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Laptop vs Chromebook what's the difference and which works best for you

Which is better a Chromebook or a laptop?

Laptop vs Chromebook what's the difference and which works best for you

The difference between Chromebook and laptop is that Chromebook is a laptop or tablet that runs Chrome OS as the operating system while a laptop is a small and portable PC. If the user wants to buy an affordable laptop to handle basic operations, they can choose Chromebook. If it is necessary to install and run programs, the best option is to purchase another laptop.

What is a Chromebook?

Despite being around for nearly 10 years, Chromebooks haven't really gone mainstream, however, of late, things have changed for the better, with Chromebooks aiming to be low-cost laptops running on Google's Chrome OS.

Perhaps one of the main factors that distinguishes a laptop from a Chromebook is that it bets heavily on apps rather than the software found in laptops.

Chromebooks, laptops, two-in and those running the Google Chrome OS. The device may look like any other laptop, but the simple web browser-based Chrome OS is a different experience than the Windows and macOS laptops you're likely to be familiar with. Whether you are considering switching to a Windows laptop or MacBook, your child received one from their school, or you're simply curious about Chrome OS, here's everything you need to know.
What is a Chromebook?

When Chromebooks first arrived in 2011, they were routinely ridiculed — and rightly so — for their limited functionality and reliance on a consistent internet connection. The operating system is 10 years old this year And Chromebooks today are a far cry from where they started, but some things haven't changed and you might not be willing to work with the limitations they have.

Also, if you don't want to read this and would rather just try out Chrome OS, here's how to run it temporarily on any laptop with an inexpensive USB flash drive you might already have.
  • Operating System
When Chrome OS was launched, it was basically Google's Chrome web browser. For those who are used to an operating system like Windows and Mac, it made the average Chromebook seem little more than a laptop running a web browser and that's it.

Even if Chrome OS hasn't matured beyond that, the truth is quite a lot can be done on the web these days. Evaluate everything you do on a daily basis and you may find that there is nothing you cannot achieve with Chrome at its most basic level.

However, a Windows laptop or MacBook can run the Chrome browser as well as other software supported by these operating systems. Even if you don't need a specific program right away, it's good to have the option. Plus, if you're shopping for a Chromebook for distance learning using Google Classroom, your Mac or Windows PC will work, too.

Along these lines, Chromebooks are not natively compatible with Windows or Mac software. You can use VMware on Chromebooks to run Windows applications and there is support for Linux as well. Additionally, existing models can run Android apps, and there are also web apps available through Google's Chrome Web Store.

One of the big hurdles here for many people is access to Microsoft Office. You can't install the full Office software on a Chromebook, but Microsoft provides both web-based and Android versions in the Chrome and Google Play stores, respectively. But in general, if you need or want a specific app for Windows or Mac—and there's no suitable alternative to a web or Android app and don't want to use VMware—don't get a Chromebook.

Also, if you need advanced photo and video editing capabilities, you will need a regular laptop. Basic photo and video editing is fine, but Chromebooks usually don't offer the graphics performance you need for tough tasks or, again, the option to install Windows or Mac games and software. On the other hand, with streaming game services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now, Chromebooks can now be used for more than Android and browser-based games. There are also many Android apps available for photo and video editing including Adobe options.
  • Variety of devices
A few years ago, all Chromebooks were pretty much the same no matter which company they made. Now, there's a much larger selection of laptops and two in one — convertibles and tablets — to take advantage of Chrome OS' current capabilities. You'll still find more sizes and styles when it comes to Windows laptops, especially if you need the highest performance for processing and graphics, but the variety of options is much better than in the past.

If you are looking for a good basic experience with Chromebook, the small and lightweight operating system requires minimal hardware requirements and the same is true for web applications. Having a high-end processor and more memory will help to keep multitasking in demand, but other than that, here's what I recommend when I ask about the specs to get:
  1. Intel Celeron or Core i-series processor
  2. 4 GB of memory or more
  3. 64 GB of storage
  4. Full HD display (1,920 x 1,080 pixels)
Laptop vs Chromebook

There is flexibility with these recommendations. You get a 1,366 x 768 resolution screen, for example, but the cheap ones used in lower-end Chromebooks feel especially smooth next to the Full HD models. And you can get 32GB of internal storage as long as there's a microSD card slot to supplement it or if you don't plan on downloading a lot of Android apps. Unlike a regular laptop, Chromebook relies more on cloud storage for files rather than local storage. It's also worth noting that storage and memory are soldered many times and cannot be upgraded after this happens.

No matter which Chromebook you buy, before you buy it, you should know the device's automatic update expiration date or AUE. Currently, non-Google devices are only supported long before they stop receiving Chrome OS and browser updates, including those related to security. For models released in 2020, the date is approximately 7-8 years from the initial release of the device, but this is not always the case. Google keeps a list of AUE dates for all models and you should check them before buying a Chromebook, new or used.
  • Web connection required (mostly)
When Chromebooks first launched, they were basically paperweight when they were offline — a real problem if you're in the middle of editing an important document that you suddenly couldn't save because your web connection was cut off. Fortunately things have improved as Google has improved the offline capabilities and popular apps like Netflix, YouTube and Spotify have offline options as well.

For a normal laptop, being offline is a bit less of an issue since you are using an installed program that saves to the internal storage. While there isn't a great offline experience these days, Chromebooks aren't a great choice if you're not willing and able to go online most of the time. On the plus side, Google has made it very easy for Android users to turn their phones into instant mobile hotspots and make Chromebooks and Android devices work better together.
  • positive price
Due to the lower hardware requirements of Chrome OS, Chromebooks can not only be lighter and smaller than a regular laptop, but they are generally less expensive as well.

New Windows laptops for $200 are few and far between, and frankly, they are rarely worth buying. On the other hand, it's very easy to find a good $200 Chromebook (or at least it was pre-COVID). And while spending more will get you better build quality, more features, or faster performance, even these premium Chromebooks usually start between $400 and $500, but they can easily run you over $1,000 depending on your needs.

With Windows laptops, you usually need to spend $700 or more to get a thin, lightweight model with decent performance and battery life that will maintain its performance for years to come.

The simplicity of the Chromebook can't be beat. If everything you do is possible in a web browser or via the web or Android apps, there's no good reason not to use a Chrome device. Despite the support of Linux and VMware, you can do a lot more today than when they first arrived in 2011.

With a wide range of designs, sizes, and styles that can be configured with all kinds of components and available at prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands, your Windows or Mac laptop offers greater versatility in performance and use, especially if you want the ease of using software or Play games that are only available on these operating systems.