Over the years, I've been a computer bigot. A snob. To a degree, an Apple Fan-boy.
The primary reason is – they “just” work. This always drives the Windows people crazy when you say “they just work” because invariably, the Windows crowd say “but Windows is better now”. Still you can't argue – the Macs “just work”.
So when my son needed a computer for school to do homework such as reports at the ripe old age of 14 we wanted him to have plenty of computer without spending plenty of money. On top of that, we wanted an almost foolproof way for him to use a computer with almost none of the downside of losing your data or other mishaps.
As we looked around we found a “type” of computer called a Chromebook.
What is a Chromebook?
To get to that answer you have to take a little tour of Google-land.
First, in Google-land, you can do Excel (like) spreadsheets from any web browser in the world. You can do it from Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, and -oh by the way- you can do it from the Google Chrome Browser.
All you do is you go to something like https://sheets.google.com, you login using your Google id (usually your gmail.com email address), then either look at the sheet that exists *OR* you create a new sheet. You see, the magic of Google is that you do it via a webpage and everything is stored on Google. This makes some privacy people worried – and honestly it should. But for my 14 year old son doing reports on the central plains Indians, I think it will be just fine.
The same is true for Word documents, Powerpoint presentations, and much more. Except you can't really call them by the Microsoft names.
Google email is already on the web – people just know that.
Youtube (video editing, hosting, shooting, and more) is located on a web site.
So, if everything is located on a WEB SITE (and not your local computer) then you might question the idea of “what is a computer”?
In fact, if all your computer box, or your laptop, or your “thingy” that has a keyboard, mouse and screen, does is access the world wide web, then the ONLY program the computer really needs to run is a web browser.
A Chromebook is simply a very stripped down laptop computer that ONLY runs the Google Chrome Browser
At first I thought this would be a very limited computer and that my son would outgrow his Chromebook very rapidly, but that has not been the case.
In fact, as I write this to RVers, who want simplicity, reliability, & portability, I would have trouble recommending any other type of computer, including my beloved Apple MacBook.
Here are some of the many many positive aspects of a Chromebook:
- Very lightweight – because they ONLY need to run the Google Chrome browser.
- Very inexpensive – because it only needs to run a browser – you require less components. You calso get to take advantage of the underlying open source Linux software which makes it so that the Google engineers can focus on unique stuff, rather than the basics. Neither Apple or Microsoft can benefit like Google.
- Very fast – By using fast SSD memories (you can look up SSD) *AND* the limited programming compared to other computers, the Chromebook is surprisingly fast.
- Very fast to “startup” – Because of the magic of the SSD among other things, the Chromebook really has no concept of on/off. Open the lid – it is ready to go. No real wait. A true reboot takes maybe 5-6 seconds tops.
- Email – check.
- Word – check.
- Excel – check.
- Online banking – check.
- Pictures – Picasso or similar or flikr – check.
- Music – my son puts songs on his phone – i'm not sure how – check.
- Powerpoint – check.
- Youtube – check.
- Netflix – check.
- Data is safe – check. It is on the web. It is backed up and safe all the time – provided you trust the web site!
In other words, I struggle to find ANYTHING this computer can't really do well. The biggest CON is that you do need to have access to the web. Nearly all the time to make it work. It has some offline capability for sheets (excel) and documents (word).
Sheri needed a computer for her traveling nursing so we got her a Chromebook too. We love them.
What do you do when you need to change computers? Maybe to upgrade or you dropped your current one? You simply LOGOUT and then LOGIN to the new computer. It is just THAT EASY!
So anyway, maybe if you are thinking about a new computer, you'll find the idea of a Chromebook an easy way to get a good computer with not too much money. And you never have to worry about backing your data up.
I did a search on Amazon here if you want to see different varieties. Sheri has a Lenovo touch screen Chromebook and Alex has an Asus.