Chromebooks have come a long way since arriving on the scene in 2011. Original models were low-powered machines that were designed mostly for surfing the web and other light-duty tasks. The simple operating system allowed them to offer excellent performance while running on slower chipsets and limited memory. These units were perfect for those who didn’t need a lot of computing power or as an inexpensive second computer that was lightweight with decent battery life.
Now, advances in Chrome OS and higher-powered offerings from several manufacturers, Chromebooks are beginning to blur the lines between true PC laptops and their Chrome-based cousins. However, the question remains, can a Chromebook actually take the place of a PC laptop for everyday use? The answer is, it depends on what you are doing.
Situations Where a Chromebook Can Replace Your PC Laptop
There are some situations where a Chromebook may be perfect. If your day-to-day use of a laptop fits into these parameters, you may find that you can save some money and enjoy the longer battery life often seen with these machines.
You Do Most of Your Work Online
Some users need a laptop solely to work online. Whether it is for research, writing, reporting, or many other types of work, sometimes this work is done exclusively through websites and other online services. Some organizations, especially those that work mostly with freelancers insist that work be done through an online portal. In these cases, all you need is a web browser, and Chrome is one of the best.
You Make Use of Google’s Suite of Services
Google now offers a suite of services that can handle nearly any business or personal functions. Word processing, email, spreadsheets, slideshows, and even video conferencing can be done with Google’s products. These can be used in either online or offline mode. For users who utilize these tools exclusively, Google designed them with Chromebook users in mind meaning that there would be no real advantage here to using a PC laptop.
You Are Willing and Able to Adapt to the Current Limitations
There are some users who are up for a bit a challenge. If Chrome OS doesn’t offer a specific application and it is not available via a web version, they will find a workaround. This is often especially true if the Chromebook is being used as a backup or a second machine. While the workarounds may not always be optimal, they will work in a pinch.
Situations Where You May Be Better off with a PC Laptop
You Use Specialized Software
Despite the improvement in the latest Chromebook offerings, there are still some software vendors who can’t or won’t make an option available for Chrome OS. This is especially true for creatives who work with advanced image manipulation, video editors, or audio producers. While there are online options available, they don’t have the same power or feature set as the professional options.
You Need Full Versions of MS Office Software
While Microsoft continues to improve its online versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, the web versions are still not the same as the PC versions. This may be especially problematic in a corporate environment where it is expected that everyone is using the same version of the software.
You Are a Serious Gamer
There are some great games available for the Chromebook. If you are looking for a little fun while taking a break, you will find plenty to keep you entertained. However, if you are a serious PC gamer, you will need a PC to have access to the most popular titles.
So, can a Chromebook replace your PC laptop? Again, it depends on how you wish to use it. However, keep an eye on the continued development of the Chrome OS and the hardware offerings from manufacturers. With continual improvement, Google might eventually get you to switch.