Lots of kids will be buying a laptop now, and a vast majority will be obviously going for a Windows machine. But what if there is a computer that costs even less and does most of the things as its Windows counterpart.
That’s Chromebook for you. Powered by Google’s desktop operating system Chrome OS, Chromebooks have gained much traction over the last few years. So much attention that a report suggested that it ate 10% of Windows desktop operating systems’ share in the United States last year. But what about India?
It took the device a while to arrive in India, but it finally did last year. You can get two of the most popular Chromebook laptops for as low as Rs 19,000 (while the other costs around Rs 25,000). And that’s one of the USPs of the device, that it is incredibly cheap and yet packs enough processing power to not become an obstacle in your productivity. But how?
What exactly is a Chromebook?
It looks just like any other Windows laptop. Actually, it is lighter and thinner than most of them. Furthermore, no matter which Chromebook you choose, it will always offer you more battery life.
The key difference is the operating system that it runs. Chrome OS isn’t a full-fledged ecosystem, in the true sense, rather it only sports the Chrome browser, along with Chrome Web Apps, pretty similar to the Chrome browser of a Windows machine. There is nothing else, really. You log-in with your Gmail ID, you see a Windows 7-like clean Windows environment, but there is nothing more than Google Chrome and some Web Apps.
So what can you do on a Chrome browser?
But Chromebook does have Chrome. Well, you can browse the entire Web on it. You can open dozens of tabs simultaneously. You can use Google Drive for all your writing and presentations. Plus, you can use all the services that offer Web versions of themselves, which includes Microsoft Office.
If all you need a laptop is for checking email, staying connected to your social network, writing and editing documents, streaming movies and shows and playing a few casual games every once in a while you really don’t need to pay for the extra processing that other computers offer as a Chromebook can do all of that and more pretty easily.
Plus, there are so many extensions. For instance, Pixlr Editor will let you do all the basic image editing, whereas, Google Play Movies & TV is enough for video playback — also, it recently added support for offline viewing, which means that you can now play movies from your hard-drive on Chromebook without any hack. And, if Google Drive isn’t enough for you, the webified version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint is also available, (in addition to the Web version of Office).
Chromebook takes does most of the processing in cloud. Hence, the memory and processor it sports is really enough for the things running at your end.
What Chromebook can’t do?
If you want to play advanced, high graphics games, Chromebook isn’t meant for you. If you want to try CAD, Photoshop, and other high processing software, Chromebook is not for you.
Also, if you ever want to run other operating systems on your machine (as primary OS, dual boot, or on a Virtual Machine), Chromebooks should be the last thing you should look at.
Benefits of using a Chromebook
1. It’s very affordable, and pretty cheap than regular Windows and Mac computers.
2. More Secure — you don’t have to worry about the Windows viruses and don’t have to pay money to get security suites.
3. Light and Longer battery life. Being light it is easy for you to take it to and from work. Also, the longer battery life will come handy.
4. Automatic Upgrades: There is just one browser, which too updates automatically. Gone are the days when you had to update all the apps separately.
Chromebook’s over-dependence on the Internet.
It’s a running joke that if you don’t have the internet connection all the time, Chromebook is a brick device for you. That’s not true, entirely. While, of course you won’t be able to browse the web without a working internet connection (well, no operating system can do that, for the record) several of the Chrome Apps, including Google Drive do offer offline mode. Though, it is disabled by default, so you might have to spend a few minutes configuring the device at the first time. Also, if you’re looking for a machine to do a lot of programming, Chromebook might not be the best choice (as it requires a few hacks to get more tools).
Hack — Run Linux distros on Chromebook
Now for the fun part. Any Chromebook with an Intel processor, in theory, should be able to run other Linux distros such as Ubuntu. But there’s a catch, depending on your model, at times, some distros might not work properly (like the touchpad won’t work at all, and other small glitches), so you might end up bricking your device (a term which became popular after several Android phones stopped working installing a custom ROM, which is kind of the same thing).
Should you buy it?
If you need a laptop to browse the Web, play movies and shows, stream videos online, creating documents and presentations, Chromebook is definitely something you can get. Plus, don’t forget the money you will be saving by ditching Windows machine.
Chromebook in India
All said and done, if you do decide to get yourself a Chromebook, where should you exactly look?
It’s very less likely to be available at your local computer shop. Purchasing it online is perhaps the most feasible way. There are a few Chromebook available on Flipkart ranging from sub- Rs 20,000 to sub-Rs 26,000. If storage size worries you a lot, you can get Acer C710 which comes with 320 HDD from Snapdeal. You might also want to give a look at Amazon India for better deals. For the new Chromebooks that haven’t arrived in India yet, Ebay India won’t disappoint!