Dec 14, 2018 | Updated: 07:21 PM EDT

Chromebooks 101: What Are Chromebooks?

Oct 01, 2015 09:56 PM EDT

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A majority of PC users have known nothing but Windows or Macs their whole lives and are reluctant to try a different OS, such as Linux or Chrome OS. However, the recent developments in technology have changed the landscape. Linux cracked the door a bit in 1991, while Ubuntu opened the doorway to the mainstream market even wider. Since Ubuntu introduced their improvements to the Debian flavor of Linux, they have since improved the way that PC users view Linux as an OS. Thanks to Ubuntu, more users have discovered that adjusting to an OS that is not Windows is not brain surgery, really.

Since Ubuntu, more user-friendly Linux “flavors” or distros have appeared on the market. Techies prefer either Debian or Mint, but end-users may prefer the more robust Ubuntu, or the equally user-friendly PCLinuxOS.

Then Google entered the Windows-alternative market by presenting their alternative: The Chrome OS.

The Chrome OS is also based on the Linux platform, with the Google Chrome browser as the main app that powers the system. As for other apps that the user may need, Google Chrome Apps serve that purpose. Google entered the PC-production arena in 2011, and with the move, they have partnered with the major OEMs and opened new, browser-based product lines.

Initially, users were incensed to find out that they needed to be online all the time, just to be able to use apps such as Evernote or Google Docs. As the OS improved, offline functionality became more readily available.

Then, Google decided to release a high-end Chromebook, the Chromebook Pixel. The Chromebook Pixel brought back the “Tall” aspect ratio in laptops. With a boxy form factor, the device still managed to be “sexy” with its sleek chassis and high-resolution display at a maximum output of 2560 x 1700 resolution and 239 ppi in pixel density. The personal computing beauty came at a price, however, and at the price of $1,299 on its initial release, even Engadget was hesitant to recommend it. With prices dropping to $999, it was a tad more reachable, price-wise, however, Engadget still pronounced the Pixel as a rather expensive, possibly frivolous buy.

It is undeniable, however, that the other, budget-friendlier options such as the Acer Chromebook 11,” which starts at $169, or the Asus Chromebook Flip, which comes in at $249 for a convertible hybrid, are more sensible buys. The Chromebook, after all, was developed to be a laptop to surf the Internet with, and not much else.

In fact, today’s generation of Chromebooks already includes brands such as Haier and Hisense, with prices starting at $149. With that price point, Chromebooks are a worthy buy as budget devices used for just surfing the Internet, editing a few photos using web apps, and writing text documents using Evernote and simpler word processors.

The Chromebook and the Chrome OS actually opened up a whole new market for lean, budget-friendly computers. HP recognized the need for that, and produced their Stream line of laptops. These are Windows-powered devices that heavily rely on Cloud Storage, as their hard drives top off at a mere 32 GB. For those who do not really download large files anyway, this would be enough. And with prices starting at $179.99 for the 11-inch version, $209.99 for the 13-inch version, and $269.99 for the convertible/hybrid version, HP presented a Windows counter-alternative to the Chromebook. It is still a nod to how Chromebooks have influenced the market, and it is worth noting that HP maintained its Chromebook line.

So while the Chromebook Pixel does not make much sense budget-wise, the bottom line is this: Chromebooks are great for users who just surf the Web, can live with just Evernote or simpler notepad apps as their word processing software, or Google Docs as their office suite. Chromebooks are great for parents who just want to provide their kids with laptops they could use to research for schoolwork. Chromebooks, being Linux-based, are great for parents who want to keep their kids from breaking PC’s too soon through the unwitting installation of malware.

In fact, Chromebooks would be great gifts for one’s grandparents.

For those who do not want to spend more than $200 on a laptop, Chromebooks, except for Chromebook Pixel, are simply perfect.

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For the full line of Chromebooks on the market: https://www.google.com/chromebook/find/

If you want to check out the HP Stream line: http://store.hp.com/us/en/mdp/Laptops/hp-stream-notebook#!&TabName=vao

For an overview of the soon-to-be-released Toshiba Chromebook 2: http://www.droidreport.com/toshiba-release-chromebook-2-october-11298

On the Chromebook Pixel: https://www.google.com/chromebook/pixel/

Engadget’s take on the Chromebook Pixel: http://www.engadget.com/2015/03/11/chromebook-pixel-review-2015/

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