If someone mentions the Chromebook you most likely know what they are referring to. It’s a laptop that runs on the ChromeOS operating system. This is totally true, but the word Chromebook has become a coverall word for any type of computer that runs on ChromeOS.
However, it’s important to realise that the Chromebook is just a laptop, and it isn’t the only choice you have if you want to use ChromeOS. I love the Chromebook, but I also use my Chromebox on a regular basis because it offers something a little different.
The types of ChromeOS computers available
Therefore, if you have been considering buying a new computer and someone said “have you checked out the Chromebook?”. It’s important to remember that they are most likely introducing you to the Chromebook because it runs on ChromeOS, and not because it is simply a laptop.
If you’re considering buying a Chromebook because you’ve heard great things about them. It’s ChromeOS that you’ve been hearing great things about. You have a few options available to you if you want a computer that uses ChromeOS, and we’ll take a look at these now.
It makes sense to start with the most popular option, which is the Chromebook. If you’re looking for a laptop then the Chromebook is a great choice. The first thing to consider is that the Chromebook falls into three distinct categories, which are budget, medium-spec, and high-spec. The most popular by far fall into the budget and medium-spec categories.
To slightly complicate matters there are also two types of Chromebook laptops. The first is a traditional laptop, and the second is known as a Hybrid 2-in-1 laptop. A Chromebook laptop offers exactly what you would expect if you were buying a run-of-the-mill laptop.
A Hybrid 2-in-1 Chromebook is slightly different because it can be used as both a laptop and a tablet. This is made possible because the lid hinges allow the display to rotate 360 degrees. Once rotated you’ve got a tablet that runs on ChromeOS. Another benefit of a Hybrid is that they all come with a touchscreen display. However, it’s important to note that some standard Chromebook laptops without hybrid functionality can also offer a touchscreen, so it’s best to check if a touchscreen is important.
There is another ChromeOS laptop type, which is the detachable Chromebook, and can also be referred to as a ChromeOS 2-in-1 tablet. This is a little different from a Hybrid Chromebook because it comes in two parts. You get a detachable keyboard and a tablet. This is possibly a better option than a Hybrid if you prefer to use a tablet more than a laptop.
This is because the main unit is essentially a tablet running on ChromeOS. It can be used as a tablet independently without the need for a keyboard. The benefit of this type of device over a Hybrid is that the tablet is a lot easier to use in your hands and to carry around with you.
If you do need to use it as a laptop you simply attach the keyboard and you then have a Chromebook laptop. Whether a Hybrid or detachable is more suitable will depend on your personal preference. Find out more by reading Hybrid vs detachable Chromebook.
So we’ve covered all the different types of laptops you can buy that run ChromeOS. Another type is a desktop PC, which is known as a Chromebox. One of the first things you’ll notice is that a Chromebox is a lot smaller in size than a typical desktop PC. This is great because it takes up very little space on your desk. Personally speaking, I use my Chromebox when I need to be productive because sitting at a desk puts you in the right mindset.
If you’re looking for a computer and a laptop isn’t your thing as you prefer using a desktop PC. Then the Chromebox is a good option to consider. Generally speaking, they offer more connectivity than most Chromebooks such as an ethernet port to get a wired connection to the internet and at least one HDMI port. The latest Chromeboxes tend to come with a minimum of two HDMI ports. However, if you do buy a Chromebox with one HDMI port, you may still be able to connect an extra monitor if you have a USB C port. Find out how I connected two displays to my Chromebox.
Another benefit of a Chromebox compared to a laptop is you get to choose the display, mouse, and keyboard. Therefore, you have a lot of extra options to choose from to get the setup that is right for you. Also, I personally believe that a Chromebox is a much better choice for gaming. Firstly, you get access to an ethernet port, which is important if you want to use game streaming services available on ChromeOS such as Nvidia GeForce Now. Secondly, you can play games using a much larger display than what a laptop offers.
Another type of desktop PC you have available if you’re looking to buy a ChromeOS computer is the Chromebase. The Chromebase has been around for a few years, but it failed to gain any traction until recently. This was mainly because the Chromebases available a few years ago looked pretty cheap, and offered poor specs. This is no longer the case thanks to Acer and HP who have released nicer-looking models since then. My favourite purely from an aesthetic point of view is the HP Chromebase.
The Chromebase is an all-in-one desktop PC. The display includes all of the computer components so it’s a truly integrated computer setup. One of the main benefits is that it takes up a lot less space, and you’ll have fewer wires to contend with. They also look more pleasing to the eye than having a separate Chromebox and display.
However, you need to ensure this is the right choice for you. The only issue you need to consider with a Chromebase is if something breaks or you’d like to upgrade to a new display. In this situation, you would need to replace both the display and the computer, so it could be a more costly replacement. That being said, the Acer Add-In-One Chromebox fixes this problem to some extent.
Find more useful articles in the ChromeOS Help Hub.
These are the main types of ChromeOS computers available. I think you’ll agree there are a lot more choices to choose from other than just a Chromebook.
If you own an old PC that used to run on another operating system such as Microsoft Windows. Before deciding to throw it away due to performance issues. You may want to check whether you can convert it to a ChromeOS computer. Strictly speaking, it isn’t the exact same experience because you would not have access to Android apps or Linux. However, it’s a good option if you don’t want to splash out on a new computer. Find out more about how to give your old PC a new life with ChromeOS Flex.