What is a Chromebook™?
A Chromebook™ is a type of ultra-portable notebook that runs Google Chrome OS™ and other Google software offerings. Compared to a traditional notebook, a Chromebook is designed to be much more reliant on an internet connection for data storage. For more information about how Chromebooks differ from traditional laptops, see below.
Instead of Microsoft Windows®, Chromebooks feature Google’s own Chrome OS. Similar to Google’s mobile operating system Android™, Chrome OS has its roots in Linux®. Design-wise, it is very minimalist and relatively easy to learn if you are already familiar with graphical operating systems like Windows or OS X®. It is also similar to Android for smartphones and tablets, especially with its use of an app drawer for accessing programs.
With most desktop and laptop operating systems, your programs and documents are stored locally on the computer’s storage drive. With a Chromebook however, your files and programs are primarily stored on your Google Drive™ cloud storage account. For this reason, Chromebooks usually do not have very large storage drives compared to notebooks. Many Chromebooks typically have 16 to 32 GB solid state drives rather than larger hard drives.
Though Chrome OS does not support the Microsoft Office suite of productivity software, there are alternatives from Google, Microsoft, and other developers. Google Docs is the default program that is bundled with all Chromebooks and can open and edit most Office documents. For professionals, it is a relatively easy adjustment as the software is quite similar to most enterprise-grade productivity suites on the market.
A Chromebook is not typically used for system-intensive tasks such as computer aided design or three dimensional rendering, so its system hardware is designed for low power consumption instead of best-in-class performance. For instance, some Chromebooks utilize processors designed for mobile phones and tablets rather than laptop CPUs.
Because Chromebooks rely on cloud storage and many Chrome OS programs require an active internet connection, readily available internet access can be a high priority. To facilitate that, some Chromebooks have built-in mobile internet capabilities. So whether you are in the office or on the road, you can always access your online documents and programs. However, that means you will need a data plan from a mobile service provider.
Chromebook prices vary from model to model, but are generally on the lower end of the price range when compared to laptops. Though some premium models may feature powerful hardware and additional storage space, most Chromebooks have an emphasis on lower power consumption, heat generation, and cost.