Chromebooks Are More than “Just a Browser”

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Chromebooks have come a great distance since their humble introduction with the CR-48 again in December of 2010, however individuals nonetheless consider them as “simply a browser”. The factor is, this platform has grown considerably since then, and that mindset is simply outdated.

I do know what you’re pondering: “however Cam, Chromebooks are actually simply Chrome!” And positive, you’re not fallacious. Chromebooks are based mostly on Chrome, which is a browser…however there’s extra to it than that. Chrome is so prolific at this level that, even on a Home windows machine, Chrome is principally your OS now. However fantastic, if you happen to should, let’s speak about it.

Chromebooks Have Grown, and So Has the Net

Over the previous couple of years, Chrome OS has gotten higher and extra superior. System settings have gotten extra in depth, with issues like built-in VPN assist, multi-monitor assist for docked Chromebook setups, Evening Mild for higher evening time viewing, and a lot extra. Whereas I understand it doesn’t assist essentially the most superior and granular tweaks that you just’ll get from one thing like Home windows, it has undoubtedly grown a lot when it comes to energy consumer performance over the previous couple of years—all whereas conserving the simplicity and simplicity that makes Chrome OS particular within the first place.

Not solely has Chromebook performance expanded over time, however the internet has grown in so some ways during the last seven or eight years. What used to require standalone software program can now be run from the net. Take electronic mail purchasers for instance: a decade in the past, you principally needed to have an electronic mail consumer put in to take advantage of your mail—be that Outlook or Thunderbird—however now practically all of that’s dealt with on the internet. In actual fact, Gmail packs extra of a punch than most electronic mail purchasers do, so it’s arduous to advocate in opposition to it.

And that’s simply the tip of the iceberg right here. More and extra issues are able to being dealt with solely on the internet—save for essentially the most area of interest of wants, like audio or video modifying. Even photograph editors can be found within the cloud as of late, with issues like Pixlr and Polarr dealing with a giant chunk of what most customers have to do. I perceive that Photoshop continues to be the dominant app right here, and a lot of individuals use (and rely) on it, however for many customers, the net based mostly choices can deal with what they want.

That mentioned, this isn’t an argument that Chrome OS must be your principal OS, it’s an argument for Chromebooks and the way good they really are actually. That limiting them to “simply a browser” undercuts their absolute worth.

Android Apps Have Modified the Recreation

If I needed to choose the most important recreation changer on Chromebooks, it might simply be the addition of the Google Play Retailer and Android apps. This was, at the least in my view, a good determination by Google that not solely elevated the performance of Chromebooks by leveraging hundreds of thousands of Android apps, but additionally opened the door for Chrome OS 2-in-1s to really make sense. Most Chromebooks can simply double as Android tablets as of late, particularly if you happen to go along with one thing small just like the ASUS Flip C101 or ultra-thin just like the Pixelbook.

This additionally comes into play if you’re in search of performance out of your Chromebook that you could be not be capable to get from the net. Whereas the aforementioned Polarr and Pixlr are nice in their very own proper, you may get the Android variations of Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom from the Play Retailer for extra energy. They is probably not as strong as their Home windows/Mac counterparts, however they undoubtedly push Chrome OS additional than it may go earlier than.

Not solely that, however Microsoft just lately made accessible the Android model of Workplace on Chromebooks (so long as you’ve got Workplace 365). Once more, they’re not fairly as highly effective as their desktop counterparts, however you even have Google Docs at your disposal. Between the 2, you may get fairly a little bit of workplace work completed.

The addition of the Google Play Retailer additionally brings gaming entrance and middle on Chrome OS—there are millions of good cellular titles on the market that work exceptionally properly on Chromebooks. All the pieces from shooters like Unkilled to racing video games like Asphalt eight, you are able to do extra on Chrome OS now that ever earlier than. Plus, who wouldn’t need to play their favourite cellular recreation on a greater display?

There Are Issues Chromebooks Truly Do Higher Than Home windows or macOS

Chrome is probably not fairly as highly effective as Home windows or macOS, however that may be a bonus, too. Being extra light-weight means Chromebooks typically begin up sooner, have higher safety, and make establishing a new laptop a lot simpler.

Not solely that, however Chromebooks are likely to have wonderful battery life, particularly if you evaluate their worth on to a Home windows PC or Mac. For instance, the $500 ($430 on the time of writing) ASUS Chromebook Flip C302 will get round eight hours of battery life (give or take, in fact). To get a Home windows machine with comparable real-world use, you’d should spend double that. And Macs, properly, everyone knows how a lot it’s a must to spend to get your palms on a Mac. The worth-to-battery life ratio is off the charts with Chromebooks.

The identical goes for the opposite guts in your laptop. The ASUS C302 has an Intel Core m3 processor and 4GB of RAM. In case you have been to place a competing OS on that , efficiency would undoubtedly be abysmal. However since Chrome OS is so light-weight, every thing is blazing quick just about on a regular basis. I exploit the C302 as my principal laptop computer, which I work from about 90% of the time, and the solely factor I’d change is the RAM—I’d add extra. However I’m a heavy consumer with at the least 13 Chrome tabs working, plus Slack, TweetDeck, and Google Hold in their very own home windows, together with a few Android apps. A bit extra RAM could be good, however for $500, that is the very best funding I’ve ever made in a laptop computer.

It’s Not About Doing Issues the Similar Method, It’s About Doing the Similar Issues a Totally different Method

That is my favourite factor about Chrome OS: discovering new methods to do issues. Generally they even turn into extra environment friendly than what I used to do on my Home windows machine. Or if it’s within the case of an Android app (or a assortment of apps), I may do the identical issues from my cellphone. For me, Chrome OS has damaged down limitations and made me re-think what is feasible from a internet browser or a cellular OS. Because it combines the best possible of each worlds—Chrome and Android apps—that work completely in tandem, my workflow is dramatically totally different than it’s on Home windows, and in some methods it’s much more environment friendly.

For instance, I could take screenshots on my Chromebook, however I edit them utilizing Skitch and/or PicSayPro (each Android apps). I exploit Trello’s Android app as a result of it’s truthfully lighter and sooner than the web site. I can regulate Twitter and play Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on the identical time. These are the form of issues I truly miss once I’m on my Home windows machine.

I gained’t lie: it takes time and analysis to seek out easy methods of doing issues which may be apparent on different platforms, and there are very outlined limitations in relation to what isn’t doable on Chromebooks. However when you acclimate to these issues, chances are you’ll even discover you don’t want among the performance you thought you probably did. (And hey—if you wish to attempt before you purchase, you may all the time attempt Chrome OS in a digital machine first.)


There are additionally different energy consumer choices accessible, like including Crouton entry to your machine. Since Chrome OS is predicated on Linux and makes use of the Linux kernel, Crouton means that you can run a whole Linux distro alongside Chrome OS—and even in a separate browser tab if that’s what you need. You’ll be able to even run native Linux purposes, like GIMP, virtually as in the event that they’re native Chrome OS apps. All that mentioned, this is a fairly hacky resolution and never one thing actually meant for many customers. However if you happen to’re snug utilizing a command line and really feel froggy, it’s a nice mission that provides some actual muscle to your little Chromebook.

In any other case, I’m not going to faux Chrome OS is as versatile as Home windows or macOS, however that’s by no means been the purpose right here. I’m merely suggesting that pondering of Chrome OS as “simply a browser” isn’t actually truthful anymore, as a result of it’s develop into a lot extra. Between the expansion of the net and the addition of Android apps, there isn’t a entire lot Chrome OS can’t do outdoors of essentially the most specialised wants. And actually, the net is the longer term—increasingly issues are being offloaded to the cloud, and extra companies have gotten accessible in a cloud-specific format each day. On that entrance, Chromebooks are literally main the pack and can proceed to get increasingly highly effective. Simply preserve that in thoughts the following time you learn a overview of the Pixelbook (or different Chromebook) that may be summarized with “It’s a nice laptop computer if all you want is a browser.”

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