What is a Chromebook?

If you’re on the lookout for a new PC, you’ve probably noticed that there’s more choice than ever on the shelves right now

What is a Chromebook? Looking for a great value laptop and don’t need Windows? A Chromebook could be for you.

You can buy high-end desktop machines, value priced towers, ultrabooks, tablets, notebooks, gaming notebooks, netbooks… the list goes on and can be both daunting and confusing.

The newest addition to the options available is the Chromebook. Samsung, Acer, HP and Lenovo all manufacturer Chromebooks. On the face of it, they all look just like regular laptops, and they all seem to be excellent value too.

Acer’s new C7, for example, is just $199 for a thin and light 11-inch laptop with a dual-core processor inside.

So, what is a Chromebook?

The main difference between a regular laptop and a Chromebook is that while most new PCs and portables arrive running Windows, a Chromebook comes with Google’s Chrome Operating System (OS) installed. If that sounds a little familiar, it’s because it is: Chrome OS has a direct relationship to Chrome the web browser, also made by Google.

Unlike Windows, which is designed to run programs on the desktop as standalone applications, Chrome OS is built around web apps just like those that you can access through your browser.

So you won’t be able to install Windows applications on a Chromebook. There’s no Microsoft Office, for example – instead you have to access Google Docs online. Most of the services on a Chromebook are web-based, and require a Google account to use.

Because Chrome OS and Chromebooks are so new, though, they are developing fast. For example, the initial batch of Chromebooks used a mobile phone processor and had almost no local storage – so they weren’t very fast and required you to be online almost all the time to use them.

Acer’s C7, however, comes with a proper Intel laptop processor and a 500GB hard drive: it can hold its own against a laptop that costs twice the price and still boasts a four hour battery life.

Chromebooks won’t be for everyone – if you don’t want to store all your files on Google’s cloud services or you need to run Windows programs then you’ll be better off with a traditional notebook. But thanks to their incredible value and ease of use for basic tasks, Chromebooks have made an impact and are here to stay.

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