Are Chromebooks value it? That is why they’re nice for many laptop computer consumers – CNET

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Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713, like many Chromebooks, has a long battery life.

Josh Goldman / CNET

A lot more people were introduced the world of Chromebooks last year as they were caught while studying for distance learning and home work pandemic. That’s probably why I’ve spent more time answering questions from family and friends than I’ve done since then they were first launched in 2011. That’s true: Chromebooks are now 10 years old and a lot has changed.

Most of my Chromebook conversations are with people who buy them for children. But these Q&A sessions regularly end with the question “should I buy one?” And the standard answer is usually, “It depends on your needs.” But after a little research, many people find that they just don’t have to do more than is possible on a Chromebook.

Continue reading: Best Chromebooks for 2021

A common argument against a Chromebook is that you can do a lot more with a real computer, i.e. a laptop running macOS, Windows, or a Linux distribution. This is generally true, but again, many people don’t need to do more. What’s possible with web, Linux, and Android apps on Chromebooks is increasingly enough to get your daily chores done.


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Is a Chromebook enough for me?

Not sure if a Chromebook is right for you? Start by making a list of the exact tasks on a computer. Also state what you would like to do. If everything on your list is done in a web browser, congratulations, Chromebooks are a perfect fit.

So many things, especially when it comes to productivity tasks like word processing and spreadsheets, can happen in a browser or with a web app. Web apps are essentially websites that work like downloadable mobile apps, and Google has a web store full of them.

If you can’t find a web app that suits your needs, all modern Chromebooks can also run Android apps from the Google Play Store. It’s basically this combination and a few other key Chrome OS features (which I’ll get into in a moment) that make Chromebooks an easier recommendation than they were a few years ago.

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Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet is partly a pen-compatible tablet and partly a laptop.

Joshua Goldman / CNET


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What’s good about Chromebooks?

Price is one of the big things that make Chromebooks so attractive. While Premium models start at around $ 500, you can find excellent everyday options for $ 200-300. One of my favorite models from last year, the Lenovo Chromebook Duet, sells for less than $ 300. It’s a 2-in-1 Chromebook with a removable keyboard cover so it can be used as a tablet or laptop. With Support for USI pens, you can draw and take notes on the screen. You can connect a bluetooth gaming controller to it and play Android games on it.

Speaking of gaming, while you can’t play the latest PC games straight from a Chromebook, game streaming services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now make gaming possible. And here, too, you can play Android and browser-based games. In addition, the availability of apps for services such as Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and of course YouTube and YouTube Music provide plenty of entertainment options.

Some of the same reasons Chromebooks are good for schools and businesses also make great family computers. Everyone in the family can have separate Google Accounts, and by signing in, they can only access their content, not yours. Accounts for children can be managed with Google Family Link. Chromebooks are more difficult to get infected by viruses or other malware. And if it’s not going right, you can use Chrome’s Powerwash feature to reset it and in minutes the system will be clean and fresh.

Continue reading: Laptop vs. Chromebook: What’s the Difference and Which Works Better for You?

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Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook 2 offers a premium Chrome experience.

Josh Goldman / CNET

Google regularly updates the operating system for security reasons, and adding new features and installations is quick and easy. In fact, Google just announced several new tools and updates to celebrate its 10th anniversary. And if you’re an Android user, there are more reasons to get yourself a Chromebook. Google added a phone hub function This makes it easier than ever for the two devices to work together.

There is one thing to keep in mind when updating Google Chrome devices have one Auto-update expiration date. Non-Google hardware is only supported until it stops receiving Chrome OS and browser updates. For models released in 2020, the date is approximately 7 to 8 years from when the device was first released, but that’s not always the case. Google keeps a list of AUE data for all models and it’s definitely worth checking out before buying a Chromebook, new or used.

What can I do with a Chromebook?

A hurdle for some is the need to run Microsoft Office or some other native Windows or Mac software. While there are web and mobile app versions of Office software, not all of Office’s features are duplicated. You should make sure that all the tools you need are available online or in the apps before making the switch. Go through every application on your list that is a must have.

For example, if you need a laptop to run full Adobe Creative Cloud software like InDesign and Photoshop, a Chromebook is not a good choice. Adobe offers limited versions of CC apps for Android that are supported on Chromebooks. So depending on what exactly you’re doing, you may be able to get by. Again, however, Chromebooks are not natively compatible with software for Windows or Mac.

However, the software manufacturer Parallels is now doing it Parallels for Chrome for Chrome Enterprise. It enables you to run fully functional Windows applications. However, it is primarily for business users and is not the best option for regular consumer use.

You can also use a Chromebook and its Chrome Remote Desktop to connect to other computers that have the Chrome browser installed. Remote Desktop only takes a few minutes to set up and can be used as a workaround to access Windows and Mac software on a Chromebook. You can also use it to provide tech support to family and friends, or to share your computer with them so they can securely access your apps and files.

Chromebooks have grown significantly over the past 10 years and while not a solution for all or all, they now meet the needs of many laptop buyers.

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