If you're looking for a new laptop, you've probably stumbled across a few Chromebooks in the local stores. They look like any other laptop, only with a much lower price tag. However, it does not mean less value. Chromebooks can be even better than your Windows or macOS counterparts, depending on your needs.
Regardless, it's important to do research before you buy a Chromebook – you may not want one at all if you have special needs. Choosing between a Chromebook and a more typical laptop can be tricky, so let's get to what makes them different.
Chromebooks vs laptops: how are they different?
First, a Chromebook is still technically a laptop. It is a laptop with a desktop OS, just like the options it competes with.
Chromebooks have taken a different name mostly for marketing reasons, but also because they differ widely in functionality, software, user interface, design and general philosophy. . This gap in how Chromebooks and Windows or macOS laptops work keeps them in different worlds.
We know that Chromebooks are also technically laptops.
Chromebooks run Chrome OS, Google's own operating system that focuses on usage. Essentially, Chrome OS is a glorified Chrome browser.
It was only recently that Chromebooks began to take advantage of specialized software. After gaining access to the Google Play Store and Android app support, the Chromebook has become much more functional offline and online.
On the other hand, Windows and macOS laptops are more rounded devices. They use traditional desktop operating systems designed to operate independently, and do much more than a Chromebook; especially offline. Because they can do more, Windows and macOS computers require more resources, and need more powerful (and expensive) components to keep things going.
Which is better for you? There is no simple answer. It depends on what you value on a computer.
Need specialized software?
Software is the main reason people can choose to go with a Windows, macOS or even a Linux-based laptop, as opposed to a Chromebook. Most specialized software is released primarily for the three traditional options. Some examples include Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop or Premiere, which are very popular photo and video editing tools. Designers may also want to run apps like AutoCAD. Furthermore, accountants, architects and other professionals all have their unique software needs.
Software is the main reason people can choose to go with a Windows, Mac OS or even a Linux-based laptop, as opposed to a Chromebook.
While some of these applications have Android apps, and some web services may work as alternatives, they tend to be subordinate to the full desktop options. A Chromebook will easily fall behind Windows or macOS in such a situation.
Let's not even get started on games. You can have fun with Chromebooks if you're happy with Android games from the Google Play Store, but a powerful Windows laptop can run some serious games. The portfolio of available titles is insane.
Chromebooks are for casual users
Chromebooks can't do any serious work. I've used them to edit photos and write articles for Android Authority . They just aren't meant to take on certain tasks extensively.
Check this out: A monthly test: Can a Chromebook replace my main computer?
Chromebooks will work amazingly if most of what you do can be done with a web browser. Email controls, Netflix bingers, social media buffers, and web surfers will have a blast using these machines. You can even go to Google Drive for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Google Drive can leverage the power of cloud for your storage needs.
While Chromebooks have the Google Play Store and its broad portfolio of apps, I don't depend on too much of these. Android apps are usually not well designed to work on larger computer screens. The user interface can be a bit messy and errors are common. These Android apps work, but they are not doing as well as we would like.
How much local storage do you need?
There is no denying that Windows and MacOS laptops have taken over when it comes to storage. While 128GB is plentiful in the Chromebook world, Windows and macOS laptops with that amount of storage are lacking.
If you have a huge collection of movies, videos, photos, music and other resource-intensive files, you may want to consider running with Windows, macOS or the cloud.
Nobody denies Windows and Mac OS laptops have taken over when it comes to storage.
Apropos the cloud!
Chromebooks can live in low storage space because they rely on the cloud, especially Google's own services. If you (like me) already use Google Drive for most of your files, stream music, watch movies online, and save your photos online, you may not even need that much local storage.
Remember that Chromebooks can work offline to some degree. You can download email messages and work with them offline. Similarly, you can edit documents offline. Many Android apps can also work without the internet.
Chromebooks tend to be thinner, smaller and lighter for the price. Meanwhile, the laptops, the traditional laptops are less common and usually more expensive.
Performance is relative. How well a machine works depends on the specifications, workload and many other factors. If we put the same specifications on a Chromebook, a Windows laptop, and a Macbook, the Chromebook will always outperform the others, provided the task is something it is compatible with. Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system and does not require much effort to run smoothly.
You definitely get more money for your money with Chromebooks.
But if what you're looking for is true performance, you won't find it in a Chromebook. Windows and macOS laptops can be very specific, with all the power to run everything you throw at them, and on top of that, they're actually compatible with intensive software. In particular, Windows laptops can run just about anything. If you are willing to deposit money, you can get much more raw power from a regular laptop.
No matter how much you throw on a Chromebook, plateau specifications after a certain point. The most expensive Chromebook is the Google Pixelbook, which at its highest setup costs $ 1649. This version comes with a Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of internal storage. There's not much you can do about all that, except to run some heavier Android apps. All that power gets overkill because the operating system is not compatible with software that can really take advantage of it.
While we cannot say that any OS is completely safe, Chrome OS is not as vulnerable to attack. Google has taken several steps to ensure that the operating system is safe from evil hands.
Chrome OS Security Measures:
- Sandboxing: Each application and tab in Chrome OS runs on its own "sandbox." Even if some virus comes to you, it should be killed when that process ends.
- Automatic Updates: Hackers and evil Internet dwellers work hard to get to your computers, so Google made it easy to deal with vulnerabilities that emerge and get some new code for you ASAP.
- Confirmed startup: Chrome OS cannot start an infected system. It has to start up the way Google intended it. At startup, the system will check all files. If something looks infected, it will be resolved immediately by pulling a backup.
- Power washer: Traditionally known as factory data reset, power washers wipe everything in your Chromebook and get you back to point A in minutes. Since the OS mostly works with the cloud, you can't lose much.
Meanwhile, Windows is a major target for hackers, viruses, malware and other dangers on the Internet. Microsoft's operating system is complicated, giving people more vulnerabilities to attack from. It's definitely harder to keep a Windows laptop clean. MacOS is generally considered more secure, but it is more vulnerable than Chrome OS.
Other laptops are also catching up in this department, thanks to low power processors and other enhancements. However, that is the key word: to catch up. Switching Chrome OS devices to battery life is very difficult.
The Google Pixelbook has 10 hours of battery life, while Pixel Slate improves it with a 12-hour drive time. Other Chromebooks typically get at least eight hours of juice. These numbers are very rare in Windows or the macOS realm.
If you can live without fancy software, Chromebooks offer the best value right now. The operating system is not compatible with the most hungry software, which means Chromebooks can lean into cheaper territory. This is why a $ 300 Chromebook can often run faster and smoother than a traditional laptop twice the price. Chromebooks will launch, open apps, load pages and even turn off faster.
Windows and macOS devices cost more, but it may be worth the extra money, depending on your needs.
Chromebook vs laptop: what do you need?
Now that you know the main differences between Chromebooks and laptops with other operating systems, why are you picking? Keep in mind your priorities and needs when making the right decision.
In a nutshell, we would recommend Chromebooks to anyone who wants to use a computer for web purposes and can live on Android apps for more complex processes. Chrome OS is faster, less expensive, secure and much easier to use. Windows, macOS, and other Linux-based operating systems can run more advanced applications and are more efficient offline.