The Google Chromebook

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For those of you who are primarily into Internet surfing, multimedia, email, and a few other web-based application functions, the latest popular genre in laptop computing, the Chromebook, may fit the bill nicely and economically. With a $199-$349 range, the Chromebook makes a nice second PC. Notice I said the word “second.” This is not a PC that you would want to have as your primary one unless you strictly fit into the user category mentioned above.  Chromebooks generally are a little sluggish performance wise, especially if you have a lot of apps opened at once. The display is also lower-quality (smaller pixel detail) than what is the norm with most laptops and tablets.  Only a couple of chromebooks have more than the average battery life of 2-3 hours. If you can live with those issues, the chromebook might be the PC for you.

Chromebooks use the Chrome operating system made by Google, and since a browser is basically running the show, the applications are web-based. You may choose which applications you want by going to the Chrome Web Store. But the traditional suite of programs that Windows-based laptops use, i.e. Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access, Powerpoint) will not run on a Chromebook. Some of the Chromebook manufacturers include Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and Acer. One of the popular Chromebooks available soon is the HP Chromebook 14, due this fall and right in time for the holiday season. 

HP Chromebook 14 Specifications

  • Manufacturer: Hewlett-Packard
  • Colors: Snow White, Ocean Turqouise, Peach Coral
  • 14-inch display (1366 x 768 pixel resolution)
  • Weight 4 lbs.
  • Dimensions 13.56″ x 9.52″ x .81″
  • Intel Haswell Processor
  • 100GB Google Drive Storage
  • 16GB Solid-state Drive
  • 2GB/4GB RAM
  • Island-style Chrome OS keyboard (special keys for controlling browser)
  • Clickpad with multi-touch gesture support
  • 3-in-1 card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • HDMI
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n Wireless
  • Built-in Optional 4G
  • Audio In/Out Combo Jack
  • Kensington Lock
  • Truevision HD Webcam
  • Battery 50wh 4-cell 9.5 hours
  • Price $299.00 (4G model $349.00)

The High-End Pixel Chromebook

On the
Chromebook high-end, the Chromebook Pixel is the model being marketed now.
However, being at a $1299 price point is rather steep when you consider what
you’re getting for your money. It does not have the benefits of a Windows
laptop with all of the traditional Windows-based apps, and the battery life is
mediocre at best, with 2-3 hours life. The selling points to the Pixel is a
beautiful display (marketed as the highest pixel count of any PC) and hardware
that is very pleasant to the eyes. However, you would be far better off going
with a MacBook or a Haswell-based laptop for the same price as the Pixel. You
would receive better performance, not be limited to web-based apps, and have a
9-12 hour battery as well. If you’re totally sold on the Google web based app
mentality and want a high-end unit, you should wait until next year when
high-end Chromebooks should be offered with the Haswell processor, ensuring a
long lasting battery. I really cannot see paying good money for a hgh-end
Chrome-based OS laptop. It would make much more sense to get a Windows-based
laptop, and get a Chromebook as a secondary laptop, used primarily for the Web.

Business and Education Focus

The
Chromebook is being heavily invested in by business and education, due to the
low overhead costs of traditional laptops. There is far less of a problem with
malware and viruses and Google claims this is due to a multi-layered security
design that makes it almost impossible for infection. And because of the
digital solid-state drives being used, problems associated with traditional
mechanical hard drives found in the mainstream laptops is non-existent. All
things considered, the Chromebook in industry is quickly becoming a top choice
due to its low cost and simplicity, but for the average consumer at this point
it is still in the category of a second PC. As time goes on and the Chromebook
gets tweaked with improvements, that relationship could certainly change. Time
has a way of changing things.