Fast, functional and really affordable – 9 reasons we love Google Chromebook laptops

Built for online, portable for on the go, easy to set up and really cheap - why we love the Google Chromebook...

05 Feb 2014


Google's super affordable, ultra-portable and ready-to-rock-straight-from-the-box Chromebooks straddle the no-man's land between laptop and tablet.

Self-updating and easy to set up, they're great as a regular laptop, but light and portable enough for when you'd normally prefer a tablet.

With sales of the devices soaring 112% by the end of last year, Chromebooks are the punky young upstart of the computing world.

Among their ranks are the HP Chromebook 11, the Acer C720 and the Samsung Series 3 Chromebook.

Here are nine reasons we love them.

1) It's optimised for online life, to get the best from everything Google

Samsung Chromebook

These days we pretty much live in our web browsers - streaming music and video online, saving files in the cloud, reading the news, checking email, updating social media, sorting our weekly calendars, buying new clothes and even doing the weekly shop.  

Much of this can be done via searching Google, downloading music and books from Google Play, writing work reports in Google Docs, saving them to Google Drive cloud storage, laughing in hysterics at YouTube vids and chatting to friends in Google Hangouts.

So Google decided to make the web browser the operating system, with a laptop optimised for all its online services. It's called the Chromebook.

Writing for tech site ZDNet, Matthew Miller said: "There are millions of people who spend the majority of their time in a web browser and for them Chromebooks are an excellent choice."

2) It's a laptop that thinks it's a tablet

When the work goes away for the night, and you leave the kitchen table for the sofa, it's goodbye laptop and hello tablet - so much friendlier for sofa-based slouching.  Now we have the Chromebook, which offers the best of both worlds. As well as being a laptop with a proper keyboard, it boasts many tablet-like features.

It's lightweight (the HP, Samsung and Acer models we mentioned weigh around 1kg - less than the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet). It's small enough to perch on the sofa arm without toppling over (just like your tablet). It can boot up in seconds (again, like a tablet).

3) It's really, really cheap

Chromebooks are cheap - really cheap. They cost around £200 on average (a bit more for a 3G option). This is far cheaper than even the most basic Windows laptop, and considerably less than a high-end tablet such as the iPad Air.     

4) It is set up in minutes

Happy Woman

We live in we-want-it-and-we-want-it-now times: fast food, minute-by-minute live blogs of football matches and Facebook pictures of nights out as they happen.

Clearly we don't like waiting around these days. But with a Google Chromebook you'll be up and running in seconds.
Writing for ZDNet David Gewirtz said: "Getting set up and running on my new Chromebook took five minutes."

5) It's great for getting some real work done

Acer C720 Chromebook

With built-in apps for Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, you can crack on with writing reports, finishing spreadsheets and planning presentations just as you always have done. And because these live online rather than on your machine you can invite colleagues to work on them with you in real time.

If you can't get an internet connection you can still view and edit Google documents, spreadsheets and presentations offline - all it takes is a few simple set-up steps in your Chrome web browser.

6) It boots up in a few seconds

Your Chromebook will boot up in seconds whenever you switch it on.

Regular laptops take a little longer, and sometimes it doesn't seem worth it if you only wanted to check the football scores or reserve an item.  But because each of our featured Chromebooks is raring to go in less than 10 seconds, it's perfect for those one-minute jobs.

7) You get free cloud storage with it

Cloud Storage

Chromebooks aren't designed to store vast amounts of documents or music and video files. Instead - everything is stored online, in the cloud.

To make this easier, Google bundles 100GB worth of free storage with Google Drive - its cloud storage service.
Although you won't have all your files actually saved on your machine, you can access them easily whenever you have an internet connection - and in some cases when offline too.

8) It's great for life on the go

Couple In London Sightseeing

Wanting a laptop that can slip inside your bag and follow wherever you go? A Chromebook is perfect. The HP, Acer and Samsung we mentioned earlier each weighs around 1kg and is less than 20m thick. As Google says, perfect to "put in your purse, backpack or briefcase".

The three Chromebooks we highlighted also have 11.6inch screens and at least seven hours' battery life - no more cringing when you plonk down your massive laptop and power pack on the train table.

You can also get online wherever you are thanks to a number of Chromebooks being available in 3G options - among these is the Samsung Series 3.

9) It updates itself, for free

How annoying are security and software update notifications on your laptop? And how often have you forgotten to act on the prompts?

With a Chromebook you can kiss all that jazz goodbye. It updates itself automatically with the latest operating system and security software so you don't have to.

Matthew Miller added: "There is no worry about security updates, outdated software, sluggishness as systems clog up, and other issues I spent many hours troubleshooting for family and friends."

Interested in getting a Chromebook? Then check out the latest range here