Home Chromebook Chrome OS buyer’s guide – A complete guide to buying a Chromebook

Chrome OS buyer’s guide – A complete guide to buying a Chromebook

by Dan Millward

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Chrome OS buying guide - a guide to buying a Chromebook

If you’re buying a new laptop or desktop computer and considering whether to switch to Chrome OS. This Chrome OS buyers guide will help you decide whether it’s right for you. Chrome OS has come a long way since it was launched in 2011, and you’ll be surprised what it’s capable of.

As more of us use the internet than ever before it makes sense to choose a computer that takes advantage of that. Gone are the days when you had to install programs to get things done on your computer. Today, you can get most things done online and installing programs locally is becoming a thing of the past.

That isn’t to say you can’t install programs or apps on a Chromebook. It just makes more sense to carry out tasks in the cloud. This is why software developers such as Microsoft and Adobe have slowly moved away from programs you install locally and have put all their effort into software you can use directly from a web browser. When a program installed locally is required, you can turn to Android and Linux apps, which are both available on Chrome OS.

What is Chrome OS

Chrome OS is the operating system that the Chromebook uses. Just like a PC might use Microsoft Windows, a Chromebook uses Chrome OS.

Chrome OS was designed and continues to be developed by Google. One of the largest and most successful technology companies in the world. The key three selling points for Chrome OS are that it’s fast, secure and easy to use.

Google continues to improve Chrome OS, which has helped Chromebook sales increase dramatically around the world. The Chromebook is more popular than ever with consumers and is also the market leader in the education sector.

Chrome OS devices

There are many different Chrome OS devices to choose from, which means you’ll find one that is right for you. Whether you’re looking for a new laptop, desktop computer or tablet Chrome OS has you covered.

Chromebook

A Chromebook

You’ve most likely heard of the Chromebook, however, this isn’t the only choice you have when buying a new computer running Chrome OS. The Chromebook is essentially a laptop, which is the most popular choice. There is a huge range of Chromebooks to suit all budgets and some models come with a touchscreen display.

Hybrid Chromebook

Hybrid Chromebook

A Hybrid Chromebook is a laptop with a lid that can be rotated 360 degrees. This allows you to use a Hybrid as either a laptop or a tablet. This is a great choice if you like using Android Apps and prefer to interact with them using a touchscreen. They are also a great option if you’d like a laptop that you can use with a Stylus.

2-in-1 detachable Chromebook

detachable 2-in-1 Chromebook

If you’d prefer a truly 2-in-1 experience then a Chrome OS detachable is a good choice. Also known as Chrome OS tablets they can be used as either a tablet or a laptop. The difference between a detachable and a Hybrid Chromebook is the ability to remove the keyboard. When the keyboard isn’t present the tablet will work just like a tablet. Attach the keyboard and you get access to a fully-fledged Chromebook and the capabilities this offers.

Chromebox

Chromebox

A Chromebox is very similar to a desktop computer but is much smaller and takes up very little room on your desk. This is a great choice if you’d prefer to use a separate monitor, keyboard and mouse. It’s a good option if you prefer a desktop setup, and you can easily connect two or even three monitors to a single Chromebox. The Chromebook and Chromebox are the most popular device choices.

Chromebase

Chromebase

Another device running on Chrome OS is the Chromebase. A Chromebase is an all-in-one desktop setup. The computer processor, RAM and storage are integrated with the display. The Chromebase looks great in an office environment where a minimalist look is essential.

Chrome OS is fast

One of the best features of Chrome OS is how fast it is. Gone are the days when you have to wait for minutes to boot up your computer in the morning. After switching your device on you’ll be presented with the log-on screen within a matter of seconds. Once you’ve entered your login details you’ll be at the Chrome OS desktop in less than six seconds. That’s it, there isn’t any further time you need to wait whilst the computer catches up with itself. You can get on with your day using your web browser or favourite Android and Linux apps.

This speed is something you’ll enjoy when using Chrome OS and you’ll continue to enjoy such speeds months or even years after buying your device. Unlike other computers where your computer gets slower over time, a Chrome OS computer never slows down no matter how long you’ve owned it.

Chrome OS is fast and boots up in seven seconds

Something else that is great when using Chrome OS is how fast updates are installed. Chrome OS devices receive a new update every month. These updates help keep you safe when surfing the internet and provide you with new features. These monthly updates download automatically, and you’ll not even notice they are happening, as you can continue using your computer as normal.

Once an update is downloaded to your device when you next turn on your computer the update will be installed. You don’t need to wait around for hours for these updates to install, as they tend to be installed in less than a minute. This is a far cry from other computers where updates can take ages to download and install.

Chrome OS is secure

The internet is a great invention and has changed how we live our lives. Although we all use the internet on a daily basis to get things done, you also need to ensure you’re safe when browsing online. The internet in general is very secure and safe to use but software viruses and malware can steal your data and make your computer unusable.

Google actively works to make the internet a safer place for all. This is why they’ve gone all out when it comes to making sure Chrome OS is a very safe computer to use. It has built-in virus protection, which means you don’t need to spend further money on anti-virus software. Find out more about why a Chromebook is safe to use.

Chrome OS built in virus protection

You can use a Chromebook or any other Chrome OS device knowing you’re protected from viruses. This is one of the biggest reasons why people have switched to using a Chrome OS computer. Unlike other computers, which are known to be prone to viruses, a Chrome OS device is a much safer computer to use.

This is because Chrome OS computers have a physical write-protect, which stops any unwanted software from installing on your computer. Monthly updates also mean your Chromebook will continue to stay protected from any new threats. All software on a Chrome OS computer is sandboxed, which means, an app for example, cannot talk to other apps or your internet browser. This removes any risk of an app or rogue website from communicating with other parts of your computer.

Chrome OS is easy to use

Unlike other computers that can be difficult to use you’ll find using Chrome OS much easier. This is because everything just works, and you don’t need to worry about installing drivers, fixing problems caused by updates or anything else for that matter.

This is one of the reasons why there has been a surge in users who previously thought they could not use a computer. The easiest way to explain using Chrome OS is to compare it to using an Android tablet or phone. In fact, it was the launch of smartphones and how easy they are to use compared to a traditional computer; that inspired Google to make a computer that is just as easy to use.

Chromebooks are very easy to use
Using a Chromebook is easy

An Android device is far easier to use than a traditional computer, and if you can use an Android device you’ll find Chrome OS a great choice. It offers the same easy-to-use experience, but with additional benefits that a computer can offer.

If you’ve ever been put off using a computer because you found it difficult to use. Then the Chromebook is a great choice, as you don’t need to get involved with any technical aspects. It simply works out of the box and there is no technical knowledge needed to use a Chromebook. All you need to know about is how to use a web browser and any Android apps you like to use. No knowledge is needed about the OS itself because it works in the background, and you’ll never come up against errors you cannot fix.

Android apps

You can install Android apps on all Chrome OS computers. This is perfect for anyone who already owns an Android phone, as you can continue to use your favourite apps. Since the launch of Android apps on Chrome OS developers have worked hard to make their apps work with a keyboard and mouse. Therefore, you can use Android apps even if you don’t have access to a touchscreen.

That being said, some apps work much better with a touchscreen, which is why many Chromebooks come with a touchscreen display. There are thousands of Android apps such as games, productivity software and useful tools to help make tasks much easier to complete. Have a look at the Chromebooks that made it into my Top Ten Chromebooks in 2022.

Android apps on Chrome OS

The ability to use Android apps on any Chrome OS device offers a huge advantage over other computers. It also means you can easily bring the skills you’ve learned using Android apps on your phone or tablet to Chrome OS. This is another reason why people easily adapt to the Chromebook because Android apps are very easy to use. This means you can avoid having to buy expensive software that you get with a traditional computer.

If you are looking for a computer to get creative. Then you’ll find hundreds of apps to help with this, which includes sketching apps that you can use with a Stylus. There is a selection of Hybrid and detachable Chrome OS devices that support a stylus, and you’ll find plenty of Android apps to use with a Chromebook and Stylus.

Linux apps

If you prefer to install programs locally on your computer. You’ll be happy to know that you can install Linux apps on medium and high spec Chrome OS devices. This opens up a huge number of programs that have been written for Linux, and the best thing is most of these are free to use.

There are many different types of Linux programs you can use on Chrome OS. These include fully-fledged office suites such as Libre Office, which gives you access to a word processor, spreadsheets program and a database program. Libre Office is very similar to Microsoft Office, and you can install it locally on your Chromebook.

GIMP image editor on Chrome OS
The GIMP image editor is available on Chrome OS

You’ll also find other Linux apps you can use such as the fantastic GIMP image editor. This is professional image editing software, which works perfectly on Chrome OS. If you like to use professional image editing software then you’ll want to ensure the Chromebook you buy is capable of installing Linux.

Linux apps are great if you cannot find an Android app or online PWA app to get certain tasks done. There are also plenty of tools that can be useful such as an FTP client for anyone who needs to upload files to servers where an FTP connection is required.

Gaming on Chrome OS

Chrome OS offers plenty of choices when it comes to gaming. These include playing your favourite Android games, PC games and console-style games. If you enjoy console games then you’ll want to sign up for Stadia, which is a game streaming service provided by Google. This service works with Chromebooks and all the processing is done in the cloud, so you’ll need an internet connection to use Stadia.

If you prefer to play PC games then Nvidia GeForce Now is a great service. You can use GeForce Now on most Chromebooks and it isn’t necessary to have an expensive device with high specs. This is because GeForce Now is another streaming service, so all the powerful processing is done on Nvidia servers. You can play many games you’ve already bought from Steam or Ubisoft on GeForce Now.

Stadia on Chrome OS

To use streaming services such as Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now you will need a stable and fast internet connection. Therefore, it isn’t something that may work well if you cannot get a decent internet speed in your area.

If you prefer to install games locally then this is something that Steam is currently working on. Although you can already install Steam on Chrome OS it isn’t possible to play more advanced games. This is because most current Chromebooks don’t have enough processing power to play advanced games locally. However, Steam is currently working on Steam Linux Alpha, which is an app that will let you play your Steam games on Chrome OS.

Summary

Chrome OS is a great choice when buying a new computer. It’s no longer the case that you’re limited when using a Chromebook, as the Chrome OS team continues to develop the OS.

This means you can do almost everything on a Chromebook that you can do on a traditional PC running Microsoft Windows. The difference is Chrome OS is a much easier way to get online, and the ability to use thousands of Android apps makes it a great choice.

Once you’ve used a Chromebook you’ll be amazed by how different it is from any other type of computer you may have used. You’ll never need to worry about frustrating updates breaking your computer, and everything works much faster. This is why Chrome OS has continued to grow around the world, and this will continue thanks to Google being fully committed to the improvement of Chrome OS.

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