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Chromebook vs Laptop - What is the difference?

Chromebook vs Laptop - What is the difference?

It's staggering when you stop and think about how far along computers have come over the past two decades. a quality musical instrument from two decades ago is still a quality instrument today. It may even hold more value. A quality car from two decades ago is an old car but it can still be fully functional. But a super high-end pc from two decades ago is worthless.

It's a waste of space. this goes for regular computers as well but it's especially true of laptops. What were once heavy and unwieldy blocks of plastic and metal that required a suitcase to carry around are now thin and sleek notebooks that you can take with you anywhere you go. But the cheapest and most lightweight laptops of today are technically something else.

A subset of laptops is called Chromebooks. Those of you browsing for a new laptop must have stumbled across this term without knowing what it means. So I'm here to clear up the distinction between Chromebooks and regular laptops. As well as to weigh in on, which device would be better for certain types of users.

What Is A Chromebook?

First, let's define a Chromebook. the term is used to describe not just laptops but also tablets and two-in-one devices running on google's chrome OS. Chromebooks first appeared on the market in 2010 as a spiritual successor to netbooks. The history of netbooks, tablets, and Chromebooks is an interesting one.

But as I've already covered in another article so feel free to check it out if you're interested in a bit of tech history. In any case, a Chromebook can appear indistinguishable from a regular laptop at first glance. It still has the same flip-up design with the screen and the keyboard sandwiched together when the device is closed.

The main difference is in the software.
There are some hardware differences as well but it's not like these can be seen without taking apart the device or scanning the spec sheet. In that way, it may be useful to compare Chromebooks and laptops to iPhones and androids. They're both smartphones and without any logos. you'd have a much harder time telling them apart but they offer different user experiences.

Only the differences between Chromebooks and laptops run deeper than that.
Chrome OS is a Linux-based operating system that's much more lightweight than windows or mac OS. It's also heavily reliant on the internet and cloud storage. When it comes down to it Chrome OS is more of a mobile operating system than a desktop one.

It can even run Android apps from the Google Play Store in addition to Linux desktop apps. This certainly has its benefits, but it is not without its drawbacks. So let's take a look at how Chromebooks stack up against laptops and who would benefit the most from using one device over the other?

How Chromebook is different from other laptops?

So some of the limitations of Chromebooks are that you can't run specific programs that you can run on Windows or Mac. For example, in iTunes, Photoshop, or specific Windows games, you're not going to be able to run those. Chromebooks do have Chrome extensions and Android equivalent that fill some of these holes. But there are definitely certain apps that you straight up cannot run on a Chromebook.

Chromebooks also tend to have little local storage and they rely on cloud storage provided by Google and they work best with an internet connection. Even though there are some offline, both for Gmail and Google Docs.

Chromebooks tend to be cheaper than Windows laptops for similar specs, and whenever you have a similarly priced Chromebook and a similarly priced Windows laptop, the Chromebook is typically going to be faster.

It's gonna be better made. It's gonna have longer battery life and it's typically gonna be more portable than these cheap Windows laptops.

Why not get cheap windows laptop instead?

So you're looking at a $500 Chromebook, and you're looking at a $500 Windows laptop. That Chromebook is probably going to be faster, in the things that you use it for. Cheap Windows laptops tend to only have 4GB of memory. And that's a huge limitation on Windows, Whereas Chrome OS is a lighter operating system and it runs better on less ram. And those Chromebooks also tend to be better made, they have better build quality. They have longer battery life and they tend to be smaller and more affordable.

Who should buy Chromebook?

I would say most people are solidly served by a Chromebook. It'll do everything that you need it to do but if you play a lot of games you probably don't want a Chromebook unless you're willing to stream them through one of the games streaming services that are becoming more popular right now. If you need a specific app that your school requires and they don't recommend that you use a Chromebook then you probably want a Windows laptop or a Mac. And if you're like a heavy video or photo editor, you probably don't want a Chromebook.

Chromebook vs. Laptop

It should come as no surprise, that the answer to this question boils down to personal needs and preferences as a user. The two devices excel at different things and you should play to their advantages.

1. compatibility

So first of all, we need to consider compatibility what types of applications do you plan to run on your portable computer? If you want to play pc games or run certain professional applications like adobe premiere or even just Microsoft office then a windows or mac OS-powered laptop isn't just a better choice, it's the only choice.

After all, Chrome OS doesn't even support Microsoft office let alone anything more complex. On the other hand, if you primarily need a device for web browsing, casual gaming, or work that can be managed by productivity apps available on Chrome OS. Chromebooks can become a strong competitor.

2. Longer battery life

Another thing that Chromebooks have going for them is longer battery life. Since Chrome OS is such a lightweight system. it doesn't need as much hardware power to operate which in turn means it can go much longer on a single charge than any laptop. This also makes Chromebooks more portable as they're not just smaller but can also be carried around and used without the charging cable.

In theory, laptops can accomplish this as well but just think of how many laptops you've seen or used that are essentially on life support. But by the same token, this means that the screens on Chromebooks are smaller than they are on laptops. This can be a real problem if you need more screen space to work.

It can seriously inhibit productivity especially multitasking and if the screen size is smaller then the keyboard size is smaller as well. The keyboards of Chromebooks are far from what we'd call ergonomics. So folks who need to do a lot of typing may want to lean towards traditional laptops. And lastly, there's the storage.

3. Storage problem

Like I've already mentioned Chrome OS relies heavily on an internet connection and cloud storage. This is because the device itself comes with limited local storage. This alone is a deal-breaker for folks who don't have access to a stable internet connection.

Not to mention that some people simply prefer having their files stored locally and while you can still connect an external storage device to a Chromebook doing so kind of defeats the whole purpose of Chromebooks and their unmatched portability in the first place.

What Chromebook do I recommend?

1. Google Pixelbook Go

It costs around $650. Chromebooks have historically a terrible rep as being cheap and slow. This one, however, is smaller and lighter than pretty much every other Chromebook I've ever tested. It has an excellent keyboard and trackpad and it's about as well-made as a Macbook Air or a Windows Ultrabook. But it cost hundreds of dollars less. It's my personal favorite Chromebook that I tested and it's actually what I used to cover the consumer electronics show earlier this year.

2. Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5

The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is my top pick for Chromebooks because it's inexpensive at around $400. It's fast enough for the things that most people need to use a laptop for. It has a great keyboard and trackpad, and it also has a handy touchscreen. Small and light and the battery life are decent but it's not the best compared to some of our other picks.

3. Acer Chromebook 712

So, the Acer Chromebook 712 is my more durable pick for kids, costs around $300. It's fast enough which is a really big deal for such a cheap Chromebook, most Chromebooks in this price range are miserably slow and it's extra durable. It has bumpers and a spill-resistant keyboard. It can handle up to about 1.5 cups of water dumped into it.


Chromebooks are great. If you need an affordable, portable device with great battery life and a simple operating system that can be used for web browsing, casual gaming, and basic productivity tasks. That said, Chromebooks are simply not suited for more serious gaming and more demanding professional applications due to their limited hardware.

So, if you need a device for pc gaming or video editing, gaming laptops and MacBooks are the way to go. You should also note that high-end Chromebooks do exist. Sporting some impressive four-digit price tags but I don't see a situation where such a device would be preferable over a high-end gaming laptop.

Perhaps if it's a two-in-one Chromebook but that's a topic for another article. And that about does it for this article. I hope you found it helpful you can let me know if you have by sharing it with friends. If you have any questions about Chromebooks or laptops in general, please leave them in the comments below.

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