Chromebook Review — The Key Pros and Cons

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Chromebook (an Acer 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 — and helps you answer that question.


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.

And the e-commerce apps I use for my business — like Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix and Squarespace — all run 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 and writing a blog post about the whole thing!

Hopefully it will help you decide whether a Chromebook is right for you.

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


What is a Chromebook?

A Chromebook is a laptop that you use primarily when you are online, and one that you don’t, generally speaking, save files onto. Nearly everything — word processing, spreadsheet-editing, note-taking and so on — is done online via Google’s Chrome browser, and pretty much everything you work on is saved ‘in the cloud.’

This means that Chromebooks don’t usually come with much storage and don’t require a particularly fast processor — which in turn usually makes them quite cheap compared to ‘normal’ computers.

Chromebooks run Chrome OS, a stripped-back, Linux-based operating system which revolves around the Chrome browser.

Chrome OS on an Acer Chromebook
Chrome OS

Although an increasing number of apps that also work offline are now available for it, Chromebooks are definitely more geared towards online use.

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 lower your hardware and IT costs

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

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

I’m typing this on a machine that cost me just $175 (in a sale, but you can definitely pick a decent enough machine up for less than $300).

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 savings to be made by purchasing a Chromebook.

(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 setting up 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 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 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 to ensure any data in Google Workspace remains backed up is nonetheless a good idea).

Chromebooks can lower your software costs

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

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

There’s also the entry-level Microsoft 365 plan, which provides you with an email account and cloud storage for a few dollars per month as well as the online versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.

(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, you can check out our Microsoft 365 versus Google Workspace (G Suite) comparison post.

Chromebooks are 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 quite 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’ of 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 attachment from that nice lady in Russia.

The bottom line on security: it’s still important to take general cyber security precautions when using a Chromebook, but it’s definitely one of the safer computing options out there.

They can encourage collaboration and improve productivity

Because Chromebooks aren’t really about installing standalone pieces of software on your computer, those using them are effectively ‘nudged’ in the direction of using web apps 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 incredibly quickly (in about 5-10 seconds) and are ‘instant-on’ from sleep. Any system that 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 solutions such as Xero, e-newsletter solutions such as Mailchimp or helpdesks such as Zendesk, these all have two things in common:

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

So, if your team accesses all its key tools in a web browser, then why not provide it with system that is designed explicitly for doing that? Even modestly-specced Chromebooks 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 forking out for an expensive Apple product or a high-end Windows device when you can access video content perfectly well via Chrome.

Chromebooks are ideal for a workforce that moves around a lot

If you travel a lot, then Chromebooks can be an excellent option.

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

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

The thing to watch out for, of course, is what happens when there’s no internet connection. This is less of an issue these days, with phone tethering and ever-improving Wi-Fi available, but it is possible to hit a black spot (not least when you’re travelling on a plane).

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 below).

The integration with Google Workspace is great

Over 6 million companies use Google Workspace now — and if you or 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.

Are Chromebooks good for education?

For many of the same reasons that Chromebooks can work well in a business context, they are often a good choice in an educational setting too.

The hardware is cheap, the key software is included and battery life is very long (meaning students can usually avoid recharging machines during the school day).

Additionally, Chromebooks work seamlessly with Google Classroom, which in the COVID-19 era can be very useful for the remote learning that students often have to undertake.

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 fantastic didn’t it? But before you rush out and by a Chromebook, there are a few significant downsides to consider.

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

If you are attached to Microsoft applications like Outlook, Word and Excel, you should note that you can’t install the full 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 extremely well in a Chromebook context.

However,

  • switching to Google Workspace will inevitably bring a learning curve

    if you’ve never used it before
  • 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.

There ARE still ways to use Microsoft products on a Chromebook, however.

First, you can use the online version of Microsoft 365 using a Chromebook (and for free, too).

Whilst not providing quite as comprehensive a set of tools as the desktop version of the Microsoft productivity suite, it nonetheless enables you to edit most Word, Excel and Powerpoint files in a browser — 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.

The other option is to install the Android versions of the Microsoft 365 apps on your Chromebook. These are pretty basic by comparison to the full versions of the apps, but they do let you perform essential tasks (and importantly, offline too).

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 can’t live without the full versions of the Microsoft 365 apps, maybe a Chromebook is not for you.

They are not ideal for working on multimedia projects

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

It’s not that there aren’t powerful Chromebooks available that could handle this kind of work (the Chromebook Pixel, for example); it’s more that the software typically used for multimedia projects — Pro Tools, Final Cut Pro etc. is not currently browser-based.

That said, basic image editing on a Chromebook won’t pose any problems — there are plenty of simple editors available, both cloud-based and offline.

Similarly, there are some Chromebook options available to you when it comes to video editing — Android apps and/or web-based video editors can provide some good workarounds.

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 latest games — then a Chromebook probably won’t be the best option for you, because they generally aren’t powerful enough to cope with the graphical and computational demands of modern games.

That said, because some 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 a decent amount of work done when you are not connected to the internet.

There’s an ‘end of life’ date to worry about

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 (chiefly for security reasons).

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 be useful for lets you manage future hardware purchasing plans better.

But — as you’ll see from the reader comments below — it’s clearly 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 very useful machine.

This can be done by downloading Chromium OS (an open-source product which is related 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 installing Chrome OS on it.


What about Chromeboxes, Chromebases and Chromebits?

Chromeboxes are essentially desktop versions of Chromebooks — compact boxes that run Chrome OS. They are quite reminiscent of Mac Minis and Apple TV boxes.

You generally have to sort yourself out with a keyboard, mouse, and monitor when you buy one — but they can still be picked up considerably cheaper than traditional desktop machines.

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 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.


Summary: pros and cons of Chromebooks

So, are Chromebooks any good? Well, we hope that this Chromebook review has helped you answer that question — a bit! To sum up, and help you make a final decision on that “Should I buy a Chromebook” question, here’s a list of the main pros and cons of using one:

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • Whilst you can use Microsoft 365 on a Chromebook (via the online version), 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 traditional 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.


2021 Chromebooks to consider

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

Entry level Chromebooks

Acer typically does well in this market — take a look at the Acer Spin 11 or the Acer Chromebook 514. If you are particularly budget-conscious, the HP Chromebook 11 might be for you.

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

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

High end Chromebooks

If you’re looking for a more powerful Chromebook, then Google Chromebook Pixelbooks are quite possibly for you. As the name suggests, these are Google’s own take on the Chromebook and accordingly you’ll find that they look great and are extremely fast.

However, you can expect to pay Apple-style prices to get your hands on one.

The bottom line is that if your needs are not particularly demanding then an entry level Chromebook should serve you perfectly well — but if you’ve got cash to splash, and really want to work using Chrome OS, you’ll love the Pixelbook.

Google’s Chromebook: the Pixelbook

Related reading


Chromebook review FAQs

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 main 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 main disadvantages of Chromebooks?

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

Comments (67)

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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.

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.

Chromebooks are well marketed by Google in a lot of countries. But the real practical is a still a shame. Chromebook is still very limited and non serious user friendly but rather suitable for those who use it for light browsing, Youtube and watching movies. But these users rather buy a very much cheaper Android TV box. For office, school, home office or working base, chromebook is a failure.Chrome OS is slower, limited, less user friendly if compared with Windows 10, Android and most Linux. The price is much cheaper than other OS laptop but most buyers had regretted from wrong choice.

You are completely wrong. My Acer chromebook is as fast or faster than my windows 10 desktop(almost a gaming desktop) and a high end windows 10 laptop. So frustrated with the horrible, frequent Windows update disasters. Of the three, my Chromebook is my main daily driver and uses the Windows desktop to do music recording and video editing only.

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.