Does Chromebook Deserve Laptop Respect?
The first Chromebooks began shipping from Acer and Samsung in June 2011. During the intervening seven years, Chromebooks have come to dominate the K-12 education market, accounting for 60% of units sold. But elsewhere, people still think laptops come only with Windows or Mac OS installed; they don’t consider a Chromebook to be adequate for “serious work.” Allow me to set that record straight.
Is Chromebook a Serious Laptop Contender?
It’s not the operating system on a laptop that determines what you can do. Chrome OS is perfectly capable of running apps that crank out documents and other work products in abundance and high quality. Those work products can even be shared with co-workers or clients running Windows and Mac.
No, what limits a laptop to “entertainment” instead of “productivity” is the physical workspace it provides. That’s because humans need an adequate amount of space to get work done over sustained periods.
A stage magician deftly fanning a full deck of cards and making specific cards do startling things needs only a hand-sized space in which to entertain us for five minutes. But a blackjack dealer needs space to spread out his hand and six others, plus accommodate trays of chips and drinks; the dealer is doing serious work over a six to eight hour shift. A decent four-hand poker game requires a folding table, at the least.
Smartphones and phablets are for entertaining. Laptops and tablets are for mobile work. Desktop PCs are also known as workstations for a reason. Size matters even in “pure” knowledge work.
That’s why the puny “netbooks” that heralded Chromebooks never caught on. That’s why the size of screens and keyboards on high-end Chromebooks keep getting bigger. Google, the arbiter of Chromebook standards, is learning that humans need a “big” machine on which to do big things.
The Acer Chromebook 15 series can hold its own with any other 15.6-inch laptop. That’s the biggest screen you will find on a Chromebook, and it’s in the middle of the “productivity” scale. And the price tag may surprise you as well. The 2018 Acer 15.6-inch model sports a Full HD screen, Bluetooth, webcam, 4GB RAM memory and 16GB SSD storage, for just $239. The Acer 'Pure Silver' model has a touch screen and 32 GB SSD.
Getting Things Done on a Chromebook
Smaller screens are difficult to read even with perfect vision; larger screens are for gaming and image-editing, activities that are generally beyond Chrome OS’ purview. But for anything you can do with a web browser, 15.6 inches is adequate. That includes word processing, spreadsheeting, slideshows, desktop publishing, and other office productivity functions are supported in Google Docs, and can be shared with Microsoft Office users.
Chrome OS comes with Google's office suite, which includes Docs (word procesing), Sheets (spreadsheeting), Slides (presentations) and other apps for getting things done. There are thousands of Chrome OS apps in the Chrome Web Store. Plus, the latest Chromebooks run Android apps from the Google Play Store.
But a Chromebook is not just a Windows or Mac equivalent. Along with matching the benefits of those platforms, Chrome OS also eliminates much of their pain, as this 60-second Google “attack ad” makes plain.
“If you want virus protection, all-day battery, automatic updates, less charging, more battery life, quicker starts, faster loading, less lag, a new kind of laptop, you Chromebook.” Sigh. Google had to go and spoil it by making a noun do a verb’s job… oh, well.
Pixel: The High-End Chromebook
The Pixelbook is the pinnacle of Chromebook evolution, although is screen is only 12.3 inches measured diagonally. An ultrathin (10.3 mm max), light (2.4 lbs.), stunningly designed beauty, the Pixelbook is a 4-in-1 machine. Its 360-degree touchscreen hinge allows it to be used in Laptop, Tablet, Presentation and Audience modes. It features instant tethering; if a WiFi signal becomes unavailable, the Pixelbook instantly switches to a cellular data connection.
There’s a dedicated button for Google Assistant, which makes speech-to-text computing a breeze. Just say, “OK, Google….” and order it to write and send an email or text, report the current local outdoor temperature or tomorrow’s weather forecast, and all the other things a personal digital assistant should do.
The essential specs of the Pixelbook are not exceptional: 8 or 16 GB of RAM, 128 to 512 GB of SSD storage; 2,400 × 1,600 resolution. But most of the processing and storage work is done in the cloud, so you don’t need to haul pounds of hardware on your back. All of this comes at a list price of $999 in its lesser RAM and SSD options. Amazon is running a back-to-school special that brings the Pixelbook i5’s price down to $749.
If your main objection to buying a Chromebook is lack of Windows support, that may not be a problem. According to reports in Engadget, Google is working on a new Chrome OS feature called Campfire, that would let Chromebooks dual-boot Windows 10. Best of both worlds? We'll soon see.
Would you consider a Chromebook for your next laptop? If it could dual-boot Windows 10, would that tip the scales for you? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 13 Aug 2018
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Does Chromebook Deserve Laptop Respect? (Posted: 13 Aug 2018)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved