What is a Chromebook?
Looking for a budget laptop? With a Google Chromebook you can write essays, binge on Netflix and browse the web for less than £200.
Chromebook vs Windows laptop
Chromebooks are built around Google's suite of online services and its Chrome operating system. Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube and Google Docs are all built in.
It's different to a Windows or Apple laptop. You can’t install and run full programs like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop as everything is web-app based. And instead of saving to your laptop’s hard drive, you save files to Google Drive – secure cloud (online) storage.
To get the best from the Chromebook you need to be connected to the internet – though they do work for some things offline too.
10 reasons to choose a Chromebook
1. You can buy one for under £200
Chromebooks run Google software but are made by the likes of Acer, Asus, HP and Samsung. There are always models available sub-£200. For that you get a super-portable laptop that’s perfect for working – and chilling – on the go. Stay online all day with 8.5 hours battery life.
Why so affordable? Laptop features like processor, RAM and hard drive aren’t as important when buying a Chromebook as it’s designed for online use.
Even premium, super-stylish Chromebooks are available for budget prices.
2. You can work on reports and spreadsheets
Whether you’re writing a university essay or a report for work, the Chromebook is good to go with built-in apps for word processing (Docs) and spreadsheets (Sheets).
Google Docs has a similar layout to Microsoft Word. With Google Docs you can:
- Insert images and tables into your report
- Run spellcheck and check word counts
- Add bullet points, numbers and bold text
- Tweak margins, spacing, fonts, and colours
However, more advanced Word users will find some things missing. For instance, there’s no ability to track changes.
3. Android apps bring Word and Skype
If you really do prefer working in Microsoft Word, don’t worry – you can download the Office for Android app.
The Google Play app store is coming to Chromebook. So you can use the apps you’ve had on your Android phone or tablet on your laptop. Say hello to Skype, Adobe Photoshop Express and Minecraft.
4. Your work is saved securely online
On a conventional laptop your work is saved to the machine. But with a Chromebook files are saved online to Google Drive.
Drive is Google’s secure online storage service – and you get a chunk of free storage space when buying a Chromebook.
Your work is automatically saved as you type – no more fears over forgetting to save and losing a 2,000-word assignment.
5. Anti-virus comes built-in (and updates automatically)
Your Chromebook will automatically update with the latest anti-virus and other software so you can forget about having to do it yourself.
Each time you switch on your Chromebook it will check for updates and install any that come up. It does all of this for free too.
6. They start up incredibly quickly
Chromebooks boot up superfast. Switch it on and it’ll be running in under 10 seconds – so you can say goodbye to long load times.
7. You can access your files from anywhere
Because your files are saved online rather than to your actual laptop, you can access them from any device anywhere – all you need is an internet connection.
8. And work collaboratively on them
If you’re working on a group project at uni or work you would normally have to be in the same room to work together.
Not with the Chromebook – you can all see and edit the file at the same time. Take the document in question and hit the Share and Save button and type the email addresses of those you want to send it to.
9. They’re great for Netflix and Google Play
After work comes chill-out time. And Chromebooks are built for entertainment. Watch Breaking Bad or House of Cards via the Netflix app or download a movie from Google Play.
The Asus Chromebook Flip is built for box-set binging. It looks like a regular laptop but has a clever 2 in 1 design with a screen that can be put in different positions.
Flip the screen back against the keyboard and you have a touchscreen tablet. Netflix is great in the tent mode – stand the laptop on the table-top in an upturned V shape for uninterrupted viewing.
10. You can work offline
Chromebooks are designed to be used when connected to the internet – but there are things you can do when not online, such as:
- Write and send emails in Gmail - as soon as you’re back online the email will be sent
- Check your next appointment in your calendar
View and edit your reports and essays