Chromebook or laptop: Where are the most significant differences, and which is more convenient for you?

If you're unsure how Windows or Mac laptops are different from Chromebooks, then we have an answer for you. At first glance, almost similar devices, but they hide a lot of differences within themselves.

Chromebook or laptop: Where are the most significant differences, and which is more convenient for you?

Chromebook hardware itself looks very similar to all other laptops. Still, the minimalist Chrome OS experience based on a web browser is quite different from the Windows and macOS laptops we're used to. Whether you're thinking about changing your Windows or MacBook laptop, whether your kid started using a Chromebook at school, or you're just Chrome OS curious, here's everything you need to know.

When Chromebooks first appeared on the market in 2011, they were discriminated against, to put it mildly, and you could say that quite rightly. At the time, they were entirely dependent on a constant internet connection while offering minimal functionality. This year the current operating system celebrates ten years, and today the Chromebooks are far away from where they started. On the other hand, certain things have remained the same, and many users will still not accept the restrictions that Chromebook devices still have. 

HP Chromebook x2

What can we do with Chromebooks?

When Chrome OS first came to life, google's Chrome was a web browser. For all those used to operating systems like Windows and Mac, the Chromebook seemed nothing more than just a laptop with a web browser.

Even if Chrome OS doesn't evolve to this day, as it did, we probably all agree that we can only do a lot of things by using the web. Just think about what you're doing on your pc daily, and you'll quickly realize that there's almost nothing that at least some basic level won't be able to do on Chrome.

On the other hand, it should be pointed out that on Windows or MacBook laptops, we can also always use Chrome and other software. Even if we don't need some software at some point, it's good to have it on reserve somewhere.

Another critical piece of information is Chromebooks in their non-native form are not compatible with Windows or Mac software. We can use VMware for Windows apps on Chromebooks, and there is support for Linux software. Plus, current models are compatible with Android apps, and there are also web apps available on Google's Chrome Web Store.

Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2

One of the biggest obstacles to Chromebooks is for many access to Microsoft Office environments, tools, and programs. Unfortunately, we can't install the Office package on your Chromebook, but Microsoft has long taken care of the web and Android version of all the tools found in the Chrome and Google Play store. Anyway, if you need or want a specific Windows or Mac application, there is no web or mac. Android alternative and you don't want to use VMware simultaneously – don't buy a Chromebook device.

For example, if you need advanced video or photo editing equipment, select Windows, Mac, or Linux laptops. Basic programs are no problem, and Chromebooks don't usually offer graphics power that meets challenging tasks. On the other hand, with "streaming" services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now, Chromebook devices can nowadays be used for much more than just Android and online games. You can also install and play Linux games, which will require a slightly more able Chromebook.

What's a good Chromebook?

A few years ago, all Chromebooks were mainly the same, regardless of the manufacturer. Today we find many more choices of laptops and "two-in-one" devices that make good use of the current capabilities of Chrome OS. Of course, we still see more sizes and models when we talk about Windows devices, especially in the most powerful machines, but the offer has improved considerably.

So if you're looking for a basic but still good enough Chromebook device user experience, it's already a smaller, less powerful device that doesn't need too many demanding web apps. However, if you are one of the demanding users, which multitasking you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a better choice is a more advanced processor and more storage space. Here are the specifications suggested as basic by CNet experts:

Intel Celeron or Core series I processor
4GB of RAM or more
64GB memory space
Full-HD (1,920×1,080) screen

Of course, you need to be flexible when choosing specifications. You can select, say, a 1,366×768-resolution screen, but it's important to remember that "low-end" Chromebooks look pretty soft against full-HD models. You can also spend 32GB of memory space if there is a microSD option. Unlike traditional laptops, Chromebooks rely more on cloudy data storage than on the local one.

However, it is essential to point out that regardless of the Chromebook model, we need to check the Auto Update Expiration date or AUE. It is currently considered that non-Google hardware has support as long as it gets Chrome OS updates and browser updates, including security updates. For models released in 2020, that means 7 to 8 years, but that is not always the case. Google has a complete list of AUE dates for all models, and you need to look at that.

Do Chromebooks need an Internet connection?

When Chromebooks first appeared, they became virtually useless without an Internet connection. This was a severe problem if, for example, we imagine that we are editing a document and suddenly we can no longer save it because we are out of the internet. Things have improved slightly, for example, as Google has improved "off-line" capabilities, and players such as Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify have offered a variety of "off-line" innovations.