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Chromebooks: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Chromebooks have been around for almost a decade now, but they've never really taken off, except in the educational segment. However, lately, there's been a huge surge in their mainstream popularity — and it's not hard to see why.

Chromebooks are cheaper than traditional laptops and can offer many of the same features such as long battery life (depending on your model), lightweight design, and security updates that automatically install without user intervention.

But this technology isn't perfect - Chromebooks often lack some of the more advanced features like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop which might be needed by some users. And while you don't need an internet connection to use one, you will need one if you want to download apps from Google Play or make use of other advanced features, like voice typing.

It's with that in mind that today we're going to tackle the pros and cons of Chromebooks mainly to help educate people about them and provide some much-needed clarity about how they work.

Chromebook Pros & Cons You Can't Miss

Chromebook Cons

1) You Need an Internet Connection to Do Anything

Chrome OS is a "cloud-based" operating system, which means it relies entirely on the internet to function. This has some major benefits, like having access to all your online files and software at any time and anywhere as well as the ability to automatically get security updates without having to update them yourself.

At the same time, having a cloud-based OS means you can't use any of your programs or files if you don't have internet access. So unless you have internet access at all times, this might not be the best choice.

2) You Can't Run Any Other Operating Systems

Chromebooks run Chrome OS (obviously), which is a very specific operating system that can only run programs and files from Google Play and the Chrome Web Store. This will limit your ability to run other popular programs like Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop.

4) You Can't Use Windows Programs

An important con of Chromebooks is, of course, is that you can't run Windows programs on a Chromebook. Period. Sure, there are versions of Windows programs that have an online version but, generally speaking, these will not work as well as their original desktop counterparts.

5) Your Chromebook's Storage Is Limited

This might be the biggest drawback of the Chromebooks, depending on what you're looking for. All Chromebooks come with a limited amount of internal storage (usually, 32-64 GB). This is why so many people are all about getting an SD card for their laptop or buying one with a bigger hard drive.

This is because Chromebooks are meant to be used in a cloud-based environment, meaning that you can access your files from any internet-enabled device. But this also makes storage a concern if you're planning to use it as your main computer because you'll need to keep downloading and uploading files onto and off of the Chromebook's hard drive, which can be frustrating at times.

Ultimately, if you're planning to buy a Chromebook and you want to be able to store your files comfortably, make sure it features an SD or microSD card reader. Some models, like the recently reviewed HP 14a-ca0022nr, don't feature one and that can easily be a deal-breaker for many users.

6) Forget about editing video on a semi-pro level

While you can now download apps from the Play Store on pretty much any Chromebook and you can easily edit videos you shoot with your phone or camera on your Chromebook, you won't be able to really do any high-level editing if you're planning to do it on your laptop. 

Not only do you need a ton of storage space for the file you're editing but you'll also need plenty of memory and CPU power in order to edit video and audio files, which you just don't have on a Chromebook.

7) They're not meant for gaming

Due to the components that typically conform a Chromebook, gaming is generally out of the question. Sure you can play candy crush or maybe a simple puzzle game, but you're not going to be playing any immersive 3D games like you would on your Xbox or PlayStation.

8) The screens aren't the best quality

While this is mostly due to the fact that Chromebooks are cheap and not because they're Chromebooks per se, it's not uncommon for us to see Chromebooks with rather modest screens with many models not even offering a Full HD resolution. 

That's one of the reasons we liked the ASUS Chromebook Flip C433TA-AS384T because it broke that norm by delivering a pretty good screen.

9) Connecting a printer is a nightmare

The process of printing with a Chromebook is not as straightforward as it is on other platforms. Specifically, to use a printer with a Chromebook you're going to need to use the Google Cloud Print service.

This isn't all bad – you'll be able to print from any Chromebook you want no matter where you are with just an internet connection and you won't need to worry about the driver or anything like you would on Windows.

 The problem is that you might have issues connecting your printer at first, finding the right IP address of your printer and you might even need to configure a static IP address on your router in order to make it work. If you're not tech-savvy you might have some problems at first with this process.

Pros of a Chromebook

1) They are very affordable.

Let's get the main Chromebook pro out of the way: the main reason they've garnered popularity is that they're very affordable notebooks. Your average Chromebook will run you anyway from $150 to $400, depending on which model you choose.

2) They're fast and easy to use

Chromebooks are very well optimized for the hardware they come with (generally speaking), so you don't have to worry about a slow computer that isn't able to run your favorite programs. In addition, since Chromebooks are meant to be used in a cloud-based environment, it's extremely easy to get started: all you need is an internet connection and you're good to go.

3) They're secure

Chromebooks are very secure because almost all malware that's out there won't work on Chromebooks. Due to this, you can relax knowing your data is safe from viruses and other types of malicious software. 

You don't have to worry about sophisticated attacks by cyber criminals thanks to the main operating system being Chrome OS and not Windows or Linux (like most other laptops).

4) They're very durable

Many Chromebooks are made of plastic, which makes them extremely lightweight and easy to carry around. You don't need a bag or case for these laptops because they usually fit in any bag you already own, even if it's really tiny.

If you're the type of person who likes to carry your laptop around with you everywhere, this is a very good advantage that Chromebooks have over traditional laptops.

5) They're versatile

Chromebooks are also pretty versatile, if we may say so ourselves. For example, some models can be transformed into tablets, which makes them even more convenient for portability.

What's more, In 2016 Google introduced Play Store support for Chrome OS: what this means is that anything you download from the Google Play Store will work natively on a Chromebook since it runs Android underneath. This makes the versatility of a Chromebook absolutely fantastic because you have access to the most popular apps on your laptop.

5) The battery life is great

Another main reason why people buy Chromebooks is that their battery life is pretty impressive: you'll find many models sporting an 8-hour battery life, depending on what size screen it has (that's much better than your average Windows laptop) with many models going even further and delivering up to 10 and 12 hours such as the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3 (82HG0006US) or the ASUS Chromebook Flip C433TA-AS384T respectively.

6) They are lightweight machines

This only adds to the overall portability. Your average Chromebook will weigh somewhere between 3 and 4 pounds, which isn't that much compared to the 5+ pounds of a traditional laptop.

7) You can access your files from anywhere

This is a very interesting advantage to Chromebooks. Basically, you have access to all your files from anywhere - you just need an internet connection and there's your laptop, with all the files that were on it before you disconnected it.

Also, you don't need to worry much about storage with said files since Google generally gifts new Chromebook buyers with 100 GB of Google One storage space for 1 year, in some cases for a bit longer. In any case, this really contributes to the feeling of having a fully-fledged laptop in front of you.

8) They're easy to use for newcomers, students, and elder users (not much of a learning curve)

This is another big advantage for people that are new to Chromebooks or computers in general. It's very hard to go wrong with a Chromebook, especially if you're just doing some basic things like checking your email or surfing the web.

Also, Chromebooks have proven themselves useful for students: they're easy to use and take care of all their educational needs, meaning fewer headaches for parents who want something simple to manage.

Last but not least, there's also the issue of elderly people using laptops whenever they feel like it. Since Chromebooks are really easy to use, this also makes them quite appealing for older folks, since most of them aren't exactly tech-savvy (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

9) There are many models to suit your needs

Lastly, you have an abundance of options when it comes to choosing the right Chromebook for your needs. You have a huge variety of colors and screen sizes, in addition to different companies such as HP (which also sells Windows laptops) or Acer.

All these reasons make Chromebooks a perfect alternative to traditional laptops, especially if you're not that tech-savvy but still need your laptop on a regular basis. If you're looking for something simple yet efficient at the same time, definitely consider getting yourself a Chromebook!

Who would benefit the most from a Chromebook?

=>1. People Who Need Cheap Laptops – Chromebooks are getting cheaper and cheaper every year, making them a serious contender for people looking for something inexpensive to do basic tasks on the go with.

=>2. Students – Chromebooks live up to their name in this regard: they're very easy to use and manage, which makes them great for students juggling homework assignments while also going to school daily.

=>3. Older Users - Ease of access is crucial here: since everything you need is right there on your computer (thanks to Google One), older users can have their files backed up at any time with just an internet connection

=>4) Travelers - As aforementioned, all it takes is an internet connection and your laptop will be fully functional from anywhere in the world!

Who could not use a Chromebook as their main notebook?

=> 1) People who need a lot of internal storage - these people won't fare well with a Chromebook as you need to understand that most of them have a very limited storage capacity.

=>2) People Who Need something Better for Gaming – Chromebooks are not great when it comes to gaming whatsoever, so if you want something that can handle your favorite fps game or be able to play some of today's latest things, this just won't cut it.

=>3) Power Users – Chromebooks are perfect for the average computer user but even with their specs becoming better over time they're still only good enough for someone that's going to use cloud-based software. That means that people who need to work on heavy programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom will not have much use for a Chromebook.

What should I look for before buying a Chromebook?

There are many aspects to take into consideration, but here are the most important points:

1) Screen Size and Resolution - this is one of the first things you should look at because it will give you an idea of how good your device's display quality is going to be. This is essential if you're going to be using your laptop for watching videos or do graphics stuff with web-based sites such as Canva.

2) Storage Capacity – since Chromebooks have limited storage capacities, this is another thing you should examine closely before deciding which one would suit your needs best.

3) Battery Life – battery life can make or break any laptop nowadays, so make sure that whatever model you pick will last as long as possible with a full charge. Many Chromebooks will offer anywhere between 8 to 12-hours worth of battery life.

4) Processor – it really depends on the model but you should make sure that whatever Chromebook you decide to get has at least 4 cores so it can efficiently handle multiple apps running at the same time.

5) RAM – With Chrome OS being an extremely light operating system, it's best if your Chromebook has at least 4GB of RAM since they'll make your computer feel less sluggish and all work faster in general. If you're an intensive multitasker then 8 GB of RAM is even better but it's not mandatory on Chromebooks as it is on Windows laptops.

Bottom Line: Are Chromebooks worth it?

With all this in mind, after reviewing the pros and cons of Chromebooks we can appreciate how they are a great solution for people looking to upgrade their technology while not breaking their budget. 

Chrome OS is efficient, secure, and simple enough to master even for individuals who lack any experience with computers so it's definitely worth taking into consideration.

Sure enough, they've got their own series of limitations due to the very nature of their OS, but if you can work around that and if you're mainly going to use your Chromebook for web-based applications then you shouldn't concern yourself with that.

Chromebooks are an excellent alternative that's been picking up steam lately and as long as you're clear on its limitations you can never go wrong with a Chromebook.

Popular Chromebooks worth checking out in 2021:

=> ASUS Chromebook Flip C433TA-AS384T: Best High-end Chromebook ReviewLink to Amazon 

=> Lenovo Chromebook Flex 3 82HG0006US: Best Cheap Chromebook convertible ReviewLink to Amazon

=> HP Chromebook x360 14a-ca0022nr: Mid-range Chromebook that's perfect for students Review - Link to Amazon