popular graphic design tools, like Canva, provide very usable apps that can be installed on Chromebooks too.

(You can also use the Adobe Express design tool easily in Chrome).

Similarly, Android apps and/or web-based video editors can provide some good workarounds for editing video on a Chromebook.

Using Wevideo to edit video on a Chromebook.
Although Chromebooks are not the best option for working with multimedia, workarounds exist — for example, you can use Wevideo (pictured above) to edit video.

Chromebooks are not best suited to gaming

If you’re into gaming — or at least playing the very latest computer games — then a Chromebook probably won’t be the best option for you, because many Chromebooks aren’t powerful enough to cope with the graphical and computational demands of modern games.

That said, because many Chromebooks allow you to run Android apps, you do have some options when it comes to Android games. Laptop Mag has a good rundown of some good Android gaming options here.

They are not as functional offline

Chromebooks are, for obvious reasons, less useful offline than online — but you can still use them to access and edit Google Drive files when you’re not connected to the internet, and you can use Gmail in an offline mode too.

And an increasing number of other apps which work offline are being made available for Chrome OS too.

So, as long as you plan things in advance and make sure you save the right files onto your Chromebook before you go offline, you should still be able to get work done when you are not connected to the Internet.

There’s an ‘end of life’ date to worry about (Auto Update Expiration)

Chromebooks receive automatic updates to provide users with the latest features and keep their devices secure — but not indefinitely.

Each Chromebook comes with an Auto Update Expiration (AUE) date, after which updates will no longer be supplied for that device, and it may not be advisable to use it (mainly for security reasons).

Information about Chromebook updates from Google's 'Auto Update' policy
Information about Chromebook updates from Google’s ‘Auto Update’ policy

Now, this isn’t entirely dissimilar to what happens to other types of devices — for example, Apple won’t always roll out the latest version of its OS to older computers.

And you could argue that knowing exactly how long your device will last for lets you manage future hardware purchasing plans better.

But — as you’ll see from the reader comments below — AUE dates are definitely not popular with some Chromebook users.

How to turn a laptop into a Chromebook

Interestingly, you don’t necessarily to buy a Chromebook to get one!

If you have an old laptop that is really struggling to run the latest version of Windows or Mac OS, you might find that ‘repurposing’ it as a Chromebook gives it a new lease of life and turns it back into a useful machine.

This can be done by downloading Chromium OS — an open-source product which is related to and extremely similar to Chrome OS — and installing it on your old machine.

Chromium OS makes much lighter demands on your computer than traditional desktop operating systems, and accordingly can turn a sluggish computer into one that boots up quickly and works perfectly fine as a tool for web browsing, consuming content or working in the cloud.

If this sounds of interest, you should check out Android Central’s guide on how to install Chromium OS on a Windows computer, or 9 to 5 Mac’s guide to bringing an old Mac back to life by installing Chrome OS on it.


So what about Chromeboxes, Chromebases and Chromebits?

Chromeboxes are essentially desktop versions of Chromebooks — compact boxes that run Chrome OS. They look a bit like Mac Minis and Apple TV boxes (see picture below).

You usually have to sort yourself out with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor when you buy one — but the total spend involved is still usually a lot lower than that associated with buying a regular desktop computer.

A ‘Chromebox’ made by Samsung
Example of a ‘Chromebox’ made by Samsung

Chromebases are ‘all in one’ computers that run Chrome OS; they look something like of the current generation of iMacs.

A Chromebase - an 'all-in-one' computer that runs Chrome OS.
A Chromebase – an ‘all-in-one’ computer that runs Chrome OS.

And finally, there’s the Chromebit to consider — a dongle that just plugs into the HDMI port on a television or computer monitor and turns it into a fully-functional computer.

Pretty funky stuff!

The pros and cons of using a Chromebook generally apply to using any of the above Chrome OS devices — assuming Chrome OS meets your personal or business needs, it’s simply a case of making a call on the appropriate form factor.

And speaking of pros and cons…


Summary: pros and cons of Chromebooks

So, are Chromebooks any good?

Well, we hope that this Chromebook review has helped you answer that question! But to sum up, and help you make a final decision on that “Should I buy a Chromebook?” question, here’s a summary of the main pros and cons of using one:

Pros of using Chromebooks

  • Chromebooks (and other Chrome OS devices) are very cheap by comparison to traditional laptops / computers.

  • Chrome OS is fast and stable.

  • Machines are typically light, compact and easy to transport.

  • They have long battery life.

  • Viruses and malware pose less of a risk to Chromebooks than other types of computer.

  • Chromebooks can reduce reliance on IT professionals and lower software costs.

  • They integrate very neatly with Google Workspace.

  • They’re a good option if you chiefly use browser-based apps for work or entertainment.

  • You can install an increasingly wide range of Android and Linux apps on them.

Cons of using Chromebooks

  • Whilst you can use Microsoft 365 on a Chromebook (via the online version or Android apps), some features will not be available.

  • Although you can edit images and video on Chromebooks, they are not the best option for multimedia applications.

  • Working offline on a Chromebook arguably requires a bit more advance planning than using a Windows or Mac OS-based laptop.

  • They’re not great for gaming.

  • If you are extremely dependent on a piece of software that does not run in a browser or on Chrome OS, Chromebooks are not for you.


2022 Chromebooks to consider

Below you’ll find some popular Chromebooks to take a look at.

Entry level Chromebooks

Acer typically does well in the entry level Chromebook market — take a look at the Acer Spin 11. If you are on a very low budget, the HP Chromebook 11 might be for you.

For a tablet / laptop crossover device, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet is worth investigating.

The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a two-in-one tablet / laptop device
The Lenovo Chromebook Duet is a two-in-one tablet / laptop device

Mid-range Chromebooks

In the mid-range department, the Google Pixelbook Go is often a good option; the Acer Spin 713 and the Lenevo Chromebook Flex 5 are also worth investigating.

High-end Chromebooks

If you’re looking for a more powerful Chromebook, then some of the Samsung Galaxy Chromebooks are worth a look, as are the Dell Latitude Enterprise and HP Elite Chromebook ranges.

However, high-end Chromebooks tend to be similar in price to high-end laptops, thus losing a key advantage over them (namely, a low purchase cost). 

So, if you’re considering purchasing one of these, make sure you pay extra attention to the ‘cons’ associated with Chromebooks.

Pricing for high-end Chromebooks
As you can see from these Google Shopping results, you can pay a LOT for a high-end Chromebook. At these sorts of prices, traditional laptops become a more attractive prospect.

Chromebook review FAQ

What’s the difference between a Chromebook and a laptop?

Technically speaking, a Chromebook is a laptop, but one that runs Chrome OS rather than Windows or MacOS. Chrome OS is a browser-based operating system that is designed mainly for users who are always online. By contrast, Windows and MacOs devices are geared more towards users who mix online and offline work, and let you install more software locally on your machine.

Can I use Microsoft 365 on a Chromebook?

Yes. You can use either the browser-based version, or install the Android Microsoft 365 apps (cut-down versions of Word, Excel etc. for use on mobile devices). You can’t install the desktop apps, however.

Are Chromebooks safe?

Chromebooks are arguably safer than a lot of other types of personal computer. This is because you don’t typically install much software on them; and thanks to automatic updates, ‘sandboxing’ and ‘verified boots’ of Chrome OS, virus infections are minimized too.

What are the advantages of Chromebooks?

They are cheap, have great battery life and are less prone to viruses than other types of computers. They also work particularly well with other Google products.

What are the disadvantages of Chromebooks?

Many popular business apps won’t run on them, and they are considerably less functional if you don’t have access to a wifi connection.

Comments (106)

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I think some could easily use a Chromebook for their needs. But I wouldn’t recommend one of the cheap Chromebooks. Buy a Chromebook with better hardware and screen quality preferably a FHD or better screen. The cheap Chromebooks are fine for grade schools and younger kids first PC. But adults need a bit more hardware performance.

Very good article, I’m always glad when these very informative and well researched articles are published. A couple of points though.

You can install GIMP (Photoshop clone) on all chromebooks for free. You can install Openshot video editor for free on all Chromebooks.

And finally, I am a gamer and use my Chromebooks exclusively for gaming. Stadia is quite frankly excellent and you can play Destiny 2, PUBG completely free and games such as CyberPunk 2077, Red Dead 2, MotoGP 21, FIFA 23 if you purchase them. I would urge you to grab a controller and try it out. I guarantee you will never say Chromebooks are not for playing high end games again after you do. Xbox game pass at £11 a month is excellent value and gives you access to Halo Infinite, Skyrim, Fortnite, Gears 5, Battlefield V and other AAA titles at no additional cost. GeForce now lets you play lots of games from your existing Steam library for free for 1 hour sessions, or £9 a month for unlimited.

Gaming on Chromebooks is absolutely fantastic.

I am a Windows 10 user that no longer uses or needs the Excel and PowerPoint applications. With that said, assuming I get a Chromebook to replace my old laptop, how difficult is it to move all my files, documents and photos from one device to another? Will I need to hire an IT person to do this? Thank you for your information and advice. Mike

Hi Mike – thanks for your query. There’s a good guide on how to switch from Windows to a Chromebook here. I don’t think you would particularly need an IT person to do this for you, but if you are not terribly technically minded, or feel daunted by the prospect of moving a lot of data, it wouldn’t be the worst idea.

I took a punt and bought a budget 200 Euro one and by God im glad I did. You basically have three operating systems in one interface. I have Chrome OS for the Chrome side of things, Android for all my android apps such as google home to control my devices, email, etc… and I have Debian Linux which can be enabled in chrome os. I installed it because when I was running say Spotify, offline music, using Chrome used to make the songs skip. As soon as I changed to the Linux version of the music apps, the issue disappeared. This is a really low spec device but all operating systems are so light that the thing just zips along and I get the best of both worlds. Another issue which is commonly pointed out is the lack of a fully-featured office product, that was not an issue because I was able to install Libre Office using Linux. So now I have a fully-featured laptop which is nowhere near the mad money you pay for a Windows machine and it’s very quick too. Updates are frequent as well and my device is set to get them till 2027. Will definitely buy another one.

Cheers for the insights James, all good points about Chromebooks you raise there — and glad the decision to get one worked out well for you.

Would a Chromebook be suitable for me? I am 80 years young. I do grocery orders on line. But goods Amazon etc. I also do Internet banking and emails. Always had a laptop. Do you think a Chromebook would be better or not? Many thanks for your help.

Hi Patricia, thanks for your query! I think that generally speaking, you would be fine with a Chromebook – it’s certainly possible to perform all the tasks you mention on one. However, there are a couple of things to watch out for before making the switch.

The first is that the Chrome OS operating system for a Chromebook, while similar to those you find on laptops, will be a bit different and you will need to spend a little bit of time learning how to use it.

The other thing to watch out for is email – if you currently check your email in a web browser (via a service like Gmail, Outlook.com, Yahoo Mail etc.), this will be totally fine on a Chromebook and the process will be exactly the same.

But if you use an installed app like Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail to check it, you will need to ensure that you can also access your email in a web browser, and you’ll have to spend a little bit of time learning how to do that.

The bottom line is that if you currently do everything in a web browser, a switch to a Chromebook shouldn’t present any problems. If not, there may be some configuration / learning time involved in getting going with one.

I hope this helps?

Chris

My big Chromebook con is the difficulty of finding all-in-one printers/scanners that are compatible. Other than that I love my Chromebook. What are good printers that are compatible with Chromebooks?

I’d start with checking out Epson printers Daniel – I think they have a lot of models that work with Chromebooks and you may well be able to find something suitable in their range.

I bought my first Chromebook 3 years ago for my wife as her 7″ tablet was so slow. She knew nothing about computers/laptops so it was up to me to set it up.

I was so impressed with it, I purchased one for myself from a well known auction site. It was relatively new but the owner just couldn’t work with it so I got it for an absolute song. It still has 5 years left of software updates. I JUST LOVE IT! Updates come down automatically and take no time to install.

I still have my 10+ year old Samsung Windows laptop but never really use it. The only thing I use it for is to download books from my local library to my e-reader as this is not supported by Chromebooks.

My Chromebook is used daily for emails, surfing and banking. If I have to back up bank statements or my energy supply and phone bills, I simply download them and save them to a USB drive and 2 SD cards, just in case one decides to break. Belt and braces.

Quite simply, it is the best purchase I have ever made and in comparison to my Windows computer, it is faultless. Consider the difference with an expensive Windows PC that can pick up a virus or take a ridiculous time to upgrade the security – not forgetting that it always does this at the most inconvenient times!

I’m so impressed with the ease of using it, that I have since converted 2 old Windows laptops to the Chrome OS and rejuvenated something that was going to be thrown on the scrapheap. Okay, it’s not the full Chromebook experience but you can do almost everything on it that you can on a Chromebook.

It boots up fast compared to a Windows laptop, and will be used as my new backup machine. Remember, if you have a Gmail account, you can transfer all of your information from one Chromebook to another – Unlike a Windows PC where all the information resides on the actual machine.

I guess it’s horses for courses but right now, it suits my needs to a T.

A couple if questions Chris. First of all, can I connect a DVD/CD player to a Chrome book? I was also wondering if I would be able to read books on my Kindle app offline.

Thanks, and Best wishes from Northern Canada

Dave Hett

Know nothing about Chromebooks but reviewing them now. I have a small group of requirements which you can probably tell me about off the top of your head (and therefore save me a lot of time). Can I do the following on a Chromebook?:

1. Use my existing email: btinternet.com 2. Use Skype/Zoom 3. Is there a ‘contacts’? 4. Is there a ‘notes’ equivalent. 5. Is the spreadsheet Excel compatible?

Thanks, Chris

Hi Alex, thanks for your comments! To answer your questions: 1) so long as you can log into your btinternet.com email address in a web browser, then there’s nothing to stop you doing so in a Chromebook. 2) Yes, you can use both Zoom and Skype on one. 3) It depends on what app you are using for your email – if the web version of your BTInternet.com email a/c facilitates contacts, then yes. 4) Yes – on Google Workspace. 5) Google Sheets are compatible with Excel, but you’ll need to export them to Excel format if you want to open them in Microsoft Office.

Hope this helps.

Alex, there is a Google Contacts app pre installed on Chromebooks. It gives you access to all the contacts from your Android phone. It’s a really good little app, you’ll get on great with it. Add a new contact on your phone and it appears on your Chromebook, and vice versa. Incredibly easy!

Bought one, like having android on a laptop. All my apps work great and there are offline versions of the apps too and you can save things locally on the drive. More people than not work online. The laptop is quick, my android apps all work great on them. I dont use the chrome apps at all tbh. You can also add storage via usb or sd card depending on your model. The best way to think of a chromebook is a phone in laptop form on intel hardware. Very pleased with it tbh.

You forgot the biggest con of all – it breaks every month when updates come out. Way worse than Microsoft. The only stable app is the web browser. Most of the time, my Chromebook is unusable – it just sits in my desk drawer. What a waste of money!

Hi Chris, I have an Acer Spin 11 Chromebook, which I’ve had for just over 3 years. It now suffers from almost continuous problems. Locks up, apps won’t function, won’t turn off, ‘repairs itself’ regularly. I have Powerwashed it, used recovery. Nothing fixes it for any length of time. It can lock up straight after a Powerwash, even before it is set up again. I dread seeing a Chrome Update available message as it usually crashes shortly afterwards. I am wondering if this is just typical of Chromebooks or is it the actual hardware that is packing up? Any ideas/help appreciated. Thanks & Best Regards, Norm

Hey Norm, thanks for your insights. In general I’ve found Chromebooks to be reliable machines – I’d say that you are sadly dealing with a faulty one. Best to check in with Acer about this if you can, in case their tech support team can help?

Hi Chris, Thanks for the response. I am a bit reluctant to buy another c’book, basded on this experience. Any thoughts on the most reliable brands? Thanks & Best Regards, Norm

You can install Linux Apps on Chromebooks – for example a full office suite like Libreoffice and the Kdenlive video editor.

Chromebooks can also install games that Android devices can, including Geometry Dash. If it has a touchscreen, then it is even better for this game.

Chrome OS was very useful in the educational market especially with the pandemic and kids needed a cheap way to learn online. But now that the pandemic is waning, and kids are back to in class learning the Chromebook market has tanked. I just saw a Chromebook that retail for $225 on sale for $98 at Walmart. Market share indicators show Chrome OS not gaining any significant steam in the world. I think it’s just too dumbed down and locked down. I actually think Chromebooks could be a good fit for some, but I think they have yet to be seriously considered as an option for most consumers.

Chromebooks suck because of that weird “captive portal” connectivity issue. I am at a hotel and officially done with this machine. Buying something unrelated ASAP. Lesson learned.

Thanks Donna – that’s something we’ll address in more depth in the next update of this Chromebook review.

For the benefit of other readers there’s some more context about this issue here: https://www.techjunkie.com/chromebook-wont-connect-to-hotel-wifi-how-to-fix/

(That article also contains some potential fixes Donna – hope one of them works for you…)

Thanks for your query Darrin – there are quite a lot of Asus Chromebooks available so it’s hard to give a definitive opinion on them I’m afraid. Asus is a respected brand in this space however, and one of the main manufacturers of Chromebooks, so you can be reasonably confident in the quality of their products. I’d suggest looking for reviews of the particular Asus model you’re interested in – and try to find actual user reviews, not just ones on review sites.

Hi, is there any way to play my music library on my Chromebook? I’ve transferred some to a thumb drive but cannot get it to play.

Hi Shirley, playing a music library on a Chromebook is usually pretty straightforward – Google has a help resource about this here: https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/183107

Thanks for your query Brian. Based on Microsoft’s guidance on using MS 365 on a Chromebook, it would appear they are not supported, I’m afraid: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/how-to-access-microsoft-office-on-a-chromebook-32f14a23-2c1a-4579-b973-d4b1d78561ad

That said, just because they’re not supported doesn’t mean that they won’t run – but I wouldn’t bet on them running reliably. Using the online versions of MS 365 products would probably be a better option on a Chromebook.

I’ve been reading articles all morning about the pros and cons of buying and switching from a Macbook to a Google Chromebook and this is the BEST analysis by far. Comprehensive and measured yet readable.

I’ve book-marked it to share with others.

JWL – New York

Thanks very much for the kind words John! I’m glad you found the post useful, and hope it helps to make your decision easier.

The End Of Life is 8 years from release date (I believe it was 6 years if released prior to 2020 or 2019). In general with any laptop or macbook you would’ve replaced by the end of those 8 years and possibly earlier. So yes that is annoying but there are chromebooks supported for longer than other OS. You can still use it after the EOL too, you can use a software called cloudready to extend the life (I’m not sure about the specifics). So whilst, yes, the auto update expiration (AUE) policy is frustrating, its not as bad as people initially assume. The average person replaces their computer every three to four years according to some searches. Occasionally 5. So if you’re buying a chromebook released that year or the previous year, it can last longer than needed. (And arguably longer than some other operating systems support for). Plus at least google is up front about it, knowing that in 7 years your device will no longer recieve updates but still usable gives the option to plan ahead. If you want a midranged chromebook (say up to 600 bucks) all you need to do is save roughly a dollar every 4 days and at the end of 7 years you’ll have $600 saved to buy a new device. Plus you get newer and better hardware. You can get an extremely good, premium chromebook with high-end hardware for the $450-600 range.

I just bought a very nice Acer Chromebook secondhand. It’s a little under 3 years old and I just received notice that AUE is June 1, 2022. I am nonplussed to say the least, and will not consider a Chromebook again. A 3 year old device being out of service life is ridiculous. I will return to a Windows based laptop as soon as I have the money to acquire one of a similar age.

Thanks for your insights Lawrence. This AUE date is definitely a concern for some users and I would feel similarly nonplussed in your shoes. Other Chromebooks may be better from an AUE perspective and let you use them for longer – but that’s not much help in this instance! I’m going to update this review shortly to emphasise the importance of checking AUE before any purchase of a Chromebook.

So many ” sneer” at Chromebooks unfortunately for them they are increasingly popular against malware virus ridden slow Microsoft Windows computers! I will never use Windows again!

Can I use chromebook for programming? I am currently learning web development. So the only software I might use is vscode.

Thanks for your comment Nyareh. As far as I can tell, yes you can use VS Code on a Chromebook – but you’ll need to set things up in a particular way. Some details here: https://code.visualstudio.com/blogs/2020/12/03/chromebook-get-started

Based on my experience with the Google Chromebook, I would say don’t bother. I am using zoom because I teach a class and I cannot use the whiteboard feature or record with the Chromebook. Also, I bought a printer because of the Google print cloud, this printer is no longer supported and I cannot scan with the printer, I notice other problems with accessing files and documents. I am not satisfied and have to purchase another product soon.

Google Classroom are well known and are well received normally. There is now a record ⏺️ button available in Chrome OS. Either by an extension or just hit record on the settings menu (bottom right corner). These are new additions. Make sure you’re on the latest Chrome OS version. You can easily update via settings. The whiteboard works on the Android app, but not the web client (Chrome extension). I have tested the whiteboard in zoom as a host, but not a guest. (Samsung CBP). When clicking a zoom link, I believe it will default to the web client, so maybe that’s what happened that you didn’t have access to the whiteboard 🤷‍♂️

Your article does not mention that Google stops supporting Chromebooks after a fixed date. The End Of Life (EOL) date of each machine cannot be altered and there is no option to get updates short of buying a new machine. Our nonprofit organization found this out the hard way. Last year during the pandemic we received a donation of 2 refurbished Chromebooks that are being used by our Treasurer and Accountant to keep our books and for online banking and payroll. In our board meeting last month we were shocked to realize the end of life for both machines is June of this year. The donor, who is part of the board, was flabergasted to realize the replacement for his donation will wind up costing at least $1,000 to our organization if we want to continue to operate in a safe environment. The board decided that Chromebooks not be considered as replacements, since each one has the equivalent to a built-in ticking bomb that cannot be overriden and Google touts this as a security feature.

Thanks Alan – sounds like you’ve had a frustrating experience there. I suppose the counterargument is that this an issue with all devices — at some point they just won’t run the latest version of operating software. (I’m currently facing this problem with an iMac that works perfectly well).

And at least Chrome OS tells you upfront when to expect updates not to be available (see https://support.google.com/chrome/a/answer/6220366?hl=en for details).

I had a further dig into this issue and found this useful resource on how to extend the life of your Chromebook: https://www.howtogeek.com/403164/what-to-do-when-your-chromebook-reaches-the-end-of-its-life/

Might help a little for some users.

Thanks again for reading and commenting!

Hi Chris, Google are atm working on some very exciting adjustments to keep a Chromebook going to get latest updates. I work for them. So very exciting news. First, Google’s working on integrating some software called CloudReady into the Chrome OS code. That software makes it easy to turn any old computer into a Chromebook, effectively, and then continue to get ongoing operating systems on it more or less indefinitely. At the same time, the company’s close to separating Chrome the browser from Chrome OS itself, which should allow it to provide all-important browser updates to a Chromebook eternally (something that isn’t possible in the current combined setup). Taken together, we could soon see a whole new level of long-term support for Chrome OS products. Most folks have no idea any of this is happening yet, but make no mistake: It’s something well worth watching in the weeks ahead.

Hi, I feel your pain but this happens with all computer manufacturers. We use Dell who only support their devices 5 years after they end production. So you might still get Windows 10 and software updates but you do not get firmware updates which is still considered a security risk.

Great review, thanks for that. One question my wife uses Zoom extensively for exercise and Tia Chi classes, is there a camera in the chromebook and will Zoom run well? Currently have an amazon fire (slightly old) and that doesn’t seem to handle Zoom well

Hey Ian, thanks for the feedback! Yes, you should be able to use Zoom fine on a Chromebook – any modern one should have a webcam. A bit more detail here: https://blog.zoom.us/how-to-use-zoom-on-a-chromebook/

Yes there is, I use Zoom on a weekly basis and it’s easy to download in the chrome webstore. The only thing I have to say about Chromebooks is that unlike a Windows laptop you need to update it regularly or it will start messing with the tabs you have open. It will be hard to switch from page to page without it reloading.

I am retired and thinking of upgrading from my IPad to a laptop or Chromebook. I use only for internet browsing, news, u-tube,movies, internet banking and security investments, watching sporting events live. Would a chromebook fit my needs for the above? Any disadvantages I should consider? Thank you

I agree. Chromebooks as sold in shops and online should display the AUE on the box. How many people have discovered too late that hard earned investment cash has been wasted on a time limited item?

Great informative article!

I’ve just purchased a white HP Chrome book 11a. Currys PC World.

I need to write and put together a CV – is Google workspace effective for this task? I’m not super tech savvy- sorry if a silly question!

Thanks

Hey Lynne, thank you very much for your comment! Yes, Google Workspace would be fine for this. You could also just use the free version of Google Docs if you have a Google account and you’re on a budget. See https://www.google.co.uk/docs/about/

I’ve been buying, installing the cd, and using Turbo Tax for years on my window’s based laptop. What do I need to do if I start using a chromebook?

Thanks for your query Art – I’m not terribly familiar with that product I’m afraid, but if there is a ‘cloud’ version of it that runs in a web browser, you’d probably be able to use it fine on a Chromebook. However, I’d check with the software manufacturers first, just to be sure. Hope that helps!

I bought an HP Chromebook from Costco ($100 off) I also installed Microsoft 360 on it. It is perfect for me I don’t game, the cloud works just fine for me. And I saved a ton of money. Very happy with my choice

I really wish I had read this before I bought a Chromebook. It’s a sweet machine but the OS’s integration with MS Office which is absolutely essential for my work (which I bought it for) is awful and its file management is dreadful and really confusing when you work away from Internet (which I do often). It’s fine for entertainment, and probably would be fine if I just worked with Google suite in an office all day – but I don’t 🙁

Thanks for your comment Mark! Although you can technically use Microsoft 365 on a Chromebook, as you’ve found there are quite a few contexts where other machines are better suited for power users of the software (especially those who work offline a lot).

Thanks for your review 🙂 I am a die-hard Chromebook user since it’s debut. I have found my Chromebooks to be stable and practical. I have had zero problems with viruses or updates. I love that I can store everything in the cloud, I’m not paranoid Google is Big Brother’s younger brother and Chrome has tons of free apps, including Netflix, etc. I’m curious about what I can do with Linux with my Chromebook. I read I can install "Second Life" if I have Linux. There are plenty of quality apps for photo and video editing Chromebooks use. I am wondering if I can install Photoshop using Linux as well. I don’t think Chromebooks are garbage. I just think people need to research what Chromebooks can and cannot do before buying one. Thanks again. Great review! 🙂

i want to buy a laptop for my first graders distance learning….but cant afford expensive ones…was thinkng of getting this as its cheaper dan d rest…..you think it will be supportive for distance learninbg?

Hi Nabila, sorry for the delayed response here! It depends really on what sort of apps are being used for the distance learning. If your child’s school requires pupils to download certain apps in order to facilitate the home learning, then another computer might be a better option. However, if the school is making use of web browser-based resources to teach online, then a Chromebook should be fine as it comes with Chrome, which is perfectly good for that (and if Google Classroom is being used, the best option). The best thing to do would be to check with the school how they plan to deliver their teaching and take it from there. I hope this helps?

Thank you. Been wanting some straight forward info on Chromebooks for some time. Could suit me down to the ground.

Thank you for this article. I’ve been looking for an alternative to Windows 10. I had one and it was so confusing and hard to use that it sat unused for 3 years until I sold it to a relative. MAC was like alien technology and well above my knowledge. I need something simple to use for basic web apps, self help programs that don’t work on mobile devices, maybe some streaming and good for a work from home job. The availability of competitive systems has been dismal for years leaving you with little option.

Excellent article. It helped me finalize my decision. My chromebook has never given me a problem and I have had it for years. I accidentally ruined the keyboard so I have to buy a new one. Always ended up having problems with other laptops. Do you know how I can erase the old Chromebook when some of the keys aren’t working?

Thanks for the feedback Gina. So, I think the best thing to do here would be to connect an external keyboard to your old Chromebook (either via USB or Bluetooth). If you copy and paste the below link into your browser, you’ll get some tips on how to do that: https://www.dummies.com/computers/pcs/connect-a-mouse-or-keyboard-to-your-chomebook/

Cheers!Chris

I am a retired senior, currently using an iPad for on line banking, extensive personal research, shopping, email, Utube news, keeping up with and tabs on my family – and working a family tree research on Ancestry.com. I have transferred photos and conferenced n Face Time. I do not play games, write letters, draw up graphs or otherwise run an office. Would a Chrome book be a good way to go. My iPad is old and infected.

Hi Maryemma! Thanks for your question. You won’t be able to use FaceTime on a Chromebook (because that’s an Apple service that’s only available on Apple devices), but the other activities you mention are all very doable on a Chromebook.

Basically anything that you would normally do in a web browser (Safari, Chrome etc.) can be done on a Chromebook.

I hope that helps?

I bought a very high end chromebook and returned it after I found out why hyperthreading no longer works in VMs. Happier with my replacement laptop and all its threads.

I tried to connect a monitor to my Chromebook. I did not see the Mirror the Built in Display option. Does that mean I can’t add a monitor?

Hi Marsha, hope you got to the bottom of it, but some tips here: https://support.google.com/chromebook/answer/1060909?hl=en-GB

If you don’t find the answer you need I’d suggest contacting the manufacturer for support.

Another con is it’s harder to make digital art with a drawing tablet thats connected to a chrombook,and if your touchscreen doesn’t work,you’re screwed.Even if the drawing tablet has pressure sensitivity,chromebook won’t let you use it,not to mention it doesn’t remove the mouse cursor when using it.So long story short,chromebook does not like drawing tablets.

Everyone has a mobile that can do a lot more than a chrome book. Then you need a pc or a Mac for some real work. If you travel a lot you may need also a tablet. Having a chrome book is just another device that do everything worse that any of your already available devises.

When your chromebook reaches AUE ( no more updates ), that doesn’t mean you can’t still use your old chromebook, they can still be used. I’ve had my Acer chromebook 15 now for 5 years and next year the AUE date arrives, but I’ll still use it, until I can’t anymore, but when you think Windows based laptops get slow and really need replacing every couple of years, or so, so to my mind the chromebook works out a hell of a lot cheaper, and anyway when I need a new one I’ll get another acer chromebook, I think they are great.

Thanks for the great review, very helpful! I’m still not quite sure if it’s for me or not – I’m part of the MS office generation but I think it would be good for me to become cloud-based as I never back things up enough anyway. A very clear review, and thanks as well for links to particular models.

I have an entry level windows computer which I bought because I work on G-suit only. The problem is that there is not enough disc space for the windows updates… Which makes me wonder why they sell such a computer? Anyway… I contacted the manufacturer asking if it is possible to change the unit to a chromebook, but they said it is not possible because the hardware is designed for windows. Is this true or just them protecting their product? Will any windows computer be able to run the chromium OS?

Hi Neil, my hunch is that it probably is possible – see https://www.androidcentral.com/how-convert-windows-laptop-chromebook for some tips. However, proceed cautiously — if you don’t have a technical background, it’s a good idea to get some support with this, as you don’t want to end up with an unusable machine.

I switched to Chromebook and a Chromebox from windows several years ago and never looked back. One thing about Chrome products that is not often talked about is the AUE. The Auto Update Expiration. From Google’s website: "Every Chrome device receives regular updates from Google until it reaches its Auto Update Expiration (“AUE”) date, subject to support from component manufacturers. When a device reaches AUE, automatic software updates from Google will no longer be provided." I work for a private school and we have 10 units expiring this June , 25 units September 2021 and 53 units expiring June 2022. These devices will need to be replaced when they reach the AUE. This needs to be considered when making purchasing decisions. To check the AUE on your chrome device go to settings, About Chrome OS, Additional Details and Update Schedule. There are many types of Chromebooks to choose from, for me, the game changer was an HP 15 with a full number pad including page up, page down, home and delete keys. There are very few Chromebooks that have a full number pad.

Hi Kyle, the initial version was, yes. But we’ve updated it since then to ensure that the information remains relevant – the most recent update at time of your comment being posted was 17 February 2020. Hope this helps.

i’m still trying to figure out who has trouble with Chromebooks– is it the inexpensive price? the ease of use? how everything about the whole system just works? i was totally into the Apple camp up until eight years ago after burning through two underwhelming Macbook Airs… did the research and decide to give Chromebooks a try and haven’t looked back since… listen, not all of us out here are digital artists, film makers, CAD users, or studio artists– we just want something that works, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg for the trademarked symbol that lights up on the cover, that doesn’t fall for the slick commercials one sees everywhere… we want to do things and get those things done without a headache or crying or gnashing of teeth… printing problems? nope. offline? when? speed? please. storage? unlimited cloud. this is the future. everything else is dreaming in dinasaur land.

Purchased a Acer 315 Chrome Book in November and today it died. No sign of battery life or power lights. Tried all fixes nothing worked. This is a well documented problem and was surprised it wasn’t mentioned in the review.

I have ordered a new power lead but I am not hopeful. It will be going back if it doesn’t work and it’s back to Windows.

Thank you for taking the time to write this article! I have a 17” laptop and a 9” tablet so while I don’t really need an 11” Chromebook, I thought that it would be nice not to lug around a nice but heavy laptop as well as not be constricted in screen size. I just went back to school from a full-time job so I AM on a budget! Cleared my head not to get a Chromebook after all, maybe for my child in a few years for school. Thanks again!

I’m considering getting a chromebook, nice review. I use CBs at school often and I think the transfer would because we use Google apps. I do have a question though. Can you use Google duos on a chromebook?

Thanks for the feedback Conner. Yes, you can use Google Duo on Chromebook. Might make a mention of that in the next version of this article 🙂

Hi Ronald, you can take pictures with the webcam of a Chromebook — but a phone or, depending on size, a tablet would obviously be a better bet for photography in general.

Was a XMas present from my fiancé. She meant well but it is about as horrible a device as I’ve ever seen, and she purchased an ASUS , which is a premier company. Was like getting a larger version of mygalaxy S-8+ that didn’t work as well. AND, even though it recognized my cell phone, it refused to tether to it no matter what I tried to do. SO, back to Best Buy, return it and walk out with an HP laptop and once again I’m a happy camper. I wouldn’t waste my time or money on anything that allows Google to micromanage and see all you do.

This system is terrible. I bought a printer yesterday and had to call Samsung to get intstructions on how to set it up on an os operating system only to find out that samsung told me to call Cannon because they could not tell me how to rightly install a cannon pixma mx490 printer on to a Chrome 500c os operating system notebook.

Then today I bought a sandisk memory stick at walmart and tried installing it and running it and it tells me that sandisk is not compatable with the os system I have to find a replacement driver at the Chrome store. Only to find out that there is no replacment program for installing and running my thumb driver.

I am really ready to just toss this thing into the trash and start over with a windows pc. The Os operating system for me is begininng to stand for Optimally sucks.

I would really suggest you buy something with a windows operating system. I do not like the fact that I have to store my documents on Goggle cloud or on my google drive or print them out, as after an hour and a half I finally got the printer working yesterday.

I am not at all either happy or satisfied with the Chrome book. It would be compared to going to a resturant that claims it is awesome only to get there and the food is the worst you have ever had, and there are no condiments on the table to make the food any better.

Thanks for your comment Bill – and sorry to hear you had a bad experience. There are definitely pros and cons to using a Chromebook, which we hope we have outlined clearly in the above post.

The users who will get the most out of a Chromebook are those who work intensively with G Suite apps and are comfortable with doing most of their work in Chrome. Those who rely heavily on Microsoft apps or are particularly used to working on the Windows platform will need to think twice about whether a Chromebook is the right option for them. I hope your computing woes clear up 🙂

Mmm ive read through this, great review…..i have a question you may or may not be able to answer. You say they are not ideal for gaming, are they ok if you need to hold lots of video calls ?

Hi Vicky, many thanks for reading our Chromebook review and for the kind words. So basically you will definitely be fine if your calls are using Google Hangouts, but if you’re using other software to run your video meetings / calls, you will need to check to see if the relevant Chrome extension is available for it, or if a browser based version of the relevant software is available. Hope that makes sense?

There is also a halfway house, i.e. using a chromebook to a access a service like Amazon Workspaces. You can have a cheap, light chromebook with all day battery life but connect to a windows 7 lile desktop with 4gb ram and install whatever windows softwarw you need. If you lose the chromebook, you can get another, install the workspace app and be back up and running immediately where you left off. This should be a mice option if there is Windows applications you cant live without. There is also an option to have MS office included in the price.

My new Hp 11 Cromebook won’t stay connected to my WiFi. Two other devices work perfectly well on it. Can you help with this please Chris? From Karl

Hi Karl – thanks for reading the post and for your comment. I’m afraid you’d need to check in with HP’s support team for help with that – hope you get it sorted though!